Video Games 'Romanticise' War, Says Former US Marine And Medal Of Honor Recipient
As video games have evolved over the years, we've seen increasingly realistic depictions of war. With this, comes the growing concern about how developers handle these depictions - especially in instances that either re-enact or heavily draw inspiration from real-world conflicts.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is just around the corner, and based on what we've heard from Infinity Ward and Activision, it's going to be one the grittiest and most authentic takes on war yet.
But while we know the game's campaign won't shy away from several uncomfortable realities of war, such as child soldiers, chemical warfare, and civilian casualties, we have to reserve judgement on how well Infinity Ward has handled these incredibly delicate subjects until we've played the game for ourselves.
Ahead of Modern Warfare's launch, a former United States Marine who was awarded the Medal of Honor for saving lives and sustaining injuries in a 2009 military operation in Afghanistan has offered his thoughts on how video games that depict war actually "romanticise" conflict in an unhealthy way.
Dakota Meyer worries that war games could leave some players with the impression that running through battlefields and shooting people is some kind of thrill, whereas the reality, Meyer says, is that these are the kind of things he still has nightmares about.
Speaking on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, Meyer said, "suffering has become normal for people. It's become entertainment. Video games about war ... war has now been romanticized."
"It's been romanticized that it's this cool image ... I hear people say I just want to go kick in doors and shoot people in the face. Well, you've probably never done it then. We've got kids playing video games of the stuff that keeps me awake at night. And it's like, at what point do we start humanizing these things?"
Meyer also argued that as video games and other entertainment become increasingly realistic and graphic, people are becoming further desensitised to violence.
"There is nothing cool about taking another human's life," he said. "When you're playing video games, and it's like, 'Oh I got this many kills.' These kids are just watching this screen over and over, and the more graphic it gets, the [more desensitized we become] to another human being's suffering."
"We've pushed ourselves away form being empathetic to, hey, these are real people. These are real people's lives."
Meyer also took aim at franchises like Grand Theft Auto, which of course allow players to go on intense virtual killing sprees. Despite these games being purposefully over the top, Meyer wonders how "anything positive" can come from such games.
Meyer was awarded his Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in 2011 for his bravery during an ambush in 2009, where he disregarded orders and headed into a killing zone to save the lives of 12 fellow soldiers. He has described the ambush as the worst day of his life.
Featured Image Credit: EA/Activision