Author: E.H. Osborne
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Date: 2009-09-04 23:17
Submitted by: TV-PressPass

Comments: (5)


[p]It reads like a mission briefing: BluFor consists of some lightly armed police in a convoy of three vehicles while OpFor have a handful of insurgents strategically hidden along a narrow road with small arms and hand grenades. But this is a BBC news report instead of an Arma 2 level. The article is only 365 words long and over a month old now, but when it first hit the headlines I read it twice and immediately booted up my game editor. The convoy was ambushed and five of the police officers died during the ensuing firefight, both on the news and again on my screen.[/p]
Arma 2 offers players a robust and easy to use editor where anyone can make any mission they like. And as a combat simulator set in the modern age, its “fictional” landscape and factions are easily tweaked to render reality. But this raises a question of appropriateness that can only be controlled and answered by the player. After establishing a scenario nearly identical to the one described by the BBC, there was some discomfort associated with playing out a real life event. Using team-switch, one can play their best as an outgunned police officer, until the inevitable recreation of reality sets in. [/p]
[p]This process can be done with any number of daily news stories. Insurgent attacks in Dagestan, Georgian military maneuvers, and even gangland slayings from Vancouver can all be easily relived virtually by anyone competent with the in-game editor. Perhaps the air of realism and re-enactment adds to the thrill of play. I must confess that it was exciting when I found myself thinking “this really happened.” Sometimes it's just interesting to see if things could have played out differently with changed circumstances. But what about when someone decides to make themselves a mission of the airstrike on an Afghani tanker truck that kills 90 civilians?[/p]
[p]Bohemia Interactive and most game publishers see the risks with tying their games to real events and people. Which is why Arma 2 is set in fictional Chernorussia rather than the remarkably similar South Ossetia. The recent controversy and cancellation of Six Days in Fallujah is a sure sign developers must tread carefully. But we the players can create user generated content to our hearts content. These sorts of missions are only going to increase as the community gets a better handle on the editor, and while conflicts around the globe continue to produce compelling stories. Especially with the release of Operation Arrowhead and a middle eastern setting corresponding to more “popular” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. [/p]
[p]Fundamentally the only real control is in the hands of people behind these real life missions. I chose not to upload my Chechen Ambush to armaholic or any other community sites, because I could easily see some other player deciding to play things differently; gunning down police forces with a vengeful wrath. And while the conflict in Chechnya is a political quagmire with arguments on both sides, I wouldn't want see my level misused. I love playing out scenarios based on reality, but I have to approach them with a sense of caution and respect for the people actually involved in the event. [/p]

E.H. Osborne is a journalist writing for the Canadian Reserves and an avid war gamer. The photograph of Dmitry Medvedev in this article is courtesy of The Prague Watchdog

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