Wednesday, May 23


I'm not sure what to think of this: Insurgency. Some clearly very talented game designers have taken the game engine that runs the very popular game Half-Life 2 and created an incredibly realistic-looking first-person simulation of the current war in Iraq.

I've played and enjoyed several first-person shooter games over the years, but they've always been clearly fictional (usually sci-fi, historical fiction, or fantasy) where it is easy to draw the line between virtual and real, between fiction and fact. I am uncomfortable with turning the very real carnage in Iraq into a game. It demeans and belittles the ongoing tragedy there. Blurring the lines between games and reality is a slippery slope - it makes it too easy to look at the images and stories coming out of the Middle East and not feel anything.

On the other hand, the trailer starts out silent with an interesting quote in stark white on a black background:
When liberty comes with hands dabbled in blood, it is hard to shake hands with her.
-Oscar Wilde
The images that follow in the trailer show just how brutal and graphic modern 3-D rendering engines can be with chillingly-realistic blood spatter and physics juxtaposed with text like:
300,000 American troops ... not greeted as liberators ... but as invaders
As if the designers are expressing some sort of anti-war message.

Watching the trailer, I couldn't tell if the text commentary was just hype in a crass attempt to stir up controversy over the game and thereby garnering more attention (and therefore more downloads), or whether the game itself really is intended as something to expose the American public to the brutality of the war.

The technophile in me says it's a creative use of technology to accomplish the latter.

The cynic in me says the former.