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Exploring The Rhetoric Of War: A Turning Point Interview
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Exploring The Rhetoric Of War: A Turning Point Interview

January 21, 2008 Article Start Page 1 of 4 Next
 

As the video game medium (and its audience) matures, it's only natural that designers would start to leave the realm of pure fantasy and want to explore current real life issues in their games. Haze, Army of Two or the recently released BlackSite: Area 51 have all been socially or politically conscious to various degrees.

Another such title that has received little attention so far is Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty. Developed quietly by a team of veterans from the Medal of Honor and Call of Duty series, the game orchestrates a fictional invasion of America by Nazi Germany -- a powerful and thought-provoking setup.

Recently, Gamasutra had the opportunity to talk to Craig Allen, CEO of Southern California-based studio Spark Unlimited, developer of Turning Point. Throughout the interview, he discussed the grey nature of war and the importance of choices simple citizens have to make, drew parallels to events current and past such as 9/11, and, despite clear hesitations to describe the title as a political game, confessed his hope to make a difference through the video game medium.

My first thought when I saw the poster for the game was, do we need another World War II game? So, do we, really?

Well, we wouldn't really describe it as a World War II game. It's an alternate history game that leads to a conflict in 1953. So in our timeline, World War II never really happened. What we're dealing with is an extrapolation of historical events from a turning point in 1931 and really saying, what if America never got involved in the war in Europe? What if a united Nazi Germany basically attacked America in 1950 at the height of a kind of an American isolationism?

How that plays out may, at first blush, kind of look like a World War II game, but you can see that there is a lot of new evolved weaponry and a lot of contrast between who you play in our world and who you would normally play in a typical World War II game, where you're part of maybe a big military organization entrenched in taking on another military organization. This is really about the underdog and trying to, in kind of a personal way, fight for the ideals you believe in for your country.

Did you try to be historically accurate at all?

The key is extrapolating realistically from the history and trying to find out where things could have gone. There are certainly a lot of World War II games and, over the last few years, it's been a genre that really multiplied, and I do think people are kind of tired of playing the same historical engagement over and over again in these titles.

But what it's done is that it's created a whole audience that is very familiar with history. And if you study history, if you do research, one of the things that you naturally want to do next is play "what if?" games.

What if Germany had attacked England instead of Russia, which was a critically flawed endeavor? What if the decision was tactically to go one way instead of another, where would that have led? That's really the heart of Turning Point on a macro level. How do these big events change the course of the world of History in a realistic way and then on a personal level? How do the decisions you make in life kinda tip, cause change and affect the world you live in?


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