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Battlefield 1 - When a game could change the perception of history

Battlefield 1 will be a great game but its vision of history is questionable and raises ethical issues.

Pascal Luban, Blogger

September 2, 2016

2 Min Read

EA ha announced that French and Russian armies will not available in the initial release of Battlefield 1, the last episode of their famous franchise.  Players will have to wait, and buy the first extension in order to play some of the troops that had the greatest impact during this conflict.

From the point of view of the publisher, it makes sense, business sense. EA is an American publisher and english-speaking nations are probably representing the bulk of its market. 

British, Australian and American troops fought with great courage but history states that French troops withstood most of the combat on the western front (nearly all combats took place in northern France which was utterly destroyed) and Russia did the same on the Eastern one.

By focusing the game on english-speaking troops, EA could warp the understanding of many young players that will perceive WWI as a conflict where American and British  troops were on the forefront of the battle.

And that raises a issue: The impact that games can have on our communities.

Games are becoming a major media touching billions of people. As such, they bring facts, emotions, opinions to players. In  other words, they have the power to change people's perception of reality, to influence them and even to create strong emotional responses in favor of a cause.  

This power would not be worth mentioning if the audience of games had easily access to better and more factual information. But do they?  I am not sure.

This ability to influence, if used improperly, could be a bad thing for our world. Thus, games could carry "wrong" messages by occulting disturbing facts, enhancing others, or by promoting highly questionnable values and behaviors (like "torturing enemies is OK").

We are all running businesses and we are accountable to our shareholders; we need to generate revenue. I have no problem with that. However, I am also a citizen of this world and so are all businesses.  I believe that we should be aware that our design choices could have an indirect impact on our communities in the same way that propaganda and poorly-guided media mislead European citizens into horrific conflicts. Proper information is the key to understand the world.Poorly-informed citizens make poor political choices.

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Pascal Luban


Pascal Luban is a freelance creative director and game designer based in France. He has been working in the game industry as a game or level designer since 1995 and has been commissioned by major studios and publishers including Activision, SCEE, Ubisoft and DICE. In particular, he was Lead Level Designer on the 'versus' multiplayer versions of both Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow and Chaos Theory, he designed CTF-Tornado, a UT3 mod multiplayer map built to showcase the applications of physics to gameplay, he was creative Director on Wanted – Weapons of Fate and lead game designer on Fighters Uncaged, the first combat game for Kinect. His first game for mobile platforms, The One Hope, was published in 2007 by the Irish publishers Gmedia and has received the Best In Gaming award at the 2009 Digital Media Awards of Dublin. Leveraging his design experience on console and PC titles, Pascal is also working on social and Free-to-Play games. He contributed to the game design of Kartoon, a Facebook game currently under development at Kadank, he did a design mission on Treasure Madness, zSlide's successful Free-to-Play game and completed several design missions for French and American clients. Pascal is content director for the video game program at CIFACOM, a French school focusing on the new media industry.

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