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New wargames exhibition explores unsettling union of conflict, technology and entertainment

It looks just like a regular Xbox 360 controller, which you might have used during long gaming sessions as a teenager. But the gadget in a glass case at London’s Imperial War Museum had a completely different purpose. It was to control the cameras of the Desert Hawk, an unmanned aerial vehicle used for military surveillance during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The manufacturer, Lockheed Martin, has found the Xbox controller to be cheaper than military-grade controllers and perform just as well. Many recruits were already engaged in war fantasies with game controllers. Now they could use them for real.

This uncomfortable escape from war and entertainment is explored in a new exhibition at IWM London. war game. The drama of war has long proven to be a fascination for storytellers, but technological innovations regularly provide fresh angles. You can experience it as if you were the hero of the story. As the exhibition explores 40 years of gaming history, it asks: What can games teach us about conflict?

Co-curator Ian Kikuchi said: First-person shooters Fans of his games know that the easiest way to release this tension is to simply make the violence fun.See the team behind the stealth shooter sniper elite 5 We’ll discuss how to tweak each rifle to make it more satisfying to shoot, and how much attention you pay to programming the dreaded headshots. Entertainment media have long provided a safe haven for audiences to explore dark impulses and ideas. Gore can be a thrilling spectacle as long as you know it’s not real.

But war games are always moving towards greater realism.Exhibit includes a rifle sniper elite 5 The team modeled a digital version.And in the video, the creator of Call of Duty Modern Warfare Graphic fidelity is relentlessly pursued. This is a goal that remains a central concern for large swaths of the gaming community. Modern shooter players demand the utmost realism in terms of weapon design and blood splatter physics, while at the same time unrealistic portrayals of war, fantasy retellings stripped of all boredom and trauma. Be careful what you want. humanity, so to speak.

A soldier in combat uniform with a rifle approaches a building in what appears to be a Middle Eastern city.

Gamers Enjoy Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Faithful Graphics

While simple heroism is the main theme of most shooters, some indie games explore the emotional realities of war to create greater empathy.exhibition gifts through the darkest timesdirected against the Nazi Party in 1930s Berlin, this war of mine, you control civilians struggling to survive in a besieged city.What impresses me most Very Me, My Love, an innovative game that casts the player as a man who communicates via text messages with his wife trying to escape Syria. Your message will determine whether she reaches Europe safely, ends up in a refugee camp, or drowns at sea.

Alongside the games are objects from the museum’s collection that resonate with the retelling of these humanitarian war stories. Blankets carried across Europe by World War II refugees and charred instruments of Iraqis who fled their homes in Mosul to flee Islamic State.

An interesting observation here concerns the tendency of various wars to be portrayed in popular culture. “World War II always felt like a safe environment for adventure,” says Kikuchi, citing films such as the following: great escape similarly call of duty game. “World War I, on the other hand, is largely remembered as a tragedy that scarred entire generations.” 11-11: Handed down memories, its engagement with history is soulful and poignant, rather than feverish. Meanwhile, modern warfare in the Middle East too often relies on clumsy stereotypes of Arabs.

You can also see the controversial demo 6 days in Fallujahhas drawn criticism from gamers who are concerned about its ability to sensitively portray the plight of civilians in Iraq while praising the heroism of the US Marines. There are no games about the war in Ukraine yet, but the industry is banding together to help Ukrainian developers.

Two people looking at a fighting game video display in a dark exhibition room

The exhibition explores the tension between game fantasy and the reality of war © Kathleen Arundell

“More than anything else, the game tells us the story we want to tell about the conflict,” says Kikuchi. “They overemphasize the difference that individuals can make. Conflicts are rarely resolved by a single surgical strike or special forces.” A walk through the main gallery of IWM London It is understanding that war is beyond the control of one man. Like a force of nature, it is a gigantic phenomenon that cuts through history, not something to be enjoyed, but something to endure.

Games may dig up topics or explore their dark undercurrents for fun spectacle, but they mostly sell fantasy. ,” says Kikuchi.

“War Games” runs until May 28, 2023.

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