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Running Out of Wars to set games in?

September 13, 2010

Finding a war to set your game in is a bit of a problem.  The wars that are considered by conventional wisdom to be ‘known’ by the game-buying public and thus OK to set games in are (of course) World War II and a couple of modern day wars; the 1990 Gulf War, The War on Terror (Afghanistan, Iraq etc.) and Vietnam.  Then we start to get into slightly  lesser known ones – World War I, the American Civil War and Korea (as in; ‘known’ by the US market, which is a huge slice of the games market).

This is a bit of a loss to a wide and interesting history globally that could be drawn upon, but the market tends to go for what it already knows, so I suspect that we’ll continue to see the bigger games that need a war narrative set in the same places – except the sci-fi ones, where you can make your own wars.  (A notable mention to Iron Storm, set in an alternative universe where WWI never ended…)

But there is also a serious point here.  For many people games are one of their primary media sources, so it is where they learn about the world.  History has lessons that we could all do with learning, so it would be good to see more experimental development looking elsewhere for settings.

For example; one war that gets almost zero coverage – and needs the eyes of the world to be upon it – is the Congo:

Since the mid-1990s, a complex web of political rebellions, resource wars and apocalyptic religious crusades has killed at least 700,000 people and displaced millions in this impoverished Central African nation.

I’m not in any way trying to make light of the conflict, nor would I like to see a game that did, but unless it is in the public conciousness and thus political pressure to end it, and if a game can play a role in this, then why not..

PS – Amazing to see that war reporter David Axe has managed to crowd-source the money to send him out to the Congo to report on the ongoing conflict...

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