Why You Can’t Shoot Civilians In Battlefield 3

By Alec Meer on August 30th, 2011 at 5:34 pm.

Spotter's guide - visible gun = not a civilian.

I’ve just come back from a fascinating and noisy day at EA DICE, seeing and playing Battlefield 3 with the winners of our recent competition. I have quite a few BF3-related posts due over the next couple of days as a result, but let’s start off with the game’s executive producer Patrick Bach talking about why he believes it can be tricky for games to present more authentic situations, such as a Battlefield level containing innocent, unarmed civilians. He reckons that, given the option, many gamers can’t resist an opportunity to be bad – and, he fears, game-makers would be the ones blamed for their players’ naughtier choices. For instance, shooting one of said innocent, unarmed civilians…

Responding to victorious RPS reader/compo entrant Joe O’Connor’s question as to whether Battlefield 3’s story would delve into the moral arguments around war, Bach argued that “Games are where movies were in the 30s or 40s, when it went from a technical spectacle to ‘hey, wait a minute we can actually use this to tell something, be political’ and things like that. I think we are on the verge of seeing things like that.”

However, potentially holding that back is that “if you put the player in front of a choice where they can do good things or bad things, they will do bad things, go dark side – because people think it’s cool to be naughty, they won’t be caught…

“In a game where it’s more authentic, when you have a gun in your hand and a child in front of you what would happen? Well the player would probably shoot that child.”

This is something Bach wants to avoid, because while the choice to do that ‘bad’ thing would have been the player’s, “We would be the ones to be blamed. We have to build our experiences so we don’t put the player in experiences where they can do bad things.” While not explicitly mentioned, the spectre of Modern Warfare 2 and its notorious ‘No Russian’ level seemed to this correspondent to loom large here.

So, Bach admitted that there was a degree of self-censoring necessary to limit potentially disagreeable player behaviour. “Me personally, I’m trying to stay away from civilians in games like BF because I think people will do bad. I don’t want to see videos on the internet where people shoot civilians. That’s something I will sanitise by removing that feature from the game.”

Importantly, “That doesn’t mean that I don’t want people to feel that war is not good,… We are trying to do something that is more mature. Mature not being gore –some people confuse the two. That’s childish actually, to want more blood.”

Bach hinted that something in Battlefield 3’s singleplayer narrative would involve a more thoughtful look at the nature of war, but wouldn’t be drawn on any specifics as yet.

“I think games need to grow up a bit,” he felt, but was sure that “They will grow with gamers. There will always be games for children – I want games for grown-ups, games I can play. As long as I’m in the business I will make games that I want to play.”

More comments from Bach tomorrow, plus a preview or two of the stuff I’ve played and seen here.

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255 Comments »

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  1. Khemm says:

    Lame political correctness. It’s a game, people have brains and can tell the difference between real life and a digital one.

    We could kill babes in Duke 3D, a game revolving around “saving our chicks”. A small army of monsters would then teleport to our location. That was smart – you got punished, but in a way that made sense from the gameplay perspective.

    • bateleur says:

      I think his point is that the press will blame the developer. It’s not political correctness so much as self defence!

      Do you think he’s wrong in his predictions?

    • Balobam says:

      You utter fool. Violence is fine in games as long as it isn’t directed at people who don’t deserve it.

      Otherwise there’d be games like GTA, Prototype, Assassins Creed, Hitman, Deus Ex etc existing, and we do NOT want that! All those games have created serial killers and show no sign of stopping. It only makes sense to remove all unwarranted violence from games, so it becomes move to X and shoot Y until it ends.

    • Bilbo says:

      Yeah, he literally isn’t saying that he thinks if they let you shoot kids in the game it’ll inspire a load of child murders. He’s just saying he can’t be bothered to deal with the backlash when the media find out it’s possible to kill kids in his game.

      Which is his problem, not theirs or ours. If he can’t be arsed to articulate a defense of his art form he’s not an artist, and BF3 definitely isn’t art. Wow that came out pompous

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      Let’s get something straight. Battlefield 3 is the equivalent of the summer blockbuster. You don’t go to the action-filled blockbuster in theaters expecting deep character motivation and thought-provoking themes. You go to the summer blockbuster to see shit blow up and witness some amazing special effects. You sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

      In addition to that, it’s not PC, it’s business. If they can’t sell more units by offering the opportunity to shoot random civilians, why include it?

    • Bilbo says:

      I think by saying “he isn’t an artist and it definitely isn’t art” I pretty much made that point myself, so I’m not sure who you’re arguing with, phallus

    • battles_atlas says:

      @ Pathetic Phallacy

      Thats a bullshit argument, the kind addressed nicely in this Kermode piece I read just t’other day

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/28/mark-kermode-multiplex-blockbuster?INTCMP=SRCH

      Summary: big does not have to be retarded

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      Vandelay says:

      What is exactly wrong with a Summer blockbuster having smarts? The best ones have a mixture of action, explosions, wit, thought provoking themes, deep characters and awe inspiring special effects. The shit ones are made by Michael Bay.

      Edit: Okay, someone beat me to it and linked to Mark Kermode. That should cover it.

    • Felixader says:

      The Problem here is what MW2 did.
      They created a senseless scene with an more than stupid context in wich you shot civilians as an US Agent that was undercover inside of a terrorist group.
      Then someone of their PR departement shot that infamous video were someone played the Level while rejoicing about it and uüloaded it to YouTube to create controversy.

      THIS took any Chance for the next few years to have any reasonable debate about that matter with amy member of the media or people that have not the knowledge based on everyday use and the love we have for the medium.
      At the moment such a possibillity, to kill children in a war game, comes up or is discovered, you can be ashured that the senseless bullshit that was created inside of MW2 will be brougth up and running.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Given the shitstorm that arises from violent games, and the media vilifying developers, and governments trying to push through legislation regarding violent games then NO, it’s not political correctness. They’re being incredibly smart.

      You just KNOW CNN, Fox etc… would latch onto this “Civilian killing simulator” if they didn’t make this design decision. I applaud the move. You need to spend five minutes with my mother-in-law who says the US military uses videogames to desensitize soldiers to killing etc… THAT is the mindset developers are up against, and to soften the game 1% and deflect 50% of potential criticism is a very smart move.

      And citing Duke, one of the most reprehensibly grotesque, misogynistic games ever made, as defence… You may as well have just invoked Godwins law and mentioned the nazis. It would have been as impressive.

      I also applaud the distinction between adult and gore. The gore in games is getting ridiculous. I find increasingly it’s detracting from my enjoyment of games and when given the option I now turn it off. Games strive for realism, then when you shoot someone a mount Vesuvius of gore goes up. If it’s a Japanese horror film… Fair play. When it’s a supposed realistic depiction of combat on the other hand.

      It’s about time games started focusing on the AVERAGE gamer, who is a 35 year old male if I recall.

      The word “childish” sums up most developers perfectly.

    • Bilbo says:

      @Bonedwarf: You applaud the decision to not show civilian casualties in a wargame. Interesting, because I think it’s deplorable. If Battlefield 3 had civilians to get caught in the crossfire, or blown to bits as they run from falling shells and grenades, or even a column of civilian vehicles desperately fleeing an area before the attacking players arrive to lay waste to it, we’d actually be treating the subject like adults. Players might reflect on the grim human cost of their warring. Sure, some kids might make a game of killing civvies for a while, but if it was the norm to include civilians and not the exception, or if deliberately killing non-combatants came with appropriate ingame punishment such as loss of experience points or server kicks or whatever, the novelty would soon wear off and they’d get back to ranking up and unlocking sweet gear. Besides, for every player that had a chuckle over being a psychopath for a few, there’d be a player who took it seriously, avoided collateral damage, and would perhaps even become shocked when it occurred or frustrated at how difficult it is to avoid. The former is a bit embarassing, and there is some truth to the idea that players behave like psychopaths in a game for the novelty of it, it’s undeniable. But the latter sounds like very mature handling of a serious subject and beneficial from every standpoint I can think of – gameplay, education, morality, there are others I’m sure.

      By avoiding the controversy, they’re just sanitising war to make it more palatable, fun, forgettable, and ultimately profitable and as such it’s pretty fucking disgusting in my opinion.

      I couldn’t disagree with you more, in other words.

