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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E. Zachary KnightTeachers unions are just as bad as police unions, except of course you are far less likely to be killed by a teacher on duty than you are a cop. But they also protect bad teachers from being fired.07/07/2015 - 6:29pm
E. Zachary KnightGoth, so you agree they are still union members. Thankfully we have a first ammendment that protects people from being forced to join groups they don't support (in most cases any way.)07/07/2015 - 6:27pm
E. Zachary KnightAh, police unions. The reason why cops can't get fired when they beat a defenseless mentally ill homeless person to death. Or when they throw a grenade into a baby's crib. Or when theykill people they were called in to help not hurt themselves.07/07/2015 - 6:26pm
Goth_SkunkeZeek: Non-union employees have no right to attend meetings or union convention/AGM, or influence policy. The only time they get to vote is whether or not to strike.07/07/2015 - 6:24pm
Infophile(cont'd) about non-union police officers being given hell until they joined the union.07/07/2015 - 4:58pm
InfophileParadoxically, the drive in the US to get rid of unions seems to have left only the most corrupt surviving. They seem to be the only ones that can find ways to browbeat employees into joining when paying dues isn't mandatory. I've heard some stories ...07/07/2015 - 4:57pm
Matthew WilsonI am old school on this. I believe its a conflict of interest to have public sector unions. that being said, I do not have a positive look on unions in general.07/07/2015 - 3:59pm
TechnogeekWhat's best for the employee tends to be good for the employer; other way around, not so much. So long as that's the case, there's going to be a far stronger incentive for management to behave in such a way that invites retalitation than for the union to.07/07/2015 - 3:10pm
TechnogeekTeachers' unions? State legislatures. UAW? Just look at GM's middle management.07/07/2015 - 3:05pm
TechnogeekIn many ways it seems that the worse a union tends to behave, the worse that the company's management has behaved in the past.07/07/2015 - 3:02pm
james_fudgeCharity starts at home ;)07/07/2015 - 2:49pm
james_fudgeSo mandatory charity? That sounds shitty to me07/07/2015 - 2:49pm
E. Zachary KnightGoth, if Union dues are automatically withdrawn, then there is no such thing as a non-union employee.07/07/2015 - 2:38pm
Goth_Skunka mutually agreed upon charity instead.07/07/2015 - 2:33pm
Goth_Skunkyou enjoy the benefits of working in a union environment. If working in a union is against your religious beliefs or just something you wholeheartedly object to, dues will still be deducted from your pay, but you can instruct that they be directed towards07/07/2015 - 2:33pm
Goth_SkunkBasically, if you are employed in a business where employees are represented by a union for the purposes of collective bargaining, whether or not you are a union member, you will have union dues deducted from your pay, since regardless of membership,07/07/2015 - 2:32pm
Goth_SkunkIt's something that has existed in Canada since 1946. You can read more on it here: http://ow.ly/PiHWR07/07/2015 - 2:27pm
Goth_SkunkSee, we have something similar in Canada, called a "Rand Employee." This is an employee who benefits from the collective bargaining efforts of a union, despite not wanting to be a part of it for whatever reason.07/07/2015 - 2:22pm
Matthew Wilson@info depends on the sector. for example, have you looked at how powerful unions are in the public sector? I will make the argument they have too much power in that sector.07/07/2015 - 12:39pm
InfophileIt's easy to worry about unions having too much power and causing harm. The odd thing is, why do people seem to worry about that more than the fact that business-owners can have too much power and do harm, particularly at a time when unions have no power?07/07/2015 - 12:31pm
 

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