Sick and Callous?
April 10, 2003 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Sony is attempting to trademark the term "Shock and Awe" for a computer game. having scored a hit with its original PlayStation game, Conflict: Desert Storm. It is among a swarm of companies scrambling to commercially exploit the war in Iraq (which has killed thousands of civilians and soldiers on both sides).
posted by MintSauce (51 comments total)
 
I'm surprised the government hasn't already. Think of the licensing revenues...
posted by twine42 at 6:10 AM on April 10, 2003


Wasn't Casablanca cashing in on World War II?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:11 AM on April 10, 2003


[Am I too cynical?]
posted by twine42 at 6:12 AM on April 10, 2003


You can't cash in on something unless there's an audience who wants it.
posted by Mossy at 6:13 AM on April 10, 2003


What do you think about WWII games?
posted by stifford at 6:19 AM on April 10, 2003


I think we'd be better off complaining about the actual as opposed to the virtual killing of people.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:20 AM on April 10, 2003


Won't somebody think of the pixels?
posted by twine42 at 6:22 AM on April 10, 2003


I feel a mixture of indignant surprise and confoundment.
posted by KnitWit at 6:29 AM on April 10, 2003


I was appalled when Atari's "Combat" so callously cashed in on the horrors of urban combat.
posted by tpl1212 at 6:33 AM on April 10, 2003


Wasn't Casablanca cashing in on World War II? (which killed MILLIONS of soldiers and civilians on all sides)

They're still milking that cash cow, I wouldn't consider Ben Afleck to be part of the "Greatest Generation Ever (TM)" That's it I'm returning all my copies of Patton, The Longest Day and Full Metal Jacket, Heaven and Earth, Platoon (before, you start, I am fully aware those are Vietnam films), while we're at it I don't like the way the films Ran and Seven Samurai and the fighting game Shinobi "cash in" on the ancient Japanese wars in which hundreds of soldiers and civilians died. I'd better burn Les Miserables, Homage to Catalonia, Last of the Mohicans, Night, all books cashing in on wartime misery just to sell books, how callous! How about the Godfather and Goodfellas cashing in on mobsters and their murderous ways. Can't read Uncle Tom's Cabin, that's just cashing in on the suffering of the slaves. Can't read the newspaper, a magazine or watch TV without somebody trying to exploit images and stories from the war. So once I've cleaned out anything in my life and surroundings that exploits or presents any form of human suffering and I'm left shivering naked on the side of the road with nothing left but my suffering self, what do I boycott/eliminate then?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:34 AM on April 10, 2003


It seems to me that you can find a battle simulation game for just about every major conflict out there (though I can't think of any for Vietnam, now that I think about it).

And of course they would try to trademark the phrase for use in computer games. It is the reasonable thing to do. It isn't like they'll get a royalty every time the president says it, or when I start selling my Shock and Awe lightswitch plates.
posted by obfusciatrist at 6:35 AM on April 10, 2003


though I can't think of any for Vietnam

Could this be because all the video games money seems to be in America?
posted by twine42 at 6:37 AM on April 10, 2003


How about the Rambo game where our hero has to save his buddies from the POW camp? Does that count as a Vietnam game?
posted by Pollomacho at 6:40 AM on April 10, 2003


Check ebay
posted by ElvisJesus at 6:47 AM on April 10, 2003


I had the Platoon game on Nintendo back in the day.
posted by stifford at 6:52 AM on April 10, 2003


Words of war, like blockbuster, shellshocked, slacker.
posted by iconomy at 6:56 AM on April 10, 2003


Released on the 25th March in the US and tomorrow in the UK, I give you Vietcong
posted by jontyjago at 6:58 AM on April 10, 2003


What characters act in VIETCONG?

Your elite unit consists of six members of the U.S. Special Forces, expertly trained in various fields.


Aww! How can you call a game VIETCONG and not let you play as the winning side?
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:07 AM on April 10, 2003






Stavros' picture came from b3ta.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 7:30 AM on April 10, 2003


though I can't think of any for Vietnam

Viet Cong (already mentioned)
Vietnam: Line of Sight (recently release)

This is nothing new, just maybe a bit fast.

For the previous Desert Storm there is a mod called Desert Combat. Plays on the BF1942 engine.

Don't be surprised that this happened, but be a little disgusted that Sony acted this fast, maybe
posted by a3matrix at 7:40 AM on April 10, 2003


so what?
[it's just that i have noticed your propensity to point out things from b3ta wherever you see them, and wondered why you do that.]
posted by quonsar at 7:40 AM on April 10, 2003


It seems to me that you can find a battle simulation game for just about every major conflict out there...

Just about, yes... but where's the Operation Urgent Fury game? Or Operation Just Cause? That's what I want to know.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:43 AM on April 10, 2003


(which has killed thousands of civilians and soldiers on both sides)

Wait a minute. You're saying that people can actually die in war? My goodness, the humanity! Why didn't anyone tell me this on CNN?
posted by blue_beetle at 7:44 AM on April 10, 2003


argh. a3matrix squeezed in there. my comment is directed to Pretty Generic, i should have quoted him. so what that it's from b3ta, PG?
posted by quonsar at 7:44 AM on April 10, 2003


Aww! How can you call a game VIETCONG and not let you play as the winning side?