    • Thants says:

      Games strive for realism, then when you shoot someone a mount Vesuvius of gore goes up. If it’s a Japanese horror film… Fair play. When it’s a supposed realistic depiction of combat on the other hand.

      Which games that strive for realism are super gory, exactly? Also, letting Fox news dictate what content is ok to put in a game is a terrible idea.

    • Maktaka says:

      Bilbo, how is any of that even remotely fun? This is a GAME, not some highbrow concept art performance. Let me say that again: this is a game, a piece of entertainment. Movies can be highbrow and deep with weighty philosophical meaning, but that doesn’t mean they all are existential examinations of humanity or they are all better for including it. BF3 is focusing on being a multiplayer modern combat FPS. What part of having random civilians run in front of the player’s crosshairs even remotely serves that purpose?

      You want to go meditate on the consequences of warfare? Fine, but do it somewhere else. The rest of us will be over here having fun, and don’t you dare try to sneer at us for doing so.

    • Bilbo says:

      @Thants Oh my god, that too. I forgot to even address that. Very little logic in that argument.

      @Maktaka Yeah yeah, I’m sneering and you aren’t, etc. Obviously realism isn’t fun, and putting words in peoples’ mouths while claiming to hold the mandate of the group is absolutely fine, if you think games should be judged on meaning and artistic merit the way all other media is you’re a self-righteous fucking hippie and we should all just be playing pac-man all the time because that was fun and e-sports e-sports yeah, yeah, yeah

      *edit* also, good god, “[what about having civilians] even remotely serves the purpose [of being a modern combat fps]”? Do you hear how fucking stupid that sentence is? Modern combat is *typified* by loss of civilian life. Adding civilians would make it authentic and realistic. Simple stuff, really.

      To anyone who read my initial, swearier response to this irritating piece of work please bear in mind that I’m bipolar and I apologise (not to him, though, he can fuck himself for telling me NOT TO DARE VOICING MY OPINION, the prick), cheers

    • Maktaka says:

      Bilbo, feel free to voice your opinion. Just be aware that it’s completely wrong. You still can’t seem to get beyond the idea that all aspects of a thing must be present to use that thing in a game. It doesn’t. Super hero games are not better for applying realistic physics to their flight mechanics. Driving games are not always better for having more realistic vehicle handling. And modern shooters are not better (and I’d say for the purposes of entertainment are never better) for having random civilians getting murdered in them.

      You’re declaring EA and Dice to be cowards and undeserving of working in their craft because they won’t make an entertainment product into a brutally painful depiction of the costs of warfare instead of an entertaining manshoot. That makes you an arrogant jackass, and I’m calling you on it.

    • Bilbo says:

      “You’re declaring EA and Dice to be cowards and undeserving of working in their craft because they won’t make an entertainment product into a brutally painful depiction of the costs of warfare instead of an entertaining manshoot. That makes you an arrogant jackass, and I’m calling you on it.”

      Said nothing of the sort, mate, and I don’t have the mental block of “all aspects of a thing must be present to use that thing in a game” that you accuse me of – interesting tangent that, but I’d rather not indulge it any more than that, as it’s no more valid than if I were to say “the reason why you like arcadey gameplay, resent me for enjoying and respecting realism, and even exhibit the bizarre behaviour of calling arcadey gameplay “fun” and realistic gameplay “not fun”, which is fucking freudian or something, is because you’re a nine-foot-tall tulip living in a bungalow on mars”. But hey, put words in peoples’ mouths and throw random accusations of stupidity at them, always ensures you get a good response. It’s working well here, I definitely respect and admire the shit out of you! <3 :D xxx kisses unicorns etc

      What I DID do is identify very clearly that I think Battlefield 3 is a cynical and irresponsible piece of entertainment and very much not a work of art – pretty much exonerating me of all the accusations you've laid at my feet straight out of the gate, because I acknowledge very clearly that I don't expect it to be held up to the same standards that true art is, although I deplore that state of affairs as I think games could be great art if only people wouldn't keep insisting you MUST BE FUN FUN FIRST AND FOREMOST ALWAYS FUN I GIVE MY LIFE FOR THE FUN – and then identified why I think a more realistic approach could be beneficial. That’s when you jumped down my throat for endangering your fun with my fun, and called me a sneering jackass. And then my fun went soft, as did my patience with this fucking website. And if saying I’m wrong about games being art and sanitized warfare being irresponsible because “games should be fun” is in any way logical then you’re equally as fucking wrong about games being first and foremost about fun because games should be art and sanitized warfare is irresponsible. See how that works? Fucking magic. Keep saying words. Seeya later.

    • Tams80 says:

      While you can argue that for a more mature experience, there would be civilians, of all ages, that could die; you simple cannot ignore what will happen when the media even get a wiff of it. Some media outlets may be reasonable, even call it ‘good’, but the popular ‘trash’ (in my opinion) such as The Sun and Fox News will latch on to it like death and if not decrease sales and cause censorship, then at least provoke a big backlash. It won’t matter if it was meant in good taste, to allow people to experience a little bit of what real war is like; the popularity and the general intelligence of the readers of such outlets will mark it was “horrible, awful, child murder simulator (well sim, simulator is too long a word for The Sun).

      Bach has a point about films being past a point, where it has become acceptable to address controversial issues rather easily; sometimes it is even lauded. Games have not reached this point and though more controversial issues need to be explored by games in order for them to reach this point, I think the hullabaloo over MW2 has left a rather bad mark. Games are interactive though, so may never reach this tipping point.

      On Bach’s point about player’s choosing to do ‘bad things’, he also has a good argument. Though just representing the following studies is one sided, it does give a clear overview, it does support Bach:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
      Stanford prison experiment
      The Experiment

      /academic mode

      Yes, it is Wikipedia. Get over it.

    • lkymky says:

      Lawl the thing to always remember is people are going to mod this game. And killing civilllians will probably be a game mod added at some point.

      Also I happen to be one of the “psychopaths” that love to kill NPCs in video games.
      Let me play my god damn game the way I want to.

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      Lambchops says:

      I think people are getting guilty of the Daily Mail/Fox News trick in getting riled about what something does or does not do without even having experienced it yet.

      OK, the devs have brought up a specific issue so by all means discuss it, but let’s wait until the game is actually released before passing judgement on its portrayal of war shall we?

      (NB: I guess it’s fair to comment to some extent as it’s a multiplayer game so will probably be exactly like the one before but with more people playing and more potential for explosions, but that would make me guilty of some pre judgement myself!)

    • MultiVaC says:

      But when has Fox News outrage ever really hurt a game? Grand Theft Auto, Modern Warfare 2, and Mass Effect (lol) were some of their biggest targets, but none of them seemed to be even remotely damaged by it. Why would you preemptively censor your game because of shouting TV morons who have so far been unable to prevent even the most excessively violent games from making millions and millions of dollars, and probably will just invent something to spew their bile about if they can’t find anything actually in the game that will serve that purpose? I mean, Mass Effect, for fuck’s sake.

    • dragonfliet says:

      What is politically correct about choosing what they want their game to be about? For better or for worse, putting in civilians to get shot changes the tone of the game. It draws into focus the “reality” of war, as far as the human toll of war goes. Now I would love a game that explores that, but at the same time I have to admit that Battlefield doesn’t want to be that game.

      Is Blackhawk Down less motivated by political correctness than Top Gun? Or is Blackhawk Down more motivated by political correctness than The Green Zone? Nope. They’re all just different movies, with different goals.

      On this scale of things, BF3 is more Top Gun than anything else, and while, yeah, that’s a shallow game: so? Let the games that want to deal with those issues deal with them. It doesn’t make the developers more or less brave unless they are stopping themselves from telling the story/create the experience they want to create; and let’s be honest, the BF series has never been about anything other than escapist pyrotechnics.

    • rayne117 says:

      “while rejoicing about it and uüloaded it to YouTube to create controversy.”

      WE GOTS OURSELVES A GERMAN HERE

    • Milky1985 says:

      “Lame political correctness. It’s a game, people have brains and can tell the difference between real life and a digital one. ”

      At no point in this article do i see any mention of “real life”, so I think you are missing hte point here.

      What he is basically saying is that if they have that stuff in , then there will be media outcry because the media decide that if you can do it in game then kids will do it in real life. oddly different from your idea!

