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Why Aren't There More Civilians In Military Video Games?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the gunning-for-realism dept.

First Person Shooters (Games) 431

Jeremy Erwin writes "A columnist for Slate asks why there aren't any civilians in today's military shooting games. Quoting: 'Mostly, they don't want to face the consequences of players' bad behavior. In an interview with the website Rock Paper Shotgun, Battlefield 3's executive producer Patrick Bach explained that he doesn't "want to see videos on the Internet where people shoot civilians. That's something I will sanitize by removing that feature from the game." Bach believes that video games are serious business but that players' irreverence is holding back the form. "If you put the player in front of a choice where they can do good things or bad things, they will do bad things, go [to the] dark side because people think it's cool to be naughty, they won't be caught," he said.'" (Note that there are civilians in Battlefield 3, you just can't kill them, accidentally or otherwise. Despite this, the author's point stands: "By removing civilians from the picture, developers like Bach are trying to reap the benefits of a real-life setting without grappling with the reality of collateral damage.")

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431 comments

Duh. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382728)

If I wanted to grapple with reality, I wouldn't be playing a video game.

Re:Duh. (0)

planimal (2454610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382736)

since you're playing a video game, you can't grapple with reality.

Re:Duh. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382796)

I apologize in advance to people of African or African-American heritage. This is not intended to mean anything negative towards you. What I am about to say isn't about skin color, it is about intelligence and how one chooses to live life.

You, sir, are a nigger in every sense of the word. You really think you can dictate reality to others. You are everything embodied by the phrase "douchebag". There's not a word vulgar enough to properly describe you, so the previous descriptions are approximations only.

Re:Duh. (-1, Troll)

Jarik C-Bol (894741) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382858)

Bravo. You sir, have eloquently said what many many people have attempted to say, unsuccessfully, in far more words.

Re:Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382808)

since you're on /., escapism

Re:Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382848)

If I wanted to grapple with reality, I wouldn't be playing a video game.

Yeah, and when I kill people, I don't expect them to bleed.

I expect warfare to be like the first Iraqi war: highly vetted news footage of radar screens and stuff. Realism should be left for Wikileaks and Collateral Murder and the like. In games I just want to be able to kill people without feeling guilty or sadistic.

Re:Duh. (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382966)

I don't know if it goes that far. Certainly, some videogames are more realistic than others (within reason of course... for instance, the original Deus Ex would have enemies simply collapse if rendered unconscious, but actually bleed a pool of blood if killed).

At the same time, the ability to have a "realistic environment" is always a strange goal. I will admit to laughing during Fallout 3 the first time a wasteland wanderer ran up to me to thank me for my work on the Wasteland Survival Guide, handed me a gift... and promptly ran off into the wilderness to be tackled and torn to shreds by the nearest Yao Guai. Not that I was laughing at the circumstance, more the combination of AI limitations and random spawn points that caused it to happen. (Don't worry. I killed the Yao Guai, then looted both corpses. Can't have a maneater running around willing to attack other humans after all.)

But as for the rest... Again, Deus Ex had civilians. Killable ones. So did the first two Fallout games (hell, if you weren't in Britain, there were killable KIDS). And you should expect that people will do stupid things. Sometimes it's going to the dark side in the game for a while. Sometimes it's wasting an entire clip of ammo on that freaking annoying Claptrap. Sometimes it's piling six dozen grenades under a Warthog to see how high it will flip.

Gamers push boundaries. They test things. Give them a sandbox and they (at least some of them) will diligently work to tunnel their way out.

Re:Duh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383164)

Gamers push boundaries. They test things. Give them a sandbox and they (at least some of them) will diligently work to tunnel their way out.

/big Fallout fan here too

Funny thing - I've killed more people in my last playthrough of Alpha Centauri (or anything else in the Civilization series) than I have in all the FPS/RPGs I've ever played.

Absolute military and technological domination over the entire planet, it's almost endgame, my society will be (Heading to the stars | Transcending humanity itself) within ten turns, and I can either spend the next half-hour-per-turn moving individual units, or I can lob a handful of suitable weapons in the general direction of my last enemy's empire, see some cool explosions, and hit "Advance turn" three times.

Every damn time, I've lobbed the rockets. And so has everyone I've ever played with (or against). There's a lesson in moral decisionmaking processes.

Re:Duh. (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383168)

Sometimes it's going to the dark side in the game for a while. Sometimes it's wasting an entire clip of ammo on that freaking annoying Claptrap.

You should see what I did to the desk clerk in my Deus Ex HR apartment building when I got tired of hearing her tell me that "No, we haven't fixed your bathroom mirror, yet".

