Noah J Nelson on Monday, Sep. 10th
Electronic Arts, publisher of the Medal of Honor franchise of military first-person shooters, has announced downloadable content that simulates the Seal Team raid that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden. This is being done as a cross promotion with the upcoming film about the hunt for Bin Laden, Zero Dark Thirty, from Oscar winner Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker).
It’s a weird time to be a video game developer working on cutting edge military shooters. When the genre first gained popularity, in the 1990′s the United States wasn’t actively at war with anyone. At least not in a full deployment sense.
While there was a segment of the shooter fan base that ate up military simulations this was mostly a hardcore, PC game playing set who were willing to gin up their own mods of Vietnam and D-Day. As the genre has become dominant– the Call of Duty franchise is one of the most bankable properties in all of entertainment at this point– that thirst for “reality”, really verisimilitude, is making for strange bedfellows.
Heads were turned earlier this year when EA rival Activision let it be known that Iran-Contra scandal fulcrum Oliver North was a paid consultant for its upcoming Call of Duty: Black Ops II. Now this.
Within the shooter culture a simulation of the Bin Laden raid is old news: mods for Counter-Strike and even Grand Theft Auto already exist online. That a game publisher would leap into the fray is a sea-change, however. EA has been making a big marketing deal about the Medal of Honor series is attempting to capture the “reality” of modern combat, however much a game in which players can respawn after having their torsos ripped apart by automatic weapons fire can “capture reality”, so the move doesn’t come as a total surprise.
Yet the move to monetize this kind of real-life scenario is a little, odd. EA has pledged at least a million dollars to veterans charities, which takes some of the edge off, but it still moves the FPS into the strange realm of reportage that the film already occupies. A further blurring of the line between reality, games, and warfare that began with the CNN coverage of the first Persian Gulf war and has continued unabated.
Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.
Source: Game Informer