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Too many people seem to think that "war is a video game". This brings up the question, why do video games glamorize war instead of portraying it realistically? If your average game was a movie, it would have more in common with "The Green Berets" than "Platoon". I've been thinking of some ways video games can de-glamorize war while also adding to the gameplay.

A few lessons on war, from video games:

* No civilians ever get hurt. At worst their houses get blown up.

* Deaths are quick. Nobody gets maimed, or dies a slow, horrible death.

* There's no atrocities, except for those done by bad guys who have always been bad. You won't see a good guy kill civilians out of frustration.

* WW1 didn't happen. Except for a few dogfights, anyway.

What can be done:

* Have civilians running for cover and hiding in corners. In single-player games, shooting them means more enemies arrive, like their families are coming to avenge them. In flight simulators, have terrorist camps in populated areas, like real life, and have the debriefing point out how many civilians got killed, perhaps with a clip of a news report showing how your enemies resolve is only strengthened.

* Have people get wounded.  In a FPS have a player get points for carrying a wounded buddy to a medevac. When a player is incapacitated by wounds, have them respawn as if they died. Then they can go back and rescue themselves. In an RTS, the player has to decide: should I risk having my medevac helicopter shot down, or leave my soldiers to die?

* In an RTS, if you cause too much collateral damage, your troops get sniped at by otherwise neutral civilians. If the morale of your troops get too low, they'll go on a massacre, which only makes things worse.

* In any RTS that is close to reality, have unit prices be as close to reality as possible. At the debriefing, have a statistic that shows how much money the battle cost, how many enemies you killed, and the cost per dead enemy.(Here's someone who has calculated thatthe cost in Iraq is about 23,000,000 bucks per dead insurgent.)  

* Make a "battlefield 1918" type of game.

* Show soldiers getting shell-shocked.

Please add your own ideas, and I'll add them to this list.

Originally posted to PatriotismOverProfits on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 10:15 AM PST.

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