Another Antiwar War Game

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Writes Darien Sumner:

In a similar vein, I’ve recently played “The Last Story” on the Wii, which begins as a wholly conventional tale of mercenaries trying to move up in the world by becoming knights. The protagonist nation (called “The Empire”) is at war with another nation (“The Gurak”), and, in typical Orwellian fashion, there’s no reason given; we have always been at war with the Gurak. It’s just assumed that the Gurak are bad and “we,” the good guys, have to fight them.

A bit over halfway through the game, the hero has his big break — he’s sent along with a contingent of knights to assault and capture the Gurak capital. And this is where the game takes a big turn away from its rah-rah warfare forebears, because, upon arriving at the city, we find it basically defenseless — full not of enemy soldiers, but of women and children. The heroic knights are portrayed as murdering and enslaving the people and pillaging their homes, which leads to a major shift in the game’s tone and in the attitude of the main character toward his government; heretofore, he has just sort of played by the rules and assumed that, hey, whatever the higher-ups say is the way it goes.

It’s a promising trend; video games in my (extensive) experience have been extremely statist and pro-warfare pretty much as a rule, but now games are beginning to carry messages of peace, and portraying “good-guy” governments not as wise and benevolent, but as just our side’s “bad-guy” government. There’s a lot more that could be desired, of course, but it’s a start.

11:16 am on September 2, 2012