Call of Apathy: Violent Young Men and Our Place in War

By W.

[Editor’s Note: W is an experienced soldier with combat experience in several corners of the world. They are now working as a PMC and cannot reveal their identity due to the possibility of backlash. As they put it, “The military is a very, very tight-knit community.” This article has been edited for style and clarity; no additions or deletions have been made.

W's opinions are, of course, their own.]

Disclaimer: I am not an academic. I have no education past the age of 16, so my writing may be rough. What I do have is an entire adulthood of military service, which I terminated recently when I decided I wanted more money for doing the same job.

I am a private military contractor, and I have an issue with the depiction of war in videogames — or more specifically, the soldiers in those games.

When I say soldier, let me be clear that I am talking about the Infantryman and the Special Forces operator, as I have next to no knowledge about anything outside of this relatively small percentile of service personnel.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of games featuring the military focus on these frontline combat troops in “realistic” action. And that’s where we get problems.

Imagine a war game where you could only move at a slow walking pace. Imagine Skyrim when your inventory is too full, except you can’t drop any of it. This war game has a prone button like Call of Duty, but your character takes 2-3 seconds to change position. Every time you press it, the animation gets slower because your character becomes more and more tired.

Every mission is set in the same level. They each take 12 hours to complete. Sometimes, absolutely nothing happens. Other times, your lead guy gets blown up and you spend the next hour or so casevac’ing [ed note: casualty evacuating] him while under fire.

Other missions involve you being under fire for the entire patrol. You never see the enemy, just fire at the long grass in front of you as you crawl slowly to some cover. If you get up, you will be cut down within seconds, so this process takes hours. When you reach the enemy compound, if the enemy haven’t run away, dropped their weapons, and are pretending to be farmers, or if you haven’t called in enough ordnance to flatten Mexico, you will kill them in the most horrible way imaginable. That is your incentive.

Only a violent sociopath would play this game.

We do it for real, time and time again, with no other motivation but pay, leave, and the chance to brutalise whomever we deem the “enemy”. This is the lot of the combat soldier.

In military videogames, you tend to get “good guy” characters that are the rough and ready types. The situation may be chaotic, but they crack on with the task in hand to the best of their ability, never let anyone down, and may or may not die in a dramatic fashion. Good, wholesome stuff.

Then there are the Tier 1 types: a more modern iteration that exists thanks to games like Modern Warfare and Medal of Honour. These stone-cold killers speak in clipped monotones, uttering the odd cool one-liner to show that although they are still human, they will never be anything but utterly professional. Both kinds of soldiers end up wrapped up in something bigger than themselves, their missions are always of utmost importance, and every action they take is ultimately justified.

Good enough for entertainment, but should war be sterilised and glorified in this way? Here is the crux of my beef with the military videogame genre:

None of the stereotypes exist. They are put in place by a media and a military that hates the wars we fight but loves the men fighting in them.

Let me give you an example. I was in Iraq in 2007. Over a 3-month period, we saw some of the bloodiest fighting since the invasion, losing more than ten men and killing hundreds of insurgents. A reporter for a very well-known men’s lifestyle magazine visited us to learn about our experiences. About halfway through his escort, an officer from the military media centre tells him that he is not allowed to speak to us anymore. He has to use stories taken from a non-combat unit earlier that day. It turned out that the officer was appalled at the jovial nature of our recollections; the story in which a vehicle commander sawed two men in half with a mounted machinegun because they were on their phones “dicking” us made him balk in particular.

The journalist took some pictures of us because we looked “warry” and lo and behold, 2 months later, the magazine has an article about some medic that helps local civilians accompanied by pictures of infantrymen in full gear.

This is one of countless ways the military carefully shapes the public opinion of the troops. It’s a shameless PR exercise. One of our guys got a Military Cross (a medal for bravery) awarded after he got shot in the bum and continued to fight. His platoon was isolated on a rooftop with no escape for hours, and there was literally nothing else he could do but fight. This does not make him a hero. It makes him a soldier with a sore bum.

Next time you watch a military documentary, ask yourself why only 3 or 4 men are ever interviewed from a unit. The answer?

The rest of them are like me.

There’s a reason the new guy always gets put on point and nobody really cares when he gets blown up, that so many incidents of collateral damage go unreported, that failed missions are spun into something positive like gathering “valuable intel,” and why only roughly 20% of combat troops ever get PTSD – when if you think about it, it should affect everyone that ever sees combat.

It’s because the vast majority of us are straight up sociopaths.

Heroes are a myth. Every incident I can recall in war that created a hero was either an accident or ended up with said hero in a body bag.

Which makes the “hero” myth a fight of luck versus stupidity, a roll of the dice.

We all make calculated risks in war. Not one of us would make that risk if we genuinely thought it would get us killed.

I’ll say it again. Heroes in a frontline combat context do not exist.

Here is a real scenario that should be put into a game:

A friend of mine came under fire inside a compound. He followed up the shooter, who disappeared into an escape tunnel. My friend followed standard procedure and threw a grenade into the tunnel entrance before following up. When entering the tunnel, he found only the bodies of a woman and a small child, whom the terrorist had used to cover his escape.

When I spoke about it to my friend years later, he recalled how pissed he was at losing the insurgent, and how bad he felt afterwards about it. He’d had his professional pride tarnished. I asked him if he ever thought about the woman and her kid and he just looked at me blankly.

He didn’t even remember they were there.

This is a serious issue that needs to be addressed in videogames. How would you feel if you accidentally killed an innocent child in a game? If the words “MISSION FAILED” appeared, but then disappeared after a few seconds, leaving you to continue as normal with no repercussions. Any normal person would feel guilty, but that’s my point. Combat troops are not normal people.

War is the most horrific, sickening thing mankind can inflict upon itself, fought by and large by uneducated maniacs that have no other place in the world. Videogames have the attention of the youth and can educate as well as entertain. The real horrors need to be made very public to keep the next generation from turning out like us.

My friends and I are not represented anywhere in mass media. People need to realise that their wars are not fought by the guy on the news that lost a leg and loves his flag — he was the FNG [ed: fucking new guy] that got blown up because he was incompetent, who left the fight before it turned him into one of us.

The world needs to be made aware of my kind: the silent majority of fighters, those that do not care about politics, religion, ethics, or anything else other than war for war’s sake.

We are not our forefathers. We were not conscripted. We know the dangers. We are not naïve and we are very real.

But I’m sure everyone would rather watch Captain Price stab another faceless goon in the neck whilst chasing the big bad all over the world again.

One last thought: My psychologist estimated that roughly 80% of infantrymen have an undiagnosed violent personality disorder. These aren’t hard stats, but’s it’s interesting when compared to the 20% that suffer from PTSD.

I am perfectly sane, but as the psychiatrist said to me before referring me to a psychologist:

“You’re probably just a complete bastard.”

A true assessment.

Further Reading: “Call of Apathy: Advanced Warfighter” (Medium Difficulty)

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  • CptMorganMVRP

    God Bless

  • CptMorganMVRP

    God Bless

  • MetalMusicMan

    Absolutely great article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Synth6983 Michael Isaacs

    As a 6 year US Army vet, with 2 tours to Iraq during the start of OIF and the middle (OIF I and OIF III) this depiction and article is why I despise CoD and any ‘Modern Shooter’. There is a simple saying that holds true in War, not videogame war, but REAL war…’Heroes are the first to die’…

    Another scenario that needs to be added, and is a true story about my self.

    Sitting on a school roof helping rebuild the school for the locals, to then hear on the Radio that a fellow units Convoy was hit with an IED and the radio chatter, and the cries for help, and you can’t do anything, you cant even leave your post. You just close your eyes and pray they are ok, when you can obviously hear they are not.

    These are the real scenario’s these are the real War like moments.

    • Greg Webster

      I wonder what W thought about the move Inglorious Basterds, and the lack of “heroic innocence” that people complained so bitterly about in that film. Clearly it’s not the same as real war by any means, but perhaps it’s just a touch closer.

      • http://www.facebook.com/BarrDonna Donna Barr

        “Inglorious Basterds” is actually about the German film industry, and about as close to a Woody Allen film as Tarantino ever got. Some FINE German comedians.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Powerman420X Edward Garza

      You do know COD and all these shooters are games, right?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Weston-Ford/1125810437 Weston Ford

        Of course he does you imbecile. What kind of stupid ass shit are you trying to imply with that statement? That sentence doesn’t carry any weight, it just makes you look like an arrogant idiot.

        • http://www.twitter.com/christaran Chris Taran

          The man murders people for a living. How intelligent can he possibly be? I’m shocked he made it to a computer between all the raping and pillaging.

          • brian olson

            fuck off asshole he’s seen things that will make you want to jump under your bed covers and cry

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=626821780 Chris Sherlock

            That doesn’t negate the parent posters comment.

      • http://twitter.com/Dr_greens bt

        Wrong. They are Propaganda for the US military industrial complex. If you don’t see that, you are already brainwashed.

        • http://twitter.com/straponheart Evan Hatch

          Holy shit that was an inane comment. Infinity Ward (CoD developer) is owned by Activision who is owned by the FRENCH conglomerate Vivendi SA. So where exactly does this fit into the iron triangle? Where is the money coming from? Your braindead conspiracy theories detract from the credibility of the very real problem of the military industrial complex.

          • http://www.myspace.com/ar0on Aroon

            military industrial complex includes society, so a society which believes the military is this bastion of righteousness is part of that complex. it has nothing to do with the government controlling everything

          • http://twitter.com/straponheart Evan Hatch

            As I have been taught in school and continue to be taught now, the military-complex is an iron triangle which means it consists of reciprocating arms companies, legislators, and military personnel. Exactly what makes the military industrial complex so insidious is the fact that it is insulated from the pubic and therefore ostensibly unresponsive to the democratic process

          • http://twitter.com/bwaaarcode Sman

            French, American, German, British, Russian, Cambodian, et cetera, et cetera, et alia.

            In a world where corporations have personhood that outstrips that of the citizen: do you really think trivialities of nationhood serve any purpose outside of major international sporting events (aside from war and genocide, I mean).

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YP2HT4T6PBAOWS5PIZBHQJ4QWM Pansy

            In fact natural disasters, local crime and even war, become a smokescreen to take our attention off of corporations as they initiate legislation that strips people of their rights.

          • Michael Elliott

            If this is the evan hatch from the phonathon, I am my own grandfather. am I my own grandfather?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

            Dude, like the French are a major player in the international arms market and despite common “knowledge” about the efficiency of the French military they are a world class force. The best wargame out there now, Armed Assault II, comes from the Czechs, who are also a notable player in the munitions manufacturing world. The simple fact is the polictians make the decisions to use the weapons so they are the ones you need to brainwash. I think this article is total bullshit but the kernel of truth may be that there are plenty of people who want to go to war and don’t need video games to “brainwash” them into anything. A history book will show you the Euros fightin for centuries before the Ipad was released.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          or you are just another self-important a-hole making pronouncements as if you actually know what you are talking about. Some of the most virulent and malicious ant-government people I have ever met play some of the most complicated war games out there. Why do so many Europeans play complex first person shooters ? Does Finland have military-industrial complex propaganda too ? The Netherlands ? Belguim ? Nobody who has even the smallest bit of knowledge about the military thinks these games depict real-life scenarios and anyone who has a genuine interest in the military as career knows damn well what Army life, for lack of a better term, entails.

    • Heckle Jeckle

      Like the man says up there, you all volunteered to go out and become professional murderers. If some of you get killed in the process, I can’t say I’m too fussed about it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

        Really ? So you would rather deal with amateur murderers at your door ? Murder is a legal definition so it is relatively meaningless in this context.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

      Are you saying that 80% of the combat troops are sociopaths who feel nothing at all ?
      I know 2 OIF I vets and several Vietnam vets and some of them actually killed people in combat and they feel it. I think this is a total bullshit article made up of a lot of little nuggets of truth. If I am wrong, I don’t want to know about. I don’t want to think there are literally millions of combat trained sociopaths wandering around America, I would prefer to live in my current state of ignorance where prior military service means you are more likely to be an upstanding citizen than not.

      • http://www.twitter.com/christaran Chris Taran

        I’m saying 100% of combat troops are sociopaths who enjoy nothing but murdering people. Why else would you enlist in a job that involves killing other human beings?

  • http://twitter.com/RamliJohn Ramli John

    Wow great article. Thanks for your candid assessment of how media portrays war

  • http://www.facebook.com/dubiosity Eric Herr

    Powerful stuff. Thank you for sharing.

  • draxo

    Thank you for being honest.

  • jstaff

    Good article. Video games are for entertainment, they are not war simulators. They aren’t meant to train anyone our anything like that. They also cannot make them too”brutal”our they will get banned in certain places. The movie “brothers”is good. Watch it. My buddy served2 over a year terms….somehow it didn’t change him…he is insane lucky. He was an officer though, and not on the front line

  • hayden.bridgen

    interesting. (sounds like) the truth just by the way you said it. Normally I would skip things like this normally because i think fps games are just for entertainment purposes and not meant for the realism of the actual army and it is adapted for entertainment, but this was interesting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=848005166 Tony Delehanty

    This is a great article, and very enlightening.

    Many people say that Men become who they need to be based on the situation, and I wonder how true that is in the military. Are you a “complete bastard” because of what active duty has done to you, or did you enlist because you were a “complete bastard.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/georgeedwardp George Edward Purdy

      “…and we wuz both jumpin’ up and down together yellin’ KEEL! KEEL! and he pinned a medal on me and said You’re our boy!”

      • Eliot Duff

        Alice’s Restaurant reference. Nice

    • Clarissa

      “Men become who they need to be based on the situation”
      Only men though. Anyone who does not have a penis experiences no personal growth.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TMF3C33DG5YUGFSVHKQGGNXLYA Apocol0id

    Incredible, sobering article. It’s a shame that these games (and movies) are straight up propaganda. The real story of war should, and must be told. We need less Act of Valor, less Medal of Honor, and less Call of Duty.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=676808851 Roberta J Fye

      I totally agree with you ApocolOid! It gives the youth of America and abroad some very untrue and very distorted view of War. My brother served in the Vietnam War, and he has never spoken about his time there, other than to say it was a ghastly and gruesome experience. Just my (opinion) – War Video games should NOT be on the market. It portrays a completely distorted story of military battles!!! There are many, many other Video games that people can play besides these. As I stated, just my opinion.

      • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

        Well good, let’s start censoring art because it offends you. That’s not a slippery slope.

        • Clarissa

          They censored Rapelay. Am I to assume, according to you, that they should not have? I think you’re full of shit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/finlay266 Ian Finlay

      I agree with what everyone is saying. But these game are not just straight up propaganda, I find a lot of enjoyment and fun in the competitiveness of online play. I agree that these games don’t portray the “real story of war” as you put it.. but then again I wouldn’t find those fun to play. I’m not violent (I’ve been in two fights in my life) and I’m fairly educated. I know the difference between a game and the real world. I say more games AND more education of what war is really like…

      • http://www.facebook.com/georgeedwardp George Edward Purdy

        Drug addicts extoll the virtues of their misunderstood vices, too. They also reassure us they can handle it, but can everyone?

        • Daniel DellaRocco

          Logical fallacy alert! Games are NOT actually psychotropic drugs, no matter how many arbitrary parallels you draw. Try again next time!

          • Clarissa

            Psychotropics aren’t addictive. Someone doesn’t know their drugs.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DIZJRBFSHRAEUIPHL2AZQR73RU Dedan

        No one said that propaganda couldn’t be fun, i would argue just the opposite, most propaganda is amazingly engaging… anyway i dislike these “realistic” FPS’s and prefer to play SF or fantasy based shooters like Vanquish…

        I think what the author is trying to say is that perhaps we should show the ugly side of war… i think it’s a challenge to the game development community, can we make a game that’s fun and engaging and makes you critically analyze war in this day and age…not just glorify it…

        • Clarissa

          No. That would be pretty defeating the purpose.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

      Try watching “Winter War”.

  • scott urquhart

    awful article. blaming soldiers with injuries for ‘being new’. why would infinity ward or dice make a game that was realistic? they wouldnt sell any games that way. video games are meant for fun, not acquiring PTSD. no one thinks these games are realistic. if you want people to know more about your ‘kind’ then write a fucking book.

    • Peter Strasser

      Come on man, you can troll better than that! Add some subtlety!

      • Daniel Cappell

        what was the comment? its deleted now.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1560152801 Liam Proctor

        asshole^

    • Daniel Collier

      Dude wearing the helmet always dies first, he’s the FNG.

    • Daniel Collier

      Dude wearing the helmet always dies first, he’s the FNG.

    • Neal Gardella

      He doesn’t have to write a book, he just poured his heart into that article; “FNGs” die because they think the battlefield will be just like CoD: they can take a shit ton of bullets anywhere on their body, wait a seconds, and be completly recovered

      • http://stephenrice.eu Stephen Rice

        Does anyone actually think that?

        • http://www.facebook.com/danielpiers Daniel Piers

          You could ask them, but they’re dead.

      • http://twitter.com/BriansiPad Brian Anderson

        I can guarantee that literally not a single person in the military has ever thought that, ever.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          or at least not after leaving basic.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/David-Goldschmidt/1455153698 David Goldschmidt

      ok. seriously … scott urquhart … do you really want to piss this guy off? lol

    • rdmusic16

      I like how you missed the entire point of the article…

    • MDtwenty

      Where’s the damn downvote button

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DSUBCUBPEF4AI36AMAXP6RJ7T4 Paolo

      where did this guy came out from?

    • http://moshi08.myopenid.com/ moshi

      simply WOW

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Marsden-Kieran/511110611 Michael Marsden-Kieran

      Let Scott troll, no one could possibly be this stupid.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/5N3VB3WPFYMATFZ6Z3HJKGP3DA G-L

      You are a fucking idiot. Call of Duty Modern Warfare. The name alone implies that it is real. Any kid (the majority of it’s fanbase) will pick up the game and think “oh this is what real war is like, hey this is kinda cool I like this!” That’s the thought process behind it and believe me, people do think these games are realistic. Stop denying the truth and think a little before you speak.

      • http://www.facebook.com/georgeedwardp George Edward Purdy

        Yeah, and the U. S. Army released their own “realistic” FPS for free.

        • Nathan Warner

          Really? What’s it called? (I’m curious)

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Lasse-Saarinen/1337285301 Lasse Saarinen

            It’s called America’s Army, a multiplayer FPS. Been around for a good 10 years. http://www.americasarmy.com/

          • Brett Stennett

            George may be referring to something I don’t know about, but a few years ago there was a game called “America’s Army.” If I recall correctly it was funded by the DoD.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeremy-Russell/1169816512 Jeremy Russell

            It’s called Americas Army if I’m not mistaken

          • Stevo AU

            believe me it’s not that realistic, try ArmA

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528971483 Axel Huffam

            Or try enlisting in the army?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

            The Army ? That is not realistic. The Army is boring, and tiring and you never get points for kill streaks.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

            ARMAII:PR realitymod.com

          • bronobody

            “America’s Army” of course.

