[A-List] Fwd: [counter-recruitment] Call of Duty video game grosses $1 billion."
tboyle at rosehill.net
Sat Sep 18 20:31:03 MDT 2010
" Last year's best-selling game was Call of Duty:
Modern Warfare 2, which opens in Afghanistan; it
was a sequel to a multimillion-selling 2007 game
that features an American invasion of a nameless
Middle Eastern country. Modern Warfare 2 has made
"Avatar"-like profits for its studio, Activision.
On the day the game was published in November, it
sold nearly five million copies in North America
and Britain, racking up $310 million in sales in
24 hours. By January of this year, the game's
worldwide sales added up to $1 billion."
>To: Recipient list suppressed:;
>From: radtimes <resist at comcast.net>
>Date: Sat, 18 Sep 2010 10:45:19 -0700
>Subject: [counter-recruitment] War Games
>By CHRIS SUELLENTROP
>September 8, 2010
>Unless you regard something like "Iron Man" as a film about
>Afghanistan, the movies inspired by America's contemporary wars have
>consistently been box-office flops. Even "The Hurt Locker" grossed
>only $16 million in theaters. Video games that evoke our current
>conflicts, on the other hand, are blockbusters during the past
>three years, they have become the most popular fictional depictions
>of America's current wars. Last year's best-selling game was Call of
>Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which opens in Afghanistan; it was a sequel
>to a multimillion-selling 2007 game that features an American
>invasion of a nameless Middle Eastern country. Modern Warfare 2 has
>made "Avatar"-like profits for its studio, Activision. On the day the
>game was published in November, it sold nearly five million copies in
>North America and Britain, racking up $310 million in sales in 24
>hours. By January of this year, the game's worldwide sales added up
>to $1 billion.
>For years, earlier installments of the Call of Duty franchise and
>other military shooters the video-game industry's term for these
>games about warfare were, like cable-TV miniseries produced by Tom
>Hanks, always about World War II. But the Modern Warfare series has
>demonstrated that players have an appetite for games that purport to
>connect them to the wars their college roommates, or their sons,
>might be fighting in. Both Modern Warfare games are set in a mythical
>near-future, but the weapons Predator drones, AC-130 gunships,
>nukes clearly conjure Afghanistan and Iraq, as do the games' good
>guys (Americans, British) and bad guys (terrorists). The appeal of
>this quasi-fictional setting is one reason that Modern Warfare 2 now
>sits alongside titles from more-famous franchises like Grand Theft
>Auto and Super Mario on the lists of the top-selling video games ever made.
>No doubt as a result, in June, at the Electronic Entertainment Expo,
>the video-game industry's annual trade show in Los Angeles, it
>sometimes seemed as if every studio was introducing a game about a
>war against an enemy who might conceivably be regarded as part of the
>Axis of Evil. In one game scheduled for release next year, the North
>Koreans will mount a land invasion of the United States. In another,
>American troops are sent into an improbably menacing Dubai.
>Beyond their settings, what these future-war games have in common
>with the Modern Warfare series is a refusal to forthrightly
>acknowledge the inspiration for their subject matter. Video-game
>designers and players like to brag about how "realistic" the games
>are, but when gamers talk about verisimilitude, they're usually
>talking about graphical fidelity, about how lifelike the characters
>and environments are in an otherwise fantastical world and not
>about how the medium reflects anything else about the actual world in
>which we live.
>The one war game at the expo that acknowledged the
>ripped-from-the-headlines nature of its setting was Medal of Honor,
>the latest iteration of a game franchise created in 1999 by Steven
>Spielberg, in the wake of "Saving Private Ryan," as a World War II
>game for Dreamworks Interactive. The new game (the 11th in the series
>for PCs or consoles like the PlayStation and Xbox) will be published
>in October by Electronic Arts. With it, Medal of Honor is following
>the path trod by Call of Duty, "rebooting" a popular World War II
>series by situating a game in something that resembles the present
>day. Unlike its rival, however, Medal of Honor is not anticipating
>the very near future. Instead it is delving into the very recent
>past: the game will be set in Afghanistan, in the early stages of the
>American intervention there.
>In a darkened room at the expo, PlayStation 3s were hooked up to
>HDTVs, so that a team of players, of which I was a member, could
>insert themselves into the avatars of coalition soldiers in the
>Helmand Valley and do battle with Taliban fighters. On the
>convention-center floor, I adopted the role of a Taliban insurgent in
>the ruins of Kabul, shooting at coalition (read: American) troops in
>a "Team Deathmatch" mode.
