Iraq War Should Not Be a Video Game

Halliburton is not the only company that seeks to profit from the war in Iraq. Video game makers do, too. Kuma Reality Games' "Kuma War – The War On Terror," which was previously only available online, will be released into stores this month.

Based on the Iraq and Afghan wars, "Kuma War" allows players to re-enact scenes of actual battles. The game includes clips of actual video news footage, satellite pictures of Iraq and publicly available reports from the military, including the killing of U.S. soldiers.

The emulation of conflicts is not a new thing in the realm of video games. Many first-person shooter games are based on the Vietnam War, or World War II. But "Kuma War" has reached a whole new level because it is not based on a conflict that happened years or decades ago – it's modeled on a war being fought right now.

Kuma Reality Games publicists would probably say their game is a tribute to the soldiers. The Web site for "Kuma War" contains a quote by an American sergeant who states that "it's much better fighting from my PC behind a desk than actually slinging lead at each other."

Kuma Reality Games also has other selections on their Web site, like mission 21, "Korea, The Enemy Within," in which South Korean soldiers try to capture invading Northern Korean spies in 1996, or "John Kerry and the Men of Swift Boat PCF-94," where the player gets to re-enact the episode in which Sen. Kerry won his Silver Star.

As in any video game, Kuma War distorts reality. Fantasy substitutes for the harshness of the real world. A bullet in the head becomes nothing more that the need to restart the game.

The missions in Kuma War each simulate a specific battle, boasting names like "Uday and Qsay Last Stand," or "Fallujah Police Station Raid." The reconstruction of these missions is not only dependent on the reproduction of real-life battle scenes collected from different fronts; it also relies on the military expertise of retired war veterans.

To me it seems the company is earning profits by exploiting the deaths of soldiers. There are families right now crying for those who will never return because they were killed in one of the actions that Kuma Reality Games now presents as entertainment.

It doesn't matter which side of the pro-war/anti-war debate you are on. Young lives are being lost daily in Iraq and Afghanistan, and this is serious, not a game. Whether you believe that American soldiers are fighting to keep America safe or that they are victims of an oil-greedy administration, many are returning in body bags. This tragedy should not be used for profit by people who most probably never saw a battlefield in their life.

Moaning and complaining will not get "Kuma War" out of stores, of course. And, unfortunately, the company just set a precedent for all the other corporations out there. We as a people and as consumers have to ask: Have we become so desensitized to images of violence and war that we can no longer take them seriously? Are we willing to watch real deaths turned into our own entertainment?

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