        • 1limey1

          complete with free surgery for limb removal & lets not forget free opiates for the pain

      • 1limey1

        It is definitely not real, when it is, real people hurt a lot, for a long time

      • Eric Hepokoski

        You honestly think that most people who buy MW3 think that it’s a depiction of ACTUAL war? When they say “Modern” they are talking about the weapons used. like SMAW rocket launchers and SCAR assault rifles.

        Wow.

      • http://twitter.com/BriansiPad Brian Anderson

        I think you need to work on your English comprehension skills, buddy. “Modern Warfare” just implies that it’s a game about warfare that takes place in modern times.

        I’m not sure how you get “THIS GAME IS FULL OF SUPER REAL WAR ACTION” out of that title… at all.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

        The thought process is that I like war stories and I played war in real time when computers were in their infancy. I read books about war, and you what ? In those books people died, and people were horribly wounded and it was real. Then there was Vietnam, on TV, with plenty of blood for everyone to see.
        The name “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare” implies it’s real ? Why ? Is it because they included the words Modern Warfare ? Are you really that dumb that you didn’t know there is 3 or 4 other CoD games out there ?
        I think maybe you are just not so bright and you got tricked by somebody so now you assume everyone is as dumb as you are so you don’t feel bad about yourself.

    • TJ01010100

      Dammit, I read you comment in Yahtzee’s voice.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=528971483 Axel Huffam

        Yahtzee would kill himself before even thinking about the phrase “Like, really?”

    • darceyisanidiot

      I can’t believe you actually wrote,”Like, really?”

      How utterly retarded are YOU?

  • Sam Harries

    Massively powerful article. A great read.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

      You like fiction then eh ?

  • scott urquhart

    if you need less video games, dont buy them. its that simple. if youre too bitter to enjoy a form an entertainment, then dont buy it. games and movies are not propaganda, they are fun to watch and worth paying for.

    • Dustin Mays

      On the contrary, the best propoganda is subtle, indistinguishable. ANY form of media can be used as a vehicle for propaganda, including video games and movies. The most obvious example I can use is America’s Army, a video game developed jointly with the Army.

      • http://profiles.google.com/neil.mclachlan Neil McLachlan

        Not developed jointly with the army. Developed entirely by the army, using 100% army money, that came straight from the recruitment budget. Back in the late ’90s when it began, they put something like $5m into a 5-year development cycle, which the army thought was pocket change compared to what they spend on tv and other advertising. But it was way more successful than they ever dreamed.

        • http://www.facebook.com/georgeedwardp George Edward Purdy

          Also note that making a popular game automatically provokes imitation.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EU36GIOMWRXFYAADLHJQ3JUWXU Jens Pettersen

        Really? The pinnacle of examples of subtle propaganda is Americas Army, a video game that 99% of players (yes, even given the average proclivities of players!) would know is developed by the US Army? Which again in turn predisposes them to scepticism about the message?

        Any video game that portrays the US army in a similarly positive light or better (very many of them) but doesn’t have the US Army on the production label is probably more efficient as propaganda by default, wouldn’t you say?

        • http://www.aqualgidus.org/ Michael Chui

          It’s not subtle. The link to the Army recruitment page is right there. And people click it.

        • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

          I was thinking the same thing. “America’s Army is subtle?” Lol, it’s the opposite of subtle. People think they’ve uncovered some sinister conspiracy when in fact they’ve just figured out what has been plainly obvious to everyone with a triple-digit IQ.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

            It’s totally subtle. Some drill sargent who loved CounterStrike decided why not get these little snot nose kids aimed in the right direction BEFORE they get to me ? That makes my job easier. Bingo…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002977890076 Charlie Bareham

      You’ve completely misunderstood the point of this article.

    • Neal Gardella

      All of these war-time movies and games are absolutely propognada, at a time with the dumbest most useless generation in America, what more does the government need than an entire youth just yearning to get blood on their hands? If all of these movies and video games are truly just plain entertainment, then what happened to the good old days when we could be entertained by watching a tv show about an inocent family enjoying a day at the lake? So many people have been desensitized to the act of war that they think everything their country does in the name of “freedom” is justified no matter how gruesome; every other 16 year old I know thinks that they are going to join the military and go out on the front line and kick ass and take out hundreds of “tangos” with absolutely no problems just like their favorite character. But what theu don’t realize is that one well-placed bullet will be the end of you, everything you ever have been, everything you ever could have been, and the enemy has the same or better chance of killing you, especially if you are in a foreign territory.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/L2X2XDKE2ODG5DCTZ7GS2ZDYLY Aolan

        Not every individual of the “dumbest most useless generation in America” is sitting at home playing call of duty. Not every kid idealizes the war-time horse shit that comes out of Hollywood and game productions. I agree with everything else you said, but fuck the generalizations and fuck you for making such a bigoted statement about an entire age range. That’s childish rationale.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          Exactly ! Who do you think is the military today ? That aforementioned generation, who joined voluntarily, in the middle of war. And you know what else ? A bunch of them played CoD, before during and after they sweated their ass off to get some place they could die. I would also mention that CoD is for noobs and real operators play ARMAII:PR.

      • MDtwenty

        Entertained by watching a family enjoy a day at the lake… wtf is wrong with you? That’s actually a lot more creepy than being entertained by FPS’s imo

        • http://www.facebook.com/sabetsu Holly Lynn Armitage

          He was referring to classic family-oriented shows where people partake in such simple activities as frolicking about the lake.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          Isn’t that the story of Narcissus ?

      • http://www.facebook.com/georgeedwardp George Edward Purdy

        There is an agenda of reducing the population. Who are they going to target for population control? The less educated and more aggressive people are an easy choice.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          Why are total casualties for over 10 years of war in two countries lower than any given year’s car accidents for the same age group ?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

        Dude, there is this place you can go and read about blood and guts and killing and cheating on your wife and killing your kids ….it’s called the library and they have section for really old stories, you know, like almost as old as the bible you should totally check it out because I think that is where you gain this thing called perspective. It comes along with this other thing called knowledge and as an example, knowledge tells me that the coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan have a much better chance of killing the enemy than being killed. I believe in 2006, statistically speaking, it was safer in Baghdad’s green zone ( mortared every day ) than it was in the capital of the United States, Washington DC. All that doesn’t change the fact that war is hell but any kid today can go to liveleak or orgrish or apache and see in full color what happens when he takes out a tango. OR….what happens when an IED takes him and 6 of his buddies out. I know you think you are special and really well informed but here’s the news flash….so is everyone else, except apparently, the 16yos you spend so much time with.
        (pedobear here)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5517472 Luke Mazza

      Whether or not they are deliberate propaganda isn’t very important if they still have that effect on people.

    • http://twitter.com/TrevorSwenson Trevor Swenson

      Charlie Bareham nailed it on the head. “You’ve completely misunderstood the point of this article.”

      “Games and movies are not propaganda”

      What world do you live in?

      • http://twitter.com/straponheart Evan Hatch

        The purpose of propaganda is to persuade the audience and support a certain ideological view. The purpose of video games (save for several select ones like America’s Army) is to generate profit. If we happen to live in a society that finds violence gratifying because we are so indoctrinated, that is one thing, but as someone who has grown up around the game industry, I think you would have to be absolutely paranoid to think this $70 billion industry exists to ideologically perpetuate war and violence.

    • Matthew Moore

      I’m pretty sure that the US army funds basically any type of military style game. So it kind of is propaganda.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_EU36GIOMWRXFYAADLHJQ3JUWXU Jens Pettersen

        Then you come to one of the hearts of the matter: that it’s completely arbitrary whether something is labelled as ‘propaganda’ or not.

        Note, the US Army doesn’t fund video game productions, but it will give access to time and resources of army people.

        Let’s say someone wants to make an action drama about race relations. They want to include the NAACP as one of the ‘good guys’. They call up the NAACP and tell them. The NAACP lets them film in their offices, lets them interview people, lets them use posters and other material, and spends a lot of time with them answering any questions.

        Is the NAACP engaging in ‘propaganda’ in this situation?

        What if someone wants to make a film about the Obama administration, and they agree to a similar deal? Or the Red Cross?

        Basically, ‘propaganda’ is a word most people pick when they already have a subconscious dislike for the subject, so they try to burden it with further negative connotations. If they like the subject, exactly the same kind of situation could have taken place, but they’ll pick a different word.

        • fomabourne

          Your comment about the Army not funding video games is incorrect. See the about page of the America’s Army game page.

          http://www.americasarmy.com/about/

          • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

            The comment was “US army funds basically any type of military style game.” Jens Pettersen said that’s not the case, and you respond by linking to America’s Army. Okay…is America’s Army all military-style games? No, it is not.

            We’re all aware of America’s Army. Other than that, the US military doesn’t fund videogames. They do not give money to EA and Activision…obviously.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

            The Marines use an ungraded version of Operation Flashpoint to train, and they bought it from somebody.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/XGTMDCYLK3EHEVNEC2R37L743E Weather

      What are you? 12? Almost everything you hear, and see in any form of media is propaganda. I’ve rarely seen a game based on some form of reality that was made for fun’s sake, but rather they’re mostly to set an idea in your head.

      FPS games desensitize you to violance, as do many horror movies.

      Our education system is there (now) to make sure your a good little sheep and do what the man in the mask tells you to do.

      Don’t ever think that anyone, anywhere, has your best interests at heart, or that games are just made for fun.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

        games are made for money as are movies. they make that money by selling us fun. if we don’t have fun we don’t pay the money. Are there commercial messages in media ? Yeah cuz that’s how they pay for it. Are you living in this imaginary world where only you and some select friends can actually see the truth while the rest of us are blind and helpless ?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Marsden-Kieran/511110611 Michael Marsden-Kieran

      Games and movies are not for propaganda?

      Captain America ring any bells?

      • Troy Maphis

        Hey, you leave the Captain out of this :) Also, comic book.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          graphic novel please

  • George Grove

    That’s pretty messed up man. Good read though. Thanks for pouring out your soul.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/MFLPMWVD3GCW6HTIUF42AL4GEY Andy O

    youre right, war video games arent like real war, because real war fucking sucks and nobody would do it for fun. this is not new information. the only people who actually think this way are children, and frankly i dont think military recruiters have a problem with that.

    • shryke

      But I would submit that this is somewhat the author’s point. There ARE people who ‘do this for fun’, though perhaps aren’t 100% proud of this the few times they do, or are forced to, contemplate it.

      I dunno, I like this article not for any comment about video games, but for the point of view that hasn’t been passed through anyone’s PR machine.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

        This article was entirely manufactured by a PR machine.

    • http://profiles.google.com/neil.mclachlan Neil McLachlan

      His point is that these latest-generation FPS war games are creating a generation OF children, who want to sign up to live the fantasy that they experienced on XBOX Live. War isn’t anything like that, and all these idiots are just getting killed for nothing, when in reality they should have left it to the stone-cold assholes like him.

      Personally I’m not sure if he’s 100% right about so many fighters being sociopaths, but that’s because I don’t have any reason to expect that I know the truth – I’ve only ever seen war in news reports and games, both of which are 100% hero-fantasy propaganda.

      • http://seattle.theoffside.com/ Denny

        Not just children, the entire media.

        This whole CoD/BF3 thing is one part of the entire machine in America, where your yellow ribbon or American flag in support of -all- the soldiers, sadistic or not, having made mistakes or not, war criminals or not, is expected.

        If you are a civilian and you don’t hold your flag up high when the troops come home, you’re a bad American.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          no, you in particular are an asshole and you feel let down that you can’t relive your parent’s fantasies and spit on returning soldiers to show your own courage. These are games you judgement little asshole and they have no relation to war or combat and everyone in the military knows that so if you can’t tell the difference, …well nobody really gives a shit, ya know ?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

        100% fantasy ? Watched Bomb Patrol Afghanistan ? That is fantasy ? The reports on local news of a death from the area is a fantasy ? “These idiots” aren’t getting killed by “being on point” or any Platoon inspired bullshit this guy and his editor cooked up. You don’t put down the controller and pick up a rifle in Kandhar, there is over a year between signing up and being deployed so there is plenty of time for “these idiots” to realize XBOX isn’t real life. That realization probably came the first time they threw up on a run.

  • Zack Sinclair

    Great article.

    The major problem is the general portrayal of war in every arena outside the combat zone. Its not just videogames; its every major media outlet. There’s a reason you never see a dead body on American news stations. Controlled output.

    That’s the bigger issue than video games, in my opinion. Video games are just another means of keeping the public distracted from what’s really happening. I agree that they portray war incorrectly, but you shouldn’t expect a game to do it.

    Its the news media that we should expect to show the truth.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

      What rock do you live under that you have never seen a dead body in a warzone on video ? Somehow you found this site didn’t you ? Keep looking and I’m sure you can find some infinitesimal trace of the consequences of war on the internet somewhere.

      • ZackSinclair

        I only said that the American news media do not show the consequences; I made no reference to what I personally have or have not seen. Your callous disregard for accurate readings of comments you respond to is a bit sad.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Got0wned Darwin Nip

    There are a few points I can see to agree on about how video games are sending the wrong messages to the youth about war, but a majority of the things said came straight out of his ass. There are things written in this “article” that I feel deeply offended by. Those that get blown up are FNGs and incompetent?! REALLY?!? Are IED’s and ambushes suppose to be predictable? If he is the “silent majority”, then he would not have written this article in such a way. While many war stories may be exaggerated and glorified by whoever is telling the story, that does not mean there aren’t selfless individuals. Way to shit on Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, Army PFC Ross McGinnis, and everyone in and were in our armed forces. Go ahead, forward this to the veterans that deployed overseas. I’d like to hear their opinions on what was written in the article about them, about their friends, and about what they had fought or died for.

    • Malthrak

      “If he is the “silent majority”, then he would not have written this article in such a way.”

      Or you’re just buying straight into the propaganda he’s telling you is being created.

      Did you even read the entire article?

      As for what they fought and died for, in the two conflicts we have recently engaged in, can you accurately define that? Other than some vague notion of “to secure peace/to take the fight to the terrorists/for the man at your side/etc”? I mean an actual clear, solid reason why we are in these nations that isn’t political fantasy? I don’t think I’ve met anyone who has.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Got0wned Darwin Nip

        We have our own reasons to join and take part in the military. No matter what anyone thinks about the wars being fought, we have our duties to carry out. I didn’t post on here to debate on politics. I am simply pointing out the areas in this article that say “if you get blown up, it’s because of your own incompetency” in addition to “there are no real heroes in our armed forces.”

      • Christopher Risi

        I also got the impression that they put the FNGs on point specifically because the rest of the troop as less attachment to them.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          Do you know what the point man’s job is ?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

        You haven’t met anyone who can support the coalition intervention in Iraq and Afghanistan ? You know where you should try ? It’s city called Hom, I bet they would love an intervention about now.

  • Phoenix Stretch Wrappers

    Becoming an hero is just about luck eh? Never heard about Willie Apiata, Dipprasad Pun or John McAleese? Just a though….

    • http://twitter.com/AVulhop Andy Vulhop

      Apiata was incredibly lucky he was not hit by gunfire while he ran.
      “Upon receiving the award, Corporal Pun said that he had no choice but to fight”. Pun was functioning strictly on self-preservation and is good at murdering people.
      McAleese did a good job, but he was essentially doing his job. No doubt his operation went well, but there was also a measure of luck involved. Storming a building where hostages are held is pretty unpredictable. They had very limited surveillance.

      Lastly, let’s sum up the active duty soldiers in each of those men’s respective branches and divide 3 by that number. It’s almost like these guys are outliers or something…

  • http://www.facebook.com/Got0wned Darwin Nip

    There are a few points I can see to agree on about how video games are sending the wrong messages to the youth about war, but a majority of the things said came straight out of his ass. There are things written in this “article” that I feel deeply offended by. Those that get blown up are FNGs and incompetent?! REALLY?!? Are IED’s and ambushes suppose to be predictable? If he is the “silent majority”, then he would not have written this article in such a way. While many war stories may be exaggerated and glorified by whoever is telling the story, that does not mean there aren’t selfless individuals. Way to shit on Marine Corporal Jason Dunham, Army PFC Ross McGinnis, and everyone in and were in our armed forces. Go ahead, forward this to the veterans that deployed overseas. I’d like to hear their opinions on what was written in the article about them, about their friends, and about what they had fought or died for.

  • http://twitter.com/Topsa Topi Kauppinen

    Powerful stuff, if genuine.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gabrielpalmer Gabriel Palmer

    Brilliant

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Miyegombo-Bayartsogt/100002552047279 Miyegombo Bayartsogt

    “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” George Orwell

    • http://twitter.com/rhesus303 rhesus

      I like this quote. But I disagree that they’re ‘rough’ men. They are for the most part ordinary men – familiar people we went to school with, an older/younger brother, the guy who lives down the street. Sure war makes them rough, but they are not psychopaths or sociopaths.

    • Andrew Dunn

      This was never said by Orwell.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=588455219 Ruxandra Rusu

    You’re judging yourself too harshly. (Your friend might have ignored the fact that he killed a woman and a child as a defense mechanism; or they justify it as “it needed to be done, it’s protocol” so that they don’t think about it afterwards.)

    Also, just a tid bit of information, recent studies revealed that PTSD has been over-used as a diagnosis; most people who have received the diagnosis were not in fact suffering from it.

    Enlightening article.

    • http://profiles.google.com/neil.mclachlan Neil McLachlan

      I find your claim about PTSD very difficult to take seriously, when the rate of suicide among veterans is higher than the rate of fatalities in battle.

      Please link to some of these ‘recent studies’ because I’ve never heard anyone say anything like this.

    • BCarbaugh

      There’s a trend among establishment military to try to make cases of PTSD and similar traumas “go away.” And most psychologists will tell you that there’s a whole spectrum of trauma-induced mental disorders that get shunted under the umbrella of PTSD, of which we have a woefully lacking understanding.

  • kaoswhn

    It’s funny how nobody mentions how todays war video games, are all based in an arab world or country. Arabs are the enemy. Ahhh Brainwashing at it’s finest.

    • http://twitter.com/suzpaz Suz

      No they’re not…… They all speak Russian…

    • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

      Even assuming that all modern shooters took place in the Arab world (which they don’t), I think my fragile little mind is safe from EA’s “brainwashing.”

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_7TY7B27X43TTSYXAXNYQHNIIP4 brandon e

    I’m a army vet as well , 3 tours in and out..and I play rarely on the military games..I agree with this man, we are all a little unhinged i think..even my wife thinks i have a screw loose BUT she loves me and I have accepted certain losses of friends and life abroad..we are soldiers..this is what we do.

  • David Zhao

    Lol I thought the whole respawning after death gave the whole “this game is not real” message away. I guess it wasn’t clear enough.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Metallum.Balatros Giovanni Ramos

    I do enjoy how people are complaining about this. Quite frankly I would listen to this man over any of this. When the media is a powerful tool of propaganda so of course they’re not going to make it realistic, if it was then you might no longer support then military and might think twice about enlisting. And you’ve actually been to war then all your stats and articles you’ve read don’t mean anything.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/L2X2XDKE2ODG5DCTZ7GS2ZDYLY Aolan

    Nothing against combat soldiers but I’ve always suspected that their true nature was painted with roses at every patriotic event I worked. The hyper-romanticized patriotism obscurs the reality that combat soldiers exist in. But it’s is so potent from the masses that any thoughts otherwise are considered disrespectful or some kind of taboo. Does no one realize what brink a man must be brought to be in the war zone? They have to be devoid of respect for all life but their own in order to engage those situations.

