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War Games: How war and heroism is represented in videogames.

Recently, we celebrated Remembrance day (Veteran's day in the U.S), which made me think about how we see war, especially in video games. Today, one word is used above all others to describe soldiers: Hero. They fight against the country's enemies, risking their lives for their cause. But whether or not this is a fair use of the word 'hero', it is interesting to see how the concept has evolved, and is represented in video games.

Perhaps the most striking truth about soldiers in video games is that they totally disregard the notion of soldiers as heroes. Most are simply cannon fodder, dressed in the uniform of the enemy du jour: Nazis, Al Qaeda, loud-mouthed Russians. Often it doesn't matter, as long as it's recognizable. At best, a couple of allies are vaguely heroic, and even they pale in comparison to the player, often because they must. At worst, allies are passive and incompetent, without even the complexity of cowardice or naivete to explain their actions. The player has to be the deciding factor in the narrative, else games would struggle to justify why their story is being played and not another. However, I think this comes from the weakness of the representation of war, and the narrow, thrill-focused experiences which result from this. I, for one, would not mind playing a game where I am mostly powerless, where I am not the hero, where others decide the fate of the world. Because when the world revolves around you, you can't see what makes it turn.
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About CJHRRIHRHone of us since 7:00 AM on 07.31.2011