Medal Of HonorBenjamin Busch, a former Marine Corps officer, made some very thoughtful and perceptive comments in an NPR interview earlier this week about EA's recently released Medal of Honor. Here is one example:
I honestly don't like that Medal of Honor depicts the war in Afghanistan right now, because even as fiction it equates war with the leisure of games. Changing the name of the enemy doesn't change who it is. But what nation or military has the right to govern fiction? Banning the representation of an enemy is imposing nationalism on entertainment. The game cannot train its players to be actual skilled special operations soldiers, nor is it likely to lure anyone into Islamic fundamentalism. It can grant neither heroism nor martyrdom. What it does do is make modern war into participatory cinema. That is its business.
That's a terrific piece of analysis, that Medal Of Honor (and other contemporary war games) "makes modern war into participatory cinema."
It's an unsettling piece of analysis as well.
I've never been able to play first-person shooters set in a contemporary theater of war because they're simply too disturbing to me. I felt like a voyeur of modern war, but there was no pleasure.
I have no problem with films or books that use a contemporary theater of war to ask questions about what it means to be human. That's what all good literature asks. But Medal Of Honor and Call Of Duty aren't asking those questions--they're nothing more than a naked cash-in.
Available now: a corporate re-creation of a contemporary tragedy that is sold for $60. Plus DLC.
If you sense that I am progressively becoming more disenchanted with "big gaming," that's one reason why. When I first started gaming, I somehow felt that the people who make games were cut from a different cloth.
A better cloth.
I think that was true, for a time, but as gaming has become more and more corporate, the cloth has become weathered and torn.