    It’s not uncommon to hear about a former soldier beating the shit out of his wife or getting into violent situations. Yep, the bastard assessment is spot on. What a price to pay.

  • Mike B

    This is not a “Great” article. It’s bullshit. Pure bullshit written by a never-was basement dweller. Fuck this guy and his poorly written fan-fiction. I’ve got 8yrs USMC, 4 of it in special operations and Ive been working as a contractor since 2003 and I am reading this in Mazar-e-sharif. Everyone in my tent is laughing at this assclown I just don’t know what is more pathetic… The author or the people who believe him.

    This is so much bullshit

    • JohnPStone

      You’re probably just as psychotic as he is, then, except you hide behind your service record and current location as a veneer of sanity. At least he admits it and that war is not the glorified spectacle the media makes it out to be.

      What are *you* trying to say? That every time you step outside your tent in Mazar-e-sharif you’re walking around like a Tier-1 superhero from the CoD franchise?

      So much bullshit.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000191232345 Mike Rizza

        John you are so fucking out of line, get fucked. Mike is saying he’s a morale person that hasn’t lost his mind fighting wars on your behalf. Be safe Mike.

        • AnonymousCowardBastard

          On behalf of whom, really? If it’s on MY behalf, I say come back home and let’s grab a beer, bro.

          It’s not like mowing the lawn. It’s not something that “needs to be done and no one wants to”. It DOES NOT need to be done. Can’t stress that enough.

          Just come back home, dudes. Seriously.

        • richardwicks

          I’m in the United States, and am an American citizens, I work as a professional electrical engineer and send 1/2 of my money to the government because if I don’t I got to jail.

          Nobody is fighting a war for me.

          Get that through your head. None of these wars is being fought on my behalf and I’m fully aware of that. None of the wars the US has fought in the last 50 years has been fought on the behalf of me.

          • Phil Lebo

            I’ll bet you get a lot of flak for being “so negative” and “cynical”. I think you’re simply stating facts. What you say is the sad truth. What a shame.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

            There certainly is some truth there but a huge load of delusion as well. We haven’t strayed that far from any mythical past. We are still the nicest bully on the block and the interlocking needs of the corporations you blame for all the worlds evils are what keeps the world at relative peace. Yes, we are using the resources the Middle East has to offer and some of those people are fabulously wealthy as a result. Do we intervene there to protect those interests ? Yes, we do and that is why you have the life you do.
            What do you think this nation did from it’s inception but protect it’s interests ?
            Those interests are now intertwined with those of other nations in a way that has never happened before and it is those evil corporations that will prevent any further world war.
            It doesn’t mean they should get free reign but take a realistic view of the world and it’s history and give credit where it is due. We are the nicest empire the world has ever seen and likely will ever see as I don’t believe the ChiComs will be as benevolent when they inevitably succeed us.

          • http://www.facebook.com/sean.gallaty Sean Patrick Gallaty

            When you drive your car full of gas, to walmart to buy the cheap crap made by sweatshop workers you’re reaping the benefits of the empire that our military supports. If denying it makes you feel good, then do so, but your taxes buy the bullets and your brats inherit it.

          • http://108.80.56.115/theEnd/ fuzzywzhe

            What you don’t understand, and need to understand is that it won’t last forever. It won’t even last for 10 more years.

            I know what the empire has done. It’s made the nation utterly unsustainable. The US can either revert and get back to work or it can continue to play this game until it’s broken, broke, and bankrupt.

            It’s going to happen either way. If we continue on the path we’re on, we’ll go into fascism first, because this government of criminals, killers, and sociopaths aren’t going to give up their power willingly. They will do everything they can to stay in power, and if that means murder, restricting your rights, exterminating you, that’s what they will do.

            The first people that will go are going to be the old. Hope you’re under 30 when it happens.

          • http://twitter.com/MatthewCWU Matthew Rigby

            That sounds just like an OccupyWallStreet/99% leader, which isn’t a bad thing, just letting you know, you and them have the same viewpoints on politics.

      • Kenneth Younger

        IF he isn’t a troll. I have never met veterans of the current conflict (could it even BE called a war?), but I have met veterans of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. It’s all just as bad as W said. Probably not quite as bad for the FNGs because they didn’t know what to expect. Nowadays, we THINK we know what to expect. And that’s probably part of what makes war hell for the recruits. I am speaking from a completely inexperienced viewpoint, all I have are stories from my grandfathers, uncles, and their friends. That is, the ones that were jaded enough to want to look back.

      • GoFukyerslf

        Yeah an you no what, as a Corpsmen I have had to deal with some “tuff” ass Marines that say what they is the most fun and intoxicating thing they can imagine. They absoluletly love killing. For everyone following this I suggest you read On Killing and On Combat by David Grossman. You will realize that this article is pretty true and straight forward.

        • blendergasket

          I found some footage by that guy on Youtube after you suggested it and it was utterly fascinating, so thanks for bringing him to my attention. I think I’ll buy that book and read it.

          One thing that was interesting was Grossman’s point that according to him and whatever research he used only 15% – 20% of the people down in the trenches were actually firing on the enemy, like, when they were in see the eyes range. It’s interesting to try to square what “W” is saying with what Grossman is saying. Grossman viewed it as a problem and it seemed was trying to come up with tactics to get around that, but he said that it was a very real issue. It sounded like Grossman &co were working on trying to find ways to solve the issues around people in the front lines not being willing to kill targets that aren’t abstract (as they would be if you were lobbing a mortar into a building or bombing from a fighter).

          I’d be really curious to hear your take on the apparemt differences between Grossman’s and “W’s way of seeing this.

          • Dan Craig

            Grossman did his work in and around WWI, correct? I think the simplest way to respond to your point is that the military took Grossman’s work and used it to refine their training and recruitment so that they could maximize the ‘killer’ ratio. What W. here is reporting is that perhaps the Army has succeeded in filling most of the front lines with passionate killers.

          • Emerson Brooking

            I’m glad to see Grossman mentioned in this discussion. However, to clarify, the 20% firing rate applies only to WWII (in a research study conducted by SLA Marshall). Grossman actually determined that, thanks to significant changes in training and preparation, virtually all American servicemen are able to fire – and kill – in modern conflicts.

            This was an excellent piece. However, while the PTSD figure ‘W’ cites is accurate, it is difficult to follow his logic that all servicemen WITHOUT PTSD must be sociopaths. The truth is that some kids enjoy killing; others are deeply traumatized by the ordeal. For the big swath in the middle, however, killing is just part of the job. They do it, often well, but that hardly means they revel in it.

        • Dishonored

          Thank you for mentioning On Killing and On Combat. I wanted to point out that they were both required reading according to the last batch of fresh LTs out of west point. Which makes me question the guy who said he was a tank commander. Most people are loath to kill, initially, that wall is torn down pretty easily. You also have the fact that while war is not actually natural or as ancient as some people believe violence comes as easy as swimming.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Steve-Olson/527477007 Steve Olson

      I’d sincerely like to know what the truth is then. I’ve never been to war and I don’t know what to believe other than what has been said. What’s the reality of it?

      • RickRussellTX

        Read Phil Caputo’s _A Rumor of War_. The only difference between Viet Nam and the current conflict is that we’ve become more mechanized and effective in our handling of partisans.

      • RickRussellTX

        Read Phil Caputo’s _A Rumor of War_. The only difference between Viet Nam and the current conflict is that we’ve become more mechanized and effective in our handling of partisans.

        • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

          As it happens, I did just re-read _A Rumor of War_. My kid was assigned to read it in Lit class.

          Now, my service is mid-way between Caputo’s and now. Same service, same MOS. I’ve met kids serving today, my son is active-duty.

          The biggest difference, my opinion, is that – per Caputo – when the Marines went ashore in 1965 they were full of idealistic crap and had no idea what they were getting into.

          My generation – and today’s – know full well what we’re getting into, have no illusions about what it’s about. War is a big ball of suck.

          But I disagree about ‘effective’. We spent how long in Iraq, how long in Afghanistan?

          Turns out a high-speed low-drag army can still be out-fought by a bunch of raggedy guys with AKs.

          • http://twitter.com/gnonannon Timothy S.-Z.

            Have they been outfought, or simply have the American people been outlasted by fanatics? I’m inclined to believe the latter.

          • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

            Outlasted is a sub-set of outfought.

            Consider that in this kind of a war (some call it 4g or 4th generation) the battlefield is not restricted to Afghanistan, but includes the the US.

            Fanatics don’t attack us here with bombs but on the internet, in op-eds, with public opinion.

            This happened in Vietnam. The ‘bad guys’ didn’t win on the actual battlefield, but where it counted, in Congress and in the opinion pages of newspapers.

          • http://rudolphthesnowdeer.myopenid.com/ Rudolf

            I thought the bad guys lost in Vietnam.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

            I totally disagree that the coalition forces have been “outfought” in any way. The political considerations make a classic “victory” utterly impossible but on any level the Taliban/AQ/ Whoever have been thoroughly defeated on a military level.

          • brian green

            a High Speed Low Drag Military that is constricted to operate in a manner as to not offend the general public in a theatre that has more access than ever in a conflict… The pushing of morality and being Politically Correct in a business which is anything but it what is hamstringing the entire effort…

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

        Restrepo, the book or the movie but after you read Caputo’s book.
        Some of the similarities are striking.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/WGKLHGIP75LXRM6NDM3HUZS4ME Guy

      Actually, I think you’re full of shit, Mike.

      I know you all expect us to believe you’re some special ops badass laughing with all kinds of other special ops badasses in a tent whilst you all polish your guns and medals, but I don’t buy it.

      Most disciplined men and women in our armed forces don’t cruise the internet reading articles and reply with “YOU’RE FULL OF SHIT, I’M SPECIAL OPS, WE’RE ALL LAUGHING LOLOLOL”

      I think you’re the basement dweller. Arm chair commando. Loser.

      …but it’s okay, you can be a ‘special operations loser’.

    • thinkpadius

      *why* is his article bullshit, what parts are wrong, what experiences have you had that contradict his viewpoint, why is your view so different, who are you?

      I’m willing to listen to you but you’ve said nothing.

      • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

        All the military-related details are wrong, and they read like someone who’s trying to sound authentic after watching war documentaries, versus someone who’s actually experienced them. This guy’s whole story here feels bogus. There are plenty of bullshitters in the military whose low self-esteem leads them to tell larger-than-life stories about themselves. This usually works on civilians, but not people who are familiar with the subject matter.

        1.) Why would he know next to nothing about support personnel? Any NCO will have at least SOME interaction with persons outside of his own unit.

        2.) He was on a patrol where he received constant fire from tall grass? Where was this exactly? There is a paucity of tall grass in the Middle East. (Or maybe he’s just been watching Vietnam documentaries.)

        3.) I’d love to see him source his story about someone getting the Military Cross. Only a handful of enlisted men received that award in 2007. And that’s assuming he’s even talking about the British Military Cross, and he isn’t mixing that up with an American award. There is no decoration called the “Military Cross” in the US military.

        4.) His theory about the majority of combat personnel being violent loonies is just straight BS. There are thousands of men in these jobs, and you can’t make generalizations about a group of people that large.

        5.) New personnel are not put “on point.” This is completely and total garbage. Again, he’s been watching documentaries on Vietnam. There is no “pointman” on patrols through populated city streets in Iraq, because the man at the front is in especially more danger than anyone else.

        6.) The story about a terrorist “disappearing in an escape tunnel” sounds patently ridiculous. The terrorist used a woman and child to cover his escape…through a tunnel. Just think about it; that’s absurd.

        This guy sounds like someone who MIGHT have some military experience (but not to the level he claims), who wants to impress other people with his daring adventures. Having none of his own (or none extreme enough), he manufactures incredible tales, either based on rumors he heard in the service, or entirely from his imagination.

        Want an example of this?
        http://www.esquire.com/features/mercenary0607

        There you go. That’s the same type of person I suspect the author of this article is.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          LMAO I totally forgot about the escape tunnel part. I think this is a totally fiction account but it does raise some points about the long term cost of war on the people who fight it as well as the resurgence of mercenary forces.

  • http://www.adbuyer.com Tim Ogilvie

    Heart of Darkness.

  • fernturn001

    Vote Bradley Manning for Nobel peace prize!

  • http://www.facebook.com/Chrismont939 Chris Hughes

    @Scott urquhart

    You’re missing the entire fucking point of this article.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/B2IFTZXMJY4LTRG6T67IP2FQQY whocares

    I’ve known soldiers who have done multiple tours of duty. I’ve seen videos of them killing insurgents. One was a sniper with a few dozen confirmed kills. He was one of the nicest people I have ever met. You are making a lot of generalizations just because you think your a heartless badass who enjoys killing people. So much faulty logic in your assessment when there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Get off your F***ing pedestal.

    Edit: To those who say video games aren’t for fun, then what is the point. Propaganda you say? If someone made a realistic version of war who would play it. Sitting in a bush for 36 hours to kill one person as a sniper sounds like a glorious way to game. They are for fun. I think a lot of people have violent thoughts, and video games are a way to safely kill people without danger to yourself or others. Anyone who goes to war thinking it would be like CoD is a f*cking idiot because no one with half a brain would think war is a glorious thing. I’ll say it again. Video games are for fun.

    • http://twitter.com/jasdio Jasper Dionisio

      This is a horrible thing to have to say, but it’s a sad fact of the world… some of the “nicest people you have ever met” are so nice precisely because they are sociopaths. They can be so nice because their personality is an act. They figure out what behavior will get them the most favor with people, and that’s how they behave. You have to look at the contradictions in those people’s lives to recognize who they truly are. If he seems really nice, but also has no problem with killing people, that should be a big red flag.

    • http://twitter.com/stratopause5by5 C.A.V.

      True – videogames are for fun: the good guys are usually in conspicuous in bright blue armor, the bad guys in red. The weapons outlandishly over-size and the game universe fantastical.
      Other videogames try as hard as possible to emulate the ‘look and feel’ of current battledress, equipment and environment. These games could be said to portray warfare as a game… Rather, to suggest in the minds of some players that warfare is a game.

      Furthermore, it can be said without a shadow of a doubt that the way government advertises the armed services in pre-feature movie theater adverts is aimed at persuading young men to embrace a career in the Forces before they’re old enough to know that it isn’t all a big game.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

        How old is that ? In the US 17 is the earliest you can join, with parental consent. At 17 I think you have the tools at hand to learn anything you need to about the military.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

      Well if you are willing to wait 26 minutes in a bush to kill a sniper, then maybe you should check ARMAII:PR

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nils-Swinamer/502936268 Nils Swinamer

    This is why I like The Movie Platoon. It’s one of the more realistic movies and accurate depictions of war. I realize its not perfect…

    It was created by a Vietnam war Vet, who didn’t give a damn what the military thought of his take on the war. He showed it from the soldier’s perspective and he detailed the horrific things both sides did to each other.

    All sides commit atrocities in war, it wouldn’t be a war otherwise.
    The people that always lose are civilians.

    • http://twitter.com/AVulhop Andy Vulhop

      Full Metal Jacket is another war movie I like for the same purpose. It might not be as authentic, but it relates a similar message. (specifically related to the second act that actually takes place in Vietnam)

  • mohdiarra

    just video games… not real…

  • http://exiledbear.wordpress.com/ Guest

    [Every mission is set in the same level. They each take 12 hours to complete. Sometimes, absolutely nothing happens. Other times, your lead guy gets blown up and you spend the next hour or so casevac’ing [ed note: casualty evacuating] him while under fire.]

    Sounds more like an MMO raid dungeon than an FPS. Or maybe the PvP part of an MMO. Alterac Valley used to take 12 hours to run. Except that corpse run has to be a real drag.

  • nick bragas

    sorry but i dont see the point here. Any video game that is truly realistic like he wants them to be would make an absolutely terrible video game and would defeat the purpose of a video game. Honestly this is a stupid article

    • Moribund Cadaver

      You missed the point of the article. The writer is not literally demanding war games be made like that. He’s making an example of what a truly realistic war game would be like, to highlight how distorted people’s perceptions are thanks to games that glorify war.

  • Rhane Ingham

    brilliant article, but i feel as though most people in our county recognize that games like COD and Battle Field aren’t accurate representations of a real scenario in war – there are no re-spawns-. The sociopath comment jogged my mind a bit and I started thinking and realized that the United States is essential making serial killers, but we don’t think of it like we just molded 100,000 Zodiac Killers.

  • Michael Garcia

    This article did bring to light many things of which I was unaware. That said, I do take issue with a few things. I agree, wholeheartedly, that our society glorifies soldiers for the wrong reasons. People (including myself) are utterly uninformed of what actually happens in war, thus seemingly would make us unable to judge how much “glory” soldiers should be afforded – but that’s not the case. People automatically make assumptions about what soldiers really do, and glorify them without even knowing them. So, in this respect, I totally agree with you..

    Now, the thing I take issue with is the fact that there’s any issue with these video games. Video games are fictional, and the realism they try to depict is not in respect to a soldier’s psychology, but more so in the graphics and weapons. Yes, they do paint your character out to be the “hero,” but without that, what fun would there be in playing the game in the first place? People like playing games because it allows their imagination to go wild – it allows them to feel like they’re doing something substantial. It’s not like people play these games and think that the game’s depiction is actually what happens in real life. If someone does think that these games depict real scenarios, they’re stupid. Games are not meant to actually be real, they’re meant to look real graphically, to make people feel that they’re controlling a real person holding a real gun. Think about this in respect to any other video game. Do you play Norse by Norsewest and get mad at the depiction of Vikings on that game? No, because you’re playing the game for fun, to escape from real life.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

      You don’t know anything about the military but now that you read one article, by an anonymous author, you feel qualified to judge who deserves “glory”?
      You totally agree with an anonymous author claiming to be a sociopath ?
      I’m deeply offended by the portrayal of Vikings BTW.

    • BCarbaugh

      That’s sort of the complaint though. Making a fun abstraction of viking life is okay, because there aren’t any vikings left around, our warped perception of whom could adversely affect. No one’s running off to become a viking because Skyrim convinced them it was glamorous.
      But to make war “fun”? And not abstracted Mass Effect war where you’re fighting the reapers — I mean actual, straight-up war, where you’re an American killing brown people? To make that FUN?
      You can’t possibly see how that’s a little fucked?

  • bekkie clarke

    I personally play video games as an escape from reality, so I don’t care how realistic the portrayal of the people in them is. I take things like CoD with a pinch of salt, as in it’s something made for entertainment and not to be a documentary in which you hit a few buttons.

    This was a really interesting read, though. My friend is deployed in the British Marines and he’s always said that he’s a ‘bit of a psychopath’ and that he gets a lot of satisfaction from what he does. Not in a ‘serving queen and country’ way, but in a ‘I killed ten people today’ way.

