Free Essay

More Than a Game

In: Computers and Technology

Submitted By zdoug33
Words 1992
Pages 8
Zach Rubin
ENGL 112
4 December 2011
More than a Game
In recent years a growing number of video games have been created and produced, some of the most popular of these being ones that involve war. A lot of times these games are seen as recreational, lacking any sort of substantial benefit or hazard for the gamer. What many fail to see is the adverse effects that video games do have on people, leaving many with fictitious perceptions of war, but also how they may be harnessed productively as for soldiers partaking in actual combat. Beginning with games such as Space Invaders in 1978 to today’s Gears of War, the depictions of mayhem have always been present, but today have become so realistic. Although video games may seem insignificant, they can be very beneficial for a soldiers training but also harmful to the general public creating a false sense of reality. As ongoing improvement of technology as a whole has taken place, video games have recently become incredibly realistic. Day by day, makeshift warfare in people’s living rooms is turning into reality. With such new features as vibrating controllers, HD televisions, and surround sound speakers gamers are put right in the middle of the action. War-based games have seen much recent success and have become so popular in society today because people are curious about what its like to be a soldier. By putting gamers in simulated war, simulations are as real as ever and give gamers a sense that they are actually partaking in the fight.
Unlike passive movies such as Saving Private Ryan or Peal Harbor, video games are not only using visual frames for their gamers, but interactive ones too. Though through participation, players may lose sight of the reality of war’s gruesome detail, falling short of what is actually real. “While war movies are passive, video games are interactive as players take on active roles. In short, historically based video games can glorify war but these war games do not consider the complexity and reality of war. Gamers need to be wary of the interactive nature and visually persuasive and stunning environment and need to remember that video games are just games” (Hess 1). War base video games do in fact give a gamer a historical backdrop, but this sometimes can be misleading. For example, the game Medal of Honor lacks important World War II issues such as Japanese internment camps, effects of rationing on the poor, and the use of atomic weapons. The game skews the war, giving false misinterpretations and incomplete historical accounts. Retelling history and memorizing how and what happens in a game may affect how gamers remember and perceive the war. Often perceived as to be true, stories in war games are attested by historians who state “war is a lot more complicated”. In short, they create false accounts and beliefs (Hess 1).
“As video game developers become increasingly adept at creating visually persuasive and sunning environments, we should keep in mind that video games no matter how realistic, are still a far cry from the reality of war” (Hess 1). Often video games commemorate past events which could be a good thing, but make people blind of what actually takes place. Games are censored from more sensitive parts of war, which makes them seem less gruesome. The problem truly is that video games present pride without any problems. Heroic, appealing parts of war are shown, leaving out the immoral disgusting parts of it. Things such as a start and a reset button are also present in games, which make it almost impossible to lose. For example, if one dies in a video game one can always restart from the nearest checkpoint. This is what makes a video game a video game and people need to realize that what they are playing is nothing like reality.
More recently, video games involving the Middle East and terrorism have been developed. These games are “educating” people of what is going on over seas and letting them partake in the fight from their own home. Such games are changing people’s stances on the War on Terror. Gamers believe what they are seeing in the video games is what the soldiers are truly facing. “The War on Terror has increasingly become a backdrop for both mass marketed and independently designed videogames. Be aware that video games are capable of shaping the cultural conversation about terrorism”(Sample 1). For the good or bad, video games can be used as propaganda, swaying player’s views on war.
With the ongoing development of technology, the army is has been taking advantage of its resources. A sort of connection has been made between the U.S. military and the gaming industry. For reasons of both training and recruitment, the army has harnessed virtual gaming as a valuable asset. Beginning as early in 1997, a modified game of the game Doom was made and used by marines to train. More recently, games such as Full Spectrum Warrior have developed with help of the U.S. army to enhance urban military and warfare stimulation. Playstations and Xboxes are often found in barracks today and used as virtual stimulations for soldiers. Military officials say that they have transformed the way the United States military fights wars, as well as soldiers’ ways of killing. War is no game, but games, in a big way, have updated war. Fred Lewis, a retired 33-year-old U.S. Navy veteran and head of the National Training Systems Association advocates this. “There’s been a huge change in the way we prepare for war, and the soldiers we’re training now are the children of the digital age who grew up with GameBoys. Live training on the field is still done of course, but using stimulations to train them is not only natural, it’s necessary” (Vargas 1).
The goal is the same in both games of war and in real life. The objective is to survive. Of course in reality actual weapons are being fired and adrenaline comes in to play but in a sense one is practically doing the same thing, trying to kill the other person. Games like America’s Army was designed and is being used as both a recruiting and training mechanism. Even soldiers recommend the use of video games in training. Sergeant Sinque Swales talked about how combat seemed like he was in one big videogame stating, “It didn’t even faze me, shooting back. It was just natural instinct” (Vargas 1). He said this after he shot at the enemy for the “second” time, but this time being a human enemy. Another soldier felt like he was also playing in a video game when in combat exclaiming, “The insurgents were firing from the other side of the bridge… We called in a helicopter for an airstrike… I couldn’t believe I was seeing this. It was like Halo” (Vargas 1). This goes to show that video games do go a long way in our soldiers’ preparation for war.
Having grown up with first-person shooter games long before they have joined the army, soldiers are becoming in a sense better prepared. Games such as Call of Duty, SOCOM, and Medal of Honor are today’s most popular war games and are seen to do this. Even though kids don’t have a sense of what s actually going on in war, having the reality of it distorted by games, they in a sense train them up in a certain way. A former F-15 pilot described the younger generation of remote drone pilots with awe. They had less training and experience than him, but he felt their years of gaming made the “naturals” to the fast moving, multitasking nature of modern warfare (Rhiadra 1). Some compare today’s exposure of such violence to children at such a young age to the approach ancient Sparta took. The U.S. defense Consultant elaborated on this in a recent interview. “Remember the days of the old Sparta, when everything they did was towards war? In many ways, the soldiers of this video game generation have replicated that, and that’s something to think about” (Vargas 1).
Since video games have been created, they have been very popular, though many may have never thought such a subtle thing could have had such a significant influence on today’s society. Even though countless would say playing a video game is just as harmless as playing a pickup basketball game, it does in fact effect the social and cultural perceptions of war. With the credibility of many soldiers, virtual reality has become more than just a game. By forming aggressive feelings and increased negative stereotypes of other cultures, video games also fuel more and more interest in war itself (Snider 1).