"We did not lose Vietnam! It was a tie! "
posted by bondcliff at 7:44 AM on April 10, 2003


Wait a minute. You're saying that people can actually die in war?

I was quoting the article.

It wasn't a political or personal opinion post, just a link to an interesting story (The former being what Metafilter isnt for, and the latter what it is). I've nothing against the games or films. I'm as big a war film fan as next the next small boy.

The speed at which Sony registered the trade mark however was a bit insensitive.

And the Shock and Awe Pesticide amused the hell out of me.
posted by MintSauce at 7:58 AM on April 10, 2003


Why limit it to war? Disasters like the Titanic killed many people, too! For shame, for shame. ;-P
posted by mischief at 7:59 AM on April 10, 2003


There's a ton of products that could profitably adopt "shock and awe" as a tagline/product name. For instance:

Condoms

OK, that's all I can think of right now.
posted by luser at 8:00 AM on April 10, 2003


There's a recent game based on Platoon as well. Even more current, there's the Blackhawk Down game either.

I think we'd be better off complaining about the actual as opposed to the virtual killing of people.

Well said, PG.
posted by Songdog at 8:01 AM on April 10, 2003


The Speed at which Sony registered the trade mark however was a bit insensitive.

Why? I'm not trying to start a fight here, but it seems perfectly acceptable to me. Now, if they wanted to call the game "Dead Iraqi Children 2: The Blitz to Freedom (Shock and Awe those heathen bastards!)" perhaps I might have a problem with it.
posted by bradth27 at 8:12 AM on April 10, 2003


Why limit it to war? Disasters like the Titanic killed many people, too! For shame, for shame.

It's been done

I wonder if we'll have the Inflatable World Trade Center Tower -O- Doom in a few years?
posted by bondcliff at 8:17 AM on April 10, 2003


Just about, yes... but where's the Operation Urgent Fury game? Or Operation Just Cause? That's what I want to know.

I don't see why not the did after all make a friggin' movie about the Grenada action!
posted by Pollomacho at 8:23 AM on April 10, 2003


Don't forget the old (as in mid-80s) computer game Platoon. Graphic anti-war film turned to regular old action shooter war game. My apple //e was never the same since ;)
posted by Space Coyote at 8:24 AM on April 10, 2003


Film does exist within the realms of both art and commerce, so I can see the point about war in movies as exploitation, although I think there is a palpable difference between something that exists only for exploitation (Pearl Harbor) versus something that makes a valuable contribution (Platoon). Of course, it's relative. We live in a place where both can be expressed, so good for us, and we live in a place where something like Pearl Harbor can be generally viewed as a piece of crap, so good for us again.

Still, the Sony thing has more to do with generating an entertainment product for those who fetishize the military (though not far from what 24-hour news is doing these days) and get a hard-on over the idea of blowing people away. Given that this software viagra is calling for inspiration upon a war still taking place, upon people who are at the present time being blown away, it's not such a reach to consider it crass and insensitive.

But no one can deny the message at the root if it all: killing people in war is fun, and we all deserve to enjoy it. Were the message otherwise, such games would reflect the humanitarian tragedy of war alongside the cool guns and bloody special effects.

War candy. Eat up.
posted by troybob at 8:49 AM on April 10, 2003


Welcome to Capitalism troybob, you think if they made a game about UN food distribution they would sell many copies? How about a first person "shooter" game where you run around and try to "democratize" the East Timorese with UN Resolutions, I'm sure Sony would rake in the dough with a game like that!
posted by Pollomacho at 9:00 AM on April 10, 2003


Pollomacho: That's the point.

I don't find the war game thing particularly shocking; it's just another new step in the extent to which we will sell off human dignity for a profit. Still, it was a sad moment on television seeing parents crying over their soldier son killed in Iraq, followed immediately by a commercial break touting Navy Seals SOCOM.

Perhaps I'm being overly negative. Maybe it would offer the family some closure to be able to simulate their loved one's death on the Playstation platform, in the comfort of their home.
posted by troybob at 9:20 AM on April 10, 2003


Why can't the video game reach the heights of Platoon? When playing Medal of Honor, it took me about 120 attempts to make it through the Omaha Beach level. Every time I died, I realized that this was another casualty wasted, that if I had performed this in the flesh, I would have been blown to smithereens. As meager a flourish as it was, it was still one of the most unique attempts to help a player understand the sacrifice of D-Day through the first-person shooter perspective.

Of course, Medal of Honor featured martial music, jingoistic encouragement from military leaders, and the usual stereotypical Germans. And it's likely that most of the young people playing the game didn't have a clue about Normandy. But compare that experience with the ridiculous premise of Return to Castle Wolfenstein, which has Nazis digging up zombies (???).