      It is still kinda PC, but for different reasons than normal, they want to avoid the media being retarded, but unfortantly we have the daily mail so that will never happen.

    • cptgone says:

      lame auto censorship. lame fear of lame media. boo!

    • looper says:

      FWIW Bilbo, I like your idea of an ultra realistic war game, with civilian casualties and none of the COD macho bullshit. I don’t think the world is ready for it though.
      Gamers probably are, but the media would perceive it (as they always do) as a kids game and the fallout would be terrible.
      When the media has grown up and we want to do things other than shoot every npc we see in the face, the maybe…

    • Bilbo says:

      Well, thanks, Looper. I thought it was a neat idea… but apparently making games smarter makes them less fun, and this is a universal rule that everybody but us knows. :/ strange days.

      I fully agree that the world probably isn’t ready and people would make a fuss about it, but great art pushes the boundaries of taste etc. As for people shooting NPCs being a problem, I don’t think it is at all – and I apologise for using the term “psychopath” earlier, I really only mean it in terms of the game, not real life. You officially aren’t a psychopath just because you shoot civvies in games, whoever that was that I offended up there. Sorry :)

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      I like your idea of an ultra realistic war game, with civilian casualties and none of the COD macho bullshit. I don’t think the world is ready for it though.
      Gamers probably are, but the media would perceive it (as they always do) as a kids game and the fallout would be terrible.
      When the media has grown up and we want to do things other than shoot every npc we see in the face, the maybe…

      We already have one : Arma (1/2/3) About as “realistic” a war game as has ever been made, and had civilians you could murder.

      BF3 however is not that game, nor should it try to be.

    • Alexnader says:

      Quite honestly it was a bit of a cop out by the developers in my opinion. If they made a game where shooting civilians would have genuine consequences, even something as easy and simple to implement as just insta-failing the mission, I fail to see how a rational media could criticise them.(And you shouldn’t base your design decisions on what the irrational media would say, down that road lies madness)

      I’m pretty sure the No Russian thing got that much attention because it basically rammed murder down the player’s throat. Sure you could choose not to join in but you couldn’t intervene. You just had to watch civilians get brutally gunned down.

    • firefek says:

      @Pathetic Phallacy

      This is totally off topic, but I really wonder if you came up with that username yourself. Just asking because I thought of it about 2 months ago, but few of my accounts actually have it as the user name. If you did come up with it yourself, congrats bro, you are probably good at literature and I think great minds think alike :D. If not, then… never mind, I’ll be a bit disappointed.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Quite honestly it was a bit of a cop out by the developers in my opinion. If they made a game where shooting civilians would have genuine consequences, even something as easy and simple to implement as just insta-failing the mission
      Don’t forget he’s talking about BF3 which will be (largely) a competative multiplayer game* where there will be no mission to fail. Having the whole team lose the round because someone shot a civilian would be a massive pain in the arse, and hugely open to griefing.

      Also, I think BF3 [multiplayer] will be (if it’s anything like BF2) far too arcadey for a meaningful civilian death mechanic to work properly. We’re not talking about a slow considered game where you carefully plan you next move and check your targets. We’re talking about a game where you shoot rockets at helicopters whilst jumping off the roof of the building and strap exposives to the front of a dune buggy and drive it into a tank. It’s not a realistic wargame any more than James Bond movies are a realistic portrayal of espionage. It’s basically paintball with vehicles.

      * It’ll have a single player campaign [I believe] where that could work, but for most people it’ll be the multiplayer that will form the bulk of their play time (much like BFBC2)

  2. niasyn says:

    I can not wait for T-Rex rampage mode!

    Though I also remember how awesome the hostage rescue MP mode of Socom 2 was, where you’d lose by killing the hostages, and the smart terrorists would always surround them with pressure mines…

    • whydidyoumakemeregister says:

      This is the first time I’ve seen a fond word spoken of Socom 2 in years. The multiplayer in that game was great for its time.

    • niasyn says:

      Even by today’s standards it’s got a few tricks up it’s sleeves that I haven’t seen done lately, like leaving tracks in sand/snow, plus the aforementioned hostage AI.

    • dsi1 says:

      I remember tracking someone on a desert map in SOCOM 2, mainstream FPSes shoul ha’ve became like SOCOM imo…

  3. photonstorm says:

    Why can’t they just admit they don’t want the “bad” PR / Daily Mail style headlines that is part and parcel of allowing the shooting of civvies in a game like this? Especially if they do then allow the community to mod it.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Er, that’s exactly what he did:
      This is something Bach wants to avoid, because while the choice to do that ‘bad’ thing would have been the player’s, “We would be the ones to be blamed “We would be the ones to be blamed”

    • Tyshalle says:

      Uh, yeah. That’s exactly what he did. He pretty much outright said that it was to avoid bad press.

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      Keymonk says:

      @photonstorm

      Did you actually read the article or just skip over the headline?

    • Bilbo says:

      Fairly obvious that he just skipped to the comments section.

      Commenting sucks, and this kind of thing is why.

    • rayne117 says:

      You cannot mod BF3 at all.

      How did you not know this?

    • sixrocket says:

      In Halo 1 if you turned on your marine allies in the field they would proceed to attack you after 1-3 friendly kills.
      If you were on the pillar of autumn however, at the bridge, a team of invincible Marines led by Sergeant Johnson would appear and attack you after Cortana calls for help.

      My friends used that a sort of Horde mode, who can survive the longest time against the uber marines.

  4. Jockie says:

    I can perhaps understand wanting to avoid the ‘Games make you into a murderer!’ type Daily Fail articles, but this isn’t necessarily the best way to go about it.

    Actions should have consequences – maybe having your squadmates go apeshit at you, berate you then fail to back you up properly on account of you being a murdering shit-bag would teach people that lesson better than outright censorship.

    Even better, they let you get to the last level of the game, then your squadmates decide that with the mission all but complete, the time is right for a bit of the old ‘friendly fire’.

    • Davie says:

      I really like this idea. It punishes the player within the game and in a way that makes perfect sense considering their actions, and increases the realism all around.

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      heretic says:

      What he said.

    • Bedeage says:

      What he said, but more so.

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      ffordesoon says:

      I think that’s good, but realistically, that implementation would be too hard – or so EA would claim.

      What’s so hard about having your squadmates shoot you if you fire on civvies, though? Sure, it’s not that realistic, but it doesn’t contravene the reality of the game in the way simply funneling the player away from civilians potentially does. I mean, there are ways to do that where it doesn’t feel cheap, but those are tough to make interesting, and I don’t know if I trust DICE to be able to do them right.

      No Russian was a good idea poorly executed. If they’d allowed the player to shoot Makarov, even if it was an immediate game over, it still would have felt better than that level did in the end, because you wouldn’t have felt like such a puppet.

    • Calabi says:

      Excellent idea but will never happen because it seems AAA game designers dont know how to make anything that isnt perfectly linear, and that doesnt react to the player. Playing it safe all the time is not going to win these guys a new audience.

      But I have faith the indies will do it.

    • Binary77 says:

      I was just thinking that same thing. I imagined having your teammates give you a right bollocking if you do it once, and maybe even knock you out/hold you down & arrest/shoot you if you start killing civvies en masse – then cut to a game over or court martial screen.

    • Deston says:

      Couldn’t agree more, very well said Jockie.

      This smells like a case of “Legal said it could be dicey (pun intended, hey, it’s RPS after all) so we just chickened out entirely”. No Russian is a rather extreme example for publishers and developers to base their decisions on (going under the very reasonable assumption that the No Russian debacle was a major element behind this decision), there absolutely have to be smarter ways of handling this kind of thing in gaming. I want to see developers trying to find those ways, not just flee from the issue entirely.

      This is a victory for unnecessary censorship I’m afraid .The game industry won’t mature by giving into this sort of illogical and undue pressure and fear, it’ll only prove the critics correct in their belief that games are inherently more negatively influential on society than any other entertainment medium and warrant a special kind of sterner regulation.

      My soapbox aside, I’m still immensely looking forward to BF3. I doubt this will affect my enjoyment of the game in any significant way, it’s just a disappointing move on the broader scale. I understand why they’ve done this from a business perspective, but as a gamer I don’t like it one bit.

