#2) The Attempts To Pretend It’s Authentic
I’ve never been in law enforcement or the military, but I know people who work in both areas, and I have enough common sense to know there’s a vast gulf between what these games present as combat and what combat actually is. There’s certainly an enormous gap between pressing a button and having strings of code re-enact an over-the-top death by machine gun and actually firing a machine gun and killing a human being with it.
And yet they still push themselves as perfect simulations of the military experience.
These are games, not simulations. Anybody who wants to argue otherwise needs to break out some ArmA II. Again, I don’t think the vast majority of players believe they’re doing anything other than playing a game. There are a few souls delusional enough to think they’re Marines because of their k/d ratio, but they’ve got other emotional problems anyway.
All of which leads me to my main point here.
#1) All Of This Combines To Be Corporately Irresponsible
Games are stories, and stories have power.
Not to influence our actions, but every story we read changes our view of the world a little bit. This is why we generally seek out stories, true or not, that reinforce our beliefs. The best stories can actually override the very powerful controls we’ve got in place to not hear anything that might tell us we’re wrong and actually get us to think.
This is why Spec Ops: The Line was a game I gave a rapturous review of, because the story was ultimately one about responsibility and balancing the ability to hurt and kill others without crossing moral lines, no matter how blurry they may be, and the horrible cost of failing to do so.
In short, it was the exact opposite of most war games these days. Keep in mind that the Modern Warfare series exists in a world where Russia is essentially overwhelmed by a terrorist organization and Battlefield and Medal of Honor will both have you chasing after fictional and real terrorists, respectively. You are, unequivocally, the good guys.
The reality is, of course, a lot more complicated. And every time we oversimplify the realities of war and geopolitics, we do both a disservice.
Activision, EA, and others have every right to make any game they want. I’m not calling for these games to be pulled from the shelves. I am asking, however, that these publishers look at the games they’re putting out and ask themselves if these are really what they want to be remembered for.