Works Cited

Halter, Ed. From Sun Tzu to XBox: War and Video Games. New York, N.Y.: Thunder's Mouth, 2006. Print.
This Book shows the relationship between military cultures and the evolution of games.
These games stem from chess all the way to today’s technology. This information will be useful to show how the government today works with gaming companies such as Atari and Microsoft. Useful examples like the military creating training devices and training recruits help demonstrate the relationship between games and reality.

Hess, Aaron. "The Consequences of Playing War." Communication Currents. National
Communication Association. Web. 20 Mar. 2010. <>.
This case study defines how “play” war influences society. It unveils many problems such as the key consequences of actual warfare left out of games. This study will help define the negativities of gaming and the unrealistic demonstration that they reveal. By also skewing the actual history of war, false perceptions are also created by these games.

Sample, Mark L. "Game Studies - Virtual Torture: Videogames and the War on Terror."
Game Studies - Issue 0902, 2009. Web. 18 Mar. 2010. <>.
This article explains the demonstration of torture in video games and its effects on people’s thoughts and concerns of the issue. It considers the serious cultural products stemming from videogames. This will help demonstrate the political and social issues created by gaming.
Singer, Peter W. "Video Game Veterans and the New American Politics." Washington
Examiner. 17 Nov. 2009. Web. 20 Mar. 2010. <>.
This article explains just how the army recruits using video games. Through examples such as Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 and Army, it shows how both intentionally and unintentionally the government gains an advantage of recruitment from these games. This will be helpful in creating an argumentative case on both sides of my paper.

Snider, Mark. "Big-selling War Games May Carry Bigger Cost." 6 Sept. 2004. Web. 18 Mar. 2010. <>.
This USA Today article explains the bigger cost that war games carry and the unrealistic perception that they create. Using games such as Spectrum Warfare and movie Black
Hawk down, the feelings and effects of games are thoroughly explained. It also explains the benefits that games have for the actual army. This will help provide valuable information for both sides of the argument implemented in the paper.

Vargas, Jose A. "Virtual Reality Prepares Soldwers for Real War."
14 Feb. 2006. Web. 18 Mar. 2010. <>.
This paper explains how video games and virtual reality now help train soldiers and gives examples of just how. By interviewing various soldiers, real life instances are given which prove that there are benefits to gaming. This will help prove the positive cases to games involving warfare, preparing those to serve and saving lives.…...

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