PC Review: This War of Mine (2014)
George E. Elliott
The representation of war in media and cultural products has long been problematic and questionable ethical territory. Video games often remold war as pure entertainment where meaningful commentary is rare and, arguably, the depiction can near full blown pro-war propaganda. An entire generation is growing up playing video games that recreate a mock war spectacle void of any story or reason; young men blow other young men’s brains out simply because they’re on the ‘blue’ or ‘red’ team while calling each other “faggots”. It’s a sad and frustrating phenomena to witness for those who are enthusiastic about the possibilities video games can offer as a medium of social and political commentary and serious storytelling. This War of Mine offers a telling of war like nothing we witness in the popular first-person shooters being pumped out year after year, like the Call of Duty or Battlefield series.
In the past decade the video game industry has been – to use a trade cliché – ‘disrupted’ by a revolution of sorts, where the medium is being reclaimed from the potent forces of commercialisation. The rise of the independent developer, propelled by advances in digital distribution, new platforms, the democratisation of software and the community magic of crowd-funding, means that modest developing teams are no longer bound by the publishing giants and the hard-wired hunt for profit. The genres, game mechanics, and themes that the so-called triple-A companies won’t touch can now be explored in video games. The award-winning This War of Mine is a telling artifact born out of this radically changing environment.