Monday, August 04, 2014

All Together Now


At 11pm BST tonight, lights will symbolically be extinguished across Europe, as it is 100 Years since World War One began. There will be those who question the judgement of 'commemorating' any War, especially with so many conflicts being ignored across the planet, but the need to remember what happened in four years in the early part of the 20th Century should never be underestimated. It is not simply what happened, but why that is perhaps most significant, and I cannot recommend enough the BBC Website from which this header is deliberately borrowed. Especially if you have children in their teens, or even if you need to understand more about the events that bought an entire continent to conflict in the space of just a couple of months, it is worth spending time exploring.

These kind of conflicts may seem a long way away for those of us involved in virtual wars, but the relevance of loss has not been forgotten.

Crusader Bridenbrad's Tale. 

The 'A Tale of Valor' questline may have been created for a notable servant of Irvine, California and a relation of a Blizzard employee but the story it tells is one of War, sacrifice and ultimately the right way to celebrate the achievement of a soldier who gave what he was to that others could have a life after him. When we are asked by the Pandarans 'why do we fight?' it is to preserve what we hold precious, to allow the future to continue as we would wish it. This is the real legacy of conflict, and why in areas like Ukraine and Gaza the need to preserve what people feel are their rights and inheritances continues to be so important. This is the very nature of conflict itself, and without it there would be no games like Warcraft to be played. It may seem trite to compare such huge global events to a collection of pixels, but the fact remains that without the understanding of conflict, and the desire for players to engage in it, many facets of this industry would simply cease to exist.

War is not pretty or glamorous, and the casualties are not just counted in those that fall, they are also mirrored in those that are left behind.

Gaming is often cited as the ultimate escape, a means for players to escape the rigours of reality and forget about their own personal issues. Except, of course, war is a very real and dangerous thing, and there continue to be those that argue that trivialising the concepts in gaming will only lead to a generation that is desensitised to such events. That is why, more and more, you will find news media focussing on the personal stories, the moments of humanity that allow people to empathise with the situations. That's why Bridenbrad's story works so well, in essence: it appeals to your humanity, and gives the player the chance to set a worthy soul finally at peace. Finding the human angle, the means to make a story touch the hearts and minds of many is a potent means of story telling in both real and virtual worlds.

I didn't come here today to condemn gaming's depictions of war, or those who feel that the real and virtual worlds should never be joined by comparing the similarity of actions. I came here to remind everyone that the World you live in, the one Warcraft is an important part of for so many, would simply not exist as it had were it not for the War that began 100 years ago today. There are many reasons to stop and remember, and today, more than perhaps any other it is not simply about the conflicts that rage around the Globe for those who desire freedom for what they perceive is an unjust enemy. Spend some time today learning about this event, the reasons behind it, and why it happened when it did. The past is our key to understanding our own futures and our places within it.

Most importantly, NEVER forget those who gave their lives for your freedom.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae


Raymond Hafner II said...

I am a self admitted history junkie and a shill for a gentleman's history podcast and his name is Dan Carlin.

He's currently in the midst of a series of lengthy podcasts about the Great War.

I would suggest anyone who hasn't listened to him talk about World War I should do so, as he tends to touch on the more human side of the stories of history.

kunukia said...

My sympathy is with Israel, who are hated for their very existence by all their neighbors. However, my heart is with the peoples on both sides of the conflict, and indeed every conflict.
I am a Buddhist, and try hard not to hate anyone. But my teacher, a Tibetan monk who took up arms and defended his country from the invading Chinese, then was captured and made a political prisoner for 20 years. Not for fighting, but because he was a lama. His religion, and refusal to give it up, was his crime.
Yes, there are non pacifist Buddhists.
War sucks.

Bob Flintston said...

Thanks for writing a fantastic piece. I was going to write about the same subject but as usual you do it with so much more style and panache.

World War I was fought with such a huge disregard for the soldiers and human life that happened at the Battle of the Somme, with 1 Million dead and wounded. It was a monstrous war and it should have been the War to end all wars, but we needed a second bite at that cherry.

I am fascinated and appalled by war, but I would prefer it if there was no more wars, but that seems like a pipe dream.