Professor on War Games: Studios Stuck in “Netherworld”

October 28, 2010 -

A ForeignPolicy.com piece on the state of war videogames asks if such titles are bringing the reality of current conflicts into the living rooms of gamers, or simply exploiting them for commercial gain.

A good chunk of the piece centers on the recently released Medal of Honor, in light of the controversy it generated. That controversy, the author writes, “wouldn't have occurred even five or six years ago,” as “video game studios seemed to be reticent about tackling contemporary conflicts, preferring instead to crank out games based in abstracted worlds and full of abstracted enemies.”

Older games such as SOCOM and Full Spectrum Warrior began to depict newer enemies, but “the level of graphical complexity was remedial enough that the game remained, well, a game.” Then, recently the Six Days in Fallujah game popped up, generating negative press, and last year Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 appeared. Suddenly, “Gone was the cartoonish violence of past simulations; ushered in was a world of dizzying alleyway firefights.”
   
The most interesting comments in the article come from Georgia Tech School of Literature, Communications and Culture Associate Professor Ian Bogost, who said that the videogame industry has never had an interest in politics.

Bogost stated:

Studios are stuck in this weird netherworld, between Silicon Valley and Hollywood. And games are stuck in that place, too. They want to be technology, and they also want to be entertainment.

When asked if games might someday “say something meaningful about foreign conflicts,” Bogost responded:

I'm optimistic. Games are great at depicting systems instead of telling stories. ... And then there's role-playing: What is it like to be someone else? That's the missed opportunity in Medal of Honor -- what does it really mean to be the Taliban?

Where are they coming from? What does that feel like? Now that doesn't mean you have to endorse the opinion, but [in a video game] you can explore something from someone else's side.

Bogost said that if Medal of Honor had taken this approach, “it would have been interesting and powerful.”


Comments

Re: Professor on War Games: Studios Stuck in ...

Call of Duty still remains one of the top war games of all time. Thanks Activision! ttp://www.marketwatch.com/story/video-game-makers-aiming-high-with-new-shooters-2010-06-17

Re: Professor on War Games: Studios Stuck in ...

Ian Bogost isn't just a professor; he's a respected game designer. Bogost founded Persuasive Games, which develops for newsgames for major media outlets. He was also interviewed by Stephen Colbert several years ago.

 

Re: Professor on War Games: Studios Stuck in ...

"A ForeignPolicy.com piece on the state of war videogames asks if such titles are bringing the reality of current conflicts into the living rooms of gamers, or simply exploiting them for commercial gain."

The latter and there's nothing wrong with that.

 

Andrew Eisen

Re: Professor on War Games: Studios Stuck in ...

The Bogost quote is interesting indeed, on many occasions I have tried to explain the potential for video games to explore the complexities of conflict. Many FPS games do not do this, but the potential is there. The Metal Gear series goes some way to doing this, but unfortunately it is buried within an extremely convoluted narrative.

I would also point out that COD4 was much more realistic than MW2, and got there 2 years earlier.

Re: Professor on War Games: Studios Stuck in ...

And even MORE controversial.

People are already mad at just PLAYING THE ROLE of the Taliban -- imagine if the game had gone to the effort of humanizing them and making them sympathetic in some way.

Re: Professor on War Games: Studios Stuck in ...

Some would brand the developers traitors and demand their executions.

Re: Professor on War Games: Studios Stuck in ...

Imagine if a movie featured the Taleban sympathetically! It would have to be banned and all copies would be destroyed.

 

One of the Rambo movies, Charlie Wilson's War... I'm sure there are a lot more out there, even if they were from a different decade.

Re: Professor on War Games: Studios Stuck in ...

Rambo is actually an example of something more subtle and, I would argue, more insidious.

First Blood was a movie that was harshly critical of Vietnam.  It depicted a damaged man, traumatized by the horrors of war and mistreated on his return by an uncaring civilian populace.  It showed him driven, by their abuse, into an autopilot mode where he became an unthinking killing machine.  It's a movie that clearly depicts the horrors of war and the impact they can have on our fighting men and women.

And then the sequel shifts the theme so fast you get whiplash.  All the Rambo sequels are gungho, pro-war action flicks, missing the nuance and the power of the original.  When you mention Rambo, people think about the guy kicking ass in the sequels, not the guy broken by his loss in the original movie.

And in that way, I think they defanged the original movie far more effectively than if it had been banned.

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
MattsworknameSo, whats everyone playing? Im still knee deep in bloodborne, but finaly beat Rom the spider05/23/2015 - 7:20am
Andrew EisenWe're planning on doing the podcast Saturday evening, as usual.05/23/2015 - 12:32am
Matthew Wilsonmy bad was doing it from my phone.05/22/2015 - 11:34pm
Goth_SkunkMatthew, that's a PDF. Looks like a lobbying report. What's that got to do with The Witcher 3? EDIT: Thanks Mecha.05/22/2015 - 11:33pm
MechaCrashI think this is the link you meant to post: http://www.gamespot.com/videos/the-point-the-witcher-3-a-new-benchmark-in-player-/2300-6424964/05/22/2015 - 11:31pm
Matthew WilsonThe Point - The Witcher 3: A New Benchmark in Player Choice http://www.gamespot.com/videos/the-point-the-witcher-3-a-new-benchmark-in-player-/2300-6424964/ fixed05/22/2015 - 10:37pm
Matthew WilsonI assume no show this weekend?05/22/2015 - 10:27pm
TechnogeekKaylaKaze: I fail to see how "that key was obtained via theft by deception" isn't fradulent.05/22/2015 - 8:46pm
Wonderkarp*Sippin on Long Island Iced Tea*05/22/2015 - 8:24pm
james_fudgeIT was all me. I broke the site. Send your hatemail!05/22/2015 - 8:15pm
KaylaKazeESO banning people for buying thier game when it was cheap, claiming fraud. http://www.reddit.com/r/elderscrollsonline/comments/36womu/deactivation_of_fraudulently_obtained_esotu_game/05/22/2015 - 5:29pm
Matthew Wilsonwtf? wounder if its time for a site redo with modern tech. somthing cheap like the latest version of word press.05/22/2015 - 5:27pm
Andrew EisenJames pasted my copy into a new story for me and the crappy Word formatting it inherited broke the site.05/22/2015 - 5:21pm
Andrew EisenHere's what happened: some weird bug is preventing me from uploading an article pic. Stories can't be saved with out pics so I couldn't write a story. So, I wrote it in Word and pasted the text into an email and forwarded it to James.05/22/2015 - 5:21pm
Goth_SkunkThanks E-Zeek.05/22/2015 - 5:09pm
E. Zachary KnightI fixed the shoutbox. Everyone thank me now. Or not. I don't care either way.05/22/2015 - 5:07pm
ZippyDSMleeShout box sttasahhppppp!!05/22/2015 - 10:47am
Andrew EisenOh, here it is. I thought it was gone. Yeah, I'm experiencing the same issue. Sent a note to tech.05/22/2015 - 10:43am
E. Zachary KnightAnyone else have the shout box pushed down to the bottom of the site?05/22/2015 - 10:38am
MattsworknameAndrew and EZK help me pull back a bit , still working on it05/22/2015 - 7:06am
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician