I have been thinking about how gaming deals with serious real world issues recently, it stems from comments on this post talking about the next step for the Total War games. It is clear that many people want a modern setting for the series with World War Two being something you are all keen to see.
It is apparent, when you think about it, that for all of the claims from people involved in the games industry that we are able to deal with mature and serious issues, we just can’t. The vast majority of World War Two games skirt around the more complex issues of the war, it is rare to see a moral justification for why you are fighting. Games set in the present day are not much better, rather than taking a cold hard look at the realities of the Iraq war or the fight in Afghanistan titles like Modern Warfare 2 take these real world settings and simply use them as a platform for extravagent over the top storylines.
People try to say that games should be taken as seriously as films and literature, but where is our Schindler’s List or The Hurt Locker? We don’t have one, there is a reluctance amongst game developers to deal with historical issues in any depth. Obviously issues such as the Holocaust and the war in Iraq are sensitive or controversial, but there is no reason why a developer shouldn’t make a AAA title that takes a serious and emotionally involving look at some of the events of the past 100 years.
World War Two games have become tired affairs, they don’t break any new ground, each one seems to be an example of a developer treading water, not moving forwards and progressing the medium. People claim they are tired of World War Two games, but when so many buy them you realise why developers make them all in the same image.
If the Total War series was to move into the 20th century than topics such as the rise of Facism, Nazism and Communism would have to be dealt with and I am sure The Creative Assembly would tackle these issues in a mature manner. But would they have the guts to break new ground and really look at these delicate subjects in a way which causes us to stop and think about them for minute?
It is time that a developer has the guts to make a game which breaks the norm and makes us think about what we are playing. If we are to be able to claim that games are on the same level as films and literature then we need to see games tackle real topics, not simply skimping over them.