>Medal of Honor does not aspire to capture the war in Afghanistan in a
>documentary sense, but like other shooters, it creates a visceral
>sensation of combat. In essence, it forgoes one kind of realism while
>embracing another. Are video games like this mere frivolities that
>dishonor the real soldiers who have fought in the wars depicted as
>critics, including military families, have recently charged? Or does
>their popularity indicate that they are successfully conveying an
>experience of war to audiences in a way that is at least as effective
>and affecting as the war stories told in literature or film?
>Electronic Arts is no doubt hoping that Medal of Honor will make it a
>lot of money. Video games have become astonishingly expensive to
>produce the entrance fee to develop a big-budget, mainstream video
>game is now north of $20 million, and Medal of Honor probably cost
>significantly more than that to make. New games usually sell at
>retail for just under $60, and selling even a million copies of a new
>game is no longer considered an indication of success. The best
>insight I received into the size of Medal of Honor's budget, during a
>visit in June to Electronic Arts in Los Angeles, came when Greg
>Goodrich, the game's executive producer, told me that if the game
>doesn't sell at least three million copies, "I'm not going to be able
>to do another one."
>Medal of Honor's story begins, chronologically, just before the
>terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In an opening sequence, the
>camera gamers describe the perspective you see in a game as "the
>camera," even though video games are not really a lens-based medium
>descends through the earth's atmosphere toward Afghanistan, passing
>communications satellites that give off the sounds of Al Qaeda
>"chatter" and of news broadcasts from Lower Manhattan.
> From there, the game places the player in the body of a member of a
>Navy Special Operations team infiltrating the Taliban-held town of
>Gardez, Afghanistan. Medal of Honor later puts players behind the
>eyes of an Army Special Operations soldier, as well as an Army Ranger
>and an Apache helicopter gunner, as they seize Bagram air base from
>the Taliban, ride all-terrain vehicles through the Shah-i-Kot Valley,
>snipe Al Qaeda fighters near the mountain of Takur Ghar and more.
>(The game is rated M, for Mature, the video-game equivalent of an R rating.)
>In the argot of video games, Medal of Honor is a first-person
>shooter, meaning that players see the action from the viewpoint of
>the characters they control. The term for the genre is something of a
>misnomer. Properly described, these games would be called
>second-person shooters, as the protagonist in them is a broadly
>identifiable You, rather than a richly drawn I, a character speaking
>in his own voice. In fact, the protagonist of Medal of Honor never
>talks at all.
>One of the most compelling things about video games is this sense of
>identification between the player and the protagonist. The best games
>do not give you a sense that you are controlling someone else they
>give you a sense that you are someone else. For this reason, over the
>course of the 10 or 12 hours that it generally takes to complete
>Medal of Honor, you never see or hear any of the four different
>playable characters beyond the sight of the hands that extend from
>the edges of the screen to grip the weapon that you're carrying.
>"Because we don't ever want to break that immersion, that it's you,
>there," Goodrich told me in June as I watched him play through one of
>the game's levels.
>Rich Farrelly, the game's senior creative director, sat on a couch
>across from Goodrich. We were in Overlord, a room on the campus of
>Electronic Arts in Los Angeles nearly all the rooms used by the
>Medal of Honor development team are named after military operations.
>Camouflage netting lay on a counter nearby. "That's where the fun
>comes in, at least for me," Farrelly said. "I've now created this
>soldier fiction for the player and put him in those boots. And now
>I'm making him think like a soldier."
>One of the buzzwords tossed around frequently by the Medal of Honor
>team is "authenticity." The game has more than 50 actors, delivering
>thousands of lines of dialogue, with foreign dialogue recorded in
>Pashto, Gulf Arabic and Chechen. To create some of the animation used
>in the game, Medal of Honor's computer-graphics team examined videos
>from Afghanistan that are posted on sites like YouTube and LiveLeak.
>"We want the player to feel, not like they're in a movie, but like
>they're in Afghanistan," Waylon Brinck, the computer-graphics
>supervisor for the game, told me.
>The scale of the effort devoted to this can be mind-boggling. Using
>more than 100 microphones, audio engineers recorded actual weapons
>fire at Fort Irwin in California, in a mock Iraqi village used by the
>military for training. With the Pentagon's permission, the audio team
>attached microphones to Apache helicopters and recorded the sounds of
>takeoffs and landings, as well as the sounds of the helicopters
>firing their rounds. They even hooked microphones up to the targets
>that the helicopters destroyed.
