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Getting from Modern War to the Future of Video Games
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Getting from Modern War to the Future of Video Games

August 14, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 4 of 7 Next

I've watched Zero Dark Thirty, and I enjoyed the movie. Some scenes are hard to watch, and some scenes you're just going, "Holy shit." And just to know that this is happening in real life, and it's probably even worse in real life, and it's making you reflect, and I think it's great. And if anything, Zero Dark Thirty did that to me -- it's made me reflect even more on the price of freedom, and on the price of all these things that we enjoy on a daily basis. 

At the same time, when you're interacting, it's completely different. I think -- just for emphasis -- at one point we also evolved as a society or something, because, a lot of our games are about killing people. And we're fine with killing people, but we're not fine with interrogating people and maybe letting them live. I don't know. Maybe that's the subject of another discussion, but what does that mean about us as a society? I don't know. But it's kind of interesting. I mean, I like to let my brain think about these things. 

We don't blink an eye when we make a game that allows you to kill a thousand people, but interrogations are a bit sensitive. Is that okay? Is that not okay? I mean, you can interrogate a dude and then you bring him back to his family. Is that better than killing him? I don't know. Maybe. What do you think? 

Well -- 

RD: If I could just jump in. Getting back to your original question about these games being taken lightly, I can say as someone who's been working on the Tom Clancy franchise for 13 years that we have always taken the subject material very seriously. We have always felt we had a responsibility to get this stuff right, we have a responsibility to the people who are actually out in the field who have come and talked to us, who serve us as our advisors, who come to our studios to talk to us about this stuff, to make sure that we are representing what they're doing accurately, to make sure the consequences of what they're doing are portrayed accurately, and that we are not just doing a "Woo-hoo! Shoot people in the face!" over-the-top stuff, because this is serious material. 

We've always had, you might call it a "code of conduct," about the types of stories we try to tell -- to make sure they are intelligent, to make sure they are well-researched, to make sure they are respectful. 

And if you look actually at the storylines for a lot of games that we've done in the Clancy franchise, you'll see that we -- for lack of a better word -- predicted a bunch of stuff that actually happened. Not because we have a crystal ball or anything, but because we were doing that much research, and looking at things that were likely to happen, possibilities all over the world that we thought would make believable stories. And then lo and behold, reality came along a little while later, and did the exact same thing that we projected. 

And it certainly is possible to tell stories about modern technology, and military combat, and terrorism that are basically thinly disguised superhero stories, but one of the hallmarks of the Clancy brand, one of the things that Ubisoft has always been careful about, is making sure that that's not the sort of story that we want to tell. 

Because this is not a laughing matter. Because there are people who are out there who are fighting, or in the field putting their lives on the line for these sorts of freedoms to make video games. And as such, it behooves us to do our best to make sure that we don't treat work and their sacrifices lightly. 

MB: I completely agree with Richard. Most of my working life was spent on Tom Clancy games, so I think what I could add, or I think I mentioned it a bit, but when you're a creative director or a lead writer on a Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell game, the subject is terrorism, and so at one point you need to decide. You look at the spectrum of things your hero is going to be doing. 

And like Richard said, Sam is not a superhero. He's not going to start teleporting around the globe. He's gonna have to travel, and sometimes you get some cool inspirations, like, for us on Blacklist, we made a Fourth Echelon mobile headquarters inside a plane, and I think it's cool and we've seen some cool references of stuff like that and that's exciting. 

But at certain other points we're like, "Hey, okay, what do we do with asking questions to bad guys, to move our story?" Because you can imagine that when you are telling a Splinter Cell story, talking with people and asking them questions that they don't want to answer is kind of [difficult subject matter.] 

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