A war without a winner: This War of Mine
It’s hard not to be at least a little cynical and jaded at the state of video games at this time. Tomorrow millions of people will be enjoying the barely concealed war propaganda of the newest Call of Duty, and while I have little doubt it’ll be a good game mechanically speaking, it’s messages of post 9/11 war mongering and neo-con patriotism aren’t something I particularly dig, but I can see why others do.
The veneration of war, violence and death are something that video games have long harbored. This in it’s self is no bad thing, almost all my favorite games have combat elements and I do enjoy whiling away my time slashing through unwashed hordes in games such as Dynasty Warriors and Shadow of Mordor as much as the next guy, but when it comes to real wars, real issues that’s when I get a bit uneasy (Yes, I know Dynasty Warriors is about the Romance of Three Kingdoms, a fiction retelling of the real wars going on in China at the time, but come on). Unfortunately to see war being represented in a more truthful, less jingoistic way, you need look for games that are a little less ostentatious and bombastic.
Earlier this year, Ubisoft released Valiant Hearts, and while it had some issues in how it portrayed the German’s as the bad guys via the use of Baron Von Dorf as a antagonist, it still conveyed a lot of the heart break and tragedy of the time, acting as a very sound educational tool for the younger generations studying the Great War. In less than a fortnight This War of Mine will be released, and it’s a game i’m very interested in playing, for those you who don’t know what it’s about, check out the trailer below.
It’s a war game about the people left inside, while the battle is blaring outside. The game itself comes from Poland, a country that has known it’s fair share of war over the last century, especially in the Second World War and the Warsaw Uprising, and it seems to be that the developers are channeling that cultural experience into the game. You as the player aren’t going to win the war, or be the agent of change, you’ll scrape by to survive, knowing the clock is ticking on when your luck runs out.
Starting out as a small group of survivors, scavenging for materials and crafting tools and implements to help you get by, as the days tick on. It’s a game where each person is going to come out with their own bleak story to tell, maybe you lost two of the three survivors early on and had to endure solo for some time, maybe a streak of good luck was brought to an end by some in game event or simply resource mismanagement slowly grinding you down.
While there maybe some over arching narrative to the game, I feel that letting organic stories of survival thrive is the best way to talk about life in a war zone. A character dies because you as the player failed, not because a plot point said they had to die.
It’s my hope that This War of Mine acheives what it hopes to, and catches the eyes and imaginations of your typical Call of Duty player, and at least makes them think about war on a more personal level (before they go on to Noob Tube me, those cheap pricks)