A constant in this conversation between a veteran and a video game expert was the emphasis on portraying “real” war, and a general consensus between the two was that real war is boring, noisy, and filled with smoke… These are not actually things one should want from a film or video game (especially the first). So the unspoken goal of the discussion really becomes to find out which of these two mediums romanticizes war the most affectively. Which one will be more heart rending, pulse beating, and horrifying? Answer: This is a stupid argument.
Video games and film are extremely different in a very key area: interactivity. Film is likely the least interactive art form in existence and video games are the most. That should mean that the differences between video games and films would be so wide one could not proper compare the two. Driving an even larger wedge in between the two mediums is perspective. Film is almost entirely third-person (observing others) while video games are almost entirely first (from the protagonists perspective). Often mixing the two arts leads to ruin.
But film fans want to be the best as they are the 20th century new, and video games also want to be the best as they are the 21st century new. So we have two extremely recent and vastly different forms of entertainment at the same time, both trying to prove they’re the greatest. That is the only reason we are having this debate.
Imagine a world where people argued about which is superior at characterizing war, sculpture or painting (somewhere they probably do…). We have frequently colorful 2D images versus frequently monochrome 3D forms both creating representations of glorious battles and even more glorious heroes. Does it matter which one specific, random individuals find more affective than others? Or aren’t we just richer for having them both?
It is a very good thing to have both cinema and video games, that way more people can absorb interesting perspectives on things like war. There are games for people who like games (like me) and films for people who like films (like my roommate) and both for people who like both (like many people). They make great companions for each other, as equals and opposites. Discussing which portrays what better diminishes the value of both.