As someone with over two decades
of experience with these kinds of situations, do you find that you're
conflicted in any way, about making it look cool?
WM: No. No, because, you know, like
I said: this is a business. And we're in the business of selling, selling
a game to the consumer. It's all about entertainment. If we wanted to
make the animated videos or training videos, we'd make training videos
that would be restricted to only certain populations. But entertainment
is the name of the game; if you're not entertained when you're playing
the game, then you're obviously not going to play it. So there are levels,
where you've got to make it as realistic as possible, then you've got
to look for ways to make it as entertaining as possible, as well.
So the volume of fire that's going to come down on top of these guys in the middle of these battles is possibly unrealistic. The fact that they're able to take as many rounds as they're able to take is possibly unrealistic. But realistically, if you had that much volume of fire coming, your guy would die, and the game would be over. It'd be no fun anymore. So, you've got to be able to -- these guys are able to carry around two, three big giant weapons on 'em, they're very heavy -- well, maybe. Depends on how big you are, but that's a lot of weight. A fully kitted-out guy wearing with all the weight that you're looking at, with all that body armor? He's wearing a couple hundred pounds worth of gear. So you know, you're not going to be very maneuverable. So.
But I mean, there's a certain degree
to which -- do you think it's a good idea to make fighting and battles
look cool to average kids that don't really know squat?
WM: Well, the bottom line is that it is a video game. So. We could sit here and argue about whether or not the game's too violent, or we can sit here and say: "Well then don't let 'em play the game." And if he doesn't understand the difference between a video game and real life, then it's your opportunity to explain it to him. If you're not doing that, we go into a whole sociological discussion on that one. If you've got the money to buy the game, then certainly you've got the opportunity to sit out and say: "Kids, this is a video game. This isn't real." And they should be smart enough to understand it. If they're not, then maybe you shouldn't buy the game in the first place.
Definitely. I mean this is undoubtedly an M rated game. I don't know if it's actually
been through the ratings board, and that would be restricted
to 18 or older, at least by intent. It's not necessarily "kids"
kids -- when I say "kids" I mean kids who might be of age
to want to join the Army right now. Eighteen or 20 year-olds.
WM: The thing about, the thing about Army of Two is: It allows, it allows you to learn a little bit about the PMC world. Obviously, a lot of it's going to be some fantasy in there. But it's entertaining; they're going to know the difference between real and unreal.
There's going to be conspiracy in the game, that typically doesn't occur -- you got to remember that giant corporations like this, that are handed a lot of money, you know, people always think there's some sort of conspiracy around 'em, but that's not necessarily true. Most of these companies are reporting to the SEC. They're having to have a liability that nobody else has, because they've got to put their own men in harm's way, so they've got all these different checks and balances in these corporation that even the military doesn't have. Even our own government doesn't have.
I think the irony of it is, is that the tax revenues from all these giant companies is what pays for the military in the first place. So without 'em, where would we be? So, the fact that we're able to supplement, in the private military world, we're able to supplement and help our own government. So that the fight stays overseas and doesn't come home. I think that's the most important thing here. And certain companies step up to the plate, and batter-up. There's about a handful of them that'll do that right now.
You've expressed some words of support
for Blackwater, and we spoke to Chris Ferriera, and his attitude toward
Blackwater was, basically -- I think it could be summed up by the quote
"It's fucked up." Did you ever butt heads with the creative
staff behind the game, about the direction to take these things, or
do you stay out of that and just offer your expertise?
WM: Yeah, I offer my expertise. I'm
not political. People need to understand that the real world of private
military contracting is exactly that: it's private. What you hear on
the news, what you see sensationalized in the media, is not... I mean,
we could take any subject. Right now it's private military contracting;
contractors in Iraq. It's not their fault they're in Iraq. They're there
because they have to be there, and because they can make money doing
that. We can take any issue, any social issue -- we could talk about
schools, we could talk about housing, we could talk about taxes, and
the media's going to sensationalize that too. That's just what they
do. And everybody knows it, so why do we complain about it?
But unless you really know; unless you've been there, and been out there in the field, and been under fire? I mean, there's instances -- and I'll use Blackwater as an example: There's instances where they've been under constant threat of fire, and they were able to sustain themselves, and not get anybody killed, based on their own selves. The military wouldn't even come in and help 'em. But they had helos flying in, resupplying them on rooftops, or these guys would've been dying. These guys are... that happens, it's not the first time it's happened, you know?
But when it comes to the development of a game do these discussions ever happen?
WM: I stay out of it. Yeah, I mean,
if they do, it doesn't have anything to do with the game at all. I mean,
they have a focused objective: "This is the information that we
want from you, to make the game." And I provide that information.
Would you ever step off of a project because it conflicted with your personal or political beliefs?
WM: Ah, well, it hasn't happened yet. Because none of the companies that I've worked for up to this point have ever been that unprofessional. And we've only dealt in completely professional ways. I believe that EA has probably been one of the most professional companies I've ever worked for. They want this game to look good. They want to represent the game -- as well as, they're doing a lot of justice for PMCs by explaining that this is something that is possibly going on out there, and they just made a fun game out of it.
It doesn't represent exactly -- it
doesn't make any company out there less professional, just because they
decided to make a game about PMCs. And just because they've added the
element of conspiracy theory to it, doesn't mean that that's what's
going on. I mean, do you believe every movie you watch?
Certainly not. But art can paint a realistic impression of things. And I'm not speaking either to Army of Two or what real-world situations are -- obviously, I don't necessarily have a grip on those. But you know, that's what it's for. Narrative.
WM: So, it's a great game, and that's pretty much all I got.
The last question I basically have is: Have you seen any of the other games that are coming out that have PMC content, such as Haze, or Metal Gear Solid 4?
WM: Metal Gear Solid 4? No, I haven't seen that one yet. Although I have played all the other games. And I like the game a lot. It does have a bigger element of fantasy in it.
Is that the Metal Gear series you're talking of?
WM: Yeah. Yeah, it's got a lot of...
there's a lot of things in it that would never happen.
[That concludes Gamasutra's conversation
with Woodie Mister. What follows is Gamasutra's interview with producer