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Veteran Member - Level 11
If there is one genre consistently dominating my playtime
over the years of being a gamer, it's the First Person Shooter. I have easily
played more shooters than all of the other genres combined. I suppose the first
one I ever played was Wolfenstein 3D, which some might be surprised to learn is technically
not the first FPS even though many claim it to be. Anyway, I've been playing
them ever since and loving the significant improvements that have come about
due to advances in technology. I'm not going to bore you with a long list of
shooters I've played, nor will I suggest that I've played them all...there are
simply too many of them to make such a bold claim. I will say this though - the
ones that have defined or revolutionized the First Person Shooter (FPS) genre,
well chances are I played it; or if it uses a current generation military theme,
then chances are I've played it.
Given I have such a tendency to play shooters, I can't help
but speculate how these games will grow and evolve in the coming years. I say
that because so many of these games are modeled after our real world military
forces, which if you haven't noticed, has undergone some significant
transformations in the past few years. The time of conventional warfare using
waves of fighter and bomber aircraft, columns of tanks and formations of
soldiers has kind of been relegated to the history books. Many of our shooters
have already abandoned this theme too while adopting the asymmetrical warfare often
associated with the Special Forces. But even that mission set is beginning to
witness a paradigm shift as many military experts speculate about the next big
war being waged in cyberspace, which might leave some gamers wondering...
"Will this real life
shift in military presence and posturing affect my FPS games, and if so, how?"
Now, before you dismiss this concern as absurdity - the
thoughtless ramblings of an old gamer - just look at the current generation of
shooters and how closely they seem to model the real world. I mean heck...Medal
of Honor Warfighter recruited actual members of the SPECWAR community to
contribute to their game and based many of the missions off of real world
events. But that's certainly not the only element. Look how many shooters have
incorporated drones into their game play, and think about how often the subject
of drones comes up in the news. Games like Future Soldier showcase next
generation technology and weaponry...being developed now for our military forces
of the future. Even the plot and threat types in many of our games are loosely
based off of real world equivalents; from terrorist attacks on the streets of
London to the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Regardless of how
big or small the correlation might be, a link exists between real life military
operations and the make believe worlds found in some of the games we play.
Those developers, especially those developers with a
reputation for creating games emulating real world operations, will likely find
there is a whole lot less gun battles and a whole lot more infiltration and
stealth tactics being employed. It's certainly not the first time we've seen
this mechanic at play. I recall a particular mission from Rainbow Six requiring
you to infiltrate this lodge undetected - bug the phone and retrieve some files
off of the computer, and then leave the premises without ever being detected.
It might not sound all that difficult, but when there are a half dozen or so
guards patrolling inside and outside of the lodge, requiring you to take cover
in empty rooms while waiting for the threat to pass. It was pretty tense, and
zero shots were ever fired. I'd say that's true of a lot of real world missions
that happen today - the ones we never hear about on CNN or Fox News.
Is that the future of
I guess one of the matters concerning me the most is all of
this attention being given to the potential for civil unrest, and dare I
say...civil war. I'd like to think civil war is an impossibility we would never
be faced with again; an abhorrent and detestable action limited to third world
countries rooted in chaos, but not the United States. I'd like to think
that...but can't help but not think that. It wouldn't be the first time we've
seen a game incorporating a theme surrounding the fall of the United States.
Consider the following...
Homefront is a
first-person shooter video game developed by the now defunct Kaos Studios and
published by THQ, in which players play as members of a resistance movement
fighting against a near-future North Korean military occupation of the United
The game's backstory
begins during the early 21st century, with tensions between North Korea and
global powers running high due to North Korea's military aggression, including
its successful testing of nuclear weapons and the sinking of a South Korean
ship. In 2013, one year after the death of North Korean Supreme Leader Kim
Jong-il (which, incidentally, came in December 2011, several months after the
game's release), his son and successor, Kim Jong-un, reunites North and South
Korea to form the Greater Korean Republic (GKR), a technological and economic
global power. By 2015, a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, both now
nuclear-armed states, has devastated the global oil supply, causing prices to
skyrocket. This precipitates extreme economic turmoil and massive social unrest
in the U.S. Subsequently, in 2017, the U.S. military recalls much of its
overseas presence, particularly in the Pacific. A year later, Japan is easily
conquered by the GKR and joins the Greater Korean Republic.