This Sony move, however, reveals a world where video games haven't yet reached the legitimate artistic foothold that the comic book achieved in the 80s. It is the realm, as stated above, of the Almighty Dollar. The Unreal engine is licensed to the U.S. Army, game developers are often rushed and overworked to make deadlines, and innovation is thrown in the face of base entertainment.

Sure, there are the Peter Molyneuxs, Will Wrights and the Warren Spectors out there trying to expand the boundaries. But the market changes so rapidly, the video game has such a limited shelf life and the player is too impatient for the next title that how can any of this innovation be registered and retained? Trademarking. That's how. Even if it's as tasteless as "shock and awe."

Not that they want you to retain the name of a developer. They want to you to remember the name of id Software rather than Carmack. They want to brand your asses in the software market the same way that they have you salivating over a commercial jingle.
posted by ed at 10:52 AM on April 10, 2003


Pollomacho: That's the point.

Really? Talk about your shock and awe (TM)!! Of course its another step in how we sell human dignity for profit. Humanity has been doing this since the first hunter gatherer thought about how much of the carcass his (or her) effort, time and sweat went into making the spear head he (or she) fashioned. Any human that takes a raw material, or even at the basest level collects a raw material and then barters or sells it to another is another step in this chain. Some items exploit human dignity and suffering more than others, but that doesn't discount that some form of exploited human resources went into EVERYTHING you didn't make with your own hands from raw materials that you gathered yourself, that is the nature of human interaction. X has something that Y wants or needs they are willing to trade/pay a certain amount (or take it through a certain amount of violence, however in a way even that is a value judgement in that effort expended by X to attain the desired product is accountable). What is more shocking and appalling is more the working conditions under which the game will be manufactured by Sony for minimal wages or the fact that humans will go through the immense effort of building something like a B-1 bomber equipped with satellite guided JDAM 8,000 lb. Smart bombs to drop on another human half way around the world because they feel he happens to inconvenience some aspect of their consumer culture that "needs" its video games about dropping JDAM bombs halfway around the world. But what are you going to do, go live on a nudist commune and grow your own organic non-exploitive foods, god forbid you should start to also feel that exploitation of animal or natural resources is also wrong, holy crap!

I think I'm turning Amish.
posted by Pollomacho at 11:19 AM on April 10, 2003


I think video games *can* provide an excellent perspective on the realities of war. Call me crazy, but I found the Close Combat series almost unpleasant in its fairly 'realistic' depiction. The silence of the green hills broken only by birds chirping and cows mooing, then BAMBAM BAM BAMA BOOM "Saaarggggeee!!!!" IT was really horrible! No heroics - when you sent a squad of guys to charge a machinegun nest, you had to watch and listen as most of them were cut down mercilessly. I don't think they intended to do it, but they almost made an antiwar wargame...

It is my fervent hope and prediction that as games and game players continue to mature, we'll see more and more complexity and moral ambiguity in games - and that's a good thing!
posted by freebird at 12:02 PM on April 10, 2003


Where's the Jihad game I've been waiting for...you know, the one where I can fly planes into the World Trade Center?
posted by iamck at 12:42 PM on April 10, 2003


Its called MS Flight Simulator 2000, just wear a turban and yell things out in Koranic Arabic before you go in. (for anyone in the Department of Homeland Security or the office of Information Awareness who is reading this, I do not condone nor support terrorism in any form, please knock and I will open my door for you, no need to kick in the frame, thank you!)
posted by Pollomacho at 1:12 PM on April 10, 2003


But compare that experience with the ridiculous premise of Return to Castle Wolfenstein

Ever read Thor Meets Captain America?
posted by eckeric at 1:17 PM on April 10, 2003


Didn't all the network/cable news programs already profit from the term and all it stood for?
posted by LouReedsSon at 2:26 PM on April 10, 2003


which has killed thousands of civilians and soldiers on both sides

Wait...when did this happen now? Is this something that's been in the news lately or something?
posted by Ogre Lawless at 3:11 PM on April 10, 2003


Whoa, whoa whoa... is there some bit of news I haven't heard about? Thousands of civilians and solders on our side have died?

If you're going to editorialize, at least cut the hyperbole.

Oh yeah: Capitlism sucks, dood.
posted by jammer at 3:13 PM on April 10, 2003


Ogre: Jinx.
posted by jammer at 3:14 PM on April 10, 2003


Stavros' picture came from b3ta.

Actually, thanks, Pretty_Generic, for the attribution. I didn't have a source for it, and used it on my wee blog as well, where I will now go and quote the source.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:47 PM on April 10, 2003


thousands? Try at LEAST 100 thousand Iraqi Soldiers kia.
posted by omidius at 9:44 AM on April 11, 2003


Just a followup: Sony has backed down. You probably all already saw that, but I thought you should know.
posted by Songdog at 7:35 AM on April 17, 2003


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