>Goodrich described Medal of Honor as "historical fiction," but it
>felt transgressively real when I played it. The battles are fought in
>civilian-free zones, where pretty much everyone you encounter is an
>enemy Taliban, Al Qaeda or Chechen and a threat to your life. Or
>rather (there's that sense of identification again), your character's
>life. The action is sometimes slow and methodical your character is
>asked to kill four enemies instead of 40, or 400 and at other times
>the body count exceeds that of a 1980s Schwarzenegger movie. I killed
>a lot, and was killed, a lot.
>Critics of the war in Afghanistan (and perhaps even its supporters)
>will detect at least a whiff of jingoism in the game. During one of
>the game's levels, as the Rangers approach the Shah-i-Kot Valley in a
>helicopter, one of them describes the flight's "main course" as
>"all-you-can-eat Taliban" and adds, "Hope you like foreign foods."
>Within sight of the Pakistan border, a Ranger says, "We'll be going
>there soon enough." At another moment, a character brags that "we're
>going to make it farther than the Russians did." The game ends with a
>dedication written by its consultants, who are veterans of the
>Special Operations community.
>There are limits to the game's aspirations to realism. I was
>repeatedly told that Medal of Honor intentionally avoided the subject
>of politics in favor of "telling the soldier's story." Goodrich also
>told me, "I don't want to make the bummer game." Still, mistakes are
>made in the game by American troops and commanders. Friendly fire
>accidents happen. The intelligence agencies get things wrong. No
>matter how skilled a player is, Americans will die. The general arc
>of the entire game is consistent with the theme of most war video
>games, which Ian Bogost, a professor at Georgia Tech and an author of
>several books on video games, summed up to me this way: "War is
>horrible and badass."
>In what may have been the first and sometimes feels like the only
>time that someone suggested video games are making humanity less
>violent and militaristic, a 33-year-old Stewart Brand, writing about
>the video game Spacewar in Rolling Stone in 1972, opined that
>"Spacewar serves Earthpeace." Invented by a band of students at
>M.I.T. in 1962, Spacewar is regarded by many observers as the first
>successful video game. Brand was smitten. He wrote that this new form
>of digital play ("the enthusiasm of irresponsible youngsters") was
>"heresy, uninvited and unwelcome" in a world of "passive
>consumerism." Spacewar, and by logical extension the new medium of
>video games, was remarkable, Brand went on, because it was "intensely
>interactive in real time with the computer," because it "bonded human
>and machine," because it "served human interest, not machine" and,
>perhaps best of all, it was "merely delightful." (Brand also wrote
>that the fact that "computers are coming to the people" was "good
>news, maybe the best since psychedelics.")
>In the intervening four decades, most of the rhetoric, if not the
>evidence, has been on the other side of the debate. Not many of the
>first observers of video games were willing to give Earthpeace a
>chance. From almost the moment that arcades and consoles appeared in
>America's shopping malls and living rooms, critics have charged that
>video games "add to the dehumanization and objectification of human
>beings," as a rabbi from the Philadelphia suburbs put it on "The
>MacNeil/Lehrer Report" in 1982, a time when the country came down
>with a seemingly anodyne bout of Pac-Man fever. Six years before
>that, the nation had already seen what one historian of the medium
>calls "the first major moral panic over the content of a video game"
>when "60 Minutes" examined the controversy over 1976's Death Race, a
>sort of proto-Grand Theft Auto involving rudimentarily animated cars
>that drove over rudimentarily animated pedestrians. The apotheosis of
>this critique could be heard years later, in 1999, when the video
>game Doom was blamed, implausibly, for helping to prepare Dylan
>Klebold and Eric Harris to carry out the Columbine massacre.
>As video games have become a more-or-less accepted form of mass
>entertainment for adults, arguments like these have been heard with
>less frequency and mounted with less vigor. But many people still
>find something unsettling about the medium. A mini-scandal over Medal
>of Honor played out in August after Karen Meredith, the mother of Ken
>Ballard, an Army lieutenant killed in Najaf, Iraq, in 2004, went on
>"Fox and Friends" and said that any game based on a continuing
>conflict was "disrespectful" to those whose family members have died
>in the war. "Families who are burying their children are going to be
>seeing this," she said. Not long after Meredith's interview with Fox
>News, Britain's defense secretary, Liam Fox, called the game
>"un-British" because, in its multiplayer incarnation, it will allow
>players to fight as the Taliban against coalition forces. "I would
>urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban
>this tasteless product," he said. Earlier this month, a Defense
>Department agency asked GameStop, a chain of video-game stores, not
>to sell Medal of Honor on Army and Air Force bases.