    • Dozer says:

      No, it’s not a good idea to have the game ‘punish’ you with special dialogue or more enemies – players would want to shoot the civilians to explore the range of possible reactions from the game. You play a game to see reactions to your actions – if the game reacts to ‘bad’ actions, that is still a reward.

      The most effective way for the game to punish the player for shooting at civilians would be for the game to not react at all. Try to shoot or blow up the civilians and they should just stand there unaffected. Without any ‘bullet striking solid/invulnerable object’ sound. No feedback at all to acknowledge the player has just shot at a civilian.

      Basically the game should say “I’m not even going to dignify that action with a response.”

      Pretty sure this is how you train dogs and small children too, so it probably works for gamers.

    • meatshit says:

      @Davie

      That wouldn’t be realistic at all. In the real world, one of your squadmates would hand you an AK to plant on the body while another cuts off the fingers to make a trophy necklace. No one would say a thing until you piss off one of your squadmates for totally unrelated reasons and he rats you out in revenge.

    • dysphemism says:

      Excellent advice to developers, I think. If they’re worried that games allow a malicious sort of freedom, unhindered by realistic consequences, why not code some realistic consequences? Or at least punish the player in some real, tangible sense by impeding their enjoyment of the game? Imagine the horror of a 13-year old, who thought it was funny to execute a civilian by shooting him in the balls, being told he has to complete reams of virtual paperwork and then finding out he’s either been dishonorably discharged or stripped of rank.

    • noclip says:

      “These games are for kids, they shouldn’t address adult topics!”

      “Why should they only be for kids?”

      “Because they don’t address any serious subjects.”

      Huh?

    • mad monkey says:

      Like the idea! I’d be interested in seeing realistic consequences. No, not your squad-mates going ape shit on you after killing civilians, but persistent effects and feedback. Rumours making the round at base, NPCs shunning the player, ignoring the player, equipment being harder to come by (after all, who wants to supply a child murderer?), squad-mates refusing to go on the next mission with you …

    • Archonsod says:

      I think it was one of the Delta Force games that did it best – shoot one too many civilians (or in some cases any) and you failed the level for crimes against humanity. Not only did it tend to discourage deliberately shooting them, but it also required you to adopt slightly different tactics on those levels where they were present.

    • LordEvilAlien says:

      Delta Force Black Hawk Down had civilians in it.If you moused over them a red x would come up telling you they were not targets. It was often difficult to avoid shooting them as they would often run at you shouting abuse or throwing stones at you. If you shot a civilian your team mates would berate you. If you shot more of them, you would fail the mission. that is the way to put civilians in a warzone in your game

    • Cyampagn says:

      @ffordesoon

      Mate, you can do that on MW2, when shooting Makarov, the russians scream ‘Traitor’ and proceed to kill you, which was some kind of an immediate Game Over as you said.

    • vagabond says:

      Violating the Rules of Engagement will get you put in jail in America’s Army:

  5. Premium User Badge

    drewww says:

    Totally un-compelling argument. It’s true that people have gotten upset about games that enabled all kinds of anti-social behavior in the past (e.g. Postal, Mortal Kombat, etc) but it’s pretty hard to imagine that DICE would face heavy sanctions for this sort of thing. We see this in film and TV all the time and no one claims the filmmakers are at fault.

    Plus it’s a pretty grim view of your agency as a designer that you can’t encourage reasonable in-game behavior. A totally unfettered system where you could kill civilians with impunity would definitely be weird, but it’s easy to see your squad-mates taking it really seriously and restraining you + taking you out of the action if it’s clearly deliberate or happens more than once. Making these kinds of situations possible is a huge narrative boon, too, and I’m really disappointed they’re just setting it aside. I was hoping for more out of DICE, but it seems like the harsh glare of trying to compete with MW means they have to play it pretty conservative.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Erm… You have noticed the continuing attempts at legislating violent video games off the shelves, right? I think that counts as a pretty big “sanction”.

    • Premium User Badge

      drewww says:

      I guess, but I really doubt that a game where killing civilians was functionally like dying (or otherwise played a story-significant role) would get the game banned. MW2 had lots of civilian killing and that didn’t seem to hurt them too much.

    • Consumatopia says:

      Yeah, as people are listing in this thread, lots of other games let you kill civilians, with appropriate consequences, without any hint of media scandal.

      My guess: they just didn’t feel like having civilians in the game. It just wasn’t the kind of game they wanted to make (they didn’t want players to have to worry about instant game overs from shooting the wrong thing), but rather than just admit that they prefer fun to realism, they’d rather pretend they’re being politically correct.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “Erm… You have noticed the continuing attempts at legislating violent video games off the shelves, right? I think that counts as a pretty big “sanction”.”

      What attempts? The only recent one was the one in california , which was nothing to do with getting them off the shelfs, it was more to do with getting the americans to get a legally binding age rating system like the one we have here (the argument was warped to “banning violent video games” because they don’t want to have anything legally binding, they might have to stop selling to 13 year olds then).

    • masiif says:

      I think their position is reasonable. We should also take into account that this game is going to be marketed to minors in certain country. Also we can expect that the Xbox and PS3 version will be enjoyed by many children about the age of 12-14 around the world without their parents minding their responsibilities.
      I don’t want any more censorship and anti violent game laws so I am glad developers of globally mass marketed games take responsible actions.
      If they want to show why war is cruel and inhuman they have plenty of room to do so without enabling players to take part in war crimes interactively (something Modernwarfare 2 failed at).

  6. Premium User Badge

    Anthile says:

    But does it feature relationships?

    • Symitri says:

      As you kill terrorists throughout the campaign, your bond with your gun grows stronger with each level you pass. At each turn, you have the option of tossing away your trusty partner for something younger and thus-far untainted by the savagery of warfare.

      Will you stick with what’s boring but works or risk it for something new that might screw you over any second?

      It’s a chilling metaphor for life that cuts so deep you wonder why Peter Molyneux isn’t in charge of the game.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      You can talk to stop signs.

    • timmyvos says:

      You made a powerful enemy today sign!

    • GenBanks says:

      Yes, with the little robot in the Caspian Border video.

  7. p4warrior says:

    NO SALE

  8. Premium User Badge

    Stijn says:

    “Unacceptable civilian casualties”?

    • Nalano says:

      Surely that’s a redundant term.

    • Balobam says:

      Not really, sometimes it’s entirely justifiable. I mean sometimes, you just gotta kill civilians because they’re there and the enemies are not, and you have a gun that hungers for blood.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      But you can’t kill all of the people, all of the time… because then there’d be no one left to respect you…

    • Balobam says:

      “You can kill some of the people all the time, all of the people some of the time, but you can NOT kill all of the people all of the time” – Mahatma Gandhi

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

  9. NathaI3 says:

    I like this…. kind of. It’s better than MW2’s controversy courting approach.

    I’d say that they underestimate gamers, but actually I agree with him that some people (cough cough Xbox preteens) would shoot everything the moves in the whole game.

    How about a compromise of a ‘friendly fire’ game over a la COD?

    • Premium User Badge

      WombatDeath says:

      I would totally shoot the children if the game allowed me to do so (and I’m 35). No doubt the novelty would wear off quickly but I’d take advantage while it lasted.

      The problem is that Bach is right: any sufficiently high-profile game that allowed the player to shoot children would launch a thousand furious headlines. In his position, assuming that he’s not actively trying to cultivate a don’t-give-a-shit image for his company I would take the same decision. The fault lies with the media’s combination of ignorance and addiction to oversimplification and melodrama, and with the segment of the public that laps it up.

    • Kent says:

      Yeah, but they don’t need to care. Their gamers are still gonna buy the game and care nothing for the articles written in these ignorant newspapers. The arguments have been made before a million times, and the company nor the gamers have to excuse themselves for it.

    • Bonedwarf says:

      Yes, they DO need to care because the government etc… Keep making attempts to legislate their games off the shelves.

      Honestly, why are some people having such a hard time wrapping their heard around this? The ESRB (and while this site has a European focus the fact is North America is the biggest single market) is constantly under pressure by the government as they’d like nothing more than to take over regulation of the industry instead of the current self certification, and having a “civilian murder simulator” is exactly the kind of thing that the parties interested in legislation will latch on to.

