Thursday 25 September 2008

Videogames as metaphors---Military-Entertainment Complex

In a very brief look of the war games production of the last fifteen years, we can see that up to the end of the 90’s, videogames had a bipolar conception of the war and the geopolitical relationships, like the US against Russia or China or Iran. (Balance of Power, Red Alert etc). Since 11/9 we may see a third camp showing of and gradually transforming the gameplay concepts. That is not other, than the ‘’Islamic terrorism’’ threat that becomes the cause for the corporations to give back respectability to the old enemies at the scenarios of their games.

In an article written by Toni Fortin at the Monde diplomatique of July 2007 there are some very interesting points of view regarding this swift of tactic of the video game corporations. As an example he uses the case of the video game Command and Conquer (Electronic Arts 2003) where US and China become friends and fight together against a group of terrorists that is part or close to Al Qaida and of course behaves in a barbarian way. Or in another example, in the Act of War, direct action (Atari, 2005) the camp of the evil is made by Islamic terrorists that after an assault hold some oil resources and they oppose to the US plans. Here at this game there is a surprise at the scenario. United States are supported by a paramilitary police like group, the Task Force Talon composed by different kind of ‘’pieces’’ that is just made to act in occult operations. At the game scenario they are portrayed as ‘’old obstacles’’ regarding the establishment of international right and peace, but from now on they are part of the camp of good.

Furthermore, at the section of the more ‘’progressive’’ video games the third camp becomes the inside enemy. Usually these are mutated creatures or machines products of degenerate military-complexes. The target of such scenarios is to create Orwellian like situations that are on one hand in accordance with the actual technological evolutions, but on the other they can attack the player at any time creating this way a constant threat of chaos.

These games are characterised by a dynamic game play where the events of the action, are not totally predicted by the developers in order to introduce that way a kind of omnipresent risk to the player. The game world becomes this way a system rather than an interactive narrative. From now on the player does not belong simply to the camp of the good guys, but he is an element between obscure forces animated by different interests. This conception of the game play renders the idea of a world that after the fall of Soviet Union became unstable and lucks of any kind of meaning. In other words, these videogames represent the current so called post political situation, where there are no other options than liberalism or chaos. We shouldn’t get surprised by the fact that more and more the production of games are constructed based on the doctrine of Bush’s administration regarding the preventive and antiterrorist wars. The pressing and the bets in these games are so important that lead to suspension of the ordinary moral conventions.

Practically speaking the imperative of ‘’saving the democracy’’ can justify its negation, the violation of the rights and the human dignity. The heroes may assassinate in cold blood and in impunity the alien agents. Exactly the same way, as the advertisement of Splinter Cell (Ubisoft, 2003) says: It’s only me that dispose the fifth liberty, the right to espionage, to steal, to destroy and assassinate so to guaranty that the American liberties will be protected. If i get caught my government will pretend that ignore my existence.

I should notice that the player of actual videogames is not only a beholder of the enemy regimes. He becomes the full actor of their back fall and he restores the hegemony of the liberal values in the utopia worlds. As Tony Fortin concludes at his article: The video games try hard to re- enchant an ideology that contributed so much at the de- enchantment of the world.