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Two Iraq War veterans share their thoughts on CoD Modern Warfare's depiction of realism (2019)

NarohDethan

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,195
I saw this on my Twitter feed and I think they're pretty good insights on the insistence of the game industry on making 'realistic' war games. You can read the entire thread by clicking on the tweet.



So, I want to talk about the #ModernWarfare panel at E3 and some of what was said. Because it's a perfect example of every problem I have with videogames that attempt to depict "realism" in combat.

Content warning.

I will be vivid.

I will be graphic.

Because I need to be.

The following quote is in regards to accidentally shooting a baby being held by a woman civilian: "“If you comport yourself in a way not befitting a soldier, the game will fail you”. What does that even mean? Can you actually shoot a fucking baby? Will the game end?

”The game will try to figure out if you shot that baby on purpose or accidentally." And then what? Navy SEAL Edward Gallagher committed murder and war crimes IRL. Will your character be apprehended and put on trial? I fucking doubt it. Why is this even an option?
10 years ago, I was one of the leading advocates against a similar bad idea, from another studio purporting to make a "realistic" depiction of war. Then too a developer wanted to appeal to prurient depictions of war's horrors while making a "compelling entertainment experience."

That game was the ill-fated "Six Days in Fallujah" from Konami, which has been "definitely not canceled" since 2009. Peter Tamte is still trying to fall on his sword to defend that abomination. Looking back at my criticisms of Six Days, it's overwhelming clear we learned nothing

The story that game developers like Konami and Infinity Ward want to tell is their romanticized, idealized version of war. They want to sell you a lie: that war is a game, a story that can be packaged, monetized, and sold for the consumption of an audience enjoying safely at home
 

Dio

Member
Oct 25, 2017
2,724
read both earlier today. War fetishization needs to stop, and it saddens me, more so on John's replies, that people simply cannot understand that his criticism comes from the idea that making these games, war in games, realistic, isn't a good thing to pursue.
 

Ketch

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,088
As a vet whose been deployed multiple times this is how I feel about every movie that cashes in on gwot
 

Cosmo Kramer

Member
Oct 28, 2017
750
México
I am guilty of enjoying war games/movies/tv shows. I don’t think producing or enjoying this content is bad, pretending is a faithful representation of what an actual war is and what soldiers experience is idiotic and disrespectful
 

RumbleHumble

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,023
Good threads. I don't have anything to add because they're not my experiences, but it's eye-opening.
 
Oct 26, 2017
7,774
Good threads, but while we're at it: fuck the military machine that sells teenagers on military life being badass, fun, cool etc.
 

Stiler

Avenger
Oct 29, 2017
6,271
I think it depends on the game/movie and how it's presented.

Lots of games try to present something meant to "shock" you or horrify you, to point out "oh look at this bad thing that happened" but they they toss that aside and move on, just used as window dressing, never getting a sense tihat it affected the character or people that saw it.

Games like CoD and Battlefield both feel really "hollow" when they attempt to portray the "dark" side of war because of this and other elements and just the over the top style of games, you can't really take the "serious" aspects they try to present you with seriously because of that.

Then there are games like Spec Ops: The Line, and to a lesser degree Brothers in Arms, who handle those aspects more seriously and actually build upon them and give a sense of what the characters are going through and have those things actually carry weight and impact them throughout the game.

I however don't think anything will ever truly capture the true horror, as he outlined in his twitter thread, that's just not something tihat's possible to really do or hasn't been attempted to.
 
I don’t understand why they try to go down the “this is a realistic depiction “ thing with games, that’s probably impossible to actually do. Just say the game is gritty and shocking instead of a “realistic depiction “. Action games are supposed to be fun, that’s the opposite of what actual war is supposed to be.

Interesting that the second guy has experience with the Six Days in Fallujah game. I can’t imagine how upset he must be that a game as big as CoD is trying to say they’re a realistic depiction now. Even games like Spec Ops The Line didn’t try to act like irs a realistic depiction.
 

b00_thegh0st

Member
Nov 6, 2017
446
These are totally valid remarks. One should wonder what are its motivations towards playing games depicting realistic war violence. Is it meant to be entertaining?
 

Detective

Member
Oct 27, 2017
2,535
I don’t like these so called wars games.
Lies and lies. Also lost family members on this so called war.
 
Nov 8, 2017
173
i wonder what the reception of Spec ops: the line is among the veterans. it was aimed to capture the dark side of a non-existent war.
 

KingM

Member
Oct 28, 2017
1,011
These are totally valid remarks. One should wonder what are its motivations towards playing games depicting realistic war violence. Is it meant to be entertaining?
CoD is definitely meant to be a moment to moment thrill ride that gets gasps from, "wow, that's fucked up! But it was so fun right before, during and after except for like 5 seconds." moments.
 

