Usually, when you play a game about war, it's not really so much about war as taking place in the war. It provides the perfect backdrop to action hero gameplay, turn-based strategy or real-time strategy gameplay, co-op and vs multiplayer, flight simulators, tank simulators and lots of excitement and explosions. War can be fun, these games tell us. War can be entertainment.
But there's a growing number of games that are highlighting the human side of conflict: Lucas Pope's Papers, Please; Tale of Tales' Sunset; 11bit Studios' This War of Mine; Ubisoft's Valiant Hearts; even Yager's Spec Ops: The Line. Joining this illustrious list is a new game from a new studio: The Sun Also Rises for PC, Mac Linux and Ouya by Horse Volume.
The game takes place in and around the Global War on Terror, but it's not the kind of game where you run around with a gun.
"We want to weave a broad tapestry of the diverse issue of war," the team wrote on Kickstarter, where they are seeking funding for the game. "These include PTSD and lack of treatment, reintegration of soldiers into everyday life, the interactions between soldiers and civilians, sexual assault in the military, the indoctrination of children into the Taliban, the difficulties of being part of the US Military's chain of command, and many more. As we continue to research and hear peoples' stories, the stories we tell in [The Sun Also Rises] will grow and expand."
Programmer, designer and artist Ty Underwood has been conducting an extensive series of interviews with veterans, active service members and their families. The game, therefore, will focus on interactions between characters, using a dialogue engine that makes room for miscommunication, with interruptions, silences and language barriers.
The story will be centred around three characters: a combat medic, who treats both Afghan civilian locals and his military colleagues, torn between the two; a young Afghan boy growing up in an occupied village, struggling between friendship with and hatred of the American soldiers; and a CIA analyst struggling with meeting the challenges of being a woman in the military while making decisions that risk lives.
"War is hell," the game's website reads, quoting Tim O'Brien's "The Things They Carried": "But that's not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love."
The game is currently being offered as a reward for a minimum pledge of $15 on Kickstarter, with an estimated release date of October 2015.