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I haven't personally played the game Modern Warfare 2, but I have gleaned enough about it to get the gist of what went on in the ever controversial 'No Russian' level. I personally think that the entire thing is blown entirely out of proportion and is playing right into the game maker's hands. Rewarding them for by the book writing with the 'Hero of the internets award for awesome controversy'.
People are so freaking up in arms over the idea of computer civilians being shot that they act like this is one huge statement about war, the first person perspective, games as art, and pretty much everything else. To the point where sites even post up pictures like this to keep people from seeing the pixilated slaughter unwarned. Apparently you all don't watch R rated movies to be so easily rattled.
Let me just say my opinion right now. After seeing the videos of it on the internet, and hearing peoples descriptions an explainations, I am unimpressed. No Russian is a feel good controversy. Just shocking enough for you people to feel good about being shocked without having to actually think about anything meaningful.
You all should have considered what it meant to kill civilians in a game like grand theft auto long ago but never bothered to really analize it until Infinity Ward got them to scream juuuuust right. Now all of a sudden killing things that are supposed to represent human beings is edgy. Last I checked all the Nazis we killed in the great second gaming world war were human too.
In my personal opinion any game that attempts to tackle the horrors of war face to face has to do so from a neutral perspective. Real war isn't good guys vs bad guys it's two sides who don't agree throwing their own citizens to their death until one side or the other gives up. Each side thinks they are right and just and no matter which side is more right and just by our standards both are at least a little full of it. The idea of sending people to death to serve political purposes is one of the most morally grey areas in the human condition. Sometimes it needs to be done, but you are NEVER completely right for doing it. The people whom you kill are always still human. The other side always thinks it's as right as you think you are.
So I think that Infinity Ward was a little dumb to try to shoehorn in serious business into their 'America, eff yeah!' simulator. Until they are making war games where you play as both sides of a conflict and openly criticize both sides handling of the war any attempt they make to say 'war is bad, mkay?' is going to fall on deaf ears for me. It's basically like they are saying 'war is awful…unless the good guys do it. Then it's EFFING EXTREME!!!!!'
The way I understand it, Infinity Ward is playing on the American view of war to an insulting degree. Making the Russians the bad guy to get a cheap free pass to a conflict American players would understand. (COMMIES! COMMIES! TERRORISTS! TERRORISTS!) Making passing and pointless references to how the western powers go off half cocked in wartime but never really having the balls to portray them as doing anything that couldn't be explained away as having the best of intentions. (We have to get them there terrorists at any cost, after all.) Then playing on our fear of being invaded.We are only allowed to invade other countries! It's not supposed to go the other way around!
They are plowing into new territory for video games for sure, it's just that that new territory for video games was fully explored in movies by the damn eighties. Movies had dramatic death of innocents a long ass time ago. They had America being invaded and they had 'the road to hell is paved with good intentions.' Even games had them before this point I bet. We only started being gung ho about it recently. Now that we can kind of make all the people gamers are supposedly killing kind of look human while we do it. So that hurts gamers feelings.
So no matter how bad no Russian would make me feel for killing pixel civilians it would still fall on deaf ears for me as a waste of time because it's a cop out in a game that refuses true controversy. They didn't even have you playing as an actual terrorist when they gave you the option to shoot people with the terrorists. That would have made the terrorist you played as be in some way (gasp) HUMAN!!!! So they pulled the classic bullshit 'undercover agent' switcharoo and gave you an option to not pull the trigger and just stand back and cluck your tongue dissapprovingly as terrorists do what terrorists are known to do. That's not really that shocking. We already know terrorists kill people and we already know that it is bad. We also know now that IF YOU DO IT, YOU ARE BAD! (DUN DUN DUUUUUN!….dramatic musiiiiic)
This game doesn't take an unpopular stand about war because it knows an unpopular stand won't sell pew pew games. Faking like something we already know and accept is a controversy by playing it up intensely was much more safe for them.
People should really stop rewarding them for their baby steps in game narrative with such overblown coverage. Sci fi shooters and Japanese fantasy games have more nuanced views of war then this! Hell, Ninety Nine Nights (not a particularly good game but it still tried hard at this war controversy stuff) had you killing goblin civilians in one of it's storylines and then LET YOU PLAY AS THE GOBLINS! They just didn't make the innocents beg as much when you kill them and the innocents weren't as cute.
Seriously America, grow the hell up. Metal Gear Solid 3 took an interesting and nuanced view of the cold war and crammed it down our windpipe by portraying many of the Russians as genuinely nice people who just were loyal to their country and portrayed half of the American politicians in power as basically manipulative and monstrous profiteers. No one was oohing and ahhing over that then because it would have required thought to see the ways they took war as a concept to task.
We were all apparently too busy cheering on the bad ass exploding of a metal gear. We didn't have the time to realize how twisted it is that The Boss, a character that was as noble and good hearted as they come, was basically manipulated into doing seriously bad shit by her government as they destroyed her with her own loyalty for no reason as complicated as the Americans wanting a large secret stockpile of money. It was too hard to consider how our own loyalty to our country can be used to manipulate us…so WOO SNAKE , GO AMERICA!!
Now infinity ward says 'killing civilians, BAD! OTHER SIDE KILL CIVILIANS! THEY BAD!' and you all act like it's a damn deep statement because they showed you how awful it is to be walking around as it's happening and not saving anyone and roughly how messed up the terrorists have to be to not hesitate before pulling the trigger.
Call me when they finally get around to examining the fact that terrorists are human beings and not civilian murdering robots. Something has to happen to a person to turn them into a raving madman that kills innocent people and that something is probably awful. Write something about that. While you are at it try writing something about how America funded and created almost all of it's current enemies in it's blind dash to try and stop the communist threat back in the cold war.
War isn't a game, so in making a game about war you have to either treat it more seriously or leave the controversy to people who actually explore the humanity of both sides.
If you can't humanize the enemy then you are just writing propaganda and we got enough propaganda in all those world war 2 shooters game makers were crapping out. It's time to evolve, Infinity Ward.