Let me tell you, it wasn't pretty.

Re:Duh. (3, Informative)

grapeape (137008) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382980)

Thats kind of the point though your killing pixels...most know the difference enough that they want to keep fantasy and reality separate. However, a "more realistic" war-game might be a good idea just to show the real horror and consequences of war...just dont expect it to sell well and dont expect any good press no matter if it was made with good intentions.

Re:Duh. (1, Troll)

guybrush3pwood (1579937) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382988)

In games I just want to be able to kill people without feeling guilty or sadistic.

Isn't that pretty much the definition of sociopathic behavior?

Re:Duh. (1, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383130)

In games I just want to be able to kill people without feeling guilty or sadistic.
Isn't that pretty much the definition of sociopathic behavior?

Note the use of the phrase "in games". That pretty much indicates that OP knows and respects the difference between game and reality.

Thus, not sociopathic.

Re:Duh. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383236)

GTA was fucking awesome get a bj from a hooker then kick the shit out of her then get your money back then go on a cop killing spree while the whole time puffing on a fatty fat fat blunt then i go to bed wake up lead o norm life .. there's no harm in offing few civ's in game .........hell i'll tk you if you look at me funny in game....those who cry can suck ma balls

Because then... (1, Informative)

cronot (530669) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382750)

... every one of those games would be a thematic variation on GTA. Like this [wikipedia.org] . People don't want reality, they want to be entertained.

Re:Because then... (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382982)

GTA was very entertaining though. Did anyone seriously play the story line? I didn't, I just went on rampages and jumped stuff, crashed vehicles, etc, etc. Nothing like carjacking a moped.

Re:Because then... (1, Insightful)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383098)

Kind of sad commentary on the fucktards who think killing innocent people is fun. Even if it is in a video game, it reflects your values.

On another note, they could introduce killing civilians in video games in an "ethical" manner. Just set the rules that if you kill a civilian it will either immediately or eventually negatively impact your game. e.g. some time later in the game when you are found out, your player is executed for murder. But then, the AI would have to figure out whether it was accidental (usually forgivable in the fog of war) or intentional. Fallout 3 rewarded your karma level by sending hit squads (regulators) after you if you did enough "bad" things, and mercs after you if you were too good.

Re:Because then... (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383154)

they could introduce killing civilians in video games in an "ethical" manner. Just set the rules that if you kill a civilian it will either immediately or eventually negatively impact your game. e.g. some time later in the game when you are found out, your player is executed for murder.

The Iraqi and Afghani (heck, even Vietnam) wars should have taught you that not everyone who looks like a civilian is Joe Farmer who wants nothing more than to tend his garden.

Re:Because then... (5, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383174)

Kind of sad commentary on the fucktards who think killing innocent people is fun. Even if it is in a video game, it reflects your values.

So being an actor in a play as "the bad dude", or enjoying a novel about an assassin is bad, or watching a movie about a terrorist is bad, or killing a character you don't like in Sims3 by putting furniture around the pool is bad, or playing Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards (late 80s game, I think) to seduce as many women as possible in an evening is bad? your viewpoint is ridiculous, it reflects your absurd values. Plenty of normal people like escapist entertainment where they get to play or imagine themselves the crazy or bad or naughty or slutty person.

Re:Because then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383200)

> Even if it is in a video game, it reflects your values.

No, it doesn't.

postal 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382768)

anyone?

Re:postal 2 (1)

HairyNevus (992803) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382946)

CoD:MW2, anyone? The SpecOps mission in the favela punishes you for killing them. Also, "No Russian". And Rainbow 6 had tons of civvies, but they were called hostages...

Re:postal 2 (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383056)

It looked cheesy, the first one was fun though. I loved how people whined about it. Yet these same people will be glued to the TV to watch some real life violence happen in the news. The Supreme Pizza Court ruled that it's all protected speech, so why hasn't someone broke out of their chicken suits and made something off the charts violent?

I want a Potato Gun like Baby/bomb launcher; FOOOOMP!!! WAAAAAaaaaaaaa..........KABOOOM! Stick a Planned Parenthood sticker on the side of it.

Suggestions? Requests? Shall we brainstorm?

Re:postal 2 (1)

tragedy (27079) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383228)

If I recall correctly, Postal 2 had missions like going to the store and buying some milk, picking up a paycheck, etc. I think the designers intentionally made it so that you could get through the entire game non-violently, but all of the actual "fun" in the game came from playing violently.

I don't know about that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382778)

but I do know there is an abundance of seamen in cmdr taco's poop deck.

