Monday, September 26, 2016

Making War Games Fun

It's the plight of any developer focused on military games. How do you make a historical event fun? War in particular, since it's known for being...unfun. Shooting Nazi zombies in Call of Duty is one thing. Watching a comrade die from a land mine is another. Aleksander Grøndal, senior producer at DICE, half of the team behind Battlefield 1, spoke with Motherboard to help key in on the aspects of what makes the military genre interesting enough for people to continue to play.

"We’re not trying to create a documentary about that era. We’re trying to make a game, it’s supposed to be fun first so, of course, we’re going to take some creative liberties where we can."

That sums up just about every war-related game on the market. Fun is the key component with any video game. Without it, you lose the audience and they are less likely to invest time and money into your brand.

For those who seem shocked by the quote from Grøndal, don't be. Every Battlefield, Call of Duty, and Brother in Arms has taken extensive liberty from historical accuracy for the sake of creative fun. Even non-war games like Civilization exist on the knowledge that history can be fudged a little bit to create an entertaining product. Even for World War I, which is always considered a difficult subject to tackle. 40 million casualties, with one battle costing the lives of 2,000 soldiers daily for over 300 days. The ancient form of war with sabers, bright uniforms, and decorum were changed with WWI.

To give the team the credit where it's due, they did take the time to research and study the events of WWI. Obviously there were a lot of things taken out because it was a grizzly war. Grøndal wanted to focus on the youthful exuberance, the excitement of the action, and some of the hope the soldiers brought to the front lines. This includes weapons that were conceptualized during WWI but were never produced. Battlefield 1 takes that step to make them a virtual reality. You'll find with the game that there's more of a focus on the latter half of the war, when mechanized weapons came into play. WWI started on horseback and ended with tanks.

I know that calling war "fun" is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. War is painful. Exhausting. And deplorable. It shouldn't be showcased as exciting or adventurous when killing another living creature is involved. Which is why games try to soften it with zombie modes, unrealistic weapons, and futuristic settings where robots are involved. What's your take on this? Is Battlefield going in the right direction for the sensitive nature of WWI?

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