It's kind of eerie how close some of those fictional plot
lines are to reality, don't you think?
Now, I've often said I'm not a conspiracy theorist, and
quite frankly I think some who are do so simply for the attention, especially
those who are in a position to draw national level interest. I don't think
Sandy Hook was a government sponsored attack with the intent on passing gun
control legislation, although I do wonder why we've never seen any of the
surveillance video leading up to the attack. I'm not a 9/11 truther who thinks
the U.S. government was behind some elaborate conspiracy to blow up the World
Trade Center and Pentagon, but I do think the dialogue, specifically the
comment about "pulling it", regarding WTC 7 (the other building that collapsed
that day), is troubling.
I'm not a conspiracy theorist but I wonder about some
stories I've read here lately and how it could be used as the inspiration or
model for future military themed shooters. Two of the most concerning stories
are included below. The first stems from military leaders being groomed based
on their response to whether they could carry out orders against the civilian
the story is probably false, which probably isn't very encouraging.
The second story involves the Department of Homeland
Security...not the fact they are ordering thousands of weapons and billions of
bullets (yes, billions)...but something even more alarming - they are ordering
paper targets depicting seemingly normal citizens, albeit normal citizens that
are armed. According to the company contracted to make these items, the spirit
and intent was to prepare and expose law enforcement officers to these types of
In a time where guns and games are coming under heavy fire
for the rampant violence we see occurring in the United States, it seems a
little unusual the government would not only condone, but order such a shocking
target for its agents to practice firing at.
Now before this potentially volatile topic bubbles over and
erupts into a full blown political debate, I'm not really here to discuss my
thoughts on those concerns and whether they are true or not - that's a blog for
a different time and a different website...but I am here to apply that train of
thought and line of reasoning to video games, specifically military first
If many of our shooters are pre-cursors of what is to come,
can we expect, or more importantly should we be concerned, with any game that
would have us pick sides and take up arms against our fellow Americans? If we
do see such a game or games, should we chalk it up as coincidence, or as a creative
way to prepare and de-sensitize us to this bleak future? Would you play a game
that required you to pick sides and shoot civilians, even if they were armed? If
we look at the history and similarities of real world military operations and
how they are often emulated in video games, I don't think it's much of a
stretch to see a game that tap dances the fine line of what's acceptable and
what's inappropriate and includes this sort of sensitive subject matter.
The only question or questions left is who will develop it,
and what side you're going to be on.
Great blog, although I really, really hope you're wrong.
Wow this was a really edgy but bold and intriguing topic for a blog. Good job sir. And when those last two points were mentioned i automatically thought of Rainbow 6 Patriots. If I remember correctly from the cover story they talked about a scenario where a man with a detonator has a hostage positioned in a way they will not survive. Do you kill the detonanor man (causing the civilians death) and save thousands or let the thousands die? If the civilian is killed it's starts up conspiracies and controversies over the team. If the thousands die then the team still isn't doing the job that people want done. Putting players in no win scenarios seems to me like an honest approach to what big wars would be like. I kinda hope more games strive for this type of realism and originality in future military games.
This could certainly be what we're leaning towards. Oh noes.
That picture scared me for a second but then I realized that I don't look a thing like the people on the targets, whew, thank god I'm not a child, elderly, or a woman. The scary thing is that those pictures truly are someone out there in the real world, I wonder if they realize that day in and day out police are training to shoot their heads off.
Great article but I think you are a bit of a conspiracy theorist, I don't think that is a bad thing though. I guess I'm also somewhat a conspiracy theorist because sometimes things don't add up right but I'm certainly not completely delusional(or so I hope).
I also think that the game to real life comparison for homefront is a coincidence because leading up to his death there were rumors about his poor health, so they probably wanted to tie into a real world event that would be happening to create a more gripping story and immersing the player into that story. It does make you think about all of those coincidences though like keanu reeves id in the Matrix had the date September 11 , 2001 and the Batman movie had the scene with Sandy Hook on the map when Alfred is talking about bombs. It's all just an odd coincidence but it sure does make you scratch your head.