    Video games and movies will never be realistic though. The public couldn’t deal with the majority of their beloved armed forces admitting that they didn’t sign up to fight for their country but rather because they just ‘enjoy’ war.

  • maxonepercent

    Well I guess we know who we will be fighting against during the inevitable oncoming civil war in this country, the army of sociopathic professional soldiers our government has been steadily building for the past decade or so. Our enemy will be men who have no compunction against killing women and children and won’t think twice about firing on his own people. I am sure men like these made up the majority of the Nazi SS, but then as in now they are still doomed to failure. Why? Because evil can never triumph in the end.

  • http://twitter.com/Loucetios Loucetios

    Yeh even though I never saw combat in my service, it always occurred to me that actually killing people was probably a frightening ordeal. Holding a live grenade for the first time scared the shit out of me, I never thought about dropping it at the time, but it would’ve been a bloody mess if one of our platoon had fucked it up.

    Games like CoD and others really make light of it. Yes alright it’s business, it sells, but it sells because kids think everyone in the military is a straight laced hero killing bad guys, and they should aspire to that.

    It’s tacky, tacky like the way Big Brother is tacky, it’s not the reality of it. Chances are the majority of soldiers in your country’s service are good men that really don’t want to kill anyone if they can help it, BUT there’s a large portion that are psychopaths as W. describes.

    A lot of us can play the game and realize it’s just that.. a game, but let’s face it.. we’ve all talked to some kid who actually believes he’d be a great sniper or some crap like that, some kid who probably hasn’t run even 2 miles in his life.

    Yeh you can argue “Well don’t buy it then”, that’s not the point. The point is it’s influencing our youth into thinking that killing people is just like in a video game, that’s it’s something that just happens when you’re a soldier.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1638786386 Jamie Oliver Maguire

    I suppose this is also why you despise gun/war films, books, comics, plays, toy games and maybe imaginary games children play? You can’t single in on games like COD or Battlefield but forget that most films/games incorporate some form of violence that I would say is, for the majority of the time, in absolutely no way represented in a realistic fashion. I like the message about soldiers being a bit sociopathic; why else would you pursue a career in combat, and that you can’t just be labelled a hero for receiving an injury/ taking part in a fight.

    What gets me is that we protest about wars but praise the ‘poor soldiers’ who signed up for the job and were happy to learn how to fire guns at people, yet forgot that someone on the other side of the world is being taught the same thing to use against them.

    • Bryce Aubrey

      He wasn’t forgetting them, he was using a single example. If you write a paper on, say, the UN, you don’t use as a source every single article and book on the subject, along with personal testimony, film and transcripts. You use a single example, and extrapolate your point from there.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1638786386 Jamie Oliver Maguire

        You have a point, it’s just a shame that there are a fair few articles similar to this, the problem is that they all use the same examples and it, at least to me, cheapens the articles point using such a bad example when there are more that could be used. I understand your point though.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          This article is bullshit. Complete fiction.

  • http://www.trinigamers.com scaR

    I try to avoid playing realistic war games as much as possible. Give me zombies and aliens to shoot at! :D

  • http://twitter.com/petachon Peter Chon

    As a former Marine, I approve this piece.

  • Andrew monnone Monnone

    A very important article. Men like the author are the reason we have progress in society.

    He made one mistake: Heroes created in war are not a myth. One wrote this article.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Daniel-Esposito/100001716562391 Daniel Esposito

    Good article, but not one person’s thoughts… maybe it was the collective thoughts of his team which is to be expected and perfectly fair. There are a couple of comments I want to make, if only because I don’t want everyone to think that combat veterans are all sociopaths, or even a large portion of them. And, because there are true hero’s out there… and I don’t mean accidental or fake’s

    Let’s address the sociopath assertion first. People who thrive in these situations are not necessarily sociopaths, but are those that the conditioning has “taken.” The first time you ever injure an enemy, the psychological turbulence is minimal, easy to fathom why. Then you injure or kill a non-combatant, this is tough, but where the survivor portion of your brain kicks in and you relate the victim as a random, unavoidable consequence of actions dictated bu someone else, you are just doing your job. Throw in a bunch of times where you see the dead (men, woman, children, dogs, etc.) several times a day or week and you either become apathetic to it or you ask to get out… sometimes you ask nicely, sometimes you explode and get taken out of the scenario. True, there are real sociopaths, but not more so than in the real world, just a (small) percentage. Do you really think that sociopaths like the military, especially more so than the rest of the population? It’s all about mental conditioning, nothing more.

    Second, the hero theory. True, most people think a hero is the guy next store that called 911 when his neighbors house was on fire. I define someone who is a hero that can put aside fear they feel when the situation calls for it. Everyone feels a certain amount of fear, even sociopaths have a certain degree of preservation… even if it is ego related. Let me give you an example: A young marine deployed at sea off the coast of a war torn nation. Captain of the boat (big boat) gives the orders to man the cat walks and to stop any refugees who are now surrounding said boat from getting aboard.Orders are given that no one is to help, under any circumstance, the refugees in any way until the ship’s captain receives confirmation from state department that the boat can take on refugees. One of the extremely crowded boats capsizes in the high swells. Young marine see’s woman and children go under and thinks to himself: orders to stay put, rough seas, good chance of drowning from victims in water or from the downdraft of the sea against the boat (In fact this happened)… fuck that, something has to be done, cannot just sit here and watch… marine jumps in. Once could easily say this was stupidity or naivety, but this is my idea of a hero. There are true hero’s out there, many are born IN the military.

    Third, the FNG (Freaking New Guy) as the author(s) put it. Yes, there is always the case of a new guy screwing something up. But, combat veterans know this and their first instinct is to always look out for that guy. Trust me, there is always somebody in the group that want’s point more than anything in the world, I was one of them. The new guy is usually, depending on the formation, somewhere in the middle where multiple people can and will keep eye contact with him during the patrol. Every situation is different, especially vehicle patrols, but the bottom line is, combat vets are humble, they pray, they bond very quickly, and they always look out for each other. There are those that don’t fit in to this culture and are immediately removed, no one wants a weak link, especially those in charge who have their military careers decided on the safety on their men and mission success. Should state here that a lot of these people that just don’t fit in, either get out of the military altogether, get kicked to the side, or join some merc group like blackwater/whatever they are called now where they get somewhere around $1000 a day to be an individual. Funny thing is, most special forces people have a hard time fitting in those groups, although a few are exceptional at it. I can tell you from experience that these groups will take anyone with around 8 years experience in the military… and it doesn’t have to be in combat.

    Things do happen in war, there are mistakes, there are rage kills, bombs go off course, automatic weapons create a large path of destruction, people get hurt. What we in the rear need to realize is people who are deployed are there because they volunteered. That mother you feel so bad for who is seeing her 7 daughter for the first time in a year and a half? She enlisted, she knew the possibility of being deployed, she didn’t get out when her contract was up, and she is sad as hell to miss her daughter. But, she does it because it calls to her. Don’t feel sorry for her, give her your praise and be thankful there are thousands more like her doing what is necessary. Also, you will find that suicide/homicide/violence rates are much lower with troops who are deployed than those stuck in the rear.

    • Alistair MacDonald

      You make some great points. Real heroes probably do exist, NFG’s probably are put in the middle to minimize casualty etc. However, the writer of the article does state that he is — “a private military contractor”. Seeing as you seem to have some real knowledge (not that I would know) about this subject, my question to you is, do you think the writers comments are typical of a private contractor, and are they in contrast with other kinds of military personel?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Holloway/100002585974538 Eric Holloway

        As someone who’s deployed to Afghanistan, but not on the frontlines, I did learn some about this. I’ve met both kinds of people. Kids who’ll laugh and joke about the day’s kills in the cafeteria. Professional soldiers who’ll go out of their way to help a new guy out, and other’s who’ll happily watch the new guy do something that could kill him. And there are real heroes out there. Not the FNG who gets shot, but the guys who clear the roads of IEDs, knowing they’re the first to go if things go wrong. Then there are pararescue, who jump into the middle of trouble without even knowing the people they are rescuing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=552913426 Lin Alderman

    “We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.” George Orwell

    So True. And the ONLY moment. I’ve ever seen in a video game that was ever made me go OMG. Was the Normandy invasion level of one of the older medal of honor games. After finishing it and about 50 deaths later. I said to myself the soldiers that did that in real life were the brave beyond measure. If the author is real, his portrayal is just about spot on. My grandpa (WW2) and uncles (Korea and vietnam era) have shared with me similar stories. After years in the field and months in combat you start not to give a @#$@#$%. As long as you and the rest of you buddies don’t die everyone else dosent matter. Some of their stories you can’t believe the same person is sitting in front of you( I was young then), but you understand the message they are sending. The author said it best.

    War is the most horrific, sickening thing mankind can inflict upon itself, fought by and large by uneducated maniacs that have no other place in the world.

  • http://twitter.com/g_tinder Gabe Tinder

    I do agree with the main point of this article, being that military life is not the awesome action game that is portrayed in this article and that wartime experiences can be incredibly traumatic. I’ve been told this by multiple siblings and cousins that have served.

    That being said however, I find the author’s need to bastardize and demean the American military disgusting. How can you say thst the only incentive for soldiers approaching a miltary compound is to “kill [the enemy] in the most horrible way imaginable”? The soldier is simply following orders and using any means to survive so they can return home to the family and country they are fighting to protect, and dismissing them as savages who are simply sociopaths on a rampage is nauseating to read.

    And what about dismissing war heroes injured as simply FNGs who were just incompetant, or downplaying a wounded soldier who continues to fight, just because he had no ability to retreat? That’s asinine. Regardless of how much experience a soldier has, being wounded in battle is a sign of loyalty to one’s country that shouldnt be just dismissed.

    Obviously “W.” lacks this same loyalty, considering that he’s working as a PMC now and chooses to fight for the “almighty dollar” instead of for life, liberty, and country as so many heroic men and women continue to do.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/L775LV7L2ZUY5M7WQNWUXDPU54 Theatreguy1961

      You don’t really believe the basement-dwelling teenager who wrote this article is actually a PMC, do you? It’s obvious the closest he’s ever been to a warzone is playing Call of Duty and watching Saving Private Ryan.

    • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

      Same thing Theatreguy said. Don’t worry about this guy being a PMC; he’s not. And that business about FNGs is entirely made up, or taken from some Vietnam documentary.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/I25GYY4OEPRMCDSUIBETETUAUI Calidude92591

    I think this is dead on accurate. I happen to live in a town where 30% of my highschool class joined the military after graduation. And I graduated in 2002 (So you know where they went). A few years later they all started coming back with stories and problems. The 20 / 80 rule seems accurate. Truthfully the nice guys from highschool, you know the ones who helped others, they came back messed up mentally. The jack asses that would cheat you if you weren’t looking, they came back exactly as before. As I tell my friends when they leave for the military, be a dick and watch out for yourself. Fuck being a hero.

  • http://twitter.com/jp1577 John Pham

    This article is disturbing. I don’t think our troops or troops anywhere are that far removed from the Nazis and Japanese who bayoneted babies.

    • http://twitter.com/ollieboote oliver Boote

      Of course they arent. People are the same all over. Allied troops committed atrocities just like the Nazi and Japanese did during WW2. Also the baby killing stuff is stories and propaganda that is spread about the enemy in almost any war. There are multiple accounts of the ottoman empire being accused of killing babies, the Romans accused the barbarians of what is now Germany of killing babies, Hell the Spartans probably accused the Athenians of killing babies.

      NB: wow at the epically old twitter profile

      • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

        Also the baby killing stuff is stories and propaganda that is spread about the enemy in almost any war.

        Japanese atrocities are sufficiently documented.

        We _know_ the SOP for the Japanese Army was to rape women and kill babies.

        Google ‘rape of Nanking’.

        The difference between the Allies and the Axis powers is this. Axis atrocities were in service of furthering Axis power. The Japanese raped Nanking, expected to stay as the new overlord.

        Rape as policy.

        Atrocities by the Allies were an aberration, in service of a good cause to eliminate evil.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          That can’t be Brian. If that were so then we would better than others and we all know that everyone is the same, nobody’s better than anyone else, ever. OK ?

        • Christoph Schulzke

          Ends, even goodly ones, never justify means.

          “Atrocities by the Allies were an aberration, in service of a good cause to eliminate evil.”

          This is not so. It was policy to carpet bomb residential areas of German cities. And have you forgotten the Russians? They were very much so a part of “the Allies” and do you know what they did to innocent Germans? My family is from Eastern Germany and there are stories, just from my family, that would chill your blood.

          • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

            You are invited to re-read what I wrote, Christoph. I stand by my words.

            Yes, it was policy to carpet bomb residential areas of Germany. And firebomb them. Lots of people were slaughtered.

            This was in service of a greater good – eradicating evil from the world. We did what we did, we established a functional state that would not threaten the world, and we went home.

            Yes, I know what the Soviets did to innocent Germans. I deplore it. I understand it: the same was done, earlier, by Germans, to innocent Russians.

            I also, sometimes, question that there were any innocent Germans. Germans elected Hitler, supported him, did his bidding, let evil in the world. More Germans than not supported the war. Some innocent: most guilty as sin.

          • Liam_Sutton

            I’m sorry but know your history. Hitler was elected by eliminating the competion, exploiting the great depression and getting rid of the treaty of versailles. His attitude towards homosexuals, jews, communists, gypsies and the disabled was only revealed after he was elected.

            There were innumerous plots against hitler, but he had informants on every street and all who opposed him were sent to concentration camps or death camps.

            The bombing of German cities however is another thing. We did it in retalliation to the German bombings of Britain. War is war. I understand what your saying, but all Germans did not support Hitler. Most feared him and some were indoctrinated through the corrupt education system and elaborate propoganda machine ran by Joseph Goebells. Think on that…

          • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

            Hitler received between 30 – 36 percent of the popular vote when he ran for office. Elections that year won 230 seats in the Reichstag for the National Socialists, making them the largest party in Germany, although they did not have a majority in that body.

            A noisy minority party, sure, but the man, and his plans, were popular in Germany.

            Your average ‘Hans in the street’ liked Hitler and what he stood for just fine until GI Joe showed up and then it was all ‘Oh no, I’m a good German and he’s a bad, bad, man, and sure, that camp over the hill smells bad but man, we’ve got no idea what’s going on there.’

          • Liam_Sutton

            I’m sorry but you are wrong. The only reason Hitler gained so much of the vote was because his policies were popular. He even recieved voted from the jewish community and the people he sought to extinguish. His main policy was to reverse the Treaty of Versailles, set up by the allies after WWI to blame Germany for the whole war. He also created jobs by remilitarising the country and taking back confiscated land. Trust me, I know my stuff Brian.

            There were some sadists who followed Hitler to (near) the end. But it’s fair to say that once hitler established a dictatorship (if you know what that means Brian) no-one could stop him. he was all powerful, despite the innumerous plots upon his life.

  • Dharma Bellamkonda

    Have you tried Arma 2?

    “Every mission is set in the same level. They each take 12 hours to complete. Sometimes, absolutely nothing happens. Other times, your lead guy gets blown up and you spend the next hour or so casevac’ing him while under fire . . . Other missions involve you being under fire for the entire patrol. You never see the enemy, just fire at the long grass in front of you as you crawl slowly to some cover. If you get up, you will be cut down within seconds, so this process takes hours. When you reach the enemy compound, if the enemy haven’t run away, dropped their weapons, and are pretending to be farmers, or if you haven’t called in enough ordnance to flatten Mexico, you will kill them in the most horrible way imaginable. That is your incentive.”

    That is a very accurate description of some popular user-made Arma missions.

    “How would you feel if you accidentally killed an innocent child in a game? If the words “MISSION FAILED” appeared, but then disappeared after a few seconds, leaving you to continue as normal with no repercussions.”

    There are no children in the game, but it would be possible to script a mission with that exact scenario. In fact, when I script missions I make it a point to have the players keep playing even if they fail, and give them a new objective to extract themselves from the area, in order to make it clear that the idea of warfare doesn’t care if you succeed or not; you still have to continue anyway.

    • noobuser88

      HAHA oh man that exact paragraph i was thinking the same. Arma 2. I made a mission where regular civilians had IED scripts and let me tell you it messed up my friends who played it. im talking looking at everyone, stopping convoy’s 1 mile away to make sure no IEDs are on the road or any VBIED, driving on the wrong side of the road, etc.

  • http://profiles.google.com/derekconklin Derek Conklin

    Thanks for the article. It’s rare to see writers *not* spew obvious bullshit.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/L775LV7L2ZUY5M7WQNWUXDPU54 Theatreguy1961

      Except, to anyone whose actually ever been in the military, this entire article IS bullshit. I’m 90% sure the author has never been closer to a real battlefield than playing Call of Duty.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ryan-Crout/567165355 Ryan Crout

    Speaking as an “educated non psycophath” (and thus the core opposite of the speaker of this article) I have to agree that you don’t see any real violence in video games. I mean there are moments in every shooter that you could site as examples of “real war” (for example CoD World at War where the FNG russian goes rushing at a building to heroically place a flag and gets lit on fire) but those are largely swept under the rug concequence wise, or they’re turned into these big heroic life changing things for soldiers. And I think the reason for that is self evident: while 20% of the people who go into a war get ptsd, the rest of the world is MADE of those people. You couldn’t market a game like that because it’d be like living Saving Private Ryan. And even watching that film is difficult for a lot of people, the only people I know who can laugh at it are the people who can turn themselves off, who can stop caring about the deaths on either side, and that still has the media stereotypes in it. So simply put, the average person cannot understand, or if they do, they cannot tolerate the simple fact that war revolves around killing people, and that death has become their only outlet for any sort of fair play. Because most people don’t want to kill, and that is why the media has to spin these things, because otherwise no one would ever accept a war. That’s what happened with veitnam: people got the slightest taste of what really goes on in a war, and they stopped wanting it all together. So as unfortunate as it is, these games will continue to be produced (because they make money) and they will always be portrayed as a heroic struggle, because in the civilian world, 80% of us can’t handle the simple act of watching someone we care about die and having it mean nothing.

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  • http://twitter.com/MiSoFine SnickerDoodle

    My brothers (Army Reserves) always said you have to be a little crazy to teach someone to run into a hail of bullets when everything in you says run away.

    Excellent article.

  • Mack9

    Thank You for This

  • http://www.facebook.com/georgeedwardp George Edward Purdy

    Maybe we should make some games like this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1153368374 Sed Itious

    Before anyone takes it on faith that ‘W’ is an actual vet, think – is this real, or a manufactured identity playing on _your_ stereotype of the military as sociopaths.

    You probably didn’t serve, and probably don’t know anyone who did. You can believe this account and the writer’s conclusions, based on a belief you have that anyone who would join the military is a sociopath (obviously, why would they not go to college like you did? why would they choose to go to war?).

    I am an ex-tank commander. There were no more sociopaths in my unit than I see in my civilian corporate life. There are many reasons people join the military, economic being the main one. And poor people, and people who want to be able to afford college, are no more likely to be sociopaths than the average person across the country.

