Why Some People Don't Make Games Based On Real Wars

Sion Lenton, a developer who worked on the latest Operation: Flashpoint game, gives us a "food for thought" moment in the debate over whether video games should depict real-world conflicts or not.


    That is pretty much the same reason I don't play games based on real world conflicts.

      Really? So for example you're happy to play as a soldier that looks, speaks and acts as a real American unit, killing realistic middle eastern enemies in realistic middle eastern locations with realistic middle eastern conflict tactics as long as they change the NAME to Af-notherealthing-astan?

      Come on people, we're not that naive are we?

        No, I mean I don't play any war game that takes place within' our living memory, or at least until they are more sensitive about the subject matter.

        eg, All the CODs or Medal of Honour.

        I'm the first to admit it is a shaky moral stance considering I play games like Assassin's Creed and Halo but I guess if I was the family member of someone who had died or if I was a Vet I would find the current games pretty insulting and disturbing.

        I'm not saying that is how everyone should find it and I know some Vets who aren't like that but I guess I got the idea in my mind and have stuck to it.

          I can tell you right now, as a vet, the military are the BIGGEST consumers of these games. Nearly everyone plays COD. It's how we relax after a patrol/at the end of the day. The only people that don't sill think games are for nerds, and that's OK. but it sure as hell isn't because of some perceived moral conflict.

    We'll I guess they won't be playing Far Cry 2 anytime soon.

    Big IED explosions

      im guessin this also explains why Dragon Rising really sucked big time. The damn game was ment to be competition for Arma, but Codemaster dropped the ball big time.

        Hi! I'm the point! Obviously you missed me the first time around, so maybe you'd like to read the article again!

    Mm because if we don't create art about a difficult subject, then that difficult subject doesn't exist in the real world. We'd better go and get rid of all the other art depicting real world conflicts as well, award-winning classic literature or not.

    Maybe the real problem here is not that the videogame is about a real war, but that so many of them are so goddamn TRITE. Why IS it acceptable to make movies like Black Hawk Down or the Hurt Locker and not the make a videogame? Answer that question and you've made progress.


      Trying to whitewash unpalatable subjects, if anything, does a disservice to people who hold up gaming as a serious and powerful form of expression. It's also mystifying when so many novels, films and documentaries show far harsher portrayals of war.

      Agree with triteness, but this could be a result of the limitations of many games (the demand for interactivity and, usually, constant action) compared to film and the different audiences. In the case of the Hurt Locker, it's acceptable to have a tense and character-focused war movie, but the genre of (mainstream) military shooters doesn't really lend itself to extended periods of painfully slow movement and character interaction. More courageous war-based games would be refreshing, though, I agree.

      interactivity is the difference. the act of doing, not watching

        I agree with Glennc here.

        I'd also add that I don't think a video game has ever dealt with death exceptionally well, especially not a war game.

        Take the most recent big FPS games out there and compare them to a text like Apocalypse Now, Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket. The movies make you feel the gravity of death in a way no video game ever has.

      It seems to me that the only way to even get close to depicting the true psychological weight of being involved in a real-world military conflict would be to have the consequence of in-game death render your computer/console unable to play any game ever again.

    SO we can bury our heads in the sand a little longer and hopefully the bad war will go away. No guts. Art is not created not in the absence of turmoil or moral ambiguity but BECAUSE of it. When large game developers/publishers themselves are this weak then don't expect any serious attempt to convey anything other than tits and violence of white people against brown people... because that's what is popular in our 'moral' societies, fuck off Lenton.

    As kick-ass and fun as they may be, I don't really play war games that reflect real life issues (whether past or present) because it makes me feel a little guilty gaining entertainment out of something which that serious and where so many real lives are wasted.

    Right... because we'd totally want to be playing games about FAKE wars. I've had it up to here with goddamn space marines.

    Every 'modern war' game is based on a real-world conflict. Even the 'fictitious' events of MW1 were obviously based in the Middle East. If you're going to pull sensitivity on other games, you're not going to give MW1 a free pass just because they changed the name of the country.

    Of course it comes down to taste again. I believe if it's portrayed tastefully and respectfully, there is no reason why we shouldn't be playing real war games, for the same reason Saving Private Ryan, Platoon etc are great examples of adaptions done 'right.'

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