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Blueprint : The Enemy Within

VoxelArcade Blueprint #011

Have you ever noticed how we’re always ‘the good guys’?

By ‘us’, I mean the West, of course. You name any contemporary AAA action game and it’s almost guaranteed to feature a western warrior – usually a white one – dealing out death and destruction upon the forces of ‘evil’. Whilst said forces may occasionally hail from another planet, they’re usually either German, Japanese, Russian, Chinese, African or Middle-Eastern. Or a combination of all of these, if it’s a COD game.

For a medium desperately trying to rub shoulders with more traditional arts, it all feels rather 80’s, don’t you think?

Remember the iconic action movies of old, where some ‘roid-fuelled white dude would unload clips and fists into the faces of all manner of archetypal bad guys? It was as though the producers knew that they wanted to blow shit up, they just had to pick a stereotypical bad dude off the shelf labelled “People we’ve Bombed in the Past” and then plonk them in front of some wafer-thin plot.

Sound vaguely familiar?

Films have come full circle; games are stuck in the starting blocks

Films have come full circle; games are still stuck in the starting blocks

Don’t you think it’s about time that we grew up a little bit? Don’t you think that if we’ve reached the stage where we’re dishing out BAFTAs for games that, just maybe, we’re capable of looking in the mirror and reflecting on some of our most shameful sins via the medium of games?

I recently explored the level of violence in games, arguing that if the medium is to be taken seriously, it needs to be allowed of explore serious issues in an age-appropriate context, quoting the film Zero Dark Thirty as a comparative example. Well, let’s take it a step further: why not produce a game that outright questions the morality of western wars and western warriors? Why not produce a game that features westerners as ‘the bad guys’ and explores the views from the other side of the fence?

Let’s be clear here: I don’t just mean that we should swap avatars around and mindlessly blow the crap out of ourselves just to prove a point. What I mean is that we should focus on a truly difficult and meaningful narrative that explores some of the West’s darkest moments – just as literature, photography, film and theatre have been doing for decades.

Matt Damon managed to explore such issues in Green Zone - and it wasn't even that heavy-going a film.

Matt Damon managed to successfully explore the apparent sins of the West in Green Zone – and it wasn’t even that heavy-going a film.

Now, if you believe that we’ve never put a foot wrong on the geopolitical stage; never pulled the trigger when we shouldn’t, then you probably won’t believe that there’s any mileage in this Blueprint.

If, on the other hand, you accept that there have been times in our history when right and wrong have become so muddied that it’s impossible to tell who survived with their conscience intact, then you’ll see that it’s about time that we gave up on constantly trying to be ‘the good guys’ and explored the other side of the coin.

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One Comment

  1. Just realised that Blood Dragon kind of fits the bill! Chasing the evil, corrupted American general. Oh, and Spec Ops The Line. Both great games – coincidence … ?

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