Every once in a while, I write something that makes me genuinely upset, not in the sense of being angry, but decidedly sad. This piece I wrote on realism in first person shooters for Gamer Limit fell decidedly into that category, but it was much worse in regards to the first draft.
I am actually all in favor of setting military first person shooter games in contemporary environments, especially as an American. Americans, in my honest opinion, do not think often enough about the horrors of war, probably because as a culture we've only truly had them visited upon us more than a century ago. Pearl Harbor was a single incident, as was 9/11; but when a nation plays host to the full-on, modern war, that's a totally different ballgame.
Calls for "realism" in military FPS games really get under my skin, however, to the point where I wanted to show what the horrors of realism truly were...and so my final image for that piece was originally a dead Afghani child, lying face down in the sand. One of the GL Editors rightfully called me on it, saying that the image detracted from the piece. He was right, I didn't need to be that blatantly grim...but the image selection reflected how strongly I feel on this subject, that these calls for "realism" are outright offensive when one considers what the petitioners are really asking for.
I had no idea what the hell anyone was getting so up in arms about when this Scott Pilgrim movie hit the news at San Diego Comic-Con. I guess if you're a harder-core comic book fan than I that you knew the scoop, and were looking forward to this film adaptation, but my comic book reading tends to be limited to The Walking Dead and pretty much anything by Warren Ellis nowadays.
The reviews of this movie, however, led to a very interesting piece on NPR which my wife point out for me, and which led to this response by yours truly on Bitmob.
I've said it before, I'll say it again: my favorite definition of "intellectual" is paraphrased from Penn Jillette as "One who, in the face of facts, can change their mind."
I find myself in this position with the iPhone, which I once mocked as even conceptually being considered a "platform" the way I think of my Xbox 360 or PC or DS, and which I now find myself eschewing other platforms in favor of, not from the road, but on the couch in my living room. You know, right in front of my 46" plasma television with the surround sound hookup?
I posted my mea culpa up on Gamer Limit. Lord help me, someone needs to get Civ Revolution out of my hands like yesterday.
This Destructoid blog on calls for realism in military FPS titles turned out to be effectively part 1 of a two-parter between two different sites. This first piece was a little more cold in its analysis, and I think, perhaps, that holding back the emotional content I would have liked to have weaved into the piece is directly what erupted into the second piece, which actually had a much larger audience, I think.
When I write pieces like this, I wonder if I'm taking video games too seriously. I don't know that I want to admit to the possibility, mostly because it seems like the sort of thing one only considers because the subject being thought about doesn't automatically feel valid enough to take seriously.
I can't get down with people who are pissed off about being able to play as the Taliban in Medal of Honor when I've been playing as Nazis for almost a decade in several different FPS franchises. Maybe for most people Nazis have devolved into comic book villains, something that doesn't quite seem real to them because they don't read their history. Perhaps they missed The Diary of Anne Frank in high school. In any case, I think that if gamers can play as history's greatest monsters that playing as the Taliban isn't some egregious offense, even if they come from a conflict which is current versus historical. I think that the much larger size of the historical wound caused by the Nazi Regime should still count for something in this equation.