Friday, November 9, 2012

Navy SEALs got too real

This Los Angeles Times article reminded me of our recent discussions.  A quick summary:

Seven Navy SEALS (all of SEAL Team 6, including one who served on the Osama bin Laden raid) served as paid consultants to the makers of "Medal of Honor Warfighter", which was released last month by Electronic Arts.  This was a violation of military policy, and each SEAL received a letter of reprimand and forfeited half their pay for two months.  This could effectively end their careers as SEALs and make it difficult for them to advance in the military at all in the future.

"Medal of Honor Warfighter" was promoted as letting players experience warfare "as it might have taken place in the field."  Using real Navy SEALs as consultants on the game is not only something they can promote when advertising the game—the SEAL consultants add a sense of legitimacy to the game's attempt to be ever more realistic, immersive, and engaging.  I have not personally played many first-person shooters or even war-themed games, but it would not be surprising that this enhanced sense of history and reality provided by people who have actually experienced such combat adds a narrative pleasure for players.

Would you be more willing to buy a game that was trying to closely replicate real events?  Or would you rather play a game with a fictional narrative?


  1. I just read that article on my way home. Go figure that they get screwed for telling the truth. I like that it was portrayed after real events because it takes the fictional forced violence out of the game because this stuff happened. You can't get made at a non-fiction video game for being unnecessarily violent. I thought asking the SEALs was a fantastic idea.

  2. I can see the draw to make games based off of realism. Enhancing realism in the graphics and story could increase immersion for gamers. Basing a game story off real events would seem to be just the logical next step in this progression. On the counterpoint, I think there is a point where a line needs to be drawn (and it seems like this instance crossed that line) between immersive, realistic gameplay and the the motivation behind gaming in itself. Lets let games continue to exist as entertainment - and the experience of a Navy SEAL should not be packaged as entertainment. The very fact that speaking with Navy Seals was seen as a logical step in the production process is an indicator that they are pushing the gameplay experience too far IMO.

    1. Just out of curiosity, would you be against the idea of having video games used as historical reference or biographies of people? Personally, I would love to play games where I am emerged into the experiences of history makers and in a sense, relive part of what they experienced. But in terms of Navy SEALs, there is a lot more at stake concerning they could be jeopardizing the U.S. military and its operatives. Perhaps something not as recent?