Andy McNab: “arguments about games inducing violence are a load of nonsense”

Thursday, 27 October 2011 15:49 GMT By Stace Harman

Speaking to the Guardian games blog, Andy McNab has described what drew him to advise Dice on Battlefield 3 – “the story” – and which bits reminded him of genuine missions – “the urban stuff”.

McNab is no stranger to modern warfare in the real-world and after seeing what EA was trying to achieve with Battlefield 3 he was happy work with them on a consultancy basis.

“Normally, when you’re approached by a games company, they just want you to jump on at the end as a marketing tool, or do a bit of motion capture,” explained the ex-SAS soldier. “But when the call came from EA Dice, I went out to Stockholm and the guys there just seemed to get it – they wanted to progress the story-side. You’ve got to have a lot more than just shooting in games now, you’ve got to have that sense of engagement.”

McNab explained how he spent time with the designers and artists looking at aesthetic details such as correct gun use and how operations vary between urban and desert environments. He also worked with the game’s stuntmen and actors, as well as advising the writers on correct use of language.

“Military speak is very progressive and positive,” explained McNab. “No one says, ‘Well, we’ll try to get to X by 9am’, it’s all about you will do this, I will do that, this will happen. The point of that is, if you start with a moment of doubt, when things get worse, doubt becomes failure. It’s got to be positive from the start. And it’s all about brevity – military language is not as formal as we think it is.”

As for those that worry about the effects of gamers partaking in digitised war games and the potential of games to trivialise armed conflict, McNab was dismissive.

“People have always been fascinated by war – games are just another medium for that. There have been war films since the beginning of cinema – you could go along to the Saturday morning pictures and watch John Wayne kill 100 Japanese soldiers in