In response to “Issue 168: Boot Camp”: I really enjoyed the issue, although I’m surprised how apolitical all the articles were. I guess it’s understandable, given the sensitive nature of the conflicts, but it still seems odd to see so many games and articles portray modern warfare as politically blank.
Games based on earlier wars didn’t really have this issue, although they were admittedly far more clear cut, and no one would ever be faulted for villainizing the Nazis. These older games and movies all focused heavily on the importance of the war itself, and the nature of the enemy they were fighting. In contrast, games and articles based upon modern war seem downright sterile. They speak about adapting, following procedure, and eliminating threats in the same manner a doctor might describe a surgery, or a manager might execute a business plan, which seems more than a little bizzarre to a person who grew up during the Cold War.
I’m not expecting politics, but the way the articles described it, the soldiers in these wars/games might as well be fighting cancer, providing disaster relief, or trying to climb the world’s tallest mountain. The insurgents are barely mentioned at all, and when they are, they’re described almost as if they were an event, rather than a group of people.
Perhaps everyone’s just being cautious, uncertain of how to portray insurgents without seeming bigoted. On the other hand, what if the stark, blank portrayal of the enemy is a symptom of the fact that even now, after all this time, we still don’t understand who we’re fighting, or how to successfully defeat them? Now there’s a thought that sends shivers down my spine.
– Robert Max Freeman
In response to “The Thinking Man’s Warfare” from The Escapist Forum: This is a great article on a really interesting subject!
Perhaps one solution to making a game on irregular warfare as a mainstream entertainment product is to take the realistic setting away. People may be squeamish or uncomfortable playing as soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan, but if the same kind of circumstances were applied to a fantasy or sci-fi setting, it would be more palatable. You know, a game where you have to extinguish a dark elf insurgency in some imaginary land or something could still include all of the elements that need to be in this kind of game without being as controversial. People would still see the metaphor for the current wars, I’m sure.
I can understand why game designers haven’t tackled unconventional modern era conflicts. First off a game should be fun or challenging or rewarding to some degree. Real war is not all that enjoyable. WWII era conflict plays more like chess or football with roughly equal teams maneuvering and acting in a strategic dance.
A modern Afghanistan game might have you patrol for weeks and then hit by mortar attack? How about briefly engaging an enemy that manages to ghost away into the sand? These modern conflicts are more focused on surviving an occupation and increasing stability in the region instead of “shootin’ ‘der badguy.” Also unconventional warfare means the AI would have to be very clever and clever AI is not something that happens too often.
Personally I’d love to see a less bloodthirsty version of conflict in a video game. In much the same way that SWAT 4 rewards you for responding appropriately, dealing with nebulous enemies, collateral damage avoidance, civilians,and frustrating political censures.
In response to “Future Battlefields in the Palm of Your Hand” from The Escapist Forum: They’ve been developing anti-missile laser weapons since the 1960s, so that’s hardly a new concept. You’d laugh at some of the things that DARPA have developed and are developing, but they’re deadly serious about it. Railguns, laser cannons, missile satellites, the ARPANET, along with some rather more mundane things like computer-surveyed battlefields and robotically driven cars.
BTW, the BigDog kicks ass, especially its ability to get up from amazingly difficult terrain. I’d be almost inclined to work for DARPA at this stage.
The Power Armour rig looked stunning – finally, new technology that doesn’t have to be used to melt someone’s face from 5 miles away.
The applications of this technology for the emergency services, firefighting and policing in particular, would be incredible. Could you imagine a team of firefighters capable of braving intense heat, moving or destroying debris and carrying unconscious vistims to safety with absolute ease and security?
I want to be a cyborg firefighter.
In response to “From Gamers to Soldiers” from The Escapist Forum: This was a well written article. Very sobering the decisions that soldiers need to make in wartime, something none of us “civvies” really understand. The worst part is that by the time the events like those described in the article reach the media, most of the complicating factors have been stripped away leaving an distorted view of the original event.
Even if it is for a different country, I thank you for your (current/eventual) service in the military.
In response to “To the Front Lines” from The Escapist Forum: Gamers have to step back far enough to question why we feel the need to spend our time, money, energy and thought processes on video games that glorify violence. The slogans of my parent’s generation was “make love not war” and “give peace a chance” which is a far cry from today’s generation of gamers “OMG LOLZ, I just p0wned you n00b!” The conspiracy theorist in me would suggest that we are being programed to think upon war, violence, peace through superior firepower, U.S. foreign policy, post-apocalypse survival of the fittest, as positive and necessary factors of overall human existence.
It wasn’t that long ago we were all happy playing an Italian plumber jumping across platforms collecting coins, nowadays gamers scream bloody murder on forums if they hear of a game’s violence being toned down for any reason.
In response to “Not All Fun and Wargames” from The Escapist Forum: I don’t remember who actually said this but the phrase “War becomes us” comes to mind.
But that is not what this article is about, is it? Various military have been eying the prospect of having “virtual” training for quite some time now, probably since someone first adopted the idea into a piece of science fiction.
IMHO, only a game that can be heavily modded would ever be appropriate for training purposes. So far we have plenty of promotional entertainment, but those striving for brutal realism are left wanting.
As a gamer, I could honestly care less about realism though, I only care if the journey I take is fun or tedious. I don’t need realism to have fun, only believability.
For a military though, they need that realism, so that they don’t go into life threatening situations with unrealistic expectations that can get them killed. To a gamer, silly and stupid AI is just a quirk to deal with to accomplish a goal, to a front line man its not being properly mentally prepared for his opponents.