>Liam Fox is a member of Britain's Conservative Party; others, on the
>left, have raised their own reasons to find Medal of Honor
>disquieting. An editor at Mother Jones, Adam Weinstein, blogged in
>August that the game is "war profiteering of the first order," and
>Adam Serwer, who blogs for The American Prospect, wrote, "Realistic
>war simulations have always bothered me." Serwer added, "I'm playing
>video games to escape from the frustrations of the real world, I
>don't want to be thrust into another, realistic existence far more
>bleak than the one I'm currently living."
>Many gamers, however no matter their politics subscribe to a
>McLuhanesque notion that only the form, and never the content, of
>this medium is of significance. Video games, in this view, are about
>problem-solving and game play, the captivating, kinetic interaction
>between the movements a player makes on a controller and the
>simultaneous action on-screen. And it's surely true that Medal of
>Honor's game play will determine whether it is a best seller or a
>bust. "Whether this is set on Afghanistan or set on the moon, it
>doesn't really matter," Geoff Keighley, a video-game journalist who
>hosts a show on Spike TV, told me. Will Wright, the designer of games
>like SimCity and The Sims, has seemed to embrace this view, saying
>that games are about agency (the ability to navigate a virtual
>world), not empathy (relating emotionally to the particulars of that
>world). But in many ways, the main project of the past several years
>among video-game developers has been to try to prove Will Wright
>wrong. Maybe the agency that games allow can, in the hands of the
>right storytellers, lead to empathy. Maybe the interactive nature of
>video games can, when combined with narrative elements like story and
>character, evoke feelings in players in a way that is unique to the medium.
>After all, the video gamers who choose to play military shooters
>typically take the fictional elements of these games quite seriously.
>A survey conducted by Joel Penney, a doctoral student at the
>University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication,
>found that these gamers viewed their chosen pastime as something more
>than simple escapism or problem-solving exercises with good sound
>effects. The players adults mostly between ages 18 and 29 (though
>some were in their 50s), largely Americans and almost all men said
>playing the World War II versions of Medal of Honor or Call of Duty
>made them feel empathy for their countrymen. One wrote that, after
>playing the games, his "feelings have deepened in respect for those
>who have died."
>Greg Goodrich told me that the "holy grail" of his medium was to get
>game play and fiction to interact in such a way that the fusion of
>the two would affect players in ways that movies and books cannot. "I
>think you have the potential to touch them in a more emotional and
>engaging way because they took part in it," he said. Penney's study
>suggests that military shooters, by grounding their stories in the
>lived experiences of American soldiers, have had more success in this
>realm than their designers are given credit for. Feeling empathy for
>real soldiers fighting in foreign wars is not the same as feeling it
>toward fictional characters, but without being moved by the fiction
>in these games, it's hard to see how players were subsequently moved
>to feel more humanely toward their fellow citizens.
>At the beginning of the second decade of the 21st century, video
>games are taken more seriously as a form of entertainment than ever
>before, even by the priests of high culture. Nicholson Baker recently
>wrote in The New Yorker that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 might be
>"truer, realer than almost all war movies." Junot Diaz cheerfully
>reviewed Grand Theft Auto IV the kind of game that once provoked a
>moral panic with every sequel in The Wall Street Journal a couple
>of years ago. And in The London Review of Books last year, John
>Lanchester called the first Modern Warfare game, published in 2007,
>"more involving" than the Hollywood movies with which it might be
>compared. "The next decade or so is going to see the world of video
>games convulsed by battles between the moneymen and the artists,"
>Lanchester wrote. "If the good guys win, or win enough of the time,
>we're going to have a whole new art form."
>But the feeling among many video-game players is that the artists
>lost an important skirmish a little more than a year ago. In April
>2009, the video game Six Days in Fallujah was canceled by its
>Japanese publisher, Konami, in the very same month that the game's
>development was announced to the public. Six Days in Fallujah had
>been billed as an "interactive documentary" about the second battle
>of Fallujah in 2004. In addition to working with actual Marines who
>fought in Fallujah, the game's developers said they were talking to
>Iraqis who lived through the battle both civilians and insurgents.