Can't really comment on the possible conspiracies (I'm not a theorist, but some of them make a bit more sense than others), but you may be right on what the future of FPS games is.
Funnily enough, scenarios where the US breaks into a bunch of smaller states are not unheard of in games (maybe not video games, but I can't think of any offhand). Back when I was in college, I played a couple of PBM games (Play By Mail, where you send your turns in to the referee and then are sent the results along with the playsheet for the next turn), and one of them was where the States had broken up.
It was quite intriguing.
That being said, given the climate today, I don't know if a game like that would sell well. Might hit a bit too close to home.
You have a great writing style. Its VERY impressive, sir.
Great blog. like always Saint. The political moves to focus our military on cyber warfare and special ops seems ffoolish to me. While both programs do need to see major influx of resources and capital it shows the shortcomings of our leadership to see conventional threats, i.e. China and their military build uup and modernization. But for gamers as long as conventional battles like that are on the horizon we will probably see more FPS, hopefully some good ones against China or our friendly North Koreans.
Now on another American Civil War, as this country continues its downwards slide the probability of it happening increases into a near certainty. Especially as the politicians on both sides pay more time catering to special interests and ignore the good of the country as a WHOLE. But to games like Rainbow 6 : Patriots I would personally have a hard time with rooting for the Rainbow team, but I'm sure it will be a great game like the other ones whenever they get around to finishing and releasing. With how long they're taking it will end up being next gen.
"[S]hould we be concerned, with any game that would have us pick sides and take up arms against our fellow Americans? If we do see such a game or games, should we chalk it up as coincidence, or as a creative way to prepare and de-sensitize us to this bleak future? Would you play a game that required you to pick sides and shoot civilians, even if they were armed?"
Have you played Spec Ops: The Line?
Another great blog Saint! While I'm not a huge fan of FPSs myself, those are definitely interesting thoughts as to how the genre might change.
As for those two news stories, I hadn't heard about either until reading this. Both are kind of a lot to take in, so I'm not exactly sure how I stand on either without more information. My question would be, are they talking about unarmed citizens or US citizens who are viewed as a dangerous threat. Like those targets show, the person is pointing a gun at the viewer, so reasonably, they would have to viewed as a threat. Whether its a man, woman or child, I would think that someone aiming a weapon like that would need to be dealt with, presumably with non-lethal force if possible, but with lethal force if deemed necessary.
Definitely not what I was expecting! It's curious to see the parallels between video games and real life events. I believe there will still be different FPS games as there is now. You have your Sci-Fi Halo shooters and your Modern Warfare games that emulate real life events and happening.. Then there is Grand Theft Auto.. Ha. In my opinion and from what I take from the games it that I am learning about how the military/any type of armed forces works and how things are carried out. Obviously they are video games and in no way replicate real world combat, they still give us an insight on the topic.
Take Call of Duty 2 for example. Set in WWII and storming the D-Day beaches. D-Day was recreated in this game and provided us a striking glance at what could have and what did happen that day. I think it gives us a sense of reality and an experience that we are not a part of. Now I know that is a stretch but it's a possibility.
With the events happening now around the world, the espionage, the WMD's and the war I can see games becoming more and more similar to what's over seas. I do enjoy the thought of games focusing more on a falling U.S. because it strikes a blow at us. It develops a sense of pride and encouragement for us to fight for what we call ours. I could see these types of games becoming more and more popular.
It's certainly an interesting topic. Technically you are capable of killing other Americans in GTA, but the context of that game puts you in the shoes of a criminal (also, it's third-person), so it's highly unlikely that such actions within the game can really be redeemed or justified in that sense. I was really hoping to see if Rainbow Six: Patriots would tackle that issue of domestic terrorism, and hopefully it will still be included despite the change of creative staff.
I also wonder, do you know of any movies or books that deal with this particular topic? I'm curious if it has even been addressed in other mediums.
The FPS games need to change their outlook on the subject reality. Being a simulator is not always a sign of quality and is often faced with the problem of social weaponry.
In my opinion, using the FPS to create new storylines, as something that escape from reality is the best alternative for this genre today.