      It’s one thing to be shot. It’s another entirely to hand the person the ammunition to do it.

      Come on people, it’s not that hard to understand.

  10. DrGonzo says:

    So they don’t want to give the player choice, and they are scared of the reaction they would get. They probably shouldn’t be making games then imo.

  11. rocketman71 says:

    “In a game where it’s more authentic, when you have a gun in your hand and a child in front of you what would happen? Well the player would probably shoot that child.”

    I already had a really bad opinion of Mr. Bach. That quote makes it even lower.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Which bit of it?

    • westyfield says:

      Why? Most gamers have the urge to ‘break’ the game – to outsmart the developers and find something that they can do which the devs didn’t think was possible or would be attempted. Escaping the game zone and shooting a team-mate/civilian are basic examples of that.
      In some games (Half Life 2) nothing happens; in others (Crysis) you can’t shoot friendlies; in others (Call of Duty) you can but it game-overs. In Halo you can, but then your other friends turn against you. In Deus Ex, you can, and characters react to it with shock and disbelief.
      Suggesting that a gamer would try to ‘game’ the game seems obvious to me, and this sentence makes little sense.

    • alexanderwales says:

      But … it’s true. Heck, nine times out of ten gamers will shoot the child just to see if the game allows it. What gamer spends a whole playthrough of a game without once attempting to push the limits of what the game is trying to do or say? I don’t think he’s saying they’d do this because they’re sadistic: we all know it’s just a game, and shooting little kids essentially means nothing. But that being the case, you’re going to run into problems with parent’s groups and the media, and sales are going to tank. To say that gamers wouldn’t shoot a child in a videogame seems really naive.

    • Aedrill says:

      Yeah, I remember all those ArmA2 playthroughs, when I never actually completed a mission because I was too busy killing civilians! Those were fun times…

      Except it never happened. I’ve never felt the urge to kill civilians, just didn’t. And it’s not because I’m so mature and superior, it’s just the game design that does nothing to encourage you to do such a thing. Firstly, dying in this game looks boring as hell. Fellows just fall down and… that’s it. Secondly, there’s no screaming no begging for life or anything. Civilians start running away but that’s all. If you go for friendly fire you just get the message “check you fire” and if you insist on killing your mates they start shooting at you. It’s hard to imagine anyone posting an YT movie with something like this and even harder someone actually giving a shit about it.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Maybe we should wait for Rocketman to explain his position rather than deciding what it is ourselves and arguing against it. Just a thought.

    • Aedrill says:

      @Ergates_Antius
      Sounds boring to me… Let’s shoot some children instead!

    • liqourish says:

      @Aedrill

      You clearly haven’t played with Hero Squad.

  12. feffrey says:

    Good thing they are not making Saints Row 3

  13. ResonanceCascade says:

    “That’s childish actually, to want more blood.”

    Woah, hey come on now buddy. Everyone should be able to enjoy blood. Especially if there are gibs.

  14. Zwebbie says:

    This leads to the painful conclusion that everything that is present in Battlefield games is considered good by the developers, including being a Nazi in Battlefield 1942.

    • Antlia says:

      Is there actually something bad in being a German soldier during WWII? While nazism is obviously horrible, I don’t see why playing a soldier of Nazi-Germany should be despised. There were far less rapes and looting in areas captured by the nazis than in areas controlled by the Russians, for example.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      But quite it bit more attempted genoside.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      Oh for crying out loud… The German force wasnt just SS! There was much more to it like the regular army Wehrmacht that was full of draftees that didnt really want to go to the war…

    • QualityJeverage says:

      There’s a pretty big difference between being a Nazi and just being a German soldier.

    • Fumarole says:

      Unfortunately for most people Wehrmacht = Nazi. This is of course ridiculous.

    • Eightball says:

      Some Nazis didn’t commit war crimes and some Wehrmacht non-Nazis committed war crimes.

    • Lukasz says:

      if every german is nazi then every soviet union member is stalinist.

      and stalin killed waaay more people than hitler and his pals.

    • Frankie The Patrician[PF] says:

      Eightball: So it was for any army…allies or axis, soooo?
      ——-
      And those same people working with such equations use the metro station “Stalingrad” and arent bothered one bit…oh well… Guess it comes down to the fact that they were not “liberated” by Soviet forces…

    • Zwebbie says:

      The division of the German armies aside, fact remains that Battlefield 1942 was designed to make defending a nation that both developer and player know was genocidal as much fun as possible. Now, I don’t have a problem with that because I can clearly see it’s fake, and I also don’t have a problem with the decision they made for civilians to be unkillable, but I don’t appreciate the developers going all preachy about bad things. Battlefield does contain bad things, you just don’t care up to a certain level. Making war games hardly makes you a paragon of morality.

    • Eightball says:

      Eightball: So it was for any army…allies or axis, soooo?

      Some people are under the impression that if you served in the Wehrmacht you weren’t a Nazi or didn’t kill undermensch in occupied territory. I’m simply pointing it out that it wasn’t so clear cut.

      But I would also argue that it is morally wrong to serve in the German armed forces during the period of Nazi reign. Less so if you are drafted, of course, but if you signed up voluntarily to “defend your country” you are still in the wrong if the country you are defending is committing immoral actions, as Nazi Germany was.

    • MisterT says:

      @Eightball
      But, What if you were a German that didn’t actually KNOW about that genocide, and sign up because allies fire-bombed your house?
      In fact, many Nazi war crimes weren’t known until 44/45 by anyone not committing them, they just knew “undesirables” were sent away, they didn’t know for sure why.

      Say today I am the US (or your country’s) government, were to round up all my illegal immigrants and say I deport them via (a huge) ship, but actually just float out 200 miles into ocean and sink it, killing all aboard. You, not knowing this, volunteer to help me fight in a war after, oh, let’s say brazil, tries launching nuclear strike against the US. Are YOU evil?
      no, you’re not. (well, unless you think any volunteer military service is immoral, but that’s your moral compass, not going to comment there.)

    • Consumatopia says:

      In fact, many Nazi war crimes weren’t known until 44/45 by anyone not committing them, they just knew “undesirables” were sent away, they didn’t know for sure why.

      Even assuming a German didn’t know about the Holocaust, the Holocaust was not the only thing evil about the Nazis. Volunteering to fight for an army launching unprovoked invasions of neighboring countries is evil.

      You, not knowing this, volunteer to help me fight in a war after, oh, let’s say brazil, tries launching nuclear strike against the US. Are YOU evil?

      The only this analogy works is if the U.S. had already launched an invasion and nuclear strike on Brazil, and Brazil’s strike was in retaliation. In which case, yes, you would be evil.

  15. Inglourious Badger says:

    The problem with No Russian was you had NO CHOICE but to shoot civilians, or at best let a group of men shoot a load of unarmed civilians. I don’t think anyone would have issue with a game containing civilians, especially if the game responded to anyone who did choose to shoot them (i.e. getting chewed out by your superior in SP, or losing/missing out on XP in multiplayer).

    Still, I respect how much EA are actively avoiding controvesy with this one. No Taliban playing or civilian shooting can at least stop me getting the “‘Did you buy that horrible game I was reading about in the Daily Mail the other day?” conversation with my mum.

    • qwiggalo says:

      You had the choice to skip it entirely.

    • sigma83 says:

      The problem with No Russian was it was not set up right from a narrative-al perspective.

      In the vid briefing you are told ‘we’ve taken a lot of effort to get you close to this guy makarov cause he has an evil plan. Do what it takes to earn his trust.’

      Do we actually see any of this effort? Any of the previous undercover shenanigans undertaken in the name of planting you, hyper-CIA agent-man, close to the Man with the Evil Plan? Do we see his Evil Plan, or at least are hinted towards how the outcome of the plan being carried would would be _so bad_ that shooting an airport full of civilians is justified in order to not blow cover?

      No. We’re told this in one 2-minute video and expected to swallow it wholesale just before the elevator doors open and the guns start going off.

      This problem was basically MW2 all over. All setpiece, no setup. Think back to MW1’s ‘Shock and Awe’. The fight against Al-Asad had been built up for basically the entire first half of the game. At the very end, the marines are crawling over the capital city, 30,000 men, tanks and helis are ready to end the war.

