I'm not what you would call a gamer, even though I'm of the original video game generation. I was one of the many in my age group who would scrounge quarters to spend at The Landing, the arcade in the shopping center just outside my high school, or would stop at a Time Saver on the way home from school for an Icee and a game or two of Galaga. But I fell behind the curve pretty quickly--I never mastered the complex controls of Stargate, so today's systems are beyond confusing to me. If it doesn't involve Mario or driving a car or the Wii balance board, I'm pretty helpless.
But being a college teacher, it's impossible to get away from the phenomenon. I get crappy papers in part because my students are spending more time perfecting their kill shots on Call of Duty than they are figuring out where to put commas in their sentences. But I digress.
The complaints about video game violence have been around almost as long as the genre has existed--I had friends in junior high school whose parents wouldn't let them play Asteroids because it had guns, and no, I'm not making that up--but the increased realism in the graphics is starting to concern more and more people. But what would a truly realistic war-time video game look like? Ads without products has one answer.
And it all leads me to wonder what it would be like to write a videogame in which one dies a hundred times over before one successfully kills a single antagonist. The boredom of waiting to fight the enemy would be punctuated, in all but the rarest of cases, by sudden death from the air. After hours of waiting, the screen would simply go blank, over and over and over, without the player ever getting to fire a shot. The sole variety, perhaps, would come from death by other means - a sniper’s shot to the head or a round from a tank. But no matter how, the screen goes blank just the same way - you probably shouldn’t even get to appreciate the difference in the way that you just died again.The author is talking about the way that, in real war, especially in the sort of conflict we're seeing in Gaza right now, where the ratio of dead is in the movie/video game realm of 100-to-1, we've become a bit desensitized to the ugliness of war. We're used to being on the winning side, vicariously--our characters kill hundreds of virtual characters that, as the writer puts it, "fizzle and melt back into the earth a few seconds after they die," and if our character is shot, he continues on, picking up a medical kit and "healing" on the run. But what would it be like to be on the other side of that divide, to be the human equivalent of the video game bad guy, killable with only one shot, unable to aim as well or fire as quickly as your enemy, aware that you and a hundred of your comrades are likely to die before you're able to kill even one of your foes?
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