Well, it’s an interesting perspective, at least. Kotaku and Eurogamer today reported on a recent panel discussion at a Geneva Red Cross conference which discussed our beloved shooty-shooty games and the impact that they have on society as a whole.
More specifically, how many times have you run merrily amok through a round of your favourite military FPS game online and given any thought to how your actions mesh with International Human Rights laws?
I’m being facetious, naturally. To any reasonable mind, these are questions which should be asked about the game worlds which we inhabit, even if it’s only after the fact.
To get us to the point as a games community where we do think about these human rights issues whilst we’re playing games would probably require a game that’s more “Mass Effect” or “Skyrim” than “Medal of Honour”, I would vouchsafe.
Even though most games in the “CoD” franchises are fairly linear, directed experiences which don’t give the player a great deal of wandering room, it still seems to me that an RPG (no pun intended) is a better venue for discussing or depicting the kind of human rights during conflict scenario that the Red Cross panel talk was dealing with.
Let’s be honest – most of the military FPS games that we see are more comfortable operating in the realm of James Bond spy-fi fantasy than they are when being forced to contemplate the real world consequences of the action sequences which are these games’ stock-in-trade. When “CoD” reaches for anything more resonant than congratulating the player on their in-game avatar’s command of a silenced pistol, the previously hidden barrier between game and real life abruptly falls pray to what the youngsters might term ‘epic fail’.
I’m sure that some erstwhile indie dev could bash out something in Unreal Engine which addresses some of the concerns expressed in the Eurogamer piece but it’s not really that hard to imagine that dev teams like Infinity Ward and Danger Close are happier letting the bullets and destructable environments do the talking for them.