      Then the nuke goes off, capping off the entire American campaign not with epic victory but a gut punch that people still talk about to this day.

      Put No Russian within the same context and you’d get an entirely different reaction. Culminating a long series of undercover missions working towards a concrete, justifiable goal (justifiable to the narrative of the Player anyway) and IN ORDER to achieve that goal, forcing you through the airport.

      And then Makarov shoots you anyway. That would’ve probably worked.

      COD is a victim of it’s own success, just like the Matrix films. The creators starting throwing money at the product without considering the narrative lessons they should have learned from earlier titles.

    • metalangel says:

      Problem with No Russian was they didn’t give you enough ammunition. I kept running out. *sad face*

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      @Sigma 83 – Yes, that’s true. The problem was the only thing that made logical, narrative sense, even based on the 30 second “This is the who you are” intro , was to gun the terrorists down in the lift. Surely the point to blow cover is when the group you’re trying to infiltrate are about to murder 100s of innocents.

      and @metalangel – You Sicko!

      Anyway, back to DX:HR, where I can murder allll the innocent civilians I like! Especially if they catch me hacking something I shouldn’t and start running around screaming…

  16. skinlo says:

    But what if I want to shoot a child in the head?? :(

  17. brettwhite says:

    I think this was a very interesting read and reasoning behind blocking civilian murder in BF3. I’m very interested in the games as films in the ’30s or ’40s metaphor, and that makes me wonder about how much more intense and involved games will be in the future. Very interesting.

    Also seriously, people are going to complain about not being able to shoot a baby in the face? That is childish.

  18. Ergates_Antius says:

    “f you put the player in front of a choice where they can do good things or bad things, they will do bad things, go dark side – because people think it’s cool to be naughty, they won’t be caught…”

    It’s not about not getting caught – it’s because there aren’t any real consequences. If you murder someone in a game, no one has actually died. You’ve not caused anyone else to experience pain and misery. There will be no funeral with crying loved ones.

    The reason I dont’ kill people in real life isn’t that I’m afraid of being arrested, it’s because killing people is wrong.

    • sinister agent says:

      Exactly. Plus in games, you don’t have to buy a new shirt afterwards.

    • Balobam says:

      You clearly aren’t playing games right. I can see his point, as I personally match my video game self with a 1:2 IRL.

      If I’m being naughty and shoot a teammate, I promptly leave my house and curbstomp a baby. It’s the only fair thing to do really.

    • jonfitt says:

      That part of the argument was the bit that made absolutely no sense.
      – (I want to avoid bad Daily Fail headlines) = Ok, but cowardly.
      – (I want to stop people pretending to shoot the wrong pretend people during a pretend wargame because it’s ‘bad’ and I am crusading to save them morally) = WTFBBQ!?!

      Specifically: “I don’t want to see videos on the internet where people shoot civilians. That’s something I will sanitise by removing that feature from the game.”

    • Mman says:

      The biggest problem with that quote is that it’s wrong; I’ve seen accounts of developers thinking players would go straight for the evil choice and then being surprised when the majority didn’t.

      If you have a game where you give the player a shotgun and lock them in a room with an innocent while providing no other means of interaction beyond shooting then the outcome is a foregone conclusion. If, however, you provide a backstory to the situation and make people actually care then that can change fast. By saying that they’re essentially saying they don’t trust their storytelling skills much, which probably isn’t too far from the truth.

  19. danimalkingdom says:

    “That doesn’t mean that I don’t want people to feel that war is not good,” Argh a triple neg! Took me a while to get my head around that.

    • Fumarole says:

      I feel your pain; once I heard someone say “I ain’t never not gonna do that.” It felt like my head was going to explode.

  20. diamondmx says:

    So some players shoot at the civilians…So what?
    What difference does it make if a bored player takes a shot or two at an irrelevant or annoying NPC.

    They can make shooting at civilians:
    a) impossible
    b) possible but penalised
    c) possible and irrelevant

    And it won’t make more than the tiniest bit of difference to the main game.

    No great loss, either. Just don’t see why they’re trying to make this into some great moral dilemma – publicity perhaps?

    • Fumarole says:

      Some NPCs certainly ask for it.

      “Don’t just stand there, I said come in!”

  21. TsunamiWombat says:

    Ugh, you frinking idiot. If you had kept your goddamn mouth shut about the civlians and not being able to shoot them, no one would have cared. Someone would’ve tried it, said, hm, you can’t do that, then gone on to play the game like a normal person.

    But you had to have your meaningless press point didn’t you? Now the complainers will complain, the haters will hate, people will cry OPPRESSION! FREEDOM OF SPEECH! GROW SOME BALLS!

    People who otherwise wouldn’t have given two shits will now be upset. I hope your happy you blinkered moron.

    OK. WE CAN’T SHOOT CIVVIES. WHO CARES? WHY IS THIS A HEADLINE, BACH?

    • skinlo says:

      What the fuck is your problem?? You are the most angry one here, not the people saying they want to shoot children.

    • Chuck84 says:

      Because now you’re talking about the game, when you weren’t 5 minutes ago. I agree that it’s a non-issue, publicity is publicity. It’s also a handy way to take another shot at CoD.

    • TsunamiWombat says:

      I’m not angry persay so much as irritated. This is a non-controversy. A controversy to be generated by the fact there IS no controversy. Worse then that it countinues to play to the trope that videogames can’t touch certain subjects for some reason. They are out and out acknowleding they don’t want the negative hype, justifying that kind of outcries existance by acknowledging it, and giving it power over them.

      Whats funny is they competely miss the point of WHY gamers do things like shoot children – not out of some perverse blood thirst or even the desire to be ‘naughty’, but to see if they can. To press boundaries. People want to explore. If you allowed such a thing, and had immediate harsh negative consequences for it, people would LOVE it. They would call it an “artistic gamble” and proclaimed that it portrayed the “tragedy and honor of war” all without deviating from the simplistic fps gameplay that helps it sell so well. It would immediatly become a casual shooter fans game and an artsy fart smelling artiste fans game. CoD bro’s and Braidheads could enjoy it equally.

      Instead they just shuffle ackwardly, and in their nasally plaintive little voice, “Oh sir we’d never let someone shoot an innocent person in our games you shouldn’t do that because it promotes violence or indecent behavior”.

      And whats more annoying is not only are they selling themselves and their industry short in an attempt to be a media’s little Starling, tacitly accepting and embracing the image of games as immature entertainment, they’re using it as a means to try and garner hype and take a jab at another franchise. Look how much better we are than they are, look how much more MORAL we are.

    • steviesteveo says:

      Given the general theme of not caring about stuff which isn’t controversial, are we meant to care about the difference between angry and irritated?

  22. Moni says:

    I think I agree, depending on the context that these hypothetical civilians may or may not appear in. The No Russian scene was silly because you were supposed to play a ‘good guy’ but, in my mind, the player character was chuckling to himself as he mowed down hundreds of innocents.

    • Kardasik says:

      I have to disagree with you in one point: the “No Russian” episode clearly shows how inventive people can be at killing each other and finding reasons to do it!

      P.S. Actually…The episode is quite silly from some points of view… Like the one that the word Fly on the adds was translated as Fly (the insect), Activision and Treyarch clearly have some problems with russian translation in all their games. I know it, I’m Russian…

  23. Mutak says:

    If the only options were “reward civ massacres” and “no civ killing” then i would definitely go with the latter, but choosing that when more nuanced options are available is just cowardice. No one is in a better position to help the medium grow than they are.

    Can’t really say i’m surprised though. When given the option to lead or follow, EA follows but then claims it’s “leading from the rear.”

  24. Ultra-Humanite says:

    With an attitude like that, he’d make a great politician. Since he knows that he himself can’t control his murderous lust to kill civilians, he makes the decision to not allow anyone to face the same moral choice.

    • ankh says:

      That sounds like something a really shit politician would do. Maybe my sarcasm detector is failing again, in which case, ignore this comment.

  25. Fox89 says:

    An interesting argument. Whilst the great strength of a game is that it puts power in the hands of a player, sometimes there is power you don’t want the player to have. Especially if you’re trying to make a more mature game, there comes a point where you might want to say “Look, the experience we’ve designed for you is a grim tale of survival and morality in an immoral world. Your character would not shoot civilians. Therefore you won’t either.”

