IN THE LAST TWO DECADES, THE MEDIA AND IT’S ASSOCIATED TECHNOLOGY HAS GROWN RAPIDLY:
Books, magazines, television, movies, news, the internet, and video-gaming have all become part of our everyday lives in this day and age. Due to the holiday surge of popular video-games released this month, I have been somewhat of a hermit. The most popular of these games are crafted with an undeniable sense of artwork.
More often video games are subject to film adaptations, book adaptations, prequels, sequels, comic books, other forms of continuation, and countless types of fan art. Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn series writes in the December issue of Gameinformer about expanding the stories of video-games through multimedia outlets. “Hybrid media, like we’re talking about here, should be less about making us experience the same story over and over, and more about expanding the story,” writes Sanderson. “More importantly, we already have a storytelling form (video-games) that is good at blending genres. It was built to blend genres,” he writes.
Gaming is no longer a simple time killing hobby. The days of breezing through Mario World, or playing a few rounds of Mortal Kombat II are through. Gaming is now opening doors in the media that inspire players to be creative, think and ask questions.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, released in 2009, allowed the player to gun down innocent Russian civilians in the “No Russian” mission. The basis for this was key to the story line: as an undercover CIA agent, you are tasked to infiltrate a Russian terrorist group and aid them in an attack on a Russian airport. Although games such as Grand Theft Auto allow the killing of innocents, Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russian” was serious, politically motivated, realistic, and disturbing (yet I played it over and over again).
Everyone remembers the stink caused by Grand Theft Auto 3. A game centered around committing crime was sending the wrong idea for children. Not to mention it involved prostitution, and later in the series, drunk driving. But in all fairness, film contains worse things. The release of the Tom Clancy-esque Call of Duty games has solidified the fact that not all games are suited for children. In fact, most children won’t understand the themes of these games to begin with.
Which brings me to my next point: Rainbow 6. Ubiosoft’s Tom Clancy inspired Rainbow 6 games were once a dominating force in tactical, SWAT styled first person shooters (FPS). The original one was the first computer game I ever owned. In the December issue of Gameinformer, Matt Bertz and Jeff Cork released a sneak peek at Ubisofts newest development: Rainbow 6 Patriots. The article’s cover page is a blood-red, blindfolded Statue of Liberty. The headline: “AMERICANS ARE ANGRY”, this is gonna be good…
As the world changes, media changes. In the article, Ubisoft acknowledges that players familiar with FPS’s are tiresome with fighting off Nazis, Russians, and foreign terrorists. So they chose a storyline that hits close to home. The first few paragraphs I read sounded like an opinion piece from a newspaper, rather than an article on a video-game. They cite the failing economy, the growing despair of Americans on both sides of the political spectrum, and the rise in paramilitary groups and militias around the country. In the game you experience a violent political and social revolution where you are in the position to kill fellow countrymen. This sort of game raises serious ethical questions about what is allowed in Media, and how we experience it, as well as what direction America is heading in.
Last years release of Medal of Honor 2 caused a similar fuss, especially in military communities. In that game, players were allowed to play as Taliban forces and fight American troops. AAFES (Post Exchange) wouldn’t even allow copies to be sold in their stores. Another game, Homefront, also saw the killing of Americans (during a fictional North Korean invasion).
In my own opinion, these multimedia regulations are slop. Books, film, games, etc. are all just the main ingredients for a multimedia soup where the internet is the broth that brings them together. To restrict one without the other due to content would be unfair. I congratulate Ubisoft for being so bold. It may inspire interest in politics amongst young people – hopefully not violence. It allows those without imagination to view the world in a different light.
Brandon Sanderson seems to think that video-gaming is the future of entertainment. But it is hard for me to imagine everyone, young and old, glued to their favorite game console. Gaming simply isn’t for everyone. I do think that the craft of video-gaming is advancing in ways that were never thought practical. The story, whether it is fictional, or non-fictional is becoming interactive, not just in video-games, but in movies and ebooks. Could you imagine being able to interact with a news article? That’s a little farfetched I know, but it could be the future of how we entertain and inform ourselves.
As far as ethics go, I was born into the age of the internet; My human anatomy teacher was Rotten.com, and my sex ed teacher was Nakedchicks.com. The encyclopedia is Google. I played Ghost Recon so much, that I decided to join the Army. To say the least, me and many others from my generation have successfully desensitized ourselves from the media. Anything goes.