The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Should games mirror real life?

Wartime themes spark controversy in gaming world

Video games have traditionally been played against vast invadinghordes of aliens with the player protecting Earth. There’s ahuge selection of such games, so many that it’s easy tobelieve this was humanity’s only purpose in games.

But along with the advances in both computer hardware andsoftware, there has been a growing trend to make”realistic” games. Realistic games doesn’t meanvirtual reality (imagine being inside TRON or TheMatrix). Instead it means games based on real, historicalevents.

Is this good or bad? Do realistic games glorify or debasehistorical events?

In the last few years there’s been a huge interest inWorld War II-based games. Even gaming novices have heard of recentsuccesses such as “Battlefield 1942,” “Medal ofHonor: Allied Assault” and “Call of Duty.”

Take a look at the recent advertising campaign for an upcominggame based on the Vietnam conflict. The war, which was widelyconsidered a tragic loss of life and highly damaging to allcountries who participated, has had enormous attention paid to itby the entertainment industry after films such as Platoonand Full Metal Jacket were kings of the box office.

Those movies showed not only impressive scenes, but alsodepicted the devastation, horror and impact that the Vietnamconflict had on those involved. So why is there such an uproaragainst this subject being brought to the computer world?

The game will allow the player, as a Vietnam marine, toparticipate in various scenarios that actually occurred in theconflict. Games have usually tried to tread the fine line betweentaste and sales, shying away from such topics as torture,interrogation and the more unsavoury aspects of camp life.

This new game claims to be the most realistic yet — evengoing so far as showing these previously taboo topics. Are theseelements being added to the game because the developers want toportray the events as realistically as possible and be historicallyaccurate? Or are they trying to make as many sales as possible fromthe shock value?

It’s an important question and one that may become moreimportant as time passes. If this becomes the de facto standard,what will be the next barrier to be reached and broken?

Games such as “Manhunt” place the player as a manescaping from bloodthirsty gangs, defending himself with any weaponthat comes to hand — even going as far as allowing the playerto sneak up behind an opponent and break his neck. This aggressivetactic is also employed in “Splinter Cell: PandoraTomorrow.”

Are these abilities and portrayals adding value to the overallgame experience? In most cases, the answer is no.

Reality is a difficult subject to bring to video games. Therewill always be some controversial aspect that offends a section ofthe game-playing population. One of the main reasons that peopleplay games is to be entertained, to be taken out of their everydaylives — they want to be transported to a world where they canplay a god, rescue the princess or collect as many gold coins aspossible.

Sometimes this simple idea is forgotten in the pursuit of makinga realistic game. But it is only by reaching these barriers anddealing with its consequences that we can truly understand the realpurpose of playing games — the player wants to have fun.


Gaming Briefs

Old-school games come to Playstation 2,Xbox

More than 80 vintage Atari games are beingreleased for the first time on PlayStation 2 and Xbox. The AtariAnthology, featuring Asteroids, Pong and Millipede, is scheduled tohit retail shelves in November for $19.99.


Atari introduces Flashback gamesystem

Atari hopes its upcoming Flashback system willput the nostalgia back in your home. The console will feature 20built-in games from the Atari 2600 and Atari 7800 systems.Consumers even get a new game in the previously unreleasedSaboteur. The Flashback is expected to cost $44.95, which includestwo replica joystick controllers.


Boldly go where no Ferengi has gonebefore

Perpetual Entertainment plans to develop andpublish a multiplayer online game based on ParamountPictures’ “Star Trek” franchise.

The game is expected to enter public beta testingin 2006 and to launch by early 2007.

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