    With regards to the 20% suffering PTSD, this statistic applies to _all_ wars, including conscription wars such as WW2. The thing is, WW2 was by far bloodier and more horrific than Iraq. The entire Iraq war is smaller in scope than single battles of that war. By the writer’s logic, such a war should have produced 80% or more of PTSD cases, yet somehow the US had a very normal existence right after the war. A golden era of growth on all fronts. That war was just as real as Iraq with the all-volunteer force. It produced actual heroes, and no, 80% of those involved in combat (by far more combatants than were in all the years of Iraq) were not sociopaths.

    My gut feeling is that this entire article is a fabrication. The persona is something that plays on movies we’ve all watched. But watching movies and TV shows doesn’t mean you actually _know_ anything. What you know is what the writers of those movies, shows, and this article are feeding you.

    If ‘W’ is actually a vet, and actually a sociopath as he declares, I’ll have to point out that abnormal people make assumptions about others being similarly abnormal. Even if they’re nothing like them.

    Bullshit.

    • maxonepercent

      I agree, I think the whole thing is very suspicious. Even if he isn’t outright lying I think he is definitely projecting his own psychosis on to the people he served with. I mean he even mentions going to a psychologist, why would a self-professed “sociopathic killer” want to bother with a psychologist? He is holding back relevant information there.

      Moreover, I honestly don’t think sociopaths make good soldiers, especially in a modern war like Iraq or Afghanistan. They would be way too likely to behave in a destructive and unauthorized manner that is likely to get them in trouble with the brass. Remember those troops that got court martialled for keeping “trophies” of their kills? That is what happens to real sociopaths in the modern military.

      • Ry Az

        I think your argument, that the author is attempting to deceive us about the realities of war, is flawed. Your evidence is that he once visited a psychologist? It appears you are holding on too dearly to the romanticized image of an ideal soldier as portrayed by Hollywood. Sociopathy is not a genetic condition but the result of a confluence of forces, and as any mental health professional will tell you the U.S. infantry is a factory for sociopaths. You confuse stupidity with disregard for human life however these concepts are not equivalent. It is also not the case that all men afflicted with sociopathy are affected to the same degree or exhibit identical behaviors. The writer argues that all infantrymen will suffer some level of sociopathy given sufficient exposure to the brutality of war. I am surprised to read so many commenters doubting this self evident fact. How could one not exhibit such tendencies given the anti-intellectual day-to-day violence one endures as a lowly front line soldier? It’s a wonder the concept of hero still exists as it relates to war, especially considering the spectacular upgrade in firepower given these uneducated, testosterone powered adrenaline junkies.

        • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

          Does “lowly front line soldier” (whatever that means) in Iraq experience day-to-day violence? Perhaps you can tell us some of your own stories, like W here.

          • Dishonored

            Some of us did experience near daily combat for most of a deployment so don’t presume that since we are stuck in diet warfare on the macro that there weren’t microcosms of violence every bit as bad as what those who came before us saw in larger wars. Also, disbelieving someone is one thing but asking someone to tell war stories is fucked. Period. If someone doesn’t volunteer don’t ask. No one should have to tell anyone deeply personal information just to verify their background. I also question the veracity of some of the statements made here due to my own experiences but anyone who is a genuine combat veteran knows what it is like to have your experiences put in question simply because POGs or doctors cannot relate.

          • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

            What I said to “Ry Az,” I spoke in sarcasm, as he obviously has no idea what he’s talking about. To you I will speak with sincerety. I do not require war stories or deeply personal information from you or anyone else. A person’s unit and dates of deployment will suffice.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

          “”uneducated, testosterone powered adrenaline junkies.”"
          That pretty much sums up everything you have to say doesn’t it ? This article feels wrong and there are huge gaping holes in the narrative as others have mentioned but if you already think of people in the military and specifically in combat arms as “uneducated, testosterone powered adrenaline junkies”, I can totally understand why you would believe this is real. I also understand what snivelling, self important little shit you must be in real life. But thanks to the wonder of the internet I can know this and yet be untroubled by it.

    • RespectTheJux

      To be fair, the soldiers who join for money to go to college and other ‘innocent’ motives, could still fall under the category of the 20% who get PTSD.

    • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

      Well said. I don’t believe for a second that “W” has ever been in special operations. I think at most, he might have been a private in an infantry unit.

      I posted a whole list of rebuttals to his story, but here’s something more: Notice the near complete lack of first hand accounts. It’s “one of our guys,” or “a guy in our unit,” or “a friend.” Surely after years in the infantry, elite units, and the private sector, he would have some very specific stories of his own to tell. And by specific I don’t mean that ridiculous story about a terrorist using a woman and child to “cover his escape” through a tunnel (wtf??).

      He sounds like either a civilian or a private who has picked up military rumors and war stories, and is now trying to pass them off as first-hand accounts.

      I agree with you: Bullshit.

      • http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/ Karl Parakenings

        He does have those stories. He cannot share them with specifics because he respects the privacy of those he works with and also because he wants to keep working. This is a real article, verified as best as I am able (and I am not very able), by a person who actually served in the UK military. Feel free to disagree, but be polite and respectful. We are to you.

        • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

          He obviously has no problem with peoples’ privacy, as the only two specific incidents in the article are about other people. Again, note the complete lack of first-hand accounts.

          Did he tell you something about not being able to say much due to secrecy or something like that? That’s baloney. As long as he’s not discussing intelligence materials or future operations, he’s not violating any sort of operational security. For the most part, that a unit was in a certain area at a certain time is publically available information.

          As I said in this and other comments, I can imagine that this author was actually in the military in some capacity, but I don’t believe for a second that he either A.) Has extensive combat experience, or B.) Was in the SAS or some other elite unit. That part about FNGs being the “pointman” no one cares about is utterly absurd. He might as well have talked about the stresses of fighting the Zerg; it sounds about that authentic.

          • http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/ Karl Parakenings

            I’m not discussing this except to say that I stand behind this article. If you don’t think I should, setting up your own blog is easy and free. Have a nice day.

          • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

            I do not stand behind this article, because of its deceptive posturing by the author and insulting conclusions.

            I’ve had a blog for years, and first wrote about all this yesterday:
            http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas/

          • SSgtRancor

            You stand behind an article that you are 100% unable to verify? You stand behind it to the point you are deleting people’s comments that HAVE actually served?

            Why is Palantas’ view point any less valid? You can verify what he says the same as you were able to verify what “W” said…

            Karl, all we are saying is that, had you served in the military, you would know this article is fake.

          • http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/ Karl Parakenings

            Yes, I stand behind this article, because if I did not I would not have published it. Palantas’ viewpoint is perfectly valid, but this is my site and I’m not about to entertain noise instead of discussion on it. Any more discussion on this issue will be blacklisted.

          • dporter6

            What do you think Palantas is doing, if not discussing it? Disagreement IS discussion.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Weaver/100000377905225 Mike Weaver

            He respected privacy because his accounts are not naming people names and they are vague enough so others can’t identify those people. Thats good OPSEC. Your argument is a failed argument.

          • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

            Oh, what argument is that?

    • Nail_31

      I totally agree, this is a fabrication to besmirch the military. Probably as an anti war propaganda exercise to villify military personnel and to make non military males feel better about themselves. The vocabulary belies british origins to me.

      That being said, war id hell and horrible things happen, that is how it is in full contact reality. No game can ever replicate the smells, sounds and sights of real war, and more importantly you cannot continue to function with the number of wounds sustained in a video game. There is no magic health bubble to seek in combat. Every decision may be your last. Death seeks you all on the battlefield, he has no prejudices.

      Real men serve, others watch and are jealous of the fleeting glory that a soldier may get. They lash out like this because their manhood is threatened in society. Their lack of warrior attributes and manly fortitude are visible to all if they will just look.

      This article is FALSE on several levels.

      • http://twitter.com/Felicido anonymous

        “Real men serve, others watch and are jealous of the fleeting glory that a soldier may get. They lash out like this because their manhood is threatened in society. Their lack of warrior attributes and manly fortitude are visible to all if they will just look.”

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OGWYMJXU6BF2I3HA25Y565DP6E Bryman

      Thanks for saying what I was thinking. I am an Iraqi Freedom Vet and that is where I earned Combat Infantry Badge. The way this guy tied his logic together reminded me of the definition of ‘logic” was written as by the long dead journalist, Ambrose Bierce, wrote in his book ” The Devil’s Dictionary”

      “LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion –thus:
      _Major Premise_: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.
      _Minor Premise_: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore –
      _Conclusion_: Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second. This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.”

    • Aaron Jones

      You said that you see the same amount of sociopaths in your corporate life? I’d guess there are a quite a few sociopaths at your new job too then. The corporate world tends to attract sociopaths. I’m not just speculating, people in positions of power are much more likely to have sociopathic tendencies. An estimated 1 in 100 people is a sociopath so it doesn’t seem too unlikely for a large amount of sociopaths to be attracted to a similar lifestyle. Also, don’t confuse sociopath with psychopath (as it seems many people in the comments section have), sociopathic people can be totally nice and normal, but they generally have less empathy and are somewhat more self-centered. Even so, you’re probably right that 80% is an over-estimate. Also, I’ve never served so you have more experience than me, but of the three friends I have serving, I can say with confidence that one of them is a sociopath.

  • http://twitter.com/JitterySpree Tom

    THIS IS A VIDEO GAME, BASED ON FICTION. WOW. Dude is trolling us.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1349014231 Corry Dauderman

    DULCE ET DECORUM EST

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
    Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling,
    And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime . . .
    Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
    If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
    Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    Wilfred Owen
    8 October 1917 – March, 1918
    *WIlfred Owens died in the trenches of WWI one week before the armistice.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

      Kipling

      When the ‘arf-made recruity goes out to the East
      ‘E acts like a babe an’ ‘e drinks like a beast,
      An’ ‘e wonders because ‘e is frequent deceased
      Ere ‘e’s fit for to serve as a soldier.
      Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
      Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
      Serve, serve, serve as a soldier,
      So-oldier ~OF~ the Queen!

      Now all you recruities what’s drafted to-day,
      You shut up your rag-box an’ ‘ark to my lay,
      An’ I’ll sing you a soldier as far as I may:
      A soldier what’s fit for a soldier.
      Fit, fit, fit for a soldier . . .

      First mind you steer clear o’ the grog-sellers’ huts,
      For they sell you Fixed Bay’nets that rots out your guts –
      Ay, drink that ‘ud eat the live steel from your butts –
      An’ it’s bad for the young British soldier.
      Bad, bad, bad for the soldier . . .

      When the cholera comes — as it will past a doubt –
      Keep out of the wet and don’t go on the shout,
      For the sickness gets in as the liquor dies out,
      An’ it crumples the young British soldier.
      Crum-, crum-, crumples the soldier . . .

      But the worst o’ your foes is the sun over’ead:
      You ~must~ wear your ‘elmet for all that is said:
      If ‘e finds you uncovered ‘e’ll knock you down dead,
      An’ you’ll die like a fool of a soldier.
      Fool, fool, fool of a soldier . . .

      If you’re cast for fatigue by a sergeant unkind,
      Don’t grouse like a woman nor crack on nor blind;
      Be handy and civil, and then you will find
      That it’s beer for the young British soldier.
      Beer, beer, beer for the soldier . . .

      Now, if you must marry, take care she is old –
      A troop-sergeant’s widow’s the nicest I’m told,
      For beauty won’t help if your rations is cold,
      Nor love ain’t enough for a soldier.
      ‘Nough, ‘nough, ‘nough for a soldier . . .

      If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
      To shoot when you catch ‘em — you’ll swing, on my oath! –
      Make ‘im take ‘er and keep ‘er: that’s Hell for them both,
      An’ you’re shut o’ the curse of a soldier.
      Curse, curse, curse of a soldier . . .

      When first under fire an’ you’re wishful to duck,
      Don’t look nor take ‘eed at the man that is struck,
      Be thankful you’re livin’, and trust to your luck
      And march to your front like a soldier.
      Front, front, front like a soldier . . .

      When ‘arf of your bullets fly wide in the ditch,
      Don’t call your Martini a cross-eyed old bitch;
      She’s human as you are — you treat her as sich,
      An’ she’ll fight for the young British soldier.
      Fight, fight, fight for the soldier . . .

      When shakin’ their bustles like ladies so fine,
      The guns o’ the enemy wheel into line,
      Shoot low at the limbers an’ don’t mind the shine,
      For noise never startles the soldier.
      Start-, start-, startles the soldier . . .

      If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
      Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
      So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
      And wait for supports like a soldier.
      Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

      When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
      And the women come out to cut up what remains,
      Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
      An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
      Go, go, go like a soldier,
      Go, go, go like a soldier,
      Go, go, go like a soldier,
      So-oldier ~of~ the Queen!

  • WhenIAmEmpty

    Many people play fantasy video games such as World of Warcraft, Star Wars, and Final Fantasy. All of these games have ‘heroes’, stories about killing people, and graphic/unrealistic battle scenes that turn out to be very entertaining when played. These games, just like the Call of Duty and Battlefield series games, are meant to be entertaining, not a true depiction of war. Video games are just games. War is not a game. This article is comparing oranges and apples.

  • organism31

    “It’s because the vast majority of us are straight up sociopaths.”

    As a former Army infantryman with two tours in Iraq, I would have to agree. Living with the constant threat of death is not a normal thing, but after a while it becomes “the new normal.” The sorts of moral suspensions which are commonplace in war would probably shock any decent human being. For example, during The Surge in 2007, because the ROE was so restrictive (meaning we couldn’t open fire first or preemptively) our platoon would run regular missions through Iraqi neighborhoods with the explicit purpose of getting shot at in order to return fire. Or another – when mortar platoons setup position, it’s common to register the weapon systems to ensure accuracy for the larger fire mission ahead. The process is similar to using a rifle – shoot, then make adjustments to the weapon’s sights. Well, with the mortar system, it’s typical that the first rounds will be off by 50-100 yards. In this particular incident, the reference point happened to be a dirt mound not farther than a stone’s throw from a populated Iraqi neighborhood. The concussion alone is enough to kill people who are within 75 yards. And until I pointed it out, nobody thought anything of the substantial collateral damage that would have occurred.

    I think that it is a good thing to have men willing to fight for the larger population. With that said, not every war is just or needs to be fought. Soldiers that fight in these wars should not be glorified for their obedience when the larger moral picture commands that they refuse to fight. That means it’s OK to not support the war AND not support the troops because if it wasn’t for the troops, who would fight the war?

  • http://twitter.com/Rotendo Rodolfo Camarena

    ^ I agree with W. I don’t think I’m crazy or heartless (although my Wife thinks I am) but it’s just the way we think and are. I’m not going to list everything I’ve been through while serving in the Marines, but as someone who is now in the gaming industry making games, and plays these combat games too, I just shake my head and roll with it. I know the truth, but these gaming companies will never put out games with those (awesome) features. Hell… I’ll play it, W.

  • Banjonuts

    your such a fucking idiot. no shit he realizes that, the point is that the media spits out what they want us to see, and the fact is why would you buy a game that is absolutely unrealistic in which all it does is make you an inhuman killing machine. please tell me what is “fun” about running around unkilliable mowing people down? not only does that take zero skill out of the game, it makes it pointless. this guys speaks the perfect truth, games like modernwarfare will always be aloud to be released be cause it shows nothing like war actually is. how about you go READ a fucking book because obviously you spend too much time playing call of dudy you prick

  • UNKN UNKN

    Great article. I enjoy my war games not because that’s how I think war really is but because they entertain me. I’m not entertained by the idea of war in any fashion and at times it terrifies me to think of some of the shit you guys go through. I want to say I think I could do it if I had to but honestly I’m not sure.

  • steferscope

    Thank you for sharing all of this information. I read in amazement and wonder as you set the record straight. Thank you for your service. It actually makes me feel better that I have sociopaths looking out for the nation.

  • sean a

    When I was a kid I knew a guy who was into snuff clips. Being curious of course, I watched some of the videos he sent me. There was a video of a soldier (I think he was supposed to be Chechnyan or Russian) being stabbed in the throat. The sound of him attempting to yell out as he was gurgling on his own blood as the knife plunged into his neck is something I’ll always remember. There were other videos of people being shot to death and executed with explosives. If you’re a sane person, there’s no chance that you would go to war after watching that.

    I think kids need to see these things when they have the greatest impact. I guess that once you’re dropped into a war (or a violent upbringing) with no way out, the impact of killing and seeing death is lessened because you’re worried for your own life. If kids see the reality early on I think a lot less people would be motivated to go to war or harm others in general.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6IYSMHDHJ6733UQBYGBW5NYQG4 David K

      I would just like to say that when I went through Marine Corps School of Infantry, we watched that “Unknown Russian Soldier” video in one of our required classes. The training certainly does not try to hide the fact that you, as an infantryman, are either going to kill people when you go to war, or you are going to end up like that guy on the ground getting his throat slit.

      Of course, I can’t go as far as to say that the training prepares or intends you to be the guy slitting throats, but I’m sure at least a few people that I served with wanted to be that guy.

      • sean a

        That is sad. I think anyone who gets excited by the thought of slitting someone’s throat is… evil. It demonstrates a lack of empathy/sympathy that is the foundation for moral behavior.

        • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

          I attended the same school David K did, when it was called ‘Infantry Training School’.

          No videos for us, but I knew the same sort of guys he did, who really wanted to see and experience the thing.

          Evil is too strong a word for those guys. Young, inexperienced, brain-washed, emotional children .. those are much more accurate.

          Consider the context they are in, the job they volunteered for: their professed behavior – while extreme – is morally okay for the job of ‘rifleman’.

          Also – cutting someone else’s throat sure beats having your own throat cut.

  • sean a

    @Nathan Warner: America’s Army

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  • Max O’Connor

    If you think about it, before the camera was invented, war was glorified in paintings and artwork which kind of had the same effect. People went to war not really knowing what it was like.

  • http://www.google.cl/search?q=Oso%20peludo&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:es-CL:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=es&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=_1 Oso

    Nice

  • Lance Henze

    You shouldn’t even be allowed to give input on this article unless you are a Combat Vet. Everyone trying to over analyze this article needs to go get fucked. You don’t know anything.

  • 1maia

    I have always thought the true immorality of wars was, that the people who choose to fight them do not have to deal with the guilt (or other way of dealing with the huge psychological effect of it) of what they ‘do’ – they just get to delegate it to someone else. As for violence, i’ve never got it: i am perfectly capable of being a true sadist, but as soon as i’m not ‘caught up in the moment’ (e.g. winning a debate by disembowling my opponent’s logic – my violence was deeply repressed by an eccessively ‘feminising’ upbringing, so it’s located in odd places) i’m just horrified/shocked. Why do people like it? And why did the strict christians i grew up around think it was fine when films with kissing in weren’t – the sermon on the mount is clearly totally pacifist? Odd.

