“I am a fan of many computer games, and more than anything I like to be surprised by the medium. Be it terrified on Left 4 Dead, or the feeling of solitude and loneliness on Shadow of the Colossus, I love nothing more than to be made to feel, and to be surprised by my own reaction.
Planetside came at an unusual point in my life; I went down to my local game shop and bought it on a whim because another MMO wasn’t out for another two weeks. I embraced it with open arms, and spent the better part of that summer holiday engaged in the fight for my faction’s survival.
Whereas I could post one of my heroic battles stories, like the time I jumped on a Battle Frame Robot’s head off a balcony and chain gunned him in the face while he panicked not being able to find me. Or the numerous times I watched my faction take a base because of an AMS that I positioned and protected for hours on end. But when I honestly look back on Planetside 1, and think about what I take away from the experience, what did that game make me feel, what was it that the game installed in my subconscious and how did it make me engage in a way no other game has since?
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a bigoted small minded freak. I believe every race, creed, religion and sexuality deserves to exist, I’m speaking mainly in the fictional world of Auraxis here. And no I am not suggesting that my racism took the form of horrible ethnic slurs aimed at my enemies chat bar. I mean the feeling of war, the feeling that soldiers must get in battle where they stop viewing the enemy as people, and they start viewing them as beasts so that their human mind can deal with killing. No I’m not saying that Planetside 1 made me suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, I’m saying the game gave me a feeling, one I didn’t necessarily want to feel, but as unique and brilliant as any other form of art has to offer. I remember precisely when I realised my mistake.
I was standing on a wall of a base, as was the way with my character. I considered myself a defensive character, sniping at enemies and aircraft to keep them away. It had been a particularly unsuccessful battle, and the tug of war between our base and the enemies had gone on for hours. It was at this point when I saw the enemy forces coming over the hill in greater numbers than before, that I had my realisation. I hated them. These were just people, playing a game, enjoying each other’s company, having fun. But they were scum to me. This was back in the day when you had to choose a faction and stick to it forever, and long before they allowed you to chat to the opposition. So all the enemy was to me were soulless, faceless war machines, doing everything in their power to kill me, and everyone I knew.
At this point I started laughing to myself, how ridiculous the whole situation was, and how I was being hugely over dramatic and particularly idiotic. But it was a feeling, a feeling I haven’t had since. Gaming now a days consists of chat parties, and lobby sessions where you can talk about your defeats, brag about your victories, or more than likely have a 12 year old call you a “insert slur here”. But there was nothing quite as terrifying, intimidating or threatening as an enemy force of unspecific strength and speed engaging you in complete and total communications blackout.
So I implore you, when you hear grown men insulting each other about their faction choice in relation to Planetside, and maybe from your point of view it seems like the pathetic yammering of people who failed to grow up. Understand that there are years of battle-scars, defeats, and humiliations at the hands of the enemy, and no matter how hard we try, we cannot forget.”
This particular submission made me think. Has it ceased to be factionism, and suddenly become racism? Are the people of Auraxis such different forms of human beings based on their beliefs? Makes one consider how intense this conflict has become!
Remember, if you would like to submit a War-story for inclusion in the book project, please send it to:
Thank you all for your time and interest in making this project a success!