A couple of the RPS links today:
The message, that populism is dangerous and shut up and love your 1% drone overlords, will no doubt be buried under plenty of rappelling, helicoptering and sniping, but it is the most vile war and class war apologism of the series. Goyer throws his lot in with the powerful against the powerless, creating ghost armies to fight from our own extravagant military. He blames the poor and those pursuing social justice for a future doomsday monologue that might as well involve a rogue hand and precious bodily fluids.
The first, most relevant part:
In early June, at the E3 convention in Los Angeles, I attended a demo for a game called Splinter Cell: Blacklist. In the demo, I watched the Splinter Cell franchise's long-established hero, Sam Fisher — operating somewhere in Middle Eastistan — enter a tent, kill two gentlemen, and grab a third. Sam asks this third gentleman where a certain colleague of his might be. The gentleman declines to answer, so Sam sticks his knife into the gentleman's clavicle. The gamer is then given an onscreen prompt to twirl around his controller's joystick, which in turn twirls around Sam's knife in the gentleman's wound. The screaming gentleman gives Sam the info he needs — and, suddenly, it's "moral choice" time, for Sam has to choose whether to kill or knock out his freshly tortured victim. Let's review: a moral choice — after an interactive torture sequence.
We've arrived in a strange emotional clime when our popular entertainment frequently depicts torture as briskly effective rather than literally the worst thing one human being can do to another — yea verily, worse even than killing. Inflicting pain and suffering on a captive human being because one person feels like it and the other can't stop it … is this not what we're told awaits sinners in hell? Is this not the domain of Satan?
I left the Blacklist demo sick and infuriated, which was a shame, because the person introducing the demo was a game designer I admire and have long wanted to meet. I really wanted to ask this man how he felt, demo-ing that. Ask the programmers and artists, too, how they felt, bringing that moment into this world. I wanted to ask them all what the deal is with this industry we're a part of. I didn't. Couldn't. I know people who've been tortured. Someone I know was tortured because of something I wrote about him — a cold little bibelot I'll take with me to my grave. I described my Blacklist experience to some gamer friends, a couple of whom thought I was overreacting. Overreacting to a blithe, shrugging presentation of the very definition of human evil, all in the name of "entertainment." I spent a couple days feeling ashamed of being a gamer, of playing or liking military games, of being interested in any of this disgusting bullsh*t at all.
Some of us in this forum have talked about what a skeevy vibe we get from military shooters, but I think the general consensus has been that these games have been too goofy to really cause any harm. I think I've moved beyond that today. It's a genre that stopped innovating about five years ago, and is now just trading in shock value and base jingoism. I don't even know where to start with this stuff. Paying Oliver North to lecture me on misguided naivete? Jesus Christ, he's only the most well known American traitor of the past three decades, a man who subverted the Constitution because he thought he knew better.
I guess its hard to blame Blacklist for playing up the joys of torture. It's become a weird standard in pop culture in recent years. But there's something about using the controller to very closely simulate inflicting pain on another human being that seems to go above and beyond the Jack Bauer baseline. Hell, if you're going to put torture into a game, at least don't make it easy. Show the guy screaming for hours on end as you inflict more and more damage on his body. Make the little sh*ts work for it. I mean, this is your statement about "rough men willing to do the things no one else will," right. Hardly seems reasonable to pull that off with a few rolls of your thumb.
How about the sudden swing of the Call of Duty franchise into politics? When did that happen? CoD has generally been pretty mindful to stay away from politics. After all, much of their audience is young people, a notoriously unconservative (and particularly un-neoconservative) bunch. Even with the expansion of the gamer demographic, I can't imagine the 40+ crowd is their key demographic here. It's probably just lowest common denominator marketing, but it's still galling.
I'm just ranting here, but this got me a little hot-blooded today.