  • Dante Sagara

    Thank you for serving our country, but I believe people like you are needed for our armed forces. If we didn’t have guys like you; we would be more like France. However, I disagree with you on there are no heros. As professional soldiers, I understand that in your point of view that there are no heros, just guys doing their job. However, medals and honours that are given because someone has done an action that normal people would not do. Hence why, we revere and call you guys heros. For example, Sergeant Dakota Meyer, who recieved the medal of honor. I do not know the man, but from the actions that he took was truly of hero nature. He might not feel that he is a hero, but I certainly do feel that he is a hero. So like it or not, the public will always see you guys as heroes.

  • Susan Kim

    Your writing is impressive. Also, I can tell that you are British (all the S’s and usage of the word “bum”).

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/B5HUJYQYSUXYU25RDK5X72HCWY mikhailfranco

    The basic diagnosis that some large majority of effective infantry combatants have some psychosis is born out by all modern research and archival evidence. For a popular account see John Keegan ‘The Face of Battle’.
    A telling anecdote in the book is from the American Civil War (conscripted forces), it turns out that many infantry lines and trenches were left (overrun, deserted or whatever) containing many loaded rifles. Looking at the arrangement of these it is possible to say that many men would rather load a weapon and hand it to the (psychotic) sharpshooter guy to shoot and kill someone, than fire it themselves, The corollary is that when many ordinary men were supervised and forced to fire at the enemy at close range, many would shoot to miss – even when they faced the chance of being killed, they would still rather not actually kill someone.
    The stats are interesting. When there is general conscription (draft of general population) most men show battle fatigue after 30 days in combat, almost all after 60 days, but about 2-4% do not show any symptoms. The commentary asserts that battle fatigue is a form of emotional shock, inflicted by the experience of battle, up close and personal. Most people suffer battle fatigue as a serious degradation in their ability to function, communicate, relate to others, continue high-intensity operations, take orders, follow directions, take swift and effective action – essentially stay in the fight. The psychotics do not suffer this degradation in fighting ability, they stay effective in the face of brutal combat conditions and the loss of friends (ok, fellow combatants). The aim of modern military selection and training is twofold:
    - Select as many psychotic types as possible to the high-intensity / special-ops / airborne / marines / assault infantry units
    - Turn as many ordinary Joe’s towards the killer instinct by drilling them to follow orders, move into danger and kill the enemy, whilst also densensitizing them to any ‘effects’ that might be happening around them (usually the messy variety involving their buddies).[ Keegan identifies the beginning of this trend with Frederick The Great and the Prussian army 'drill']
    Not all recruits make this transition, but you’ve heard it so many times in post-action interviews or books … ‘the training kicked in; I wasn’t consciously thinking about what to do, it was a natural response; any soldier would have done the same thing; I was just doing my job’. The training worked. These comments vindicate a lot of what was said about heroes in the post:
    - Some people want to act as heroes, and do something deliberately stupid; most of them die, or cause others to die (and most of the remaining men in their unit are glad to have these loose cannons out of the way) – but those that succeed are called ‘heroes’.
    - Most other ‘heroics’ are just following orders and training to a very focused and absolute degree, often in the face of overwhelming evidence that it is not a rational thing to do. These actions do justify bravery awards, but most of it was a conditioned response instilled by repetitive and desensitizing training.

    Mik

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2RFQ4POOILDK6NB6BMUDMGM6HU Jack Ryan

    I think a lot of people read the first 1/3 of this article and stopped and then commented as if this piece was intended as an attack on the video game industry for not being realistic. That is not what this piece is about. This article is about how the military uses media to manipulate the public into supporting their conflicts. How it brushes under the rug the fact that there are thousands of people that have a sociopathic detachment to the violence of war and how honors and medals that are depicted as being for heroes are often just for the FNG’s

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/DI6F3HNF6E6RNVRNYSTLJDONIM Daniel

      Nope your wrong, cause he wouldn’t have stated this in the beginning if it was about how the military uses the media. Here is his direct quote. “I am a private military contractor, and I have an issue with the depiction of war in videogames — or more specifically, the soldiers in those games.” Right there he is stating what his whole argument is “supposed” to be about. I think his rant about the media just end up turning out to be rant.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

      This is a fictional piece. The military doesn’t get “us” into conflicts. The President and the Congress or the Prime Minister and Parliament do. I doubt anything he has stated, heroes are real and “FNGs” are not.

  • 1limey1

    6.5 years w/ British Special Forces, heroes don’t come home. any one who has been around a BIG BOOM knows you can’t experience it by looking @ a video

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/NPPFCH3QEPY7AMC3I74NO2UX4A bryn

    I can tell you right now, having met a lot of British squaddies, that the majority are not sociopaths. They’re young guys from small towns who go to the job centre and realise the only decent job they’re qualified for is the army. They join up because they don’t want to end up wasting their lives on the dole or working dead end jobs.

    A lot of these guys come back and are pretty shaken up. I had a cousin in the Falklands who for years afterwards used to automatically dive for the floor when he heard a plane going over. He never said he had Post Traumatic Stress. Neither do may young men who go on to lead difficult lives once their service is up.

    It’s maco bullshit like this article which serves to propagate they myth that soldiers have to be cold and unfeeling. It’s this myth which contributes to the massive rates of alcoholism and suicide that dog ex-service me.

    I feel the author of this article is just as much of problem as the video game developers. He’s spreading a misconception. In the British army at least their are psychological tests to be undergone before one can progress through training to active service. These tests are their to weed out the psychos who want to kill some one the first chance they get and are a danger to others.

    Bottom line: are all soldiers heros? No. Neither are 80% sociopathic. The American army may try and inculcate this belief into the farms boys and petty criminals they recruit but the only thing this has achieved is the creation of combat units who fail to care about the safety of their fellow soldier. Don’t think that’s the case? Look at the differential proportions of IED deaths between American and British troops (I’m talking % terms) – the American’s suffer far more casualties because of their childish macho attitudes which frankly have no place in modern warfare.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1153368374 Sed Itious

      Pardon me, bryn. I agree with what you’re describing, but you’re assuming that W is actually an American veteran. My point is that in the profile of the US serviceman is the same as the British one. It’s mostly small town kids looking for economic opportunity.

      Consider that this may be a complete bogus story of someone with a distorted idea of what the military is like, pulling stories out of his ass.

  • Pingback: Generating Sociopathy « Brainbiter

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angri-Fellow/100003086139190 Angri Fellow

    maybe they should sell war games where once you get killed for the first time the game refuses to run after that. if you want to play again, shell out another 49.99

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/P2TEJSIEOAHTXPPSM5VPXWIFSA Ollie

    Worst game design, ever.

  • http://twitter.com/iPotatoes DJ

    To be blunt. What you’re saying is pretty dumb. Here’s why though. It’s not the fault of the video game developer of games like Call of Duty or any war based game, it’s the fault of the consumer themselves. Anyone who would think war is just like the narrative of war game is truly uneducated about the world around them. And there is no way to really make real war come across correctly in the entertainment industry other than documentaries. There’s so much about real war out there that making a game perfectly reflect real war is a waste of time.

  • http://twitter.com/iPotatoes DJ

    Also, I didn’t read the full article because it was so fucking long.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/DI6F3HNF6E6RNVRNYSTLJDONIM Daniel

    If you think games like Battlefield 3, or the Modern Warfare series are supposed to be an accurate depiction of real war then you have misinformed yourself here. These games are interactive stories for entertainment purposes only. These games don’t glorify anything, if its anyone that would be glorifying it, it would be the Army and the Military using these games to con teen’s and young adults to join the Army. I feel like your pushing the perspective to far out about these game and forgetting that in the end they are just games.

  • Dani Shorel

    Have all of you forgotten about history? Rome, the Middle Ages, etc?

    Seems to me that soldier-like minds are the norm and the ‘sane’ guys are just some media fabrication, and that’s just because soccer moms consume the media.

    Don’t be afraid of being what you are, the rest is lies and more lies.

  • http://twitter.com/BriansiPad Brian Anderson

    You sound like a genuinely horrible human being with little to no understanding of what you’re talking about. If I were your unit leader or whatever, I’d have told that reporter to interview someone else too. I’m sure he just didn’t want the readers thinking that everyone in the military are self-important sociopathic pricks who think that losing ten men in three months is some sort of extreme war scenario.

    Not only that, but he goes so far as to paint ALL infantrymen like this. Being from the Tacoma area, I have a LOT of friends and coworkers in the military, both past and present. None of them agree with you. NOT. ONE.

    Your comments about PTSD show that you have zero understanding of how disorders work as well. In fact, aside from your recollections of your combat experience, pretty much everything you said shows that you have zero understanding of what you’re talking about?

    Let’s look at Modern Warfare (the game), shall we? In MW2, you (the player) are forced to participate in a small-scale terrorist attack, gunning down hundreds of innocent civilians in an airport in order to thwart a much larger, more destructive plan. After the “mission”, it is revealed that they knew you were spying the entire time and they murder your character and leave him on scene so your country takes the blame.

    I’d love to hear you explain how that’s too nice, or portraying the character as heroic. In addition, you are acting as if your experience in the middle east as an American soldier is somehow remotely comparable to other wars in other times, other places, and other cultures. Your experience is limited.

    Put simply, war is horrible. Video games are for entertainment. No one would ever want to play a REAL war game in the first place. Basically every soldier I know plays those games. Why? For entertainment. To relax. The same reason everyone else plays video games.

    “Next time you watch a military documentary, ask yourself why only 3 or 4 men are ever interviewed from a unit. The answer?”

    Have you ever SEEN a military documentary?

    Good god, what a self-important, pompous jackass you are. They don’t show people like you in the media because they want people to still have some respect for our military.

    “We are not naïve and we are very real.”

    Firstly, yes you are. You are INCREDIBLE naive. Second, what do you mean by real? Considering that earlier in the article, you attempted to imply that soldiers were inherently different than “normal people” (which is, of course, categorically false), you may want to re-think your phrasing.

    “he was the FNG [ed: fucking new guy] that got blown up because he was incompetent, who left the fight before it turned him into one of us.”

    WOW. So not only are you immensely disrespectful of the military itself and of basically everyone else who isn’t American, but you seem to hold complete disdain for your fellow soldiers as well. What a miserable person you are. I genuinely cannot believe you just insinuated that everyone who is injured or killed in combat is personally at fault for their own demise. Just … wow. I hope no one takes you remotely seriously.

    In summation, you’re a dick. You make me ashamed to support our country’s great military. There is nothing wrong with combat video games as they are now. I’m genuinely glad to hear that you are no longer serving. Good riddance, asshole.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1153368374 Sed Itious

      In my own comment earlier today I pointed out that I doubt ‘W’ was in fact a combat soldier, at all. I find what is written to be a complete fake built on stereotypes of the military from recent movies and TV shows.

      The FNG concept particularly seems lifted not from Vietnam, but from movies about Vietnam. I seriously doubt this is anything but a complete fabrication.

    • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

      “I’m genuinely glad to hear that you are no longer serving. Good riddance, asshole.”

      Yeah, he’s a private contractor now…contracting in loss prevention at his local Walmart. :D

      I wouldn’t get too upset about this guy. He sounds like a bullshitter to me. That business about the FNG pointman is right out of Platoon, and nowhere close to the reality in Iraq.

    • Dishonored

      As you never once mention whether or not you served and also make the statement, “…I have a LOT of friends and coworkers in the military…”, I am going to assume you have no military experience. That being said, you have no right to make half of the statements you made because you have little to no understanding of what you are talking about.

      When someone says we lost ten men in three months it doesn’t mean the brigade or battalion unless the statement is being made by someone who served as support. His company or platoon most likely lost ten men. Let me repeat that and do so in a way you can understand. Ten men that he knew personally, some of whom he may have been close to, lost their lives and possibly did so right next to this guy. That might not be the worst possible casualty figure given the amount of time it happened when compared to ancient attrition warfare or more modern conflicts such as the world wars but that is a rough experience that most soldiers will not and have not experienced. When you see the casualty figures of those conflicts they are spread across entire units and over a periods of time, most of time. I don’t know how old you are but I want you to imagine what it is like to lose a parent, if you have not already, a brother, or a son. Now imagine what that would feel like on ten occasions or less as some of them will be killed on the same day and possibly within the same incident and add to that the fact that they were murdered. Now I don’t agree with his statement that makes most grunts out to be sociopaths or what he says about PTSD but I doubt you are in any position to lecture anyone on PTSD.

      If you read about the psychological effects of war, preferably by someone who has been there, you will realize that while he is technically wrong he has a point. Everyone in a harsh combat situation will do things that are sociopathic (I don’t know how to phrase that). Go to the sites dedicated to the old wars specifically those that pertain to the infantry and winter and read about what they did. They did not consider themselves sociopaths then or now but the acts they did would indicate otherwise. This article was written by someone of a relatively recent generation and his use of certain terms reflects that. Also, no one understands PTSD. Period. To assume you have a better working knowledge of someone who has claimed to have fought is asinine. There are very few people within the U.S. even amongst the older generations that have been through what I have and I had a hard time getting any sort of treatment due to the fact that most “professionals” simply did not or do not believe me or even the rest of my unit when told about our experiences. With the exception of the POSs of course. Many psychologists have little experience with PTSD and those that do don’t usually have much experience or it is not related to war. The disconnect myself and others that I know have with the so called experts is almost comical. Your argument against what he claims about videos games is also silly and I’ll try not to take much space.

      When addressing the subject of video games you point out one example that favors your argument, admittedly there are a few more, despite the fact that the majority of video games do support his statement. Also, different times? No war compares to another of a different era. I can tell you that fighting in Afghanistan today is damn close to what the Afghan and Soviet people experienced all those years ago. As to different cultures war may not be the same near where the generals sleep but light infantry fighting out of remote outposts in the “country of Iraq and mountains of Afghanistan are going through similar things. If my testimony is not enough then just look at stories from both sides of the same fights, recent fights and you’ll realize while no two sides are exactly alike no two people are ever really that different people just want to believe they are for better or worse. This has been and always will be true. Lastly media, politicians, as well as game devs specifically, want to portray most soldiers, at least first world soldiers, as heroes which is in fact bullshit. Next subject.

      When the media do come around they avoid the high tempo areas and report from afar this has applied to the majority of war journalists for a very long time. When they do attempt to interview us they scrap most of it and frequently just use pics of us geared up, bloody, or emotional and slap it on a story of someone else. They do avoid infantry and are actually prevented from seeing those who are experiencing sustained combat on many occasions and I’ll admit I’m thankful for this. They don’t show those who are usually doing the most work as most decent soldiers I know would be too busy, dislike journalists, or are not something that the U.S. military want on the evening news, PBS, or sundance or SXSW. Those that do go to the “front lines” only get to do so due to various politics for the most part and risk our lives to get their story. To any journalists who are decent, witty, funny, and a little brave I hope you realize this is not aimed at you and I’d let you stand around and draw attention from me any day, Damn the Valley.

      Now concerning his views on FNGs. He is a thoughtless, jaded, jackass who makes it harder to believe he is an actual vet by saying what he did the way he did. However, he is also right. New guys and replacement do get themselves killed due to their own stupidity and the failures of the institution that allows them to be so poorly trained, disciplined, and psychologically prepared to go to war and still ships them out. It is their fault many times and while you don’t hear about it much anymore if you hear the things said by the old timers you’ll hear the same thing phased in a more tasteful way. Just look at the Band of Brother documentary or their own dedicated sites. You can also look to the 442nd all Japanese unit of world war two which sustained horrible casualties. They constantly refer to the replacements (FNGs) and how they came and went and did stupid things. This applies everywhere in the military and to be honest FNGs in the civilian world suck to and you already knew this. He never once even implies that all the fallen and wounded are personally responsible and I think this is where you let your emotions get the better of you. He already stated that he is an ass and I think most people would agree with you.

      He personally considers himself a “bastard” so why are you harping about how bad of a person he is? I think I mentioned this but I can’t find it in the massive wall of text but some of what he says sounds dumb due to poor writing skills which he says are poor. So are my own but does that really fucking matter to the point where you point it our? Correcting him on phrasing is just elitist and dumb. You also call him naive and repeatedly state in different ways that he does not know what he is talking about. You need to look in the mirror. You are naive about many things and choose to write about them anyway despite having enough brains to actually take possible naivety(?) into account. I apologize for taking so much space and time but once I started I realized that if I was not thorough(?) that I would end up having this argument piecemeal so I just tried to deconstruct it. Lastly to the person I am replying to, again it was just an attempt at thorough deconstruction and I don’t really hold anything against you except the comment about the casualties and that you have no experience yourself, I assume, but choose to write so much about it. Feel free to correct my English as I need it and I’m not trying to be facetious (I had to look that up).

  • Dan Pansing

    OK I am a 4 year former Marine that was fortunate enough to have never had to fire on a “soft target”. That being said I am also a fan of CoD. Should I have to feel guilty that I enjoy a couple hours a week escapism with in this game? Would hardened war vets feel better if the enemies you fought looked like chess pieces? People are smart enough to know the difference. These games are the next evolutionary step from the war movies that also fantasized and glorified war.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DIZJRBFSHRAEUIPHL2AZQR73RU Dedan

    Would a game showing how war really is be fun??? I’m not sure the author should even answer that question, I see it as more of a challenge to the development community… Can we make a game that doesn’t just glorify war but also show the worse parts of it, and can that game be engaging???

    I think so, there was a game called cannon fodder, not very realistic but you controlled a squad of men who were individually named, and when you lost one of those guys you really felt the pain of losing them (i think – it’s been a while- that game had permadeath so the loss was permanent)… This of course is nowhere near what real war is like, but it does put tension on your actions, and it does involve you emotionally when you lose men…

    Some games (light gun) make you lose a life when you shoot a hostage, thus hostages become things you care about…

    These are examples of mechanics that go in the direction that i think the writer is talking about, of course it’s just a start but i do believe it may be possible to make a game and have it be fun and have it not glorify combat… the restrepo of fps’s may be in the near future until then i’ll stick to killing aliens, zombies and robots!

  • Daniel McMahon

    This is a facinating incite into the genre from a military point of view.
    Video games do not and should not attempt to mimic reality, they should be a form of entertainment. Films, Art, Music, Poetry glorify and change public perception of war far more I feel than this medium without the same kind of critisim and I think they have every right to portray it in this way so long as people know it is not real.
    What this article says about media control of perception and the lack of “real war” “real soldiers” reported in the news, I think is the most important point.
    Soldiers are not heros, I dont think their portrayal as such in entertainment, is the cause of this misinformation. Simply the result.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

      Hero is a subjective term. The daily grind of a soldier in a combat zone is more than most of us would willingly handle for 5 times the pay. Then you add the possibility of being killed or severely wounded and that elevates those people to higher level. If you then ask one of those people to risk his or her life,.above and beyond what they are required to do, in order to save your life, they become a hero. If an officer who writes well and has good connections see this happen, you may get an medal. But the person you saved is the reason you did it and it is their opinion of you that you value.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=79301216 Joel Dyar

    Thanks for writing this, and sharing your very valid points. And sorry for the few who felt the need to attack your character and fling monkey shit from Mom and Dad’s basement at your most marginal statements, instead of making any kind of half-assed critique of the message.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

      yeah Like No way man, my moms iz like in the next room cuz like sum guy iz rentin the basement and i don’t fling poo anymore since my moms starting given me her pills

  • SSgtRancor

    Take if from a life long member of the military, this whole article sounds fake, written by someone with an agenda.

