When thinking about the state of the gaming industry, one might feel a little sick. Though we are still infants compared to other major forms of media, video games have always been the teenager that parents just don’t understand. And by parents, I mean mainstream American culture. Though my headline is a tiny bit misleading, I do wonder if someone somewhere was pulling some strings in order to stop David Jaffe from creating the one videogame that could have given our industry the respect it deserves.
Before all developmental resources slowly crept away into other Sony projects, David Jaffe was on track to creating perhaps the most thought provoking game on the market. Titled “Heartland,” the game would take place in a future universe where due to George Bush’s horrible foreign policy choices, America no longer holds the title of world superpower. After years and years of imperialistic conquests into other nations, our actions as a country have caught up with us, and the world begins to act. China, growing tremendously during this time, has decided to invade the United States, making war inside America.
Jaffe was quoted as saying “Heartland was a very liberal response to the Bush administration and the Iraq War,” and that “What I really wanted to do was to create a first-person shooter on the PSP that really tried to evoke emotions beyond the traditional emotions you get in a first-person shooter – you know, adrenaline and competition. I wanted to also evoke fear and sadness.”
In the PSP first person shooter, you would apparently play a National Guard Reserve soldier who was only trying to get back to his family. The game would explore the emotional response that Americans would have when putting them in the same position that their country has put others in for years on end. There would be moral choices the player would have to make, and consequences for certain actions you partake in. Jaffe explained there was actually one scene where the player would be faced with dousing a Chinese American family in gasoline and setting them on fire in their own house. Though that is absolutely horrible, the point isn’t for shock value, but rather to place the player into that setting, even calling on historical situations that took place in a different context elsewhere in the world and putting Americans in that same situation.
Unfortunately like most cases, the game was slated due to the lack of developmental resources. The Saddest part is that if done right, it could really explore the consequences of our actions in a historical fictional world. Like every form of media before it, whether it be novels, movies, or even comic books, video games will one day have that ultimate controversial game that really forces the player into horrifying situations that are, unfortunately, just a reflection of the real world that goes on around us. We are so sheltered from our own actions and steeped in ignorance that we don’t want to see the truth, especially through entertainment. But who says those lines can’t be crossed? They have in the past, and one day, video games will get its trump card.
In the mean time, I will be replaying the Airport level in Modern Warfare 2.