Call of Duty. Battlefield. Medal of Honor. Many of the biggest-selling series in video game history are all about putting players in the midst of wars that could be happening right outside their windows. But the politics and consequences surrounding these international armed conflicts often get sidelined amongst the set-pieces and explosions. One game wants to shift the focus to see what how war really affects people's lives.
The Sun Also Rises—being made by indie studio Horse Volume, whose members met at the Savannah College of Art and Design—wants to take a different tack on the global War on Terror that's been influencing domestic and international policies for more than a decade. While video games have been set in some of the same hotspots where actual battles have been fought, TSAR developer August Early thinks they've gotten some crucial things wrong. "The majority of popular war games are intended to be entertainment. Inevitably, people's perceptions are distorted," he said to me over e-mail. "It fosters ignorance when Karachi, Pakistan is depicted as an Arabic speaking city. It's terrifying when games suggest the use of military force for domestic policing. The War on Terror isn't an even playing field where two teams face off in an arena. It's happening in total confusion, in people's homes."