Alright, this isn't a topic I have thought about too much and I might not write much since my arm has decided to spazz out on me this week. But it's something I was thinking about, and I want to apologize for the dry spell of writing. Now to get back on track.
I am sure a number of you are aware of the controversy Medal of Honor suffered because they were going to use the Taliban as the opposing force in their game. Many politicians and families of those lost in the U.S. Army's recent conflicts, were offended and outraged by that possibility. They said it's "too soon".
So what the Medal of Honor do? They just removed the name Taliban. But it didn't remove the characteristics. They're still insurgents in the Middle East. You could argue that you're still fighting the Taliban even if they're not called that name.
I can understand the alterier motives for the army officials to some extent, but as a consumer I get screwed over. I think a good number of us do. Sure, I love fighting enemies in space or in fantasy settings or in alternative universes or even in the past. But sometimes you want something more in the modern day. Games like Medal of Honor and Call of Duty try to provide that, but because of public perception and feelings you can't make it too realistic.
I'm an empathetic person. If I were grieving a loss of a family member that served in the army, I wouldn't want to see any of these games. I am not sure if I would be as publicly outraged or scorned as some of the people speaking out in the articles linked above, but that outrage can hurt sales. You don't want your consumer feeling guilty when they go to the local store to buy his or her copy of Modern Warfare.
However, sometimes the better stories are soaked in truth and realism. Video games cannot grow as an artform if public opinion is going to alter what's produced. There are plenty of books, movies, and pieces of art that are offensive. Some of them were created with the full intention of offending, and most of them weren't. To have video games become a full part of art, we have to be willing to make games that will make people angry, even if you might lose a customer or two.
Another random point entirely--I would like more realistic enemies and organizations in general. Call of Duty has a problem with bringing in the russians when they're no longer relevant. To be fair, a good number of companies have a similar issue. But if you want to tell a modern story, make it relavent to current events! America is probably more worried about whatever China is doing than Russia these days. Just a pet peeve.
Anyway, back to the original point-- there are a lot of people who want video games to be considered art. It's an impossibility if we continue to conform the "artform" to the expectations of our culture's morality.