Battlefield 3 Dodging Controversy, Omitting Supervillians

July 5, 2011 Written by Tyler Minarik

To this very day, video games seem to receive a more critical eye when touching upon real life conflicts than other forms of media, and despite the possibility of gaining much attention from it, DICE intends to avoid the controversy and focus on the fun.

It’s been a long uphill battle for video games to gain respect as a form of not only entertainment, but also a form of expression, and even art. While many still argue that latter point, a recent federal ruling in the US has put much of the battle to rest when it comes to the freedom of choosing what controversial topics to touch upon within a game. Some developers might be tempted to take advantage of this, but DICE wants to focus on fun and authenticity. In a recent interview with Edge, Battlefield 3‘s executive producer Patrick Bach talked about this when asked about the storyline’s context, which involves Russia invading France, where US troops are on the ground:

First of all: it’s fiction. We’re not trying to base it on any political or religious conflict – controversy is probably a good marketing tool, but we make games. Our goal isn’t to make controversy. I don’t want people to feel bad playing our game. Our goal is to create a fun, entertaining experience. So we are trying to stay away from things that are real – authentic and real don’t have to be the same thing.

Edge continues, asking whether we’ll see supervillains in the game:

No, no supervillains. But you still want your enemy to be clear; you still want your player character to have a clear motivation – that’s something we’re working on to find the right balance.

Continuing, they ask about the moral context usually associated with such plot lines:

Since we are Swedes, we are neutral on paper. We have a tendency to not take sides. I think that reflects in our games. When we say Russians versus Americans, it’s like Red versus Blue. We try not to depict the reasons for the war, because then it can end up in a very bad place. We depict it from the perspective of an individual rather than an army – it’s about you as a soldier on the battlefield, because no matter who you are or on what side you are, it’s still drama. I don’t want to create a war simulation or a game which picks sides. I think that would be tasteless.

It seems like a smart move by DICE, for a number of reasons. Many may remember the large amount of controversy that surrounded the new Medal of Honor, which was originally planning on pitting players as US forces vs the Taliban. After being banned from being sold on any US military bases, DICE (or perhaps EA) decided to change the Taliban to “Opposing Forces,” a move which showed they weren’t out to stir the hornet’s nest, but only provide fun gameplay. Clearly they’re retaining a similar mind frame as they return to the roots of the Battlefield franchise, while expanding upon everything that’s made the series great. Battlefield 3 is set to release on October 25th in North America and October 28th in Europe, and everything we’ve seen so far indicates it’ll be a stellar addition to an already fantastic franchise.