Video Games = School Shootings (4, Insightful)

redJag (662818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382782)

Just imagine the "ammo" this would give anti-game violence arguments. They shot civilians in game to practice shooting civilians in real life!

Re:Video Games = School Shootings (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382940)

http://skullsinthestars.com/2009/12/04/richard-garriott-on-ultima-v/

'nuff said

Re:Video Games = School Shootings (1)

Pesticidal (1148911) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383044)

In Ultima 7 there's only one NPC who is impossible to kill because otherwise it would destroy the plot - Batlin, the main bad guy. Everyone else, including kids and Lord British himself, is fair game. Despite this, I never found myself once purposely trying to kill NPCs, but I loved having the freedom to if I wanted to.

Re:Video Games = School Shootings (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383126)

But what if killing civilians in the video came caused a reduction in "civilian" support of the video war, which, in turn, caused the shooter to lose ammo or support services? Then, we'd be training people to avoid collateral damage, or at the very least, to consider some of the personal consequences to causing such "damage."

This can be handled (3, Interesting)

xaoslaad (590527) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382792)

I believe in Arma2, which is far more realistic than most of this crap (and yet is still nowhere near real) I believe you can shoot civilians. If I'm not mistaken it can also be set up to trigger mission failure. Basically kill a civilian, you break the roe and mission ends failure. Doing stuff like that allows civilians to walk around town and add a little realism while preventing people from simulating a massacre....

Also, it's a game and just pixels. Get over it. I did 4 years in the Marine Corps and it's pretty safe to say it's all unrealistic bullshit. Fun to play and fun to escape reality but its not real or realistic...

Re:This can be handled (1)

darkmeridian (119044) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383180)

Unfortunately, as you might know from your experience, it's possible to act in accordance with the ROE and the laws of war and still kill civilians. That's not a message anybody wants to send, even those who oppose using games to "recruit" soldiers. I mean, who wants to teach everyone that civilians dying is an inevitable consequence of war?

Simple. (4, Insightful)

Nemyst (1383049) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382806)

Most game developers don't want to show up on Faux News' front page with the headline "X is promoting killing of civilians!"

Combine player freedom with a clueless and/or biased press and you'll see why devs mostly just don't want to deal with the hassle. The only ones that do, do it because they actually LIKE said "scandals". Rockstar's thrived on scandals.

Re:Simple. (1)

lexsird (1208192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382956)

Consider how Wal-Mart would probably boycott them as well. You can't be boycotted by the god of retail.

LOL You said "Faux News!" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383106)

You are so clever! No other news source has any bias or any agenda whatsoever! How did I not see this sooner! It's a good thing we have PMSNBC to boot-strap professional community agitators who have never lead so much as a parade into the most powerful office in the world.

You are a useful idiot, deserving of the illusion of freedom that you possess.

Al Gore wanted to restrict access to games (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383152)

Most game developers don't want to show up on Faux News' front page with the headline "X is promoting killing of civilians!"

I don't think you got the politics of that correct. It was Al Gore and his wife that were behind the 1980's crusade to restrict access to music and movies they thought inappropriate. Parents Music Resource Center and all that crap. They later expanded into video games. I believe that during the 2000 presidential campaign Al Gore threatened the music, movie and video game industry to "clean up their act" or a Gore/Lieberman administration would introduce legislation to *compel* them to "mend their ways".

Pandora's box (1)

whiteboy86 (1930018) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382820)

Just imagine the user generated violent and gory pictures all over YouTube and blogs... no developer or publisher would like the face the resulting outcry.

Does this mean another rating system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382828)

CH= Civilian Heavy
CN=Civilian Normal
CL=Civilian Light

because the console hardware is still too weak (0)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382830)

dev's are limited by the hardware which is why an RPG like Mass effect 3 is limited and sends you on missions which are basically walking in a straight line and shooting stuff as it pops up

once we get a new generation with better CPU's and GPU's we will see more realism if that's what the players want. usually the fun factor trumps reality

what? (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382862)

dev's are limited by the hardware which is why an RPG like Mass effect 3 is limited and sends you on missions which are basically walking in a straight line and shooting stuff as it pops up

once we get a new generation with better CPU's and GPU's we will see more realism if that's what the players want. usually the fun factor trumps reality

So, your position is that the console hardware is plenty advanced enough to simulate killing an enemy character, but not advanced enough to simulate killing a civilian? Because civilian blood has more polygons or something?