>Peter Tamte, the president of Atomic Games, the North Carolina-based
>studio that was developing Six Days in Fallujah for Konami before it
>was canceled, told me this summer that "the heart of the controversy
>that caused Konami to pull out of the project" was the combination of
>"the stereotypes that are associated with the word 'game' and the
>incompatibility of that with the word 'Iraq.' "
>Read Omohundro, the captain of a Marine company that fought in
>Fallujah, served as a consultant on the game. "It's very important to
>have the enemy's perspective of what's going on," he told me. "You
>have to understand the environment, and if you just see it from the
>American viewpoint, that's all you know."
>Six Days in Fallujah proposed adding "a layer of moral ambiguity" to
>warfare that Jamin Brophy-Warren, a former Wall Street Journal
>reporter who now publishes Kill Screen, a magazine about video games,
>says he hasn't seen in other military shooters. Brophy-Warren says he
>was "kind of blown away" by the demo for Six Days in Fallujah that he
>saw last year in San Francisco during the annual Game Developers
>Conference. "There's an Iraqi who picks up a gun, and you don't know
>if he's an insurgent or not," he said. "Do you shoot him?"
>Omohundro described the reaction from the public, especially from a
>group of mothers whose sons had been killed in action in Fallujah, as
>"blinded by fury." Beth Houck, the mother of David Houck, a Marine
>rifleman who was killed in Fallujah in 2004, told me that her
>objections to Six Days in Fallujah apply to Medal of Honor as well:
>despite the genre's claims to authenticity, military shooters do not
>show the toll the wars have taken on the homefront. "They don't show
>the heartache of family members who are left without a spouse, or a
>father, or a child who does not return," she said.
>Omohundro says he is disappointed the game was never completed. A
>video game, he suggested, can portray combat in a way that is
>impossible to achieve in another medium. "In a movie, you don't get
>the opportunity to make decisions that have consequences," he said.
>"You simply watch what's on the screen that's in front of you."
>The Marines that Six Days in Fallujah planned to portray would have
>been based on real people who fought in a real battle. The soldiers
>in Medal of Honor, on the other hand, are fictional characters. But
>some of them are inspired by the careers of real service members, men
>now working as consultants to the game who have experience in Special
>Operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere. On Father's Day, I met with
>three of them for brunch at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey,
>Calif. They did not tell me their names and instead asked to be known
>by the handles Coop, Dusty and Vandal by which they are known
>inside Electronic Arts. They said they have done "extensive work in
>the two main theaters, and theaters outside of those as well," as
>Vandal put it. Greg Bishop, a retired lieutenant colonel who worked
>with the Medal of Honor team for two years as the Army's liaison to
>the entertainment industry, told me later that the men represented
>themselves accurately. Vandal and Coop said they came from a
>background in naval special warfare meaning the most elite Seals
>and Dusty is a former member of the Army Special Operations unit
>commonly known as Delta Force.
>None of the three men would discuss their current work, but a Central
>Intelligence Agency contractor with the handle of Dusty is mentioned
>in the book "Jawbreaker," by the former C.I.A. field commander Gary
>Berntsen, as a participant in the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. They did
>not sport beards or balaclavas and wore sunglasses only because we
>were sitting outside. They all wore taut T-shirts and jeans or
>khakis. Dusty brought his wife. They addressed one another openly by
>their first names.
>The day before, Dusty sat for an interview for a promotional Web
>video for the game. In a nasal Georgia accent that was obscured,
>along with his face, when snippets of the interview were posted on
>the Medal of Honor site, Dusty talked about riding in a pickup truck
>from Jalalabad into the mountains of Tora Bora in December 2001. He
>stood on a ridge only about 3,600 feet from an Al Qaeda camp. He
>watched planes drop 675,000 pounds of bombs on the camp over the
>course of 72 hours.
>But even a man who may have come painfully close to killing Bin Laden
>feels the need to look cool for a teenage child. "The reason it was
>important for me to be involved in the game was so I could impress my
>19-year-old son," Dusty said. "He was like: 'You? They asked you? For
>your advice, Dad?' " More important, Dusty went on to say, "I want
>people to come away with an honest feeling of what it's like to be
>out there, doing some of that stuff."
>At the Ritz-Carlton, Coop, Dusty and Vandal acknowledged that one of
>the things they asked the Medal of Honor developers to do was to make
>the game less realistic than its creators initially envisioned. In a
>document called "Faceless" that the consultants wrote and circulated
>to the Medal of Honor team when they first joined the project, the
>men explained that their cooperation was dependent on maintaining
>their community's reputation as silent professionals. "People want to
>know who these men are," they wrote. "With MOH" everyone at E.A.
