America's Army, the recruitment video game with all the hoorah and none of the real bullets, brings a whole new level of reality to the game. (Yes, I know hoorah is a Marine thing, sue me) According to the NY Times:
America’s Army, the online video game produced by the Army, has followed the lead of sports games like the Madden NFL football series and introduced real characters in the game — in this case, real decorated soldiers. Players who download the newest version of the free game (www.Americasarmy.com) can interact with the “Real Heroes” characters during the training stages of the game, as well as watch videos about those soldiers’ experiences in the real Army.Hmm. Let's let that sink in for a moment.
This gives me a very unpleasant feeling. Are these real soldiers supposed to bring a sense of "reality" to the game? War is not a video game. It is a dirty dirty business. Clearly this game is not intended to help with revealing that truth. Adding these real soldiers is not going to help with that. In fact, it has the opposite effect. By including these real soldiers, you're immortalizing them into pixels and pixels never die.
I must sincerely beg for forgiveness for saying this, I don't wish anyone any harm, but what if... What if one of those real soldiers is KIA? War is death's playground. Pixels never die, real soldiers do. Will the US Army acknowledge a death in the game? Because if they did, wouldn't that clearly break the spell they're trying to cast? If they didn't acknowledge it, wouldn't that be grossly disrespectful of their "heroes"? God, I hope that never happens.
I'm genuinely unnerved by this move. I'm sure someone somewhere had good intentions but it feels so slimey, so disrespectful and so damn wrong that I can't put my head around it. Maybe someone can tell me why this isn't so bad because I need someone to tell me that right now.