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Remembrance Day - And The Call of Duty Games..... [roundtable]
 
As I stand today at 11am, us Canadians are remembering the soldiers who have died in the Wars we have fought in (Veterens Day for our American Friends). I'm not sure what I would do if faced to fight for my country - I'm wondering if I would have the guts and the skill to fight without being blown up within the first 30 minutes and as I get older, I grow more proud of the people who have sacrificed everything they have just so we could enjoy what's left.

Call of Duty, the game, is a very popular series but it's not for everyone. I do love some Goldeneye and Timesplitters ("This is the lost child section, little Timmy was wearing a blood-stained t-shirt and red bandana, wielding his favorite shotgun") but I haven't really been interested in the War games for some reason - I really don't have a clear cut explanation but while in my moment of silence during the ceremony's brodcast on TV, I started to think about what the Veterans must think (if they are even aware) of the War games that are becoming more and more brutal/realistic. I know some War games made a few years back incorporated a lot of History in them and were not as graphic but lately, strictly looking on from the outside, it seems these games are glorifying War. Do any of the games in the series even acknowledge the soldiers who have fought in the real world or thank them for their services for fighting or even helping them develop the game?

Are intense War games just a game to some? Is it just plain fun to be put in those situations? Does it matter if it's Cortez from the Timesplitters games or Cortez the American Soldier from Call of Duty holding the latest gun and popping off head shots?

Some people play it to live a fantasy, others are soldiers themselves who absolutely love it and respect how accurate everything is, and others hate everything about them.

I do not disrespect people for playing the War games - they are what they are..games. Maybe seeing the emotion shown on TV allows me to give the War Games a questionable eye, if even for a moment, and gave me the urge to write something down in this forum.

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Posted: 11/11/11, 18:43:17  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/11, 18:45:59
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I am trying to collect my thoughts on this, and I am stumbling. Rest assured I feel similarly to you.
Posted: 11/11/11, 18:54:14
I think you hit the nail on the head when you said, "they are what they are..games.".

There's all kinds of real-world simulators in game form out there. Racers, professional sports, aircraft sims, heck, even mundane stuff like train engineers or farm simulators.

Individuals will get different things out of these games based on what they come in with. Will a 16-year old have a different experience with Modern Warfare 3 than a Iraq Vet? Of course they will. You could say the same about that fire-fighter game SNES, etc.

I'm not personally into the CoD games, but I have enjoyed a couple in the past. I'm not into Madden either, but I recognize that it's a quality product.

Same goes for war games. There's good stuff out there as well as bad. Some developers will treat the content with appropriate levels of respect and honor (the Brothers in Arms franchise comes to mind), others will spoof and goof all over the material, like 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand or the Bad Company games.

Ironically, both the $.50 and BC games are high-quality too, so making light of war doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. The same can be seen in other media like the movie/tv show, M*A*S*H.

It's all good either way. They're just games.
Posted: 11/11/11, 18:57:39
I do not have strong feelings about this one way of the other, but I just want to point that that "they are just games" is never an appropriate response/excuse for anything "wrong" games do, represent, etc. Not saying that war games are wrong here, as I said I don't feel strongly about this and don't really have an opinion. I just think the "chill out, they're games" response doesn't really have its place, ever.

I guess the "chill out, it's just a billions of dollars industry" doesn't have the same ring to it.

edit - And I'm not singling out anyone here or attacking them. It's been something on my mind for a while, and I'm just getting that out there.

edit 2 - And we could take this in entirely different direction if we got into the "are games art" debate... Are they art, do they have something to say? Or are they just games, just toys?

Can of worms?
Posted: 11/11/11, 19:26:12  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/11, 19:30:23
I will bring up my eternal response to the art issue: Why would/should it make a difference? (But my answer to the (unnecessary) question is: if the creator thinks it's art, it is (for him), and if the player thinks it's art, it is (for him). Trying to make the answer absolute is even more meaningless.)

As far as the war stuff, it seems distasteful to me. Fallujah is forbidden, but WWII is fine? And why not throw some zombies in there while you're at it? I guess the rationale is that most of the people with actual memories of the war will never play the game. A decent rationale. But simulating real war for entertainment value is almost always distasteful to me. That said, I hate censorship of pretty much any kind, so those games should still be allowed to exist. Rather than 'chill out', my position is more like 'quit infringing on freedom of speech'.

