Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

October 4, 2011 -

Speaking to the Associated Press, Blackwater founder Erik Prince and Zombie Studios lead designer Richard Dormer talk about why their upcoming Kinect game based on the controversial security firm has decided to steer clear of blood, killing civilians, swearing, and moral dilemmas.

The game, simply titled Blackwater, is being developed by Zombie Studios and published by 505 Games and makes heavy use of the motion-sensing capabilities of Kinect. Both the company's founder and the development lead on the game said that they wanted to steer clear of any controversy, instead focusing on creating an arcade style shooter that could be played by a wider audience.

Blackwater is best known for providing security in hotspots around the world such as Afghanistan and Iraq. It was in that former theater of operation that the company drew criticism from members of Congress and the news media after a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 people. That case was thrown out but is heading back to an appeals court for further scrutiny.

But Prince, who retained the rights to create properties based on his former company when he sold it last year, says that controversy or realism are not the core points of this new game:

"It's a game," Erik Prince, the company's founder told the AP. "This is not a training device. This is not a simulator. We're not doing this to teach folks how to conduct military operations in an urban terrain. That's not it at all. This is more along the lines of kids running around their neighborhood playing cops and robbers or cowboys and Indians."

Prince has made sure to steer clear of any controversies contrived or imagined by critics; the game is set in a fictional West African country, and follows a made-up team of Blackwater operatives who are in charge of providing security for aid workers and foreign dignitaries. The big bad foozle of the game is a fictional despot named General Limbano.

While the game is in no way intended to repair the reputation of the security firm that he sold off last year, Prince acknowledges that some people will never accept Blackwater:

"I think anyone who sticks their neck out in life will be attacked in some quarters for doing it," said Prince. "I'm fully comfortable with that. Some people are not always going to like Blackwater, but there are many millions of people that do like Blackwater. I'm not out to rehabilitate an image. We're out to provide a good experience and enjoyable game."

Lead designer Richard Dormer acknowledged that they went out of their way to avoid creating further controversy by reducing violent content from the game such as blood and the ability to shoot civilians, though he admits he wanted it in the game at first:

"I waged strongly for the possibility of shooting civilians because I thought it could tell the story well," said Dormer. "In the end, we didn't need there to be any more controversy. It seemed beside the point of the game. It was a much bigger risk to jeopardize everything else involved, especially with what happened with `Six Days in Fallaujah.'"

The game, which is set for release October 25, has been rated "TEEN" by the ESRB. Despite that, it does contain headshots and mild language. Prince points out that this was the rating they wanted because it allowed for a wider audience to play and enjoy the game.

"We didn't want this to be restricted to adults," said Prince. "We wanted to dial the violence down so that kids could play it in the same way that they go outside throw snowballs at each other or whatever. We wanted to be able to spread the game to that demographic. Frankly, I also wanted something that I'd be comfortable with my own boys playing."

You can learn more about the game at blackwatergame.com.

Source: SF Gate


Comments

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

It seems really silly to put so much effort into avoiding controversy when the name itself is ultimately a big source of it. There's a reason Blackwater is no longer called Blackwater.

And honestly, if these are the hoops they feel they have to jump through just to mitigate the name, why not keep all these features in the game (since, you know, gamers LIKE that stuff) and call it something else? It's obviously not intended to be an accurate portrayal, so why is it so important to use the name Blackwater?

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

It wouldn't be good propaganda if it showed any kind of truth.

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

"We want to shoot people in the face without blood!"

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

The game isn't controversial because of what you're actually doing. It's controversial because it's about Blackwater. The only way to avoid the controversy is to not make a game about them.

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

It's a curious concept. Do the clown with your Kinect while you play as one of the worst murderers of the world. I wonder how much this will sell.

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

There are worse murderers than Blackwater. Like US Army.

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

How can you have a Blackwater game without the ability to kill civilians? I assume they won't let us  gas soldiers like Blackwater does either huh?

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/10/world/middleeast/10blackwater.html?pag...

I think on the list of games I might buy, this would be DEAD last. These thugs get enough tax dollars as it is.

Re: Why Blackwater Game Creators Want to Avoid Controversy

Because killing cilvilians is all Blackwater does right? Like US Military spends most of its time bombing civilians and reporters.

 
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Matthew Wilson@pnx I am guessing a ddoss since that is what happened to neogaf, but sony needs to do a investment in psn as a whole. steam is still the most reliable and fastest digital platform I use.07/03/2015 - 3:06pm
PHX Corphttp://www.vg247.com/2015/07/03/psn-is-down-sony-investigating/ not again: PSN is down, Sony investigating07/03/2015 - 3:04pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.vg247.com/2015/07/03/digital-extremes-trespasser-keystone-pc/ if true, this is funny and embarrassing for Digital Extremes. companies need too have better security.07/03/2015 - 2:57pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.gamespot.com/videos/the-point-destiny-the-hardcore-gamers-slot-machine/2300-6425852/ this is very good, and well researched.07/03/2015 - 12:41pm
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InfophileRegion-freeing becomes tricky for games with a strong online component though, especially when the servers are run by different branches in different regions.07/03/2015 - 10:41am
InfophileI'm in favor of getting rid of region-locking for any purchased games. I can understand an exception for free, ad-supported games, as many ads are only relevant in certain regions, and it's a ridiculous hassle to get ads for all regions.07/03/2015 - 10:40am
PHX Corphttp://kotaku.com/payday-2-has-been-broken-on-xbox-one-for-three-weeks-1715384186 Payday 2 Has Been Broken On Xbox One For Three Weeks07/03/2015 - 8:44am
Matthew Wilsonhttps://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/3bxduw/why_was_riama_along_with_a_number_of_other_large/ here is a more complete acount of whats going on.07/03/2015 - 1:32am
Matthew Wilsonredit is on fire right now. most subreddits have been set to private.07/03/2015 - 1:24am
MattsworknameYou know andrew, those are actualy rock solid ideas, I woudl like those features a bunch ,especially with games that a cut scene heavly. looking at you kojima!07/03/2015 - 1:18am
Andrew EisenActually, "things I'd like to see become standard in video games" ain't a bad idea for one of my future YouTube videos.07/03/2015 - 1:05am
Andrew EisenYou know what I'd really like to see become standard? The ability to pause cutscenes. Rewind and skip (with "Are you sure?") would be nice too. Oh, and maybe display the duration of the cutscene when it's paused.07/03/2015 - 1:03am
Mattsworknameonly reason to do region locking now is to be dicks your consumer base. Granted, we see that ALOT these days07/03/2015 - 12:48am
MattsworknameI understand the concerns about the region locking thing, I just thing that if you buy a game legitimately, no matter where it's from or what langauge it's in, you should be allowed to play it. the argument about piracy was proven false years ago, the07/03/2015 - 12:47am
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.theverge.com/culture/2015/7/2/8888243/reddit-subreddits-private-after-ama-victoria-taylor-fired bad optics by Reddit.07/03/2015 - 12:33am
Goth_SkunkI'm in full agreement on the subtitles issue. I also believe that every game should come with a single-player component, and be playable without an internet connection. Except MMOs.07/02/2015 - 10:51pm
TechnogeekRegion locking bans seem like something that'll be very difficult to pass into law. I'm fully on board with the subtitle requirement, though.07/02/2015 - 10:00pm
MattsworknameFor example, all games with any for form of spoken dialoge should be i subtitled, and region locking in any form should be illegal07/02/2015 - 9:03pm
MattsworknameDoes anyone feel that there should be a set standard for all games in terms of certain basic features. Ie subtitles, region lock, etc07/02/2015 - 9:01pm
 

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