Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

October 4, 2011 -

Speaking to the Associated Press, Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Zombie Studios lead designer Richard Dormer talk about why their upcoming Kinect game based on the controversial security firm has decided to steer clear of blood, killing civilians, swearing, and moral dilemmas.

The game, simply titled Blackwater, is being developed by Zombie Studios and published by 505 Games and makes heavy use of the motion-sensing capabilities of Kinect. Both the company's founder and the development lead on the game said that they wanted to steer clear of any controversy, instead focusing on creating an arcade style shooter that could be played by a wider audience.

Blackwater is best known for providing security in hotspots around the world such as Afghanistan and Iraq. It was in that former theater of operation that the company drew criticism from members of Congress and the news media after a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 people. That case was thrown out but is heading back to an appeals court for further scrutiny.

But Prince, who retained the rights to create properties based on his former company when he sold it last year, says that controversy or realism are not the core points of this new game:

"It's a game," Erik Prince, the company's founder told the AP. "This is not a training device. This is not a simulator. We're not doing this to teach folks how to conduct military operations in an urban terrain. That's not it at all. This is more along the lines of kids running around their neighborhood playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians."

Prince has made sure to steer clear of any controversies contrived or imagined by critics; the game is set in a fictional West African country, and follows a made-up team of Blackwater operatives who are in charge of providing security for aid workers and foreign dignitaries. The big bad foozle of the game is a fictional despot named General Limbano.

While the game is in no way intended to repair the reputation of the security firm that he sold off last year, Prince acknowledges that some people will never accept Blackwater:

"I think anyone who sticks their neck out in life will be attacked in some quarters for doing it," said Prince. "I'm fully comfortable with that. Some people are not always going to like Blackwater, but there are many millions of people that do like Blackwater. I'm not out to rehabilitate an image. We're out to provide a good experience and enjoyable game."

Lead designer Richard Dormer acknowledged that they went out of their way to avoid creating further controversy by reducing violent content from the game such as blood and the ability to shoot civilians, though he admits he wanted it in the game at first:

"I waged strongly for the possibility of shooting civilians because I thought it could tell the story well," said Dormer. "In the end, we didn't need there to be any more controversy. It seemed beside the point of the game. It was a much bigger risk to jeopardize everything else involved, especially with what happened with `Six Days in Fallaujah.'"

The game, which is set for release October 25, has been rated "TEEN" by the ESRB. Despite that, it does contain headshots and mild language. Prince points out that this was the rating they wanted because it allowed for a wider audience to play and enjoy the game.

"We didn't want this to be restricted to adults," said Prince. "We wanted to dial the violence down so that kids could play it in the same way that they go outside throw snowballs at each other or whatever. We wanted to be able to spread the game to that demographic. Frankly, I also wanted something that I'd be comfortable with my own boys playing."

You can learn more about the game at blackwatergame.com.

Source: SF Gate


Comments

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

It seems really silly to put so much effort into avoiding controversy when the name itself is ultimately a big source of it. There's a reason Blackwater is no longer called Blackwater.

And honestly, if these are the hoops they feel they have to jump through just to mitigate the name, why not keep all these features in the game (since, you know, gamers LIKE that stuff) and call it something else? It's obviously not intended to be an accurate portrayal, so why is it so important to use the name Blackwater?

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

It wouldn't be good propaganda if it showed any kind of truth.

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

"We want to shoot people in the face without blood!"

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

The game isn't controversial because of what you're actually doing. It's controversial because it's about Blackwater. The only way to avoid the controversy is to not make a game about them.

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

It's a curious concept. Do the clown with your Kinect while you play as one of the worst murderers of the world. I wonder how much this will sell.

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

There are worse murderers than Blackwater. Like US Army.

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

How can you have a Blackwater game without the ability to kill civilians? I assume they won't let us  gas soldiers like Blackwater does either huh?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/10/world/middleeast/10blackwater.html?pag...

I think on the list of games I might buy, this would be DEAD last. These thugs get enough tax dollars as it is.

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

Because killing cilvilians is all Blackwater does right? Like US Military spends most of its time bombing civilians and reporters.

 
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Papa MidnightIt's not bad so far, but I am honestly not sure what to make of it (or where it's going for that matter)07/28/2014 - 9:44pm
Matthew Wilsonis it any good?07/28/2014 - 9:36pm
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MaskedPixelanteNah, I'm fine purple monkey dishwasher.07/28/2014 - 4:05pm
Sleaker@MP - I hope you didn't suffer a loss of your mental faculties attempting that.07/28/2014 - 3:48pm
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ZenMatthew, the 3DS already has GBA games in the form of the ambassador tittles. And I an just as curious about them not releasing them on there like they did the NES ones. I do like them on the Wii U as well, but seems weird. And where are the N64 games?07/28/2014 - 10:40am
james_fudgeNo. They already cut the price. Unless they release a new version that has a higher price point.07/28/2014 - 10:19am
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, It most likely is. The question is whether Nintendo wants to do it.07/28/2014 - 10:12am
Matthew WilsonI am sure the 3ds im more then powerful enough to emulate a GBA game.07/28/2014 - 9:54am
Sleaker@IanC - while the processor is effectively the same or very similar, the issue is how they setup the peripheral hardware. It would probably require creating some kind of emulation for the 3DS to handle interfacing with the audio and input methods for GBA07/28/2014 - 9:30am
Sleaker@EZK - hmmm, that makes sense. I could have sworn I had played GB/GBC games on it too though (emud of course)07/28/2014 - 9:23am
E. Zachary KnightSleaker, the DS has a built in GBA chipset in the system. That is why it played GBA games. The GBA had a seperate chipset for GB and GBColor games. The DS did not have that GB/GBC chipset and that is why the DS could not play GB and GBC games.07/28/2014 - 7:25am
IanCI dont think Nintendo ever gave reason why GBA games a reason why GBA games aren't on the 3DS eshop. The 3DS uses chips that are backwards compatable with the GBA ob GBA processor, after all.07/28/2014 - 6:46am
Sleakerhmmm that's odd I could play GBA games natively in my original DS.07/28/2014 - 1:39am
Matthew Wilsonbasically "we do not want to put these games on a system more then 10 people own" just joking07/27/2014 - 8:13pm
MaskedPixelanteSomething, something, the 3DS can't properly emulate GBA games and it was a massive struggle to get the ambassador games running properly.07/27/2014 - 8:06pm
Andrew EisenIdeally, you'd be able to play such games on either platform but until that time, I think Nintendo's using the exclusivity in an attempt to further drive Wii U sales.07/27/2014 - 7:21pm
Matthew WilsonI am kind of surprised games like battle network are not out on the 3ds.07/27/2014 - 7:01pm
Andrew EisenWell, Mega Man 1 - 4, X and X2 are already on there and the first Battle Network is due out July 31st.07/27/2014 - 6:16pm
 

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