    • http://www.gamespot.com/users/Palantas Palantas

      And I believe the agenda is “Look how hardcore and full of angst I am.”

  • weq465tg

    Who plays single player? It’s like buying FIFA(whatever the latest edition is) and kicking the ball into an empty net over and over again.

    You play for the multiplayer and no other reason. Or maybe I have completely misjudged the vast majority of gamers.

    I find FIFA to be more fun than CoD but often you get some fucks from Brazil or some shit who lag the game to all hell and you just scream at them in your mic to make yourself feel better before rage quitting.

  • SSgtRancor

    I’m not sure why the author of this article keeps deleting my posts BUT, I feel that, as a lifelong member of the military that this article is fake.

    The assertion that most of us are “straight up sociopaths” is insulting.

    The way this article portrays servicemen and women that honorably served our country is insulting.

    Deleting my comments because they differ from the author is insulting.

    :(

    • http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/ Karl Parakenings

      I’m deleting them because coming here and stating that the article is fake with no substantial defense or argumentation beyond that is basically just noise. Leaving this one up for now so folks can see my reply.

      • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

        Served for eight years, USMC, 1985 – 1993. Rifleman (0311) and Programmer (4063).

        I’m not going to come out and say the guy is a fake. You’ve vetted his bona fides, possibly talked to him. Fine.

        But even allowing that he’s a Brit, and they do things different than we do ..

        the article reads like a great many others that have been published by guys who have later been discovered to be either faking their experience in the service or never served.

        If you, who have (from a quick google) have never served in the Army think he’s accurate, great.

        But consider that people who have served, and have seen a ton of fakes and liars on the internet since 2001 read a whiff of forgery .. there might be something to it.

        • http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/ Karl Parakenings

          There are also numerous people who support it. As I said earlier to another poster, I’m not going to argue with you, but I stand behind this article. If you disagree, fine, write a response to this, but please don’t sidetrack the comments into pointless, fruitless, bickering about whether or not this article is true instead of discussing the points it brings up.

          • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

            If the article is false, then the points it brings up are as well.

            But, yes. I’ll store up the response and post after my blogging vacation ends after Lent.

          • http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/ Karl Parakenings

            That implies that fiction is without rhetorical merit.

          • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

            If it does then my intent was not clear.

            Fiction masquerading as fact has no merit.

            Whatever nugget of truth is contained is overwhelmed by it’s heritage: it’s a lie. One can’t believe anything about it.

            If you want actual true horrific war stories, written by actual veterans, detailing what an absolute horrific experience it can, there are lots of books you can read.

            if you’re looking for a literate account from a private solder’s point of view, you could do worse than Eugene Sledge ‘With the Old Breed At Peleliu and Okinawa’.

            “My War by Colby Buzzell is a more blog-ish account from Iraq – see http://cbftw.blogspot.com/

          • http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/ Karl Parakenings

            Thank you for the clarification and those recommendations. I’m adding them to my reading lists.

          • SSgtRancor

            Wow, so you guys delete posts that you don’t agree with? I didn’t flame anyone, I simply stated this article seems made up by someone trying to paint the members of our armed forces as “straight up sociopaths.” So it is easier for YOU to believe the members of our military are sociopaths than it is that this is fake?

          • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

            Maybe, Rancor, it’s not what you said but how you said it.

          • SSgtRancor

            That could very well be, but I think it is WHAT I am saying as well…because if it was how I was saying it, comments like the one from “Joe Dyar” below would be deleted as well. It seems that, as long as you post something the author agrees with, you are okay….if not, DELETE. ;)

          • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

            It seems that, as long as you post something the author agrees with, you are okay….if not, DELETE

            I seem to have disagreed without having my replies deleted.

            As it happens, I do have a blog. When I break my Lentan blog fast I may comment on this, there.

            Or not – passions cool, and this may seem like such a nit in a few weeks that it’s not worth my skull sweat.

          • http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/ Karl Parakenings

            See the rule.

  • http://codeflow.org/ Florian Bösch

    Well, obviously you’re right that popular depictions of war are not how war is. Obviously a realistic war movie would wallow in horror, loathing, dispair and stupidity for 2 hours on end (and there are movies like that, although probably not very many, and once one gets done, it’s difficult to invent upon it). Obviously a realistic war game would make you go trough even the dullest and despicable sort of gameplay to underscore the point that war is not a game, nevermind that nobody would buy it. And obviously glorification and distortion of war for entertainment purposes is morally ambiguous if not downright cynical.

    And then there’s the reality of entertainment. Come to it, actually explosions like Hollywood does them are not how they’re in real life, mostly. Neither are weapons, or how they work, or cars, or people, or talking on telephones, or hanging up telephones, or dialog, behavior, cops, romance and the list goes on and on. Literally everything in entertaining movies does not work like it does in real life.

    Games actually never work like real life does. It turns out, real life, not just war, is quite dull and boring with few exceptions (maybe racing games, but even there, it usually gets souped up).

    Making a player suffer trough dull and boring or just plain horrible stuff (the horrible with exception of the horror genre, where it’s of course nothing like real horrible), it turns out that people who had that idea intentionally or unintentionally, never ever made any money selling their game. Because nobody wanted it.

    It turns out, entertainment works better if it entertains. Sometimes it might work by striking a balance, but honestly, you’re not gonna go every Friday evening seeing some horrible movie or spend every evening after work playing a game that bores you silly and gives you nightmares. You just don’t. That’s how entertainment works.

    So I’m terribly sorry if entertainment insults the experts of waging war, driving cars, talking on the telephone, having relationships, hanging up telephones, blowing shit up, being police or anything (or pretty much everything) remotely connected to real life. And I’m terribly sorry that by and large people investing money to develop said entertainment would choose not to commit ritual financial seppuku by trying to make entertainment that nobody wants.

  • http://twitter.com/carlosplays Carlos Plays

    This article sounds like it was written by Solid Snake to me. I enjoyed this insightful piece – but honestly not sure if it would actually work in a game-setting and as you said yourself whether people would be interested in playing it.

  • http://twitter.com/GeneKimile Gene Kimile

    12 Year veteran here, I agree with 99% of what he said. He is not a complete bastard, he sounds like a great drinking buddy to me.

  • Kevin Wallace

    I spent four years in the USAF in a former life. I was never in combat, and I didn’t know many people who were. I do have a story that’s analogous, even though it’s nothing like what W’s talking about.

    I became part of the Honor Guard on our base, which for us, was a part-time gig, a week each month. When I came on, there was a definite cultural change for me.

    We trained hard, and the ceremonies were everything. You had to look good, and you had to know your stuff. It was intimidating. Most of the guys (and girls) drank too much – off the job, of course. They took nothing seriously, outside the ceremony.

    On my first week, we were standing behind the hearse, and the driver opened up the door to reveal a custom, oversized casket. My team leader joked from behind me, “Why does the fat-sh!t have to be the last one of the day?” Even as difficult as I am to offend, I was appalled at the jokes I heard on the ride home in the van. I couldn’t understand how they could be so incredibly callous. The guy was a retired major, a veteran of two foreign wars, and he was dead.

    Once, a retired woman had a Boot Camp picture posted at the graveside. I heard one guy joke to another on the walk back to the van about how thirty years ago, “he totally would have hit that.”

    Luckily, the time when I was part of the Honor Guard was fairly peaceful, so most of our funerals were retirees (95%, I’d say). I was so wrapped up in the technical parts of the ceremony during the first few funerals I was part of, but once I had the pattern down and knew the protocols, something else started happening: I noticed the funerals.

    As a pall-bearer, you hear everything in the ceremony. We march in and place the casket, and we stand there at attention for the entirety of the funeral. The pastor speaks, the family tells everyone how great and unique this person was, and how full of love and life they were. You fold up the flag, hand it to the highest-ranking, and that person presents the flag to the next of kin. Invariably, the next of kin cracks up, and tears and wails of grief begin to flow.

    My second week was rough, but my third week of honor guard was easily the most depressing week of my military service. That week, we worked an active duty funeral for a 19-year old, which turned out to be a non-combat accidental death. That one was especially hard, because it was sudden and nobody in the family expected it (as if you can ever really expect and prepare for such things).

    Eventually, once I had done three funerals a day for half the week, the part of me that thought about this stuff began to shut down. I hardened to hearing all the grief, crying, and all the funeral songs that the deceased loved. The thing is, in situations like that, you have to, or you won’t be able to handle the gravity of the job you’re there to do. That doesn’t excuse some of the more inappropriate jokes, but I started understanding why they happen. I started drinking too much on Honor Guard weeks, too.

    I stayed on and did Honor Guard until my tour ended. Some people did a month or two, and requested to be released from it. Most times, they wouldn’t be released, but they all adjusted too. One of the most sensitive women I’ve ever met came on our team a few months after me, and eventually she started saying things like, “That was so sad. What’s for lunch? I’m starving.”

    None of this holds a candle to the mental and emotional stress infantry and special forces work. However, I don’t think characterizing these people as sociopaths is really fair. Most soldiers come home from the war and adjust back to normal life – even the ones with purple hearts and bronze stars. A lot of them don’t.

    Regardless, I don’t think it speaks poorly to W’s character that he adapted to the situation he needed to adapt to. It’s definitely something that some people are not cut out for. I don’t know if I could do it – but I salute the people that can. If indeed he is who he is, then I have the utmost of respect for him, even if he is an officially diagnosed bastard.

  • Joe Chlimoun

    “The real horrors need to be made very public to keep the next generation from turning out like us.”

    I wish I could agree… but the reality is that we need sociopaths to do your job. That’s why society puts such a strong emphasis on military service and “supporting the troops.” We respect you for making the ultimate sacrifice… and that sacrifice isn’t your life, it’s your humanity.

    Of course, it doesn’t help that the military is such a huge part of our economy. Let everyone know how shitty war is and you might end up with peace… and that hurts the pockets of many people who know how shitty it is, but also know that they’re insulated from it… protected because we have our sociopaths.

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  • Tannya Westwood

    I’ve watched a few documentaries recently that included soldiers celebrating having just killed some Taliban guys plus one where a guy piloting an Apache helicopter shows a bunch of other soldiers footage of him taking down someone laying an IED. It showed all the soldiers cheering.

    I can’t speak for American documentaries but quite a few British ones are fully aware of just how indifferent to killing soldiers can be.
    Or that they treat it all like a game and admit it. Which I find ironic (the games not following real life while they treat real life like a game).
    But to some extent I can understand where they’re coming from. You have the Taliban laying down IEDs that not only kill soldiers but also civilians. It seems that all they see it as is justice for fallen friends and a pre-emptive strikes.

  • vonskippy

    Wow, what a piece of crap. Why do sites like this fall for such poor fiction, and a even poorer cover story. Ooooo, can’t tell any names because, you know, bad people would get upset. Hopefully the writer will finish his creative writing class in whatever community college he’s getting his associates degree in and then maybe he’ll actually publish something that’s not complete drivel.

  • Palantas

    Every incident described in this article sounds like it was written by someone who watches the History Channel, rather than anyone with any actual military experience. I doubt this author has been in a combat unit. If he was, he almost certainly a private, and I don’t believe for a second he has served in any elite units.

    FNG are put on point and no one cares when they die? Someone been watching Platoon. New people are not put “on point” in patrols heavily populated urban terrain (e.g., Iraq). A terrorist used a woman and a child to cover his route through an “escape tunnel”? How does that work? Really, think about it: How would you keep a woman and child in your escape tunnel, and how would they help if you were trying to use it? And who exactly won the Military Cross? Are you talking about the British Military Cross, or the American Distinguished Service Cross? Either way, I can’t find any citations from 2007 that match his description.

    Anyway, his credibility as an author doesn’t even matter. His conclusions are beyond stupid. Games should be fun. A game based around real military operations would be beyond boring. If anyone thinks the real military is like Call of Duty, then they’re an idiot and deserve what they get. Finally, all combat soldiers are not sociopaths. That’s ridiculous, and an obvious generalization.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1660960922 Jesse McGowen

    First of all to the supporters, whatever the reason, Thank you. Second if you haven’t been there done that you really have no reasonable room to make a statement on what combat or deployments or what war is like. Nothing against you as a person but you can’t possibly imagine no matter how many stories you have heard from your relatives or friends or shows on TV or movies watched. Period! I have done 2 tours (Iraq and Afghanistan) I have killed and almost been killed. Does it change you? Yes! Does that make you a psychopath? No! With the exception of people that receive physical trauma to their brains there are many resources to get treatment from psychological issues from combat/deployments, or as the civilians want to call it war.

    There are different parts to being “over there.” The deployment part and this is where you get the most stress is where you sit around trying to keep your mind occupied. The boredom is the part that gets to you more than anything else. You watch lots of movies; play a lot of spades or other card games. You try to call home or write letters or get on a computer that is supposing you have the time for those activities. Hope to god the chow hall has edible food for a change, and that there is still hot water left for your shower.

    Then you have combat, believe it or not the least mentally and psychologically stressful part of the time you spend overseas. Not at first mind you, but at some point you no longer fear the road blowing up, or an errant RPG, or the harassing fire from some farmer trying to make some extra money by shooting Americans.

    I’ll tell you a secret about a lot of these guys you hear about on the news and read about in papers that have all these “issues” that the army never helped with their issues. Most, I’ll say that again, MOST, of them never asked for the help, never sought any help. A lot of them are or were at least at the time young and after doing their first 2, 3 or 4 years, including at least 1 trip to the Middle East, just wanted to get away from the Military. They didn’t stop and get the help they needed due to their own impertinence or pride. I have seen it time and time again.

    As far as these FPS’s ultimately the filter for these falls unto their Mothers and Fathers. Parents are the ones that are responsible for teaching fact and fantasy to their kids. Also for making sure their kids are mature enough to play these games in the first place. I know right imagine that parents have to actually do their jobs. Can’t or don’t want to do those things. !!!!DON’T HAVE KIDS!!!

    If you enjoy them then play them, if you don’t leave them alone. I don’t personally like them mostly because I am not very good at them.

    Soldiers, especially combat arms soldiers, are more often type A personalities but that’s also part of the allure of the career field. Get paid to be rough and tough and cool like an action hero or comic book hero. Heck yeah who wouldn’t, and then they find out it’s not like that at all. The ones that can accept that and move on make a career out of it, those that can’t get out. The crazy people like “W” normally are ones that are full of it. Either taking thier stories from other people, movies, games, or thier own twisted delusions.

    Make up your own mind about things don’t let others tell you what to think.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BarrDonna Donna Barr

    I try to use as little oil as possible. Not that it seems to make any difference in the next place we rev up to attack.

  • Bryan Glesmann

    And its games like that that are giving young minds false impressions. People think “Hey war is cool, I wanna sign up and do all of this cool stuff”, but in reality, its the most horrific atrocity any human being can possibly experience. Imagine talking to your best friend about how excited you are to go home in a few months. Youre walking down the road with your platoon, and the day is about done when an IED goes off. You are thrown twenty feet through the air by a force and sound stronger than anything you can imagine. When you realize what has happened, you are deafened, concussed, and can barely see or feel your body–let alone move your head or open your eyes. As you muster enough strength to look over and open your eyes, from what your brain is momentarily processing, you see half of your best friends torso, his leg, and his head burning on the ground…You can see his blood splattered over the sand–his face and his eyes burning in his head. You notice that your legs are completely numb. You look down, only to notice that those two, bloody, mangled half-stubs are what once were your legs. Your brain, however, has gone into shock, and doesn’t know how to react–you begin to scream, cry for your mother…You grasp your stubs as your bloodied, burnt hands caress your dangling ligaments..but it doesnt help the pain. You think about your mother, and her warm, embracing arms as you lie in the burning desert sand.

    Even if you live to see the next sunrise, you will never be able to walk, have sex, ride a bike, or enjoy life, and will spend the rest of your waking days on this earth replaying the horrifying images that fell upon your eyes…over there on the ground… body parts–not MY body parts or HIS body parts for certain…but just someones mangled limbs lying there. Close your eyes and try to seriously imagine that. Your best friends shredded carcass scattered in pieces around the burning sand. Your mother, father, siblings, grandparents, wife, and kids are never going to see you again–and are going to have to live the rest of their lives with that burden of having lost a loved one too soon…THAT, my friends, is war. And that only describes about a minute of it….Why must we kill each other over ideas? Over beliefs? Who’s to say we can justify murdering our own kind because we share different opinions about how we should live?

    If any of you out there are still puzzled about why so many veterans suffer from PTSD, why every minute you are alive, people are committing suicide, why so many people suffer from depression, anxiety, or drug addiction, why we can’t hold relationships, feel happiness, or even smile–it’s because this planet has become a terrible place full of fear, full of paranoia, and full of greed. This planet is a horrible place because we have made it a horrible place, and we are the only ones who can fix that. So go ahead, join the military. Defend a corrupted government who has brainwashed you into believing the only way to feel safe is to kill everyone else–that a multi-trillion dollar army is what can let you sleep at night. All that we have to fear is each other, yet each other is all that we have.

  • Bryan Glesmann

    And its games like that that are giving young minds false impressions. People think “Hey war is cool, I wanna sign up and do all of this cool stuff”, but in reality, its the most horrific atrocity any human being can possibly experience. Imagine talking to your best friend about how excited you are to go home in a few months. Youre walking down the road with your platoon, and the day is about done when an IED goes off. You are thrown twenty feet through the air by a force and sound stronger than anything you can imagine. When you realize what has happened, you are deafened, concussed, and can barely see or feel your body–let alone move your head or open your eyes. As you muster enough strength to look over and open your eyes, from what your brain is momentarily processing, you see half of your best friends torso, his leg, and his head burning on the ground…You can see his blood splattered over the sand–his face and his eyes burning in his head. You notice that your legs are completely numb. You look down, only to notice that those two, bloody, mangled half-stubs are what once were your legs. Your brain, however, has gone into shock, and doesn’t know how to react–you begin to scream, cry for your mother…You grasp your stubs as your bloodied, burnt hands caress your dangling ligaments..but it doesnt help the pain. You think about your mother, and her warm, embracing arms as you lie in the burning desert sand.

    Even if you live to see the next sunrise, you will never be able to walk, have sex, ride a bike, or enjoy life, and will spend the rest of your waking days on this earth replaying the horrifying images that fell upon your eyes…over there on the ground… body parts–not MY body parts or HIS body parts for certain…but just someones mangled limbs lying there. Close your eyes and try to seriously imagine that. Your best friends shredded carcass scattered in pieces around the burning sand. Your mother, father, siblings, grandparents, wife, and kids are never going to see you again–and are going to have to live the rest of their lives with that burden of having lost a loved one too soon…THAT, my friends, is war. And that only describes about a minute of it….Why must we kill each other over ideas? Over beliefs? Who’s to say we can justify murdering our own kind because we share different opinions about how we should live?

