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GameTalk: The Bad Guys

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Byron Grant for GrogHeads ~

The Bad Guys

Cops and robbers. Cowboys and Indians. Someone has to play the bad guys…but when we do so, is it fun, challenging, contentious or educational? Do you consider the OPFOR role as a useful tool to expand our understanding of wargaming (and dare I say military operation) perspectives? Are there some OPFORS you don’t want to play for personal or political reasons (the SS, Vietcong, Taliban, Hamas, etc.)?


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2 Responses to GameTalk: The Bad Guys

  1. Brian Train says:

    Yes. Yes, it is.

    I can understand someone’s personal discomfort about taking a role that they perceive as evil, but personally it still seems like magical thinking to me – that someone playing that role somehow connotes acceptance of, or confers strength upon, that evil.

    I don’t want to overstate it, but it seemed to me that something like that thinking was going on when Konami was going to publish “Six Days in Fallujah”, which was to be the first video game to focus directly on the Iraq War. It was developed with extensive input from US Marines who were in the battle, but in the end was held from release after negative public pressure on the publisher. The online version of the 2010 release of “Medal of Honor” was to have allowed players the option of assuming the role of the Afghan TALIBAN, but was later changed to the generic “Opposing Force” title when public groups, the media and senior officials of several NATO governments condemned even the possibility of someone playing that enemy role. Outside of video games, other designs like the multiplayer “Freedom: the Underground Railroad” or Joe Miranda’s recent solo game on Fallujah in Modern Warfare give the role of the “Baddies” to the game system itself (yet another OPFOR, in the case of the latter).

    This also prompts the larger questions of not why someone would or would not choose to play the “evil” side in a wargame – because a wargame takes reality as its model, why would someone fight on the side of “evil” in real life? (And who gets to say which side is/was evil, anyway? Never mind, I know… the side that won.) Speaking now of current affairs, not past pogroms…

    I’ve designed a couple of games on the most recent Afghan War. I suppose it would have been easy to turn the Taliban into a straw-man opponent, a faceless pop-up target hampered by “idiocy rules” and simplistic assumptions who is always defeated. I think this does a disservice to anyone, in or out of the military, who has an interest in the conflict. Why is it a betrayal of Our Side to try to understand how The Other Side thinks and fights (even at the gross level of abstraction we had to go to in designing this game)? I’ve never understood this – it seems to me the prudent thing to want to do, if you want to win, or at least comprehend what’s going on.

  2. Vance says:

    I like playing the bad guys. Mostly because lots don’t and it gets games on the table. But also it gives a different view of the battle and let’s me what other methods are at play during the battle.

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