War Video Games "Romanticize" War In An Unhealthy Way, Medal Of Honor Recipient Says
"We've got kids playing video games of the stuff that keeps me awake at night."
Dakota Meyer, 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 spoken up about how war video games "romanticize" war in an unhealthy way.
Meyer said war video games may encourage people to think it's fun or exciting to kick down doors and kill people. These are the real-life nightmares that keep him awake at night.
"Suffering has become normal for people. It's become entertainment," Meyer said on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. "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 went on to say that people are becoming desensitized to human suffering due in part to the increasingly graphic nature of video games and other entertainment.
"There is nothing cool about taking another human's life," Meyer 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," he added.
Also during the podcast, Meyer said video games like Grand Theft Auto, which allow people to kill anyone or run people down with your car, are problematic. "How does anything positive come from that?" he said.
Meyer earned his Medal of Honor for disregarding orders and charging into a killing zone where, over the course of six hours, he saved 12 fellow soldiers. He has said the September 9, 2009 ambush was the "worst day in my life."
Meyer was awarded his Medal of Honor at the White House in 2011. President Barack Obama remarked at the time, "You did your duty above and beyond, and you kept the faith with the highest traditions of the Marine Corps you love."
The next big military shooter to release is Activision's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. The game's campaign is being led by a team of former Naughty Dog developers. The game appears to be taking steps to better represent a soldier's experience. For example, Modern Warfare's campaign puts an emphasis on encouraging players to identify threats.
If you cause a lot of collateral damage, you will see a fail screen. "The game sort of has its own version of, ‘You just got court marshaled and arrested,'" narrative director Taylor Kurosaki told Game Informer.
"We have pretty complex heuristics where we're basically trying to determine, are you, the player, acting like a proper soldier? Or are you kind of being a psychopath and not playing by the rules?"
The new Modern Warfare, which is a soft reboot of sorts of the 2007 game, launches on October 25 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
Not all war video games are seen as glorifying battle, death, and suffering. The 2012 shooter Spec Ops: The Line tells a war story that asks the player to consider the horrific realities of war.
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