Mr. X

Member
Oct 25, 2017
5,156
I'm glad people are speaking out. Won't stop Activision, they don't actually care about depictions of war or the people fighting them, just that CoD continues to sell the best each iteration by any means.
 

i-Lo

Avenger
Oct 31, 2017
10,961
Not America
Even before I dive deep into it, I have always voiced my opinion, on twitter and especially here where I have called it out as abhorrent/repugnant/reprehensible for exploiting both ends of a real and a dirty war for money.

Ever wonder why we have never had games where we play from the perspective of a potential war survivor in AAA space? Because "Fun". Killing and destruction is what saturates the AAA space (fuck I gotta thread about this shit sometime soon). Destruction power fantasy has become empowerment.
 

Nanashrew

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,071
CoD is abhorrent and seeks shock value above all and I have always hated it. I hate war games in general, and it's also why I'm sick of guns, guns, guns in every game.

And God... Just reading those threads... I dunno why I do sometimes, it always sends a shock right through me, and I remember my friend who ended his life on this month back in 2013.
 
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NarohDethan

NarohDethan

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,195
CoD is abhorrent and seeks shock value above all and I have always hated it. I hate war games in general, and it's also why I'm sick of guns, guns, guns in every game.

And God... Just reading those threads... I dunno why I do sometimes, it always sends a shock right through me, and I remember my friend who ended his life on this month back in 2013.
I'm sorry for your loss.
 
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NarohDethan

NarohDethan

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,195

Did they actually say this? Holy shit
Once upon a time, the CoD series was about the people fighting the war, admire their bravery and selflessness.

Now it is a series where you shoot a baby, feel bad for 4 seconds before landing a headshot on the enemy, and that's supposedly to be a realistic take on war.
 

i-Lo

Avenger
Oct 31, 2017
10,961
Not America
Having read the first thread, I feel even more enraged now. How the fuck do you "gamify" tragedy? How the fuck you do it in a medium where there is such a fuckin' thing called, Ludo-narrative dissonance, a product of interaction related limitation which has fundamentally has always taken away agency from the hands of players to deliver an emotional story and only returning it so that the player can fulfill the mechanical functions to get to the next cutscene?

You are not surrounded the sights, sounds, smell, permanence of consequence and persistent nature of a war. That shit does not stop or be turned down like the volume button IRL. And I would bet my bottom dollar that there will be someone who T-bags dead or killed NPCs in the game because they can. Fuck this game.

Yea, things are slowly changing (on a case by case basis and mostly outside AAA space) now but there is still a significant disconnect between narrative and gameplay as it ties to player emotions. It is the reason why the only two emotions that can be elicited during gameplay are fear and adrenaline rush and generally two more after the fact- relief and momentary joy. Unlike passive mediums, games still cannot provide players a singular cohesive narrative experience aiming to deliver more complex emotions as part of gameplay.
 

RedSwirl

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,363
I remember when doing the older MW games, IW saying specifically they were going for "authenticity, not realism," and a military adviser for those games admitting they were putting a glorified microscope on "two percent" of the experience of fighting a war, that they were creating something that kinda sorta looked like something that would only ever be experienced by one out of every 10,000 soldiers. Personally I think this is a PR slip-up, because it seemed that in the past IW knew full-well it wasn't making a representation of actual war -- that it's impossible for a multi-million dollar video game to do that.
 

bangai-o

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,187
I am guilty of enjoying war games/movies/tv shows. I don’t think producing or enjoying this content is bad, pretending is a faithful representation of what an actual war is and what soldiers experience is idiotic and disrespectful
As a kid, I grew up on Vietnam movies. The good thing about those movies is they didnt try to romanticize war. Instead they showed how disgusting it is. Today's war media often gets ridiculous and looks like a Micheal Bay movie.
 
Oct 25, 2017
512
CoD is abhorrent and seeks shock value above all and I have always hated it. I hate war games in general, and it's also why I'm sick of guns, guns, guns in every game.

And God... Just reading those threads... I dunno why I do sometimes, it always sends a shock right through me, and I remember my friend who ended his life on this month back in 2013.
Hey. One of those threads is mine.

I'm sorry about your friend. I lost my best friend of 20 years to suicide in 2015. We met when we were 14. I think about Joel every day. About the guilt, about how I failed to save him.

I don't know what goes through your head and heart when you think about it, but I hope you don't blame yourself. Feel better, ok?
 

RumbleHumble

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,023
Hey. One of those threads is mine.

I'm sorry about your friend. I lost my best friend of 20 years to suicide in 2015. We met when we were 14. I think about Joel every day. About the guilt, about how I failed to save him.

I don't know what goes through your head and heart when you think about it, but I hope you don't blame yourself. Feel better, ok?
Thanks for writing what you did.
 