>calls Medal of Honor "MOH," pronounced like the Stooge or the
>bartender from "The Simpsons" "they are going to get a little slice
>of that. However, a little slice is all they should get." At the
>men's behest, Medal of Honor refers to these elite members of the
>Special Operations community merely as "Tier One."
>"They're selling authenticity and realism," said Coop, a thick man
>with a Boston accent; he looks not unlike one of the muscled space
>marines in Gears of War, a popular sci-fi video game. "We wanted to
>help bring that to the table," he said. "But we also wanted to make
>sure it didn't go too far."
>Last summer, Goodrich showed the men storyboards for a game, with the
>title Medal of Honor: Anaconda, that would be something like a "Black
>Hawk Down" for Afghanistan: it would be based on the disastrous 2002
>operation known as Anaconda, including the battle of Takur Ghar, in
>which Neil Roberts, a Navy Seal, fell out of a helicopter and was
>dragged away to his death by Al Qaeda fighters. The game "resembled
>very closely events overseas that involved friends of ours that had
>been killed," Coop said. "We thought it hit a little too close to
>home" and would "put a sour taste in our brothers' mouths."
>That night, Goodrich told the men at dinner that he would excise the
>scene with Neil Roberts from the game and change the game into a work
>of historical fiction rather than a sort of docudrama. In Medal of
>Honor, when a helicopter is hit over the mountain of Takur Ghar, the
>men on board leap out and take the fight to the enemy. Goodrich says
>the consultants helped to make the game "authentic and plausible"
>rather than "accurate and realistic."
>"There's nothing so close where it's a re-enactment," Coop said at
>brunch. "In my eyes, that would be wrong."
>Not all soldiers are eager to endorse video games as a medium for
>helping audiences understand the nature of combat. As an Army platoon
>leader in 2002, Andrew Exum found himself in the Shah-i-Kot Valley,
>where he killed a man for the first time in his life and then found
>the gear of three dead Rangers who had been sent to try to rescue
>Neil Roberts. "I can tell you I'd probably be a little offended if
>things were exactly modeled on some of the things that happened
>during Anaconda," Exum, now a fellow at the Center for a New American
>Security, told me. "Returning that gear to those guys who were in the
>First Rangers, it was a tough thing."
>Exum emphasized that he is not outraged by Medal of Honor or any
>other military shooter. But he can't help, he says, being a little
>bit bothered by these games. "This is the thing," he told me. "Point
>5 percent of this country actually fights in these conflicts." Nearly
>80,000 Americans are deployed in Afghanistan, Exum said, while 2.2
>million played Modern Warfare 2 on Xbox Live during a single day last
>fall. "There's something annoying that most of America experiences
>the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are actually taking place,
>through a video game," he said. Would he feel similarly, I later
>asked, if Americans were heading to a movie called "Medal of Honor"
>about Operation Anaconda? "I think there is a difference between
>being a participant and an observer," Exum replied in an e-mail.
>All war fiction, granted, reduces combat to something less than what
>it is in reality. " 'The Iliad' trivialized war into something
>ancient feasters could listen to while they ate," Roger Travis, a
>classics professor at the University of Connecticut, wrote earlier
>this year on his blog about video games. But it does seem a fair
>critique to suggest that military shooters turn the classic
>description of war on its head, converting the experience into long
>periods of sheer terror punctuated by moments of boredom. "Real war's
>a lot more like 'Catch-22' than 'Black Hawk Down,' " one veteran told
>me. "No one would dramatize the real experience" of a platoon in
>Afghanistan "because it's too boring," he added. "How do you make a
>game out of drinking chai with an elder?"
>The Onion actually gave this a shot last year, with a mock news
>broadcast about "Modern Warfare 3," described as "the most
>true-to-life military game every created, with the majority of game
>play spent hauling equipment and filling out paperwork." In this
>nonexistent game, the single-player campaign lasts "a record 17,250 hours."
>To be fair, comedy is easy. Making video games is hard. Medal of
>Honor may not reinvent the first-person shooter, but some in the
>industry including several who worked on Six Days in Fallujah
>hope that its mere existence is a brave and incremental step that
>will pave the way for nonfiction approaches to war in the medium. A
>video-game documentary about Iraq or Afghanistan is inevitable,
>whether it is a Medal of Honor sequel, or Six Days in Fallujah, or
>another game altogether, Read Omohundro told me.
>"I think that eventually it will be permitted," he said. "And if it
>becomes permitted, it will be accepted. It's just going to take a while."
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