Debate Over Military Video Games Continues

Posted at: 11/12/2013 6:21 PM
By: Brianna Long

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- It's a popular commercial being blasted on your TV, but is it sending the right message? It's a big week for a multi-billion dollar industry.

New game systems are debuting along with military-style games Battlefield and Call of Duty. And it's no accident those games hit shelves around Veterans Day.

Ads for Battlefield 4 were played on Monday, which was also Veterans Day, something that's not surprising to Nina Huntemann. She's a college professor, and author of the book "Joystick Soldiers: The Politics of Play in Military Video Games."

"The release of a new military-style shooter like call of duty or battlefield, has become an annual veterans day event. These gamers are almost always released on or around veterans day and part of that is because of the holiday season," said Nina.

She says these games don't accurately depict war, and could give people the wrong impression of what soldiers go through.

"It's very much focused on how we fight. Not so much why, or what consequences," said Nina.

I showed the Battlefield 4 ad to Jon Phelps, an Iraq War veteran. He says it doesn't exactly show war the way he saw it.

"I think it's a lot less exciting than the ads would show. They used to always tell us when we first got in, on our first deployment that war is 95 percent boredom and only 5 percent excitement," said Jon.

He says there's nothing wrong with these kinds of games. He's not offended by them, and even his military buddies play them.

"For guys that I was in with, they use it as another way to stay in touch, just keep that camaraderie going after they've gotten out," said Jon.

But for Nina, she says she's worried about the way veterans could be treated based on video games.

"If your main experience of war is through video games, then you're just not gonna understand what they've been through and unfortunately that could result in not supporting out veterans in the way they ought to be," said Nina.

Jon says that while the games may not accurately depict war itself, a lot of the equipment shown is pretty dead on.

But Nina says that just makes people focus on the technology of war, and not the consequences.