Our mouths literally dropped open when we saw the announcement of the Blackwater game during E3. We couldn’t believe a game company (505 Games) would have the audacity to take the most notorious mercenary army in the world and build a rail-shooter around it, seemingly utterly dismissive, or perhaps intentionally controversy-baiting, about the implications of such a product. We’re proponents of games as a medium to tackle difficult subject matter – the cancelation of Six Days in Fallujah left us ambivalent because we wondered if it could have approached the subject with respect and allowed players to digest a real-life event in a way that other art forms could not provide. Of course, that game could have also been a crass game-ification of sensitive subject matter, but there’s no way it could have been as blatantly oblivious as Blackwater is.
Above: But look how cool their glasses are!
We’re talking about a game that loudly glorifies a company (now under the light and feathery moniker of Xe Services) accused of massacring seventeen unarmed civilians and injuring dozens more in Iraq’s Nissour square. We’re talking about a company who had forces spark a sniping incident that Iraqi police have called an unprovoked act of terrorism. We’re talking about a company that has been involved in at least 195 shooting incidents and whose top officials have been indicted on weapons violations and making false statements in court. The former head of Blackwater, Erik Prince, recently resigned and fled to the United Arab Emirates, which incidentally has no extradition treaty with the US.
Above: In any other game this would be a random boring screenshot, but with Blackwater, the potentially imagined implications are chilling
The question becomes: at what point is it not okay to make a game out of something? Our inner defenders of free speech say “never!” but our inner sparks of consciousness – otherwise known as the soul – say “maybe now.” Of course, there could have been a much more interesting way to make this game – tackle the controversy head-on instead of the devs holding their hands over their ears and singing “La la la, can’t hear your complaints, Blackwater kicks asssssss!” Instead, we have as clear an indication of the cluelessness behind this game as we can get: in the Kinect-based controls. We shit you not – the way you shoot in this game is that you point your finger at an enemy, and as long as your gun is trained on them long enough, the gun fires automatically. We really couldn’t get a more perfect metaphorical representation of Blackwater’s collective itchy trigger finger when it comes to the lives of innocent civilians.
And no, we’re not advocating censorship, but goddamn is this game tasteless.
Jun 23, 2011