Owen Good over at Kotaku recently posted an opinion piece about a current marketing item for Activision's Call of Duty: World at War. You can read the the article here - http://kotaku.com/5080808/where-was-the-editor-on-this-one - and as you can see he takes offense to the how the World War expierience is reduced to a type of prime time TNA commercial.
I like it this video. I understand that those who participated in the events portrayed in this game went through tramautic times, and their actions have deep ramifications, but I really do not need another Saving Private Ryan clone to tell me that I am about to relive a watershed moment in history. While this may not sound very upstanding, the sad truth is no one is going to play this game to get a better understanding of a war survivors expierience. While some games may have done good work to pay respect to the millions who have died in many gruesome battles, this trailer tells the truth: you are going to play this game to blow things up and shoot people to shreds. There are much better way's to pay respect to a war survivor than to play a game from the large selection of World War Two action titles available.
I understand Mr. Good's disdain, and I feel it too, but this trailer is far from the culprit. If anything, this piece of marketing draws our attention to the fact that many of our cheap expieriences are veiled in a sence of historical and moral importance as a means to make them more appealing. Before anyone who reads this decides to tare me a new one for choosing what appears to be the uninformed moral highground that many opponents of video games take when attacking this form, I just think more work needs to be done, thats all. Video games are still a blosseming medium, and while there has been steps forward in the subject matter that is mentioned above, I think that this trailer is quite a revealing piece of work, and it would be much more worthwhie to look at why is elicits disdain rather than to just act in disgust. After all, video games are a massive money making industry, and while marketing can miss the mark fairly often, sometimes it can show us the dark side of what really drives our expieriences.
Its not just Starcraft being played in this small cyber cafe in Guri-si (a small-ish town of 200,000 on the eastern cusp of Seoul). To the right of me are a pair of men in their early 20s who appear to be grinding for XP in Guildwars (or some Korean counterpart which I cannot identify - I know no Korean) and all around me people are avidly shooting away in a game very similar to counterstrike. Small cups of very sweet coffee and endless streams of cigarettes fuel the endless entertainment, which costs the regular patron \1000/hour ( 1 Canadian dollar exhanges roughly to \865, so thats about $1.20/hour Canadian - not bad). While walking on the street or while visiting the school where I will soon teach (my wife and myself are ESL teachers here) I got quite a few curious glances or giggles. Here, I barely exist. Soon enough I will try my skills against those around me and hopefully turn some heads. The guy to my left just closed downt he CS clone and opened a solo game of SC against 8 computers; he's protoss and he is clicking furiously. Since my arrival here 2 days ago, I have watched about 4 pro matches of Korean star-league on television, and know that I need practice. They do'nt use the BGH maps here either, only well balanced sanctioned maps that require frequent expansion - holding yourself in and building a mass wont do. I hear the ding signaling my time is almost up, I'll have to sign off for now in case I lost my typing. If this guy does anything phenominal I'll be back to post it, otherwise, stay tuned for a post here or there about my expieriences in the ever-wired country of Korea.