    I know players like freedom and so on, but there’s a time and a place. You can’t perform domestic violence against whoever you romance in Mass Effect, and that’s a good thing. Because even if a player wants to dot hat kind of thing: tough. Shepherd isn’t that kind of character, so deal with it.

    I respect that kind of ‘putting your foot down’ way of design. Freedom is great, but it’s also just one type of experience.

  26. Njordsk says:

    I approve their line of conduct

  27. ABearWithAGun says:

    GOOD LORD WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE INNOCENT VIRTUAL PIXELS?!?!?!

  28. Daniel Klein says:

    I went on a hobo shooting rampage with my silenced pistol in Deus Ex recently. I was playing around with the cops, seeing just what it would take for them to “aggro” on me, as it were. Apparently shooting a hobo with an unsilenced combat rifle and then strolling out onto the street with said rifle was not enough (they pointed their guns past me waiting, I guess, for a SECOND crazed gunmen to emerge), but actually dragging the corpse out onto the street with me WAS enough.

    But here’s my point: what did I do after my hobo killing spree? I reloaded a save game from before. Not because I was afraid that my hobo killing would have later repercussions (just like in real life, killing hobos has no repercussions whatsoever), but because I felt BAD for the conspiracy theory sprouting, unwashed members of society I murdered so pointlessly.

    I felt that my entire play-through was an extended “build a character” session for my own Adam Jensen, and I didn’t want the “merciless hobo killer” checkbox checked. I honestly felt bad, dirty, for what I’d done, and reloaded, and never killed a hobo again. (Except for that one time when I wanted to stun a group of punks with an Icarus drop and a hobo wandered into the AoE. Collateral hobo damage.)

    Also has anyone else noticed how much fun the word “hobo” is?

    • Kardasik says:

      Hurray!!! Finally someone more human and sensitive then a stone! Thank you for this comment, really.

      P.S. The word hobo is fun by the way! :)

    • Premium User Badge

      Hanban says:

      I can never play evil characters. When I try, it just feels off. In Dungeon Keeper, for example, I always felt bad for slapping the imps.

      Hence I much the same tend to just load if I do something bad. But, given that, I still don’t see a point in them allowing you to shoot civilians. In many games before I haven’t been allowed to shoot my squadmates, and they sometimes with their behaviour even ask for it!

      DICE have not, so far as I have seen, said they are championing the cause of shooting civilians for gamers, so I do not see why this is something to get upset over.

  29. slosha says:

    “Games are where movies were in the 30s or 40s.”

    That sounds like crap.

    • IDtenT says:

      Games are still very much crap – as a platform for art.

    • Pathetic Phallacy says:

      It’s a valid comparison. There was only a select few who considered film to be an art during the 30s. The same can be said about video games.

      Instead of attempting to debunk something by simply saying it’s crap, why not offer a reason why it’s crap or even better, provide an alternative metaphor?

    • jonfitt says:

      Games are like a box of chocolates…

      (PS I realise that’s a simile)

  30. Fumarole says:

    Removing the possibility of civilian casualties from an urban combat zone does not a mature game make.

    • Schelome says:

      Maturity defines itself in many ways, a “good” soldier intentionally killing civilians is not really related to that concept.

      Also notice that it is entirely possible that civilian casualties exist, just not from the player.

    • jonfitt says:

      @Schelome If civilians are vulnerable, what if I avoid noob tubing into a market because an enemy combatant has started shooting at me from there. What if my squad-mate dies because of it?

      If civilians are immortal, I guess I can just call down artillery at will and grenade spam the spawn.

      Do you see how making civilians mortal can increase maturity of the genre for those who choose to play maturely?

    • negativedge says:

      I hate to break it to you jon, but the “civilians” in video games are not real people. If you play a multiplayer game and decided to not engage a trapped enemy because there are “civilians” in the “market,” it doesn’t make you “mature,” it makes you a fucking idiot.

    • jonfitt says:

      If you’re going to play soldier man sitting in your bedroom, why not choose to behave like a reasonable person would?

      People seem to be able to play Oblivion, Fallout 3, DXHR without murdering and robbing their way across the land when there is rarely a reason not to other than they don’t think it’s in character. Does that make them fucking idiots?

      Is multiplayer shooter some sort of trigger that means that the only way to have fun is to score the most points? Because I hate to break it to you but flags aren’t really captured. It’s not real.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      If you play a multiplayer game and decided to not engage a trapped enemy because there are “civilians” in the “market,” it doesn’t make you “mature,” it makes you a fucking idiot.

      Unless there are in-game consequences for killing civilians, in which case it’s a gameplay mechanic. It’s exactly the same as the difference between games with and without friendly fire. In games without, you can just spray bullets/rockets/death rays all over the place, shoot at anything that moves – it doesn’t matter because you can only hurt your enemy. In games with FF, you have to be a lot more careful about checking your targets.

      You can’t really say one is better than the other* – they’re just different mechanics which affect the way you play.

      *e.g. TF2 doesn’t have FF but doesn’t suffer for it.

    • Heliocentric says:

      Project reality excellently modeled non combatant sympathizers in a combat zone, they throw stones at you, you cant shoot at them without being punished.

    • negativedge says:

      “Unless there are in-game consequences for killing civilians, in which case it’s a gameplay mechanic.”

      Of course. And that could be interesting (though it is not automatically interesting). But it would not be interesting because they were “civilians”–it would be interesting as a mechanic in and of itself.

      As for jon’s continued thickness–no, capturing a flag is not “real” in the sense that you are not literally capturing a flag in the real world. You know you don’t have a point here it at, which is why you’re saying it, but the problem here is that I actually did have a point. Do you know what is real when you capture a flag? The competition is real. The game is real. When you interject something that is not part of a game into your game, all you have done is made a shitty game. You have quite completely failed to properly map out and understand what it is you are doing–which is all well and good, because the people commenting in this manner are not people actually concerned with game design–they’re people concerned with looking like what they are not (cultured; interesting; intelligent; “mature”). Multiplayer competitive titles are multiplayer competitive titles, not incredibly hamfisted morality barometers. You can save that for your essays on how Mass Effect 2 is changing literature for the digital age or something ridiculous.

    • Donjo says:

      Welll anyway, it could be interesting to have NPC’s in a competitive online shooter, and the scenario that negativedge created, where a player might be trapped or try to gain cover within a group of civilians, could work really well. Obviously the moral dilemma wouldn’t be there, as they are not real, but there could be gameplay repercussion for both players in such a situation, that might represent a moral dilemma.

  31. PatrickSwayze says:

    Can my soldier be Gay though?

    If my soldier isn’t Gay it’s just not realistic.

    I’d like to be able to molest the terrorists and civilians before I kill them.

    EA ARE SEXIST! IF MY GAY SOLDIER CAN’T MURDER CIVILIANS AND BE GAY WITH THEM IT INFRINGES ON MY HUMAN RIGHTS

    • Premium User Badge

      TheApologist says:

      I literally have no idea at all what point you are trying to make. I presume this is some kind of attempt to satirize comments in previous threads that defend other developers’ attempts to incorporate same sex relationships in games that have romance mechanics and story options.

      Why this is relevant here, however, is beyond the capacity of conventional logic to determine. This game does not include options for relationships. Indeed, there is no suggestion that it includes any expression of the sexuality of any character. Nor is anyone calling for that. Perhaps it is just some vague anti-political correctness rage? Either way, it might be best to calm down and step away from the keyboard.

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      I’m not really a fan of insinuating that soldiers want to molest men just because they’re gay. Go back to the 1950’s where you belong, please.

    • PatrickSwayze says:

      Wow you guys got upset easy.

      But yeah I did just insinuate that murderers and gays are roughly equal. Or did I?

      But now the cats out of the bag the internet will demand that it should be featured in the game.

      Let us see how the establishment will pander to the inner murderer inside everybody.

    • Schelome says:

      To be fair, your metaphor was a straw man and you were the one using bold caps.

    • Premium User Badge

      Durkonkell says:

      I’m not really a fan of ANYTHING in this comment.

      I’ll grade you F. Resit RPS mandatory commenting workshop. Guards!

    • Britney.S says:

      hmmm,didnt realise gays were a different sex?