Re:what? (1)

alen (225700) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382912)

if you put civilians on the screen to kill then you need to lessen the enemies since the hardware can only do so many triangles at once. what would be the point of having objects on the screen you shoot for no reason other than to kill them that don't fight back?

Re:what? (3, Interesting)

wagnerrp (1305589) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383150)

Because in some cases, it doesn't make sense for the streets to be vacant. If you are just walking around a city, you will expect people to be about doing their own thing. If battle erupts, they will be running all over the place for cover, or holed up in some corner somewhere. Two armies don't face off in a sterile environment. There needs to be external life around. Adding such things opens up the possibility for more in depth gameplay. Killing civilians gets you a reprimand, or a failed mission, or perhaps results in civilians reacting to you differently, closing off some options and opening others. Preventing civilian deaths earns you things, like better weapons. Perhaps enemy combatants are hiding among the civilians.

If your reasoning for not adding additional NPCs is due to triangle count, then you need to broaden your horizons, and realize that games can be about more than just high quality graphics.

Re:because the console hardware is still too weak (1)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382916)

All of Bioware's RPG's are like this. The maps are nothing more than set pieces for the stories. Take Kirkwall in Dragon Age 2 for example. You can't interact with any NPC's or items. Most of the doors are really just walls. Enemies appear out of nowhere. That's why I've always considered Bioware RPG's like Dragon Age and Mass Effect to be pared down versions of Bethesda's works, which are truly free-form and open world (allowing you to pick up and sell virtually every single item in the game world).

Re:because the console hardware is still too weak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383192)

Do you find it hard to breathe with your head so far up your ass?

Players do bad things because: (4, Insightful)

Dracos (107777) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382838)

There are no consequences. Make the players endure a court martial and maybe their actions would change.

This is another reason why the Elder Scrolls series is so incredibly good: if you're seen killing an innocent, you instantly get a bounty on your head, guards chase you relentlessly, and you have to pay the price (although there are ways around it for cheaters).

But I suspect developers of FPS games aren't that interested in moral realism, just graphics and sound.

Re:Players do bad things because: (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382886)

There are no consequences. Make the players endure a court martial and maybe their actions would change.

This is another reason why the Elder Scrolls series is so incredibly good: if you're seen killing an innocent, you instantly get a bounty on your head, guards chase you relentlessly, and you have to pay the price (although there are ways around it for cheaters).

But I suspect developers of FPS games aren't that interested in moral realism, just graphics and sound.

And then you get to do the cool Dark Brotherhood quests.

Re:Players do bad things because: (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382898)

That's all well and good, but it's also incredibly stupid. No one knows I stole that fork, because there was no one in the building when I took it. But no one will buy it, because it's stolen. That's dumb.

No one also knows I killed that guy, because I was 100 miles from anyone / I was alone with them in their home, and when I exited, no one was on the street.

It's just silly. Sure, they can pretend they caught you by having some magic ward, but if they already have that, why does anyone even need guards? Just have your magic ward summon 100 guards as soon as any fight breaks out.

It's dumb.

Re:Players do bad things because: (1)

microTodd (240390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382930)

Well, I didn't RTFA, but I remember Delta Force: Black Hawk Down, there were civilians, you could kill them but if you killed too many you failed the mission. And they would run into your line of fire or even throw rocks at you (and you took damage from the rocks!)

That's incredibly unrealistic. (5, Funny)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382944)

They should make it more realistic than that. If you kill a civillian, your superiors should help you cover it up. If a private leaks it to an international whistle-blowing organization, they then through the whistleblower and the head of the organization in jail on trumped up charges, while you face no repercussions. Problem solved.

Re:That's incredibly unrealistic. (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383242)

But you'd have to tread a fine line between getting away with it, and becoming the patsy.

Objective Complete: Blackmail General Halftrack.

Re:Players do bad things because: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382986)

Why is "realism" always seen as something good by the wannabe game "experts" (more like: pundits)?

If we wanted reality, we'd go, you know, outside!
Reality sucks!
And if you can't or don't dare to think of something better than reality, you're not a creative person anyway.

Make the players endure a court martial and maybe their actions would change.

Yeah, because those pixels sure were hurt!

Get real! Games are not reality, everyone knows that, and they are not supposed to be reality in the first place. That's the whole point: Something you can't do in real life!

I think we should make child rape and murder games, sell them to the catholic church, and then show how those activities suddenly drop to all-time lows in reality.

I'll be open: If a person wants to play a mere game where he/she can beat me to a bloody pulp and rape the shit out of me, then that is OK! If I want to do the same in a game, that's too.
If we decide to do in in reality, it is NOT OK.

There. Was that reality-check that hard?

But I guess in a world where there are people who watch FOX and think it has any relationship to reality, because they were so dumbed down (through being a well-trained consumer/voter) that they don't have the mental capacity to find out what's real for themselves,... some people start to make weird assumptions too...

Re:Players do bad things because: (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383046)

But... games like that will make people murderers and/or make them temporarily have aggressive thoughts (which is just so "horrible")!

OK.

Subjective

Re:Players do bad things because: (4, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382990)

Well, there's no civilians in America's Army (the US Army's propaganda game), but, during the training missions, shooting a superior officer (surprisingly hard to do, since the game enforces basic range safety) leads to a short cutscene of the player in a cell in Fort Leavenworth, awaiting court-martial.

Re:Players do bad things because: (3, Interesting)

shutdown -p now (807394) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383036)

This is another reason why the Elder Scrolls series is so incredibly good: if you're seen killing an innocent, you instantly get a bounty on your head, guards chase you relentlessly, and you have to pay the price (although there are ways around it for cheaters).

But if you're not seen killing, then you don't get a bounty. And it's not all that hard to not be seen. Then there's Gray Cowl of Nocturnal, that lets you go on a rampage in plain sight. And, finally, you can just wipe the guards out - might makes right and all that.

Even better is Fallout 2. Kill a civilian or several in the wastelands? no-one knows, no-one cares. Kill one in a civilized city such as NCR or Vault City? the guards will be all over you. Kill one in a pit of crime such as Den? unless it's a gang member, unarmed witnesses will just run away, and armed will ignore you. But there is a catch either way - if you kill too many, your reputation as a murderer will build up even without direct witnesses, and you'll start meeting bounty hunters in your wilderness trips.

And you know what? That's a big part of what makes these games awesome - freedom of choice, and the ability to deal with the consequences. Getting a "game over" dialog box is no fun. Getting into a gunfight with a bunch of guards which outnumber you and are better equipped is, even when the chance of survival is essentially zero, anyway.

Or there's one more approach, as seen in the recent Deus Ex: Human Revolution. Plenty of civilians around in all city hubs, and all but the few quest NPCs are killable. Of course, if you do start shooting them in open sight, the cops will go after you, and of course you can subdue them as well if you want to. But the game actually encourages non-violent approach to things, and I don't just mean civilians: you get more XP if you use non-lethal takedown means against enemies, for example - even if they are trying to kill you! There is even a special achievement, "Pacifist", for completing the game without killing anyone (except for the four boss fights, where you have to kill to move on) - the game is specifically designed to make this possible.

Of course, it can still be fun to go on a murder rampage in DXHR just for the heck of it. Alternatively, take it as a challenge - after completing the game as "pacifist", I immediately started over as a "maniac" - the rule is, if it breathes, you kill it. Note, no excuses like "this guy needs to stay alive for quest to count as completed" or "I need the merchant so I can sell loot to him" etc - by the time you leave the map, it must not have any living being on it except for the player. And you wouldn't believe how quickly you run out of ammo (which is pretty scarce in that game) when you start deliberately chasing civvies. Which, I guess, is a counterpoint to your claim - there are obvious consequences here, and the game is easier if you don't take that route, but it can be fun in the same way any challenge is.

In any case, what's the big deal? So a bunch of pixels on the screen changes color, and somewhere in your RAM a boolean flag goes from "true" to "false" - and?..

Re:Players do bad things because: (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383212)

Thomsen mentions Haze, which apparently features drug addling psychoses-- making it harder and harder to be effective in combat. Perhaps military simulations could include PTSD.

Kill a civilian, and your character might not be very playable. Some might take this as a challenge though.

On the other hand, if the NPCs don't trust you to behave responsibly, you won't get assigned to the interesting missions. Earn the respect of your CO, and you might go far.

Re:Players do bad things because: (1)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383244)

But I suspect developers of FPS games aren't that interested in moral realism, just graphics and sound.

They aren't. By and large, that's a different genre -- which is why you had to reach for Elder Scrolls as an example.

I love Oblivion, and Skyrim and I have a date for release day. They're fantastic games, and a large part of the reason is the large amount of freedom the player has to play how they want: Good or evil, fight your way out of trouble or talk, etc. But that doesn't mean I don't also enjoy a game like Modern Warfare 2, nor does it necessarily mean I want to play some hybrid Modern Oblivion 2.

A video game is, first and foremost, a video game. If I'm playing an FPS, that means I want to shoot shit. If the developer wants there to be a penalty for shooting civilians, they can do (and have done) that -- fail and restart the level. A court martial? That serves what gameplay purpose, exactly? For that matter, what purpose does the penalty itself serve? If it's to ramp up the difficulty (you can't randomly shoot anything that moves), fine. If it's "moral realism," sorry -- wrong genre.

Re:Players do bad things because: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383252)

in Red Faction, when you pull out your weapon in a civilian area, the civilians crouch. The female civilians heads end up at crotch height, with their hands on their heads. So if you stand in front of them, it looks like they're giving you a blowjob XD ...then you shoot them when you're finished. Also, when you use the flamethrower on a civilian, they run around and catch the others on fire ^____^

Re:Players do bad things because: (1)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383254)

> But I suspect developers of FPS games aren't that interested in moral realism, just graphics and sound.

Yeap, its the same reason you don't see children in Left for Dead, nor in MMO's.

Civilians that may die in games? (4, Interesting)

vgerclover (1186893) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382864)

I loved to play the Rainbow Six series, and those fucking civilians would always get between my gun and the head of the last remaining terrorist. I also remember killing scientists in Half-Life just because they wouldn't move anymore after some map point.
If games now don't have civilians in them is just because the games distributors don't have the balls or the will to take a little heat from stupid people that don't understand that a deaths in a video game are just as bad for your development as seeing a nipple: not at all.

If you put the player in front of a choice where they can do good things or bad things, they will do bad things, go [to the] dark side because people think it's cool to be naughty, they won't be caught

And that's bad because...?

Re:Civilians that may die in games? (1)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382918)

Maybe I'm too old to be a gamer, but I've always chosen to do the good things instead of the bad. On the other hand, my kids would always sacrifice followers in Black and White to gain mana.

Re:Civilians that may die in games? (1)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383238)

Yep, when I get immersed, I'd follow a similar pattern. Which pissed me off in GTA because many times it was just, hey, kill that person and I felt like, wtf, man, I'd rather handle you and and your goons than go murder that witness.

Modern Warfare 2 (2)

Tony (765) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382866)

Yeah. The one level in Modern Warfare 2 that people objected to? Yeah. That was shooting civilians.

It seems censors don't like shooting civilians.

Re:Modern Warfare 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382984)

I LOVE that mission. The other bastard Russian's kill 'em way to fast for me to get some blood on my hands though. What a great mission in a recent game that was though.

Remember the mission in GTA 2 where you had to dump a van of nude colonists into a fire pit in a factory? That rocked!!

Why not penalize for bad behavior? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382896)

If you want to force your morals on someone, why not penalize for collateral damage rather then removing the sense of realism. Perhaps violence would actually be toned down if there were consequences to bad behavior rathe than trying to remove it and hide the realities of war?

Good vs Evil (3, Insightful)

ryanw (131814) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382906)

I don't think it's fair that it is just assumed that people will choose to do bad behind closed doors. I think the problem is the reward system is off balance. If a game truly implemented a true eco system of consequences and rewards for doing good vs evil you would see a different picture.

I, for example, played the game "Black & White" and your kingdom would morph to how you portrayed yourself. I actually was good "all the time" while I played that game. I slowly learned that the rewards for being good the whole time was limiting vs what could happen when you were evil. I only tried being evil once the reward for being good seemed to stop the gameplay.

If a game fully implemented repercussions for hitting civilians or doing evil, people would choose to do good. But when there are either no repercussions or just pure "cool eye candy" for killing people without consequence, people are really just looking to explore the dynamics of the game, they're not trying to do evil. So ultimately it comes down to the game designers making evil actions more appealing than doing good. That's the paradigm that would need to shift ...

Just think, if you killed a civilian in a mission you had to sit out a round or two in multi-player ... or if you had to go through an extra training course... This could also playout to be repercussions for 'friendly fire', instead of just disabling friendly fire all together. People would pay more attention to the goals of the game and stay more true to the role they're playing.

With "counter-strike", people choose (or get selected) to be on either the terrorists or counter-terrorist groups... same thing with most all multi-player games. In a way the "counter terrorists" are the good guys, and the terrorists are the bad guys... The bad guys kill the good guys here. Why not put civilians in the terrain and in the city? If a terrorist killed a civilian they would leave a blood trail behind or have to hide the body, or someone would scream and they would be easier to find, etc... There would be real repercussions for doing this. And if a 'counter-terrorist' killed a civilian by mistake or because it was a hostage or something, he would need to sit out for like 2 minutes or something before being allowed back in....

So the long and the short of it is, it's impossible to base people's decisions to do good vs evil with the games designed today. There is ONLY reward for doing anything the game lets you do. And people like to push limits to things to see what the developers created. Once they get their hands slapped for doing it, they probably won't do it again -- and if they do, they will have to work extra hard to undo the damage they had done.

Re:Good vs Evil (1)

cheekyjohnson (1873388) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382960)

Yeah, but really, what's the point of punishing them for those things (in a way that stops the gameplay and/or forces them to be "good")? It's a game. Who cares if they kill innocents?

Re:Good vs Evil (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383190)

I don't think it's fair that it is just assumed that people will choose to do bad behind closed doors. I think the problem is the reward system is off balance. If a game truly implemented a true eco system of consequences and rewards for doing good vs evil you would see a different picture.

And how many real soldiers have been tried & convicted in the last decade for killing civilians in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Obvious answer, convuluted (2)

shellster_dude (1261444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382920)

This article is a glorious example of begging the question.

The obvious answer is that most companies don't want to deal with the shit-storm that COD Modern Warefare 2 and Battle for Falujah. It has nothing to do with the supposed moral recrimination of shooting innocent bystanders as far as the actual players are concerned.

Re:Obvious answer, convuluted (1)

Skywolfblue (1944674) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383084)

The obvious answer is that most companies don't want to deal with the shit-storm that COD Modern Warefare 2

shit-storm = free publicity. They made that mission on purpose to create controversy and thus sales.

Games are fantasy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37382924)

Same reason why FPS games don't implement things like realistic injury or stamina. In real life, if you're loaded for bear you're not going to be running around like a jackrabbit wigged out on methamphetamines and crack. After carrying sufficient gear and ammo for a few minutes, if you have any choice, you're going to be looking for someplace comfy and well protected to hole up in. When tired or loaded, you slow down. Sometimes drastically. This means you actually need somebody to cover your ass in a firefight. Certain types of ammo also become a lot more rare and expensive in reality. Without ridiculous rocket spam, things like tanks look like a much much better option for offensive operations. In real life, the landscape isn't indestructible either. Hacking the map takes on a whole new meaning. Likewise if you get shot in the leg and arm, you might not be moving that much or able to wield a weapon effectively until somebody shows up and attends to your injuries.

But who wants to be a camper, waiting for support, waiting for a vehicle, or waiting on the medic before trying to progress the mission and capturing the next spawnpoint? Most FPS players like the balls-out Rambo approach which is far from anything realistic. Often trying FPS strategies in real life is quick way to fill a body bag.

I guess civilians is "having things you're not supposed to shoot". Which for most gamers is less fun. Often the typical FPS player prefers to destroy things rather than protect them. Retarded AI when you're on a babysitting mission doesn't help this any either.

Why do the cards not crush in racing games? (2)

flyboy974 (624054) | more than 2 years ago | (#37382952)

The same argument can be said about racing games. You can crash into walls going 100MPH and just bounce off.

The people vs. car thing is a little different but comes down to the same thing. In the car world, a manufacturer doesn't want their car to ever be seen as inferior or have damage to the car. In the war model, we want to always be rewarded for shooting the gun. Negative feedback is bad.

The reality is that until we start enforcing negative feedback we are encouraging and training a new generation of people that will lack a sense of duty and responsibility and instead will lack a certain understanding of right and wrong.

Re:Why do the cards not crush in racing games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383038)

> The same argument can be said about racing games. You can crash into walls going 100MPH and just bounce off.

And that's why I like the Burnout series. Totally unrealistic in all the other respects, and you can take a lot more damage than any normal car, but a crash is a damn crash in that game.

That's because you don't play sims. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383072)

You obviously play arcade style driving games, like Gran Turismo. Maybe if you tried something like iRacing, GT Legends, maybe even rFactor you would think differently about what a real sim is and damage.

Re:Why do the cards not crush in racing games? (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383088)

No pizza delivery guys walking away with nothing more than a 5% tip in porn either. What's up with that?

Re:Why do the cards not crush in racing games? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383090)

The reality is that until we start enforcing negative feedback we are encouraging and training a new generation of people that will lack a sense of duty and responsibility and instead will lack a certain understanding of right and wrong.

 
You're full of shit. I'm an ethical, moral person in reality. Give money and time to charities and conservation (go sea turtles!), drive sanely, pay my taxes, vote, serve on juries, etc. I'm no saint, but I'm a decent person.
 
I also like to shoot civilians at random in videogames, jack cars, steal stuff, blow shit up. I think the problems we'll face in the future will be caused by boneheads like YOU who can't discern the difference between reality and fantasy.

Um. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383032)

Why aren't there killable children in Fallout 3?

