Swift, Judith [faculty advisor, Department of Communication Studies]
War video games; history; effects of arcade games; violence
War has been a subject of many different mediums. Through the portrayal of war, great movies have given insights on human conditions in wartime. War has also been the subject of several video games that are incredibly popular in mass culture. The difference between war movies and war games are that war games are interactive, requiring the players to act out violence in a digital form whereas movies are passive and reiterative in outcome.
There have been many criticisms of war video games ranging from their ability to condition players to violence to their role as propaganda for recruitment, but these concerns often confuse training simulators and popular games released at major retailers. For my analysis I have selected a wide variety of war games generally available to consumers. These primarily deal with World War II, but a few make forays into the modern aspects of warfare. Company of Heroes, the Brothers in Arms Series, the Call of Duty Series, America’s Army and finally, the Combat Mission Series have been analyzed for their technical and historical accuracy which are critical to portraying war.
While there will be sections differentiating combat training simulators and popular video games, the main focus of the paper is on video games that are purchased on the mass market. Technical and historical accuracy are important to consider in games because they lead to “selective” representation of historical facts wherein real events are brushed over for the sake of simplicity and pure gaming excitement. I propose that in order for a game to be truly worthwhile, there needs to be historical accuracy, good storytelling, and some implications as to what the costs of war actually entail.