About three people will understand what I was trying to do with my subject line. The others will think that is a legit title of something and move on. And that’s just fine with me. They love me for my tangents. Happy First Day of Summer, by the way.
Not to ignore current events, and I’m sure it has already been mentioned on our blog or our Twitter, but fellow New Jerseyan/fellow Italian, James Gandolfini died on Wednesday. He was 51. It sucks. I’m not going to feign emotional heartache, but he was a hardworking actor, and a presence that I will miss seeing in movies. He really did set the bar high and pave the way for anti-heroes like Walter White, Don Draper, and Dexter Morgan.
Anyway, moving on.
We’d mentioned on our last episode how E3 had happened. For the uninitiated E3 is a big event where video game developers all show off their upcoming titles in an attempt to create buzz and interest. Unlike the previous years where the showcase was on Bioshock Infinite, or The Last of Us, or Dishonored this year there weren’t many games that truly grabbed my interest. Sure, Watch Dogs and Thief have had my attention for months already, but every other title felt like it was some sort of military-based shooter. Battlefield 4, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Killzone: Shadow Fall, Tom Clancy’s The Division, and Just Dance 2014 all have one thing in common:
I cannot wrap my head around the concept of glorifying war.
is currently was obsessed with the issue of gun control before the distraction explosion; Our government’s institution causing tax break disparity among select organizations, Our Elected Leader continuously being harangued regarding a terrorist attack in Benghazi last year, and Our Security Forces data-mining and spying on its citizens. Apparently, when there is a governmental controversy shitstorm it is common courtesy not to steal the other guy’s thunder.
For a spell this country underwent the talk about debating (read: not actually accomplishing) the opposing views on gun control, one of the bigger underlying complaints being the depiction of guns and violence on TV, in movies, and in video games and the violence-desensitizing that follows.
I don’t mind the violence so much as making the concept of being in a war “cool.” Violence and shooting are all good and fun when you’re put in a snow-globe of a world that could never exist — a decaying city at the bottom of the ocean, or a necromorph-invaded spaceship. Though the graphics may look photo-realistic these are all cartoon versions of reality, and these are the realities we all escape to for our amusement. “War isn’t fun,” says me the hippie, so can someone explain to me why a video game needs to accurately (and seriously) portray military combat? How is this fun?
Paul committed to his term and did his time. He is a decorated marine. His father, the E. E. Cummings of the blog, is a goddamn veteran of the United States Army. These men are soldiers, not NPC’s. They’re not ones and zeroes — digital representations of men — they’re the real deal. And despite humorous names like “Camp Cupcake,” or pictures of generally jerkassery around barracks it sure-as-hell doesn’t sound like rainbows and sunshine. You can’t just stop playing whenever you want. There’s no do over. There’s no respawn point, and there’s almost certainly never points awarded for headshots. There are no Hollywood-style car chases or pre-programmed moments of “awesome” where you watch a bridge blow up as a tank crosses it, then go guns akimbo looking for any survivors to “take out.”
Humor me, and hit the 5:06 mark. If you join Special Ops thinking that this is going to happen to you then you are a fucking idiot.
Games like these cheapen the reality of war. No one should ever sign up for any active service thinking that it’s going to be just like Halo! or as cool as Call of Duty 18: Taking Back the White House. Those who do are in for a rude awakening/reality check. I think it’s okay to feel patriotic and sell the ideal of nationalism, but not by snowing people with a fun and extremely skewed simulation of war.
My mind is like an old tube radio these uneducated thoughts — with every turn of the dial they change, and eventually I’ll hit a frequency to see the other side of any argument. It helps keep me fair(ish) or unbiased(ish). A video game where you rely on other people can be good thing for team-building and collaboration, despite my hatred of playing with strangers on the internets. That is why games like Team Fortress 2 or Left 4 Dead shine. In order to survive/capture the flag you you need to communicate with one another, and rely on your teammates. Or be the best damned warthog driver ever.
But it’s more fun when you’re the coyote trying elaborately to catch the roadrunner, not an elite super force who experiences no challenge. And it’s not good to sell the expectation as the latter when the reality might not stray too far from the former. Fingers crossed that it never could be.
With drones and new technology I hope we’ll move away from ever needing boots on the ground by the next century. These video games, from Medal of Honor, to Halo will never be my bag, but I’d like to think that one day the concept of simulating real soldiers physically running into battle will be as mind-blowing as people who had no idea that Titanic was a real thing that happened.
“So you’re saying people use to actually run with guns and gear into enemy territory? 0_0”
Perhaps games such as Mechwarrior or Titanfall will help to remove a lot of the human simulation aspect from the game as you shoot at a bunch of giant robots, leaving you nameless and faceless, taking elaborately dramatized orders from well voice-acted superiors, while being delivered to the next great set piece, shooting a bunch of artificially intelligent representations of people. I wonder if they mind that?
These games will never stop being made. People love them — I don’t know why — but they do. And I’ll take treasure hunting in Shambala, saving Arkham City single-handedly, or running over prostitutes with a ripley any day of the week before playing any level of the Zero Dark Thirty video game. Those men are soldiers. I am not. Not even close.
I just can’t imagine that you’ll ever replace one of these:
With a bronze bust of an acne-laden kid, sitting in his Parent’s basement, controller in his lap, a Rockstar in his hand.