    • Lukasz says:

      aren’t you supposed to be dead? how the hell are you posting?

    • skinlo says:

      He’s obviously a civilian, he can’t die.

  32. Strutter says:

    This game looked so amazing when I first heard of it yet with every news update it looks worse and worse..

  33. KlaxonOverdrive says:

    He seems to be a bit at odds with himself.

    “In a game where it’s more authentic, when you have a gun in your hand and a child in front of you what would happen? Well the player would probably shoot that child.”

    “They will grow with gamers. There will always be games for children – I want games for grown-ups, games I can play. As long as I’m in the business I will make games that I want to play.”

    He wants to play games where the moral agency is removed from the player choice. He wants games that are sanitized. As mentioned, there are plenty of in-game ways to address shooting civilians – from XP loss to having your squad immediately arrest you for violating the Geneva conventions and ending the game — any of which which would serve to help illustrate the point about civillian casualties in a war zone far better than making them invincible.

    Why even bother including civilians if they’re nothing more than indestructible props?

  34. CaLe says:

    “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”

  35. Sorbicol says:

    Understandable really, but if it’s that much of an issue just remove the civilians from the game, surely?

  36. Major Seventy Six says:

    Free hint for the developers of future “war themed” games:
    Have NPC MPs arrest civilian killers and put them in a virtual jail where they cannot access their characters for a few days, a few weeks for recidivists.

    • LoBear says:

      Didn’t something like that happen in an early version of Americas Army?? I think if you shot at the dudes on the training ranges or somethin??

  37. Kamos says:

    Ooooh, games are so serious now. They should allow the player to kill the civilians, then secretly send a notification to FBI / CIA / whatever. Obviously, someone doing “naughty” things must be very, very evil.

  38. harmlos says:

    I wish they would make a war game where you can do whatever you like (including shooting children), but at the end of the level you are court martial-ed (in an annoying, unskipable cut scene) for violating the Geneva Conventions.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      But then you don’t get convicted because the people you killed were brown?

    • graah says:

      To be fair that happens in all cultures, you stick by your own. Many suicide bombers are seen as martyrs and good people by their families after all, even if they targeted civilians.

    • harmlos says:

      @Buttless Boy:

      Extra kudos to the developer that has the balls to put that in the game. Then they could talk about games being used to “actually use this to tell something, be political”.

  39. Buttless Boy says:

    Wow, this guy didn’t say a single thing I agreed with. I mean, look at this gem:

    “Games are where movies were in the 30s or 40s, when it went from a technical spectacle to ‘hey, wait a minute we can actually use this to tell something, be political’ and things like that. I think we are on the verge of seeing things like that.”

    1. Apparently he has never seen a movie from the 1910s or 20s, at least nothing that didn’t involve slapstick comedy. Hell, even a lot of the slapstick had political and moral overtones (The General, The Gold Rush, etc.). “Technical spectacle” my ass.
    2. Apparently he has also never played a video game made in the last like, 20 years. Including MW2, which is worrying.
    3. Apparently he is a giant moron with a stupid butt.

    • Kardasik says:

      And you are apparently a stone-hearted bastard who loves to kill civilians in video games! (By the way replace Butt- in your name by Brain- and stop writing comments like this! Write something more constructive at least or don’t write anything at all!)

    • TheLordMoosey says:

      @Kardasik

      He/she made two pretty decent points, then capped it with an obvious joke, by being so childish. Did you not read the whole comment? I thought it was pretty clear.

    • Buttless Boy says:

      To be fair, I do love to kill civilians in video games.

  40. McDan says:

    “Well the player would probably shoot that child.”

    You’re damn right I would, in the second playthrough after the no-child killing first playthrough of course.

  41. jay35 says:

    Smart move. Don’t give the media any free shots.

  42. Sardukar says:

    It’s his game – I sympathize with his reluctance and active dislike of making a game where you can murder civilians, unarmed and feckless non-insurgents that they are.

    You may want the ability to murder civilians, accidentally or on purpose, in game. You may also want the ability to brew coffee, stare angrily as the motor pool sergeant explains they haven’t got that clutch replaced yet, or even dig foxholes, also significant parts of modern combat.

    This is not the game that offers those things, however, and that’s just fine.

    Hmm. Do they even dig foxholes anymore? Outside of basic?

    • Chandos says:

      So you’re saying you don’t want to give me the choice of staring angrily? You don’t trust me with my stares, is that it? Damn you, I’ll go play Saints Frown 3.

    • Sardukar says:

      WHY do we not have more Kill People With Eye Lasers games? Hmmm? This is a niche begging to be filled, I tell you!

  43. aircool says:

    Speak for yourself, I wouldn’t shoot them unless they were armed or up to no good, but I’d like to have the choice. As for the game though…

  44. Kardasik says:

    I’m really afraid he is right. I have to admit, that, when I play video Games, I do some bad stuff, but it is ONLY (and ONLY!) when there are different endings and when I have already finished the game the “good” way (and usually I feel really bad after doing such things). I think it doesn’t matter wether they do put choices in the game or they don’t, because people who can make bad ones calmly (or even with joy!)
    in a game, can make them anyway and the game won’t change anything except perhaps “revealing their true nature” (if it is hidden!). A good thing is to imagine the person you just killed had a familly or something like that (they could even put it in the game as a vision of that family that would leave you dazed as flashed after killing a civilian).

  45. Donjo says:

    Or if the player killed a civilian the squad could be overwhelmed by enemy characters, and either captured or killed… there are any number of ways to deal with unwanted actions.

  46. Balobam says:

    I still think they should have included killing civilians, but not make a deal out of it like CoD.

    Just make it so, during some intense shootout, a stray bullet hits and wounds/kills a civilian, at which point you’re scolded by a superior and XP is removed, or you’re stripped of your rank and no longer get to boss around your squad or something.

    Actually do something with it, instead of making it either:
    A) Pointlessly controversial, like that airport one in CoD
    B) Make a big fuss about something you’re not even doing

  47. Chandos says:

    I kinda like their approach. Yes, it is basically babysitting people’s morality, but also better than giving people’s morality a LMG and telling them to go nuts on civilians. Better in the sense that gaming as a growing medium needs to earn the trust of the mainstream for its capability of handling sensitive subject matter, and I kinda liked hearing that he knows the difference between maturity and Rated-M-for-Mature, which will be helpful in earning that trust. I fully believe we will get to the point where such self-censorship will be a thing of the past and Daily Fails of the world will even write praising critiques of the artistic freedoms taken, but once again, that is a status to be earned.

  48. Premium User Badge

    Durkonkell says:

    I don’t understand this answer, really. The original Half Life had civilians you could shoot and consequences for doing so (ranging from security turning their weapons on you to fade out ‘Mission Failed’ screens). I don’t see where this idea of “Oh no, players will do bad things and we can’t stop them, so let’s not put any bad things in the game” comes from. Put consequences in!

    So you accidentally – or deliberately – gun down a civilian in whatever warzone we’re in for this game. Your CO screams at you, relieves you of duty and sends you straight to the “You have been arrested” screen to load your last save. Perhaps you are using heavier weapons which are more indiscriminate such as tanks or aircraft, in which case mounting civilian casualties will earn you an increasingly severe reprimand at the mission’s conclusion. Having urban areas which are exclusively filled with legitimate combatants isn’t advancing this theoretical “war isn’t fun” theme.

    A more interesting moral dilemma would be for you to come across allied troops abusing civilians or POWs. Do you try and stop them or walk away? What are the consequences likely to be if you get involved? The idea of putting a gun into your hand and saying SHOOT CHILD Y/N strikes me as incredibly simplistic and shallow.

  49. Lusit says:

    “I’m making an adult game for adult men such as myself. Now go out and shoot those men!”

  50. Hindenburg says:

    I don’t really care about wanting more blood, but in a game that looks this good, having a considerably realistic depiction of death would be nice. Not the “ohnoes my arm got torn to shreds stuff”, but the “the guy machinegunned to near death is screaming bloody murder and just. won’t. stop. He’s squirming and moaning and crying and pissing himself with fear.”

    Y’know, the kinda gore you see in those Faces of Death videos. The kind that you instinctively know is wrong and cruel and absolutely horrible.

    That’d be nice.