Using methods of torture during war is a very controversial topic.
Games have broached the issue before, but usually in a cinematic way, not so much in a political way. There have been many games that have made various types of political and humanitarian statements, but usually it’s veiled behind the climate of the game’s world, and not so in-your-face. Take the water-boarding segment from GTA V, for example.
However, a new title is set to take place in Camp Bucca, a US-maintained detention facility in Iraq. This game has you torturing Iraqi prisoners of war with an emphasis on the consequences. When we’ve seen torture in games before, it’s usually from the point of view of you getting some necessary information and then going on to save the world, but in reality it’s not so cut and dry.
This yet-unnamed title has been in development for a couple of years. It’s being developed by a team in Pittsburgh, and involves the player interacting with a slew of prisoners wearing yellow jumpsuits with dark cloth covering their faces.
The team behind this game are staying anonymous, as they fear consequences for releasing a title that is sure to spur a lot of controversy. Many believe that torture is fundamentally wrong, yet we’ve been fed a glorified version of it from shows like 24, and there are also many people who believe that it’s essential to get key information by any means necessary, and if that involves torture then the ends justify the means.
A major argument against torture is the fact that you can get a lot of bad information from it. People will say literally anything when they’re being tortured, whether it’s true or not. They just want it to stop.
In either case, most people haven’t experienced anything close to torture first-hand, just the version that’s been created in pop-culture.
Gameplay involves choosing between different methods to torture the prisoner in order to get information out of them. Methods range from waterboarding, using electricity, and more. If you take things too far, the prisoner can die. You’re also responsible for moving prisoners around the camp, sorting out their cell blocks, etc. It’s believe that the real-life Camp Bucca served as an incubator for what would become ISIS, it brought some of the worst terrorists together and gave them a place to network.
One of the consequences that this title aims to highlight is the message that torture is at least partly responsible for creating ISIS. It’s not all just a matter of getting information about secret bases, then getting airlifted for some epic covert ops mission while sucking back a cigar and quoting cheesy one-liners, as its often portrayed.
“Enhanced interrogation” is the name used for such practices, which were outlawed days after Obama took office in 2009. It’s one thing to hear about such practices in the newspaper, but to actually play it out, from the point of view of the person conducting the torture, is going to bring a lot of people closer to the harsh realities.