Another non-moral factor is that real world settings are boring and unimaginative to me.
Posted: 11/11/11, 20:12:06  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/11, 20:13:33
Anand said:
That said, I hate censorship of pretty much any kind, so those games should still be allowed to exist. Rather than 'chill out', my position is more like 'quit infringing on freedom of speech'.

This is pretty much where I stand too.

There's media of all colors and shapes that I take a pass on because some element doesn't agree with me. But I understand that if I'm offended (or more simply, not interested), it just means I'm not the target audience and I have no right to say what that "other" audience should and should not consume.

People have been reenacting war in the arts for eons, dating back to the earliest cave paintings. Regardless of how it is presented...serious, somber, satirical, political, whatever...it strikes me as people simply exploring a complex and often baffling experience in a variety of digestible formats. I really don't think there's a right or wrong way to do it. It just is.
Posted: 11/11/11, 20:24:14
No one talked of censorship. The point is that if games mean something, then they are worth having a discussion over, one in which the "they're just games" defense doesn't cut it.

The way I look at it, saying they're just games does more to stifle conversation than to foster free speech.
Posted: 11/11/11, 20:24:56  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/11, 20:27:37
Well, telling people not to discuss something on a discussion board is always silly. Unless it's whether games are art.

EDIT: Your edit makes me look like a copycat!
Posted: 11/11/11, 20:29:31  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/11, 20:31:07
Everything means something. You can discuss virtually any subject on a variety of levels.

You could write 6 paragraphs about a daisy or simply say, "It's just a flower.". Both stances have time, place, and merit.

So yes, you can "get all deep" and talk about games as art, the morality of war games, the psychology of catharsis and game violence, or whatever. That's great.

They're also just games. And that's great too 'cause as Freud said, "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.".
Posted: 11/11/11, 20:30:22
Doesn't "they're just games" have the implied meaning "you're looking too deep into it, this is not worth discussing", though?

Not that I'm trying to find an insult in everything everyone says. I'm just pointing out that there is a finality in that simple phrase that kind of explicitly tries to put an end to the discussion.
Posted: 11/11/11, 20:36:29
That might be implied some of the time, but not all of the time. It could just indicate that a person doesn't personally find the issue worth discussion, which itself IS a response. He might want to insert that viewpoint, but not stop the discussion of others.
Posted: 11/11/11, 20:43:55
@Anand

Yeah, the person inserts the viewpoint that the issue isn't worth discussion.


Isn't that what I'm talking about?
Posted: 11/11/11, 21:09:27
@Guillaume

I'm not implying that it isn't worthy of discussion, because I think it absolutely is. I'm saying that my take on it is that people enter a relationship with any media based on the baggage they already have.

So to an average 16 year old, CoD: MW3 is just a game where you shoot stuff real good.

To an Iraq veteran it can also be that, or it could be an experience that triggers painful memories.

Neither is right or wrong. It's impossible to pull an absolute morality card (in this case, war games are insensitive) because people are so different that morality is a moving target that holds different meanings to different people.

What was that big controversy some years ago? An artist took a photograph of a crucifix that was defecated on? Is that art? I think it is. Yet others claimed it was sacrilegious. Two people look at the same photo and draw two completely different conclusions.

Saving Private Ryan's epic opening Normandy scene was tastefully and skillfully presented. Yet our test-subject 16-year old may see it as "cool blood & guts" and nothing more. Sitting in the same theater, a WWII veteran might tear up or break out in a cold sweat. They're both watching the exact same thing. They're just bringing totally different life experiences to the table with which to process the movie.
Posted: 11/11/11, 21:12:00  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/11, 21:17:36
@Guillaume
What I mean is that that response is totally valid as a representation of that person's viewpoint. It's like if you ask a multiple choice question and someone answers "none of the above". He's not just saying your question shouldn't exist (although he might be saying that it's flawed). He's giving a specific answer.

I guess a better example would be if you asked "What's your favorite beer?" and he said, "I hate beer." Even if it bugs you, that's his answer, and it perfectly describes his feelings on the issue.

But, you know, regardless of how people present their opinion, it's still their opinion. Others often take issue when those opinions are presented in a definitive or abrasive way, but there's no reason to assign more importance or pay more attention to those opinions than any others. *paraphrase Big Lebowski quote here*
Posted: 11/11/11, 21:29:47  - Edited by 
 on: 11/11/11, 21:35:15
@New Forms

Ah, gotcha.
Posted: 11/11/11, 21:38:09
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