War Never Changes, Only Perspectives
You know what we don't see enough of in our dudebro, self absorbed, message about war video games? So caught up in their exploration of the horror of war as seen by the perpetrators. Whilst somehow trying to cast them as heroes. Know what we don't see? The bystanders. The innocents.
Sure, we may get some moments of revelation as we are confronted with what the non-combatants are forced to endure. Sometimes, even, those scenes are handled extremely well. Dear Gods! The white phos scene in Spec Ops...
But my point stands, we simply do not see enough of the civilian perspective of warfare in video games. And even when we do, outside of those short story segments designed specifically to pull at the heart strings, all we get is some contrived opposing side viewpoint. Take on the role of the 'bad guy' so you can see hyis motivation for fighting back, that kind of thing.
The reasoning is obvious, of course. Guns and explosions are much easier to work with in a video game sense. The overwhelming success (still) of the first person shooter will attest to that. And, y'know, it's kinda' hard to make a first person shooter about someone who isn't doing any shooting, so yeah.
Then along comes 11 Bit Studios, of Anomoly fame, to step up and show us all how it's done. Ladies and gentlemen, allow us to present to you, This War of Mine. Via Vimeo, rather than YouTube, because YouTube (at time of writing) is being YouTube and not working. They're actually updating it or something...but that's a story for another time.
I must confess, I was in mixed minds as the trailer first opened out. On the one hand, the imagery and choice of music was very powerful, suggesting something more thoughtful than the usual twaddle. On the other, it's hardly the first time the usual twaddle has employed precisely that kind of advertising in a vain attempt to show that they're, well, not the usual twaddle.
I knew it was leading to some kind of unexpected payoff, and my trepidation grew as the beautifully directed visuals played out. I was expecting some trite, painfully pretentious moment of self indulgence that would make me groan, close the browser window and tyr to lobotomise myself with a spoon...then it hit me, and I was honestly floored.
So, ladies and gentleman, I leave you with this.
In war, not everyone is a soldier.