SapientWolf

Member
Nov 6, 2017
2,970
The best the upcoming CoD can do is maybe make the player feel kinda bad for 4 whole seconds. I wouldn't even say games are the wrong medium for a realistic depiction of war. But the resulting product wouldn't be marketable. No one actually wants that.
 
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NarohDethan

NarohDethan

Member
Oct 27, 2017
7,195
Hey. One of those threads is mine.

I'm sorry about your friend. I lost my best friend of 20 years to suicide in 2015. We met when we were 14. I think about Joel every day. About the guilt, about how I failed to save him.

I don't know what goes through your head and heart when you think about it, but I hope you don't blame yourself. Feel better, ok?
Didnt know you had an account here. Thank you very much for taking the time to write that thread.
 

Phellps

Member
Oct 25, 2017
3,088
It seems like CoD is always at odds with trying to go for "realism", but at the same time trying to sell the war as some cool, badass shit. It always comes across as completely tone deaf and insensitive.
 

bangai-o

Member
Oct 27, 2017
4,187
This is a good opportunity to revisit Noah Caldwell Gervais' video on the CoD saga:

The only COD game I played is on the DS.



It seems to follow the similar idea as what the author of the video is describing for the early games. I am actually a bit more interested in playing those early games now.
 

Nanashrew

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,071
I'm sorry for your loss.
Hey. One of those threads is mine.

I'm sorry about your friend. I lost my best friend of 20 years to suicide in 2015. We met when we were 14. I think about Joel every day. About the guilt, about how I failed to save him.

I don't know what goes through your head and heart when you think about it, but I hope you don't blame yourself. Feel better, ok?
I'm starting to feel a bit better, I just needed to step away from the computer for a little bit after that. Thank you both.

My friend was a vet and the PTSD was just too much for them. The worst feeling is being unable to do anything to help and reach them. And it especially hurts too because it was so late at night and his final words are preserved on Twitter which is where he said goodbye to everyone. I didn't know about it until the next day or so. I just really hate war and how it affects so many lives in such horrible ways. I just can't even imagine the amount of pain you or others have to live with. And though I don't know you, I want you to know that you are strong, you are loved, you are wanted. You're a good dude, Mister Megative.

Sorry if I'm getting all sappy.
 
Oct 25, 2017
512
I'm starting to feel a bit better, I just needed to step away from the computer for a little bit after that. Thank you both.

My friend was a vet and the PTSD was just too much for them. The worst feeling is being unable to do anything to help and reach them. And it especially hurts too because it was so late at night and his final words are preserved on Twitter which is where he said goodbye to everyone. I didn't know about it until the next day or so. I just really hate war and how it affects so many lives in such horrible ways. I just can't even imagine the amount of pain you or others have to live with. And though I don't know you, I want you to know that you are strong, you are loved, you are wanted. You're a good dude, Mister Megative.

Sorry if I'm getting all sappy.
Call me John, dude. I appreciate your kind words. I know you say you can't imagine the pain I live with, but don't let someone else's pain overshadow your own. People react to different things in different ways, and I'm sure you deal with all sorts of internal stuff I wouldn't want to.

I know you did all you could for your friend. Take it from me: we can't save everyone, man. All we can do is remember them.
 

Kin5290

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,695
The way the Modern Warfare devs described their set pieces made it sound kind of pornographic in detail, especially when compared to how the Chernobyl showrunners toned down the true horrors of the liquidation or how the ARS victims suffered because they thought it would be over the top.
 

Kenzodielocke

Member
Oct 25, 2017
6,748
Modern Warfare including pedophilic rape
"whats the issue, not real world man, not even real politcs"
paraphrasing, but thats what the devs said
"you can shoot a baby if you don't aim correctly, no game over"
great, exactly what we need in games.

"Those kinds of mistakes could result in some different dialogue repsonses. If you are taken an action, that is over the line, but understandable, your dialogue with your allies will branch." What are they trying to say with that? "This level of realism, as well as the difficult challenges that players will face on the campaign will spark some sympathy towards the soldiers and the people affected in the neighbourhood as well (families in warzones)"



Isn't that fucking war propaganda.
 

Toxi

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
8,877
Once upon a time, the CoD series was about the people fighting the war, admire their bravery and selflessness.

Now it is a series where you shoot a baby, feel bad for 4 seconds before landing a headshot on the enemy, and that's supposedly to be a realistic take on war.
The first is just as much a crock of shit as the second.
 

Nanashrew

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,071
Call me John, dude. I appreciate your kind words. I know you say you can't imagine the pain I live with, but don't let someone else's pain overshadow your own. People react to different things in different ways, and I'm sure you deal with all sorts of internal stuff I wouldn't want to.

I know you did all you could for your friend. Take it from me: we can't save everyone, man. All we can do is remember them.
I will take that to heart. Thank you.
 

SG-17

Community Resettler
Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,871
This is why COD and Battlefield and the like should stick to World War II or future stuff.