Hurt Locker won some Oscars last night, and is a movie about a war. But there's not much shooting in it. Video games could learn from that.
I think a real part of the movie's appeal is that, while set in a war - which is always exotic and exciting - it's not really a war movie. Sure, there are moments of combat, like the sniper shootout in the desert, but for the most part it's about the relationship between three guys and how the stress of war affects them (and everyone around them).
That's more the kind of thing people enjoy from a normal movie, not from war movies, which are normally more about action, thrills and excitement.
Which got me thinking: Why can't games follow suit? Why does every war game have to involve shooting? And not just shooting, lots of shooting?
We don't need every game set in a war to be about driving tanks and moving past spawn points and manning turrets.
I mean, we could - if we're going to take Hurt Locker as direct inspiration - have a puzzle game, in the vein of Trauma Centre, where you need to disarm bombs and unexploded ordinance. We could have an adventure game, with journalists or military police on an investigation in a warzone. We could have a base-building deal, where you have to manage the rebuilding of ruined areas of Iraq. Heck, we could even have a Heavy Rain-type deal, a dialogue-heavy game built more around the bond shared by men in conflict than the conflict itself.
We don't have these titles yet, of course. But remember, games often follow a trend set by movies. The pandemic of zombie titles on the shelves today is the result of the recent Dawn of the Dead remake and 28 Days Later. Or, more poignantly in this case, what began as a beach landing scene in 1998's Saving Private Ryan inspired Medal of Honor, and ended with a trend towards Second World War video games that's only showing signs of letting up now, over ten years later.