    If any of you out there are still puzzled about why so many veterans suffer from PTSD, why every minute you are alive, people are committing suicide, why so many people suffer from depression, anxiety, or drug addiction, why we can’t hold relationships, feel happiness, or even smile–it’s because this planet has become a terrible place full of fear, full of paranoia, and full of greed. This planet is a horrible place because we have made it a horrible place, and we are the only ones who can fix that. So go ahead, join the military. Defend a corrupted government who has brainwashed you into believing the only way to feel safe is to kill everyone else–that a multi-trillion dollar army is what can let you sleep at night. All that we have to fear is each other, yet each other is all that we have. The real heroes in this life are people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and every human being that has spread tolerance and love to those who were once ignorant. War isn’t going to lead our civilization to peace on earth. We are going to. As Gandhi once said “Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding”. This man liberated a nation without firing a single bullet… Maybe we should take a page out of his playbook.

  • http://twitter.com/bwaaarcode Sman

    It makes no difference what men think of war.
    War endures. May as well ask men what they think of stone. War was always here. Before man was, war waited for him. The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner. That is the way it was and will be. That way and not some other way.

    Men are born for games. Nothing else. Every child knows that play is nobler than work. Games of chance require a wager to have meaning at all. Games of sport involve the skill and strength of the opponents and the humiliation of defeat and the pride of victory… But trial of chance or trial of worth all games aspire to the condition of war for here that which is wagered swallows up game, player, all.

    This is the nature of war, whose stake is at once the game and the authority and the justification. Seen so, war is the truest form of divination. It is the testing of one’s will and the will of another within that larger will which because it binds them is therefore forced to select. War is the ultimate game because war is at last a forcing of the unity of existence.

    War is god.

    -Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian, Chapter 17 (abridged).

  • anon667

    POG ass bitch.

  • Angelo R. Mozilo

    I think the GTA games are also quite unrealistic when you get down to it

  • http://twitter.com/kinghype Mo G

    This article is finished up by psychologist calling his patient a “complete bastard,”, it is only poetry, obviously.

    Since there have been so many comments on this post (I am guessing out of lack of other substantial internet content, today,) on the topics discussed:

    Yes – war is bad.

    No – video games will not make you a warrior.

    Yes – everything’s propagandized now.

    No – playing video games will not make children murder someone just like they will not make them an NFL coach or player.

    Yes – education is good.

    No – god exists.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Callous-Disregard/100002414283656 Callous Disregard

    fake

  • sulphurdunn

    I’m one of your forefathers. You flatter yourself. You wouldn’t make a pimple on a real sociopath’s ass. No soulless monster would ever write anything so honest. The real sociopaths are the ones who sent you and profited from it. When I was one of you in Vietnam, I made eleven and a half cents an hour for making all that money for the real sociopaths. How much did you make? Here’s how it works, boy. Either you find the soul you lost over there and become a man again or you will destroy yourself. You will drink yourself to death or OD or put a bullet in your heard or someone else will, but you will die. Chose, mother fucker!

  • http://www.owenmarcus.com Owen Marcus

    Putting a spin on the iPhone is one thing. Putting a spin on war is another thing.

  • http://www.twitter.com/christaran Chris Taran

    I am so happy to see someone in the military finally admit to being a “violent sociopath” that words can’t even begin to describe it.

    How there is a single human being on this planet that does not find you all to be the most despicable and vile human beings on this planet will never cease to amaze me.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YP2HT4T6PBAOWS5PIZBHQJ4QWM Pansy

    Vietnam veterans were most likely drafted. They did NOT chose to go to war. And this guy is saying that your other friends got out after they saw what it was like. Or they could be sociopaths who know that they should say that they feel horrible, even though they don’t feel bad at all.

  • Delmar Temple

    I saw this on Facebook, linked by a Friend of mine who responded “Wow”
    The Author is full of Horse Crap,
    There are a few reasons I say this and if your interested then you can visit my blog, but the bottom line is;
    Sociopaths do not write articles because of a moral, ethic, or any othe sence of responsibility to tell the public the ‘truth’

    let me finish by saying that he is talking about an important issue, there is a problem with the violence that our youth are being exposed to in the wars, and the video games are a terrible depection of reality.

    So, I agree with his point that videogames are innaccurate and cause a distortion of reality, but I disagree with the idea that there are a legion of sociopaths fighting the war.

  • http://twitter.com/mtrc Michael Cook

    I enjoyed reading the article – well written, and insightful – but I’m not sure of the point it was making. It’s clear that we play these games not for their simulationlike properties but their effectiveness as a piece of action entertainment. Is it just the modern battlefield that you think should be portrayed differently? Is it okay if we do it in a fiction setting (Mass Effect) or a setting that is long since passed (World War 2)?

    Because I can see an argument for avoiding portrayals of existing conflicts, because it paints the wrong picture about what is going on today. But if we’re saying that conflict in general is poorly portrayed, well… I think that’s really because there’s a distinction between reality and what we get out of entertainment. I’m not there for the simulation, most of the time. I’m there for the absorbing feeling of completing tasks while overcoming challenges.The notion of the hero, or the heroic story, is an artifact of our culture that has been around for far longer than CoD.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002252947596 Robert Andersson

    This article and some of the comments made me think about this documentary http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/sri-lankas-killing-fields/

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000567140658 Callum Walker

    Eye-Opening article. Very insightful, thank you for sharing your opinion, W.

  • http://twitter.com/fmoral3s16 Fernando Morales

    Sad but true, war is not a game, and a lot of folks think that what they see in COD or MOH or BF is like the real shit, while they don’t realise that the real war is just one shithole where you can’t do much without the fear of getting killed

  • Samuryan

    Was “W” in the British army? “Medal of Honour” ? “Sore bum”?

    I don’t have any military experience but I live near Fort Carson and a lot of my friends are in the US Army and a couple are 10th SF with multiple deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq under their belts. They are nothing like W described. There are a few guys I know that came back changed with severe PTSD (almost all of them have PTSD of varying severity) and my friends will describe so and so “psycho guy” in their stories but those are the rare cases, not the norm. Most of them have some years of college or are college graduates or plan on attending college. Definitely not the “Gomer Pyle” from Full Metal Jacket types. The SF guys have the (rightfully earned) arrogance and are more gung ho (Type A personalities for sure) but are not psychopaths who love to kill.

    The Onion already made your point about war games simulating real war:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5tRNs2X5Q4 and there are games like Operation: Flashpoint that simulate war more realistically.

    It feels like the author of this article is projecting his own mental problems on others. War is so horrible it compelled you to write this as some sort of warning or critique piece yet you love it so much to sign up for a PMC? Yes the government, media, military will whitewash…the new movie “Act of Valor” was started as a recruitment video whereas a documentary like “Restrepo” is probably closer to the truth. Which movie had the higher box office take?

    All of those serving active duty deserve better than to be labeled violent sociopaths just because you are one.

  • BCarbaugh

    The documentary Restrepo does a pretty good job of representing an on-the-ground view of modern warfare. Hours of numbing boredom, punctuated with backbreaking labor, which is itself occasionally punctuated with the narcotic drip-feed of life-or-death adrenaline.

  • Glenn Farley

    W. is entitled to his opinions, sure. Let me simply say this, re his characterization of infantrymen:

    Not in my experience.

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  • Semdark

    very good article.
    It is always good to point out what ‘real’ war feels like.
    It’s not fun at all.
    But that’s why videogames are called ‘games’. They make you feel like you’re a warrior, a fighter, but without the experience of pain, or the causing of traumas.
    If all games would represent real life, games would not be so funny anymore.
    Imagine playing a game of Fifa for 90 minutes, with just eight shots on goal, maybe you score one. That would be boring.
    Imagine playing a snowboard game, but you first have to learn to stand on a board on a baby slope for two weeks. And you have to sit in the ski lift for 10 minutes after a 2 minute run.

    These are all games to make you feel you can be a hero, soldier, Messi or dragonslayer for a few hours. But every normal person understands this isn’t reality.

    That said, I think it is a good idea to show people more about the negative effects of war.
    In an ideal world we only play those war-games on console or pc, and not in Iraq or Afghanistan.

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  • SkepticalJay

    Combat vet of OIF between 2005-2006. This article, depicting my friends as socipaths is complete and utter bullshit. Did I know a few guys like the dude who wrote this piece? Sure. But they were a small minority.

    The argument that says “this generation of vets is not like our forefather’s from WW2, they know what they’re getting into and, therefore, their decision to volunteer reflects a psychological disorder” is the most fallacious argument I’ve seen in a while and it is one of the claims made by this article.

    Nobody knows what they’re getting into when they sign up and people have numerous and varied reasons for signing up — not least of which are economic reasons. Regardless, most people don’t sign up because they want to kill people indiscriminately Furthermore, I don’t know a single soldier who was knowingly involved in a civilian’s death who said “no big deal” or who actually forgot about it. These type of situations tend to haunt people their entire lives — that’s the truth. It’s the type of thing that guys don’t talk about until they’ve downed six or seven shots.

    I completely resent the fabrications of this story and implore any civilian reading this to temper your assumptions with additional accounts before you buy into its premises. And if this guy is actually a former military service member, which I’m beginning to doubt, he does not speak for the majority of infantry or combat vets.

    • http://www.mediumdifficulty.com/ Karl Parakenings

      Thank you for presenting your objections politely and reasonably.

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  • Matt Berens

    I think this is a great article, and I think that war will always exist when there are two people in positions of leadership that just don’t agree on EVERYTHING.

    War is about old men arguing and young men dying.

    Thanks for keeping our country safe, while our children pretend they’re doing the same with an X Box controller and pizza bites.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Waffles-Skittles-Scott/100001444053027 Waffles Skittles Scott

    FAIL. NUFF SAID.

  • http://twitter.com/gamograffiti Paul

    I agree with this criticism when applied to a certain set of particularly popular games. But there are games that show war from angles other than that of the rough-and-ready hero, you’ve just got to cast the net a bit wider than Call of Duty and Modern Warfare. Take a look, for example, at First Person Victim. Also, whatever the medium, you don’t have to simulate something in all its aspects to say something true about it.

  • ethangach

    This is an exceptional article and a brutally honest one. I tried to tackle a similar subject, but can’t say that I was able to accomplish the task with the same forceful clarity and genuine experience with which you did.

    I’m curious on your thoughts about how the unrealistic portrayals of war in video games relate to the disconnect between the few that serve and the many that don’t.

    http://nightmaremode.net/2012/03/while-some-fight-real-wars-the-rest-of-us-play-fake-ones-17032/

    • http://www.facebook.com/sean.rehurek Sean Rehurek

      I read your article, it was much better than this one quite frankly.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_DFJSE442ETTMDBVPNWHAJO4PDE M.

    I’m active duty, in the Army, in a combat branch, and I’m a veteran of Iraq. This article smells like complete BS. First line shows the lie. The Army is built upon a concept of Military Education. It’s stamped all over your personnel file, and drilled into every aspect of your career. No one who made it past Boot Camp would every say “I have no education past the age of 16″. What about Boot Camp? What about AIT? What about the entire NCOES? You can’t go more than a few years without being sent off to some school or another.

    But more importantly, I never met anyone who had such a stereotyped “Hollywood” skewed outlook. At least, no one who had any real military or combat experience. Real soldiers are more like the guy in my unit who shot a truck driver who was stabbing his LT with a knife. I can’t imagine a more justified shooting, but the guy took it real hard that he had to kill the dude. Those are real soldiers, not this BS. I’m guessing the closest W has come to combat is his game controller.

    • http://space4commerce.blogspot.com Brian Dunbar

      The guy is (supposedly) a Brit. I myself am not familiar with their lingo but … for a lot of guys who are vets it doesn’t pass the smell test.

      The screed reminds me a lot of Swofford’s ‘Jarhead’ which had a whole lof the same urban-lore-as-fact anecdotes.

      I’d love to know what a bonafide British Army vet thinks about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1544679243 Vance Fast

    This article is so true it’s crazy. 12b many deployments both theaters!

  • Dishonored

    Heroes as defined by the average person do not exist, but to say that individuals who would knowingly make the decision, not risk, to die is bullshit. Anyone who has actually seen prolonged, consistent, extreme combat knows of at least one person who would come close to the modern popular definition of the word. Unfortunately, they are rare even among the most “elite” units, a term I despise, and they usually wind up dead or are working hard on getting there. They are also never celebrated for who they are as a person in the “real world” and tend to be outcasts due to just how different they are from everyone else. The majority of soldiers do not fight and are not fighters. Among those who are expected to, and do, fight most are at least cowards and at best warriors without honor. It is a sad fact that most armies are just glorified militias who train more often.

  • TedHeistman

    He talks like a Brit. American soldiers say “ass” not “bum” I was in the infantry and everyone said “ass” I never once heard anyone say “get your bum over here Private!”

    There probably are a lot more sociopaths in an all volunteer army than in a draft one though. So that parts plausible. But I have to say its not anywhere neart 80% but I was in during a relatively peaceful time, so probably people who sign up during war time might have a higher probability for being a sociopath.

    • Jesus

      actually a brit would probably just say arse, i haven’t heard anyone who isn’t under 10 or speaking to someone under 14 say bum here in britain

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  • Christoph Schulzke

    @ TedHeistman
    I’m sorry, you think that British people don’t say ass?

  • daisy howl

    The only thing this article enlightened anyone about re: video games is that they aren’t accurate…really you needed to be told that?
    What I find much more disturbing is W’s assertion that the majority of the military are like him and ENJOY what they are doing…!!! Not recognize it as a necessary evil; or even as an every man for himself situation – but quite simply they don’t care one wit about the “FNG” who was just killed and they aren’t signing up for “anything else other than war for war’s sake.”
    I’m sorry, I find that beyond disgusting; and I fully understand why W felt the need for anonymity…shame perhaps?? (hell one would hope!)

  • Hubert Lamontagne

    I work at a company where we do some games in that style. Obviously, our source material is more or less:
    – Other games about army dudes
    – Google image search
    TBH realism is very low on our list of “what’s important” – much below “does it look good” and “does it run fast”. Realism is just a way of making it look good.

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  • JaiGuru

    Oh look! Another whiney post vietnam soldier who was not ripped from the warmth of his family by some grizzly lottery to fight and die in a war he may or may not have been in favor of has an opinion about the military! How novel.

    “Herp a derp, teh war gamez is naught accuraaaaate”. No shit? It’s ENTERTAINMENT. That is correct, soldier boy: We in the US, and most of the western world, enjoy spectators’ hobbies that tend towards violence and high drama. War is a natural mix of these things and, when remixed by someone who understands human nature, becomes exaggerated in cartoonish ways for mass consumption.

    You CHOSE to be a soldier. You CHOSE to fight and potentially die. It’s your job. They don’t take high school drop outs anymore so you have no right to say you didn’t know. You were required to pass American History 101 as part of your high school diploma or GED. You knew the US does nothing BUT war. We’ve had 20 major wars in our 200+ year history. War is our PRIMARY EXPORT. If you were not drafted, we owe you no lip service.

  • Fyrehed

    Indeed. Touting rapists and murderers as heroes is evidence of a dangerously ignorant and callous psyche, not of honor or dignity.

  • favorthebold

    Here’s the thing that gives this article the ring of truth to me, though I fully admit I’ve never seen combat, but hear me out: I work for a large corporation, and when I first got to this company I had big ideas about helping people (because my job was customer facing, so why take that job if you don’t want to help people?) and for a long time I still felt that helping people was the most important thing. But the minute I started working, every rule created by management was constructed in a way that said that my company does not want to help people at all, and no matter how much management mouthed the chants about helping, everything they did was contrary to that. At first this hurt, and I fought against these rules with everything I had. After five years with this company, though, I have been deaded to the sense that I’m not being kind to our customers. The rule is X, I get paid by doing X, and it doesn’t matter how upset the customers are, I’m going to bulldoze through to get X done and collect my paycheck. I barely even care at all anymore, except I do feel bad for women crying in my ear because they have to wait a month for service; but even then my response to them is that I’m just the messenger and have no control over it. And I’ll take it a step further: This job is designed, in the long term, to reward people who become deaded to feelings of empathy, and to oust those people who can’t do that. It’s not just that I happened to become that way due to weakness of spirit, it’s the intended outcome of the rules as they were created. So knowing how much I have become deaded to the unkindness my company is using me to perpetrate, how could I not believe that someone who’s jobs is brutality won’t get used to brutality, to the point that it becomes background radiation instead of something that’s difficult to do? It just becomes a part of your life. It’s not like you’re going around enjoying how much you’re hurting people; it’s just that it’s one more part of your job.

  • http://www.facebook.com/crtr.lathrop Carter Lathrop

    While I understand that there is no way for any normal civilian to know what its like to be in actual war, and all the horrible instances and situations that frontline soldiers undergo everyday, Its unfair to hate on video games and the media for portraying war how they wish. I dont really understand your point to this article, you complain that real war is not depicted in video games or the media… Well duh, what parents are going to let their kids play games where you can kill little kids and moms? No one is going to buy a game where you have to crawl around the grass for 2 hours… Videogames are just generalizations and fantasies of what we civilians expect it to be, and what we hope to get out of a simulated experience. No one wants the baggage, even if it is virtual, of killing a mom and her boy, that shit wouldn’t sell.

    Im sorry, to all soldiers really, that you are poorly represented in the media but you have to realize that its nobody’s fault and you shouldn’t take out your anger from your “sociopathic” nature on everyday people. The sad fact, and you should know this by know if you are back from duty, is that no one will ever understand you and what you’ve been through. But that doesn’t give you the right to hate on kids or the video games that they play. The video game industry is a business, it sells a simulation, a story, a state of mind. Just like books have done for centuries. You hating on these games is like you hating on every war novel that didn’t correctly portray your actual experience in the war… Chill out with your anger, and just tell your story, ours ears are open, and so are our eyes. This is the internet, its safe, and for the most part, judgment free… there doesn’t always have to be an “enemy” so stop looking for one and chillax. Tell your story how it is but there is no need to victimize us “kids”.

    So yes, videogames dont portray your exact experience of war, but would you really want them too? It sounded like you just jumped on the “lets hate on video games because they do not reflect an accurate sense of reality”… well you dont see fat and nerdy real life roleplaying kids hating on skyrim cuz its not the “real world” do you. We’ve all got problems but there are more constructive ways to express them without victimizing people. Think about it

  • Kostantine

    Jesus christ, dude, this is some great stuff! Keep at it!

  • Guest

    I find it amazing to think about how different the whole perspective on military shooters would be like in general if more people knew of games like ArmA II. “Simulators” such as ArmA simply give the average player an entirely different view on war.

  • Felipe Fritsch

    There was a very interesting article I read some time ago, “Hope on the battlefield”, about, basicly, the whole PTSD stuff. Google it, it’s really nice.

  • http://twitter.com/IcelandicHossi Hossi Blumengaarten

    I am a 68W stationed in a medical detachment, I have been deployed to Afghanistan and I was the new guy since last minute the units own medic killed himself so I replaced him, I did not know anyone in the unit and everyone treated me like an outsider

    I am telling you guys, in war and what I saw you have to look behind you at the people “in your uniform” more than the fucking hajis

    NEVER TRUST ANYONE, NEVER TRUST ANYONE, NEVER TRUST ANYONE, NEVER TRUST ANYONE