Some thoughts FPSes and Identity
Battlefield, like counter-strike, operates w/o giving us a firm narrative or identity. Identity is surpressed, the only differences between oman and america or GSG9 and Terrorists is simply the weapons used. Competition begets competition free of ideology as if all the world’s conflicts arrive from frivolous needs for juxtaposition instead of belief, many FPSes do this, they submerge our identities and then occupy us with puzzles and challenges, goals and other operatives that keep us focused on one goal at a time instead of asking questions about who we are. Similarly, societies choose to ignore certian aspects of the mind or self, Americans are occupied by ideas of GDP, technological progress, and rarely the narrative of nationhood that sorrounds us. Counter-Strike and Battlefield advertise the enjoyment of military jobs by subtracting the ideiology behind them, as it stands they become forms easily open to subversion whether it’s Hezbollah’s Special Forces or America’s Army both of which are competing to put a narrative of their own politics in the form of tactical FPSes and in that are ads for the positions they inhabit. It’s interesting though the trick both games use, by chucking out story they create an environment in which doing is simply the main enjoyment of the game. We play for our teams sure, but really we also play for the simple pleasure of denial, keeping the other team away etc. Do we really care if we’re Chinese, America, or from Oman? Is that a political statement, or do such games ignore politics entirely?
To read someone like J.G. Ballard is to see the world in a more disturbing light. Mr. Ballard discusses the psychological effects of our society whether in consumerism or restaging world war III, but few products are designed from such an angle except perhaps advertising. Battlefield and Counter-Strike’s magic formula (which has made them more popular than Special Force or America’s Army) is to ignore giving the player a narrative, in that their effects on us are limited to the repetition of violence, the reaching of simple goals, such games are amoral to the psychologist simply becuase they ignore the field entirely. How would games intended to teach us how to feel work? Instead of them blindly influencing us with out an intended provocation?