Re:Um. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383288)

Because you don't need a game to kill children, that's easy.

Here's a hint - it's not the developers (5, Interesting)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383042)

The developers, in general, want to do this. I recall one game designer (for an Iraq-war-setting game) wanting to add a mission where the player went on a lengthy patrol through the city. Civilians would be everywhere, doing normal civilian things. Shooting them, obviously, would lead to a game-over. But the twist was that there would be no actual enemies - you'd go out and see several things that might startle you into shooting (potential car bomb, etc), but it would basically be ten minutes of the player expecting enemies at every corner, yet never finding them. It was supposed to show what actual soldiers deal with daily - almost all patrols go without incident.

The game shipped without it, but that's hardly the only one where the developers wanted to add civilians, either for realism, or for mood, or even just because. But it's almost always stopped by the publisher, AKA the guys spending the money on the game. It's just far too much of an economic risk. Very few military games do it (without doing something like making them invinsible), simply because of all the outrage the media would cause. Modern Warfare 2 really only included it (in one mission) because of the outrage - they wanted the publicity and the shock.

SOCOM series anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383052)

while not civilians in the jeans and tshirt sort of way, you have escort game mode where there are three vips held captive by the terrorist/rebels, and the seal team has to get them an extract them. they can die, but that in turn causes the team that kills them to lose. Many people who are playing on the terrorist side that round will wound them so their just barely alive and use them as human shields so when the seals come in they have to be extremely careful with their shots so they dont take out the VIPs and also so they cant just place C4 to blow a hole in the wall or toss a gernade without taking out the "civilians" in the process

Why doesn't more pr0n have farts? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383058)

Why are most of the women hot? Why don't they fart more often? Yeah, yeah; I'm sure there's some ugly farting chick pr0n out there; and there are probably games where you shoot civies. It's just not the majority taste. Game companies and porn makers want to sell stuff that most people want. Duh!

NRA Civilians (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383100)

And why are the civs always such wimps? I want a crowd that knows their 2nd amendment rights.

Ultima I (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383108)

I think you could attack people in cities. You could steal and the guards would chase you. that was loads of fun!

Re:Ultima I (1)

bug_hunter (32923) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383178)

You even HAD to kill chuckles (the annoying but innocent court Jester) to loot a key of his body to rescue a Princess. (Ultima 1 didn't quite have the plots of its successors).

It's easier to go to war (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383120)

It's easier to convince your citizens to go to war if they can't see the suffering of innocents. The bible makes a Big Deal of Herod and all, what would those oh so pious Americans think if he lived in the White House?

Why I shoot Civilians in video games. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383144)

Because if it's a shooting game we want to shoot stuff. I didn't load it up to listen to someone's moronic dialog and bad voice acting. I don't load it up to worry about some computer A.I. (and I use that term loosely) friendly that'll run through the through the middle of a firefight getting splattered against a wall. My ultimate goal is to not die myself.

Why do people skip quest dialog in games like WoW, get up and go for a drink when "traveling" through game worlds, etc?... Because those things are not part of the fun.

I'll continue to skip dialog, cut-scenes, and kill any and all A.I. civilians and teammates that get in my way or hinder me in any way. Thanks.

Doesn't mean I don't value human life irl or realize how dangerous guns can be in the wrong hands.

It's just that the added "realism" isn't real and it isn't freaking fun. I want entertainment for my entertainment dollars.

Now all together breath.... It's just a game.... (1)

SkyDragon (1642677) | more than 2 years ago | (#37383160)

I'm a little lost over the level of hysteria around some of these games... Why do we have to analyse this to death, in the end it is just a game. Do we stop young kids playing "ring a ring a rosie" because it pays reference back to the black death? Do we stop kids playing foot ball (all versions) because in the past this type of game was used to train soldiers? Do we stop girls from playing dress up with dolls because it reinforces gender stereotypes ..... woops, hang on.... Ok, were officially stuffed as a species, beam me up I want to get off.....

Obligatory MW2 No Russian Scene (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383210)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvHvYZNtbQQ

I had my first offended adult moment watching my cousin's kid play this level.

Syndicate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383226)

And this is why the current, politically correctly risk averse games fail me. I loved the tension of completing the missions in the Syndicate with minimal civilian casualties, inflicted by either side. Not all teens crave mass murder and homicide. Hell, as a person without a drivers license, I would love to play a game where I had to follow road regulations as close as possible while delivering, securing, rescuing or stealing something. Conflicting objectives create suspension.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37383272)

Two words... ...No Russian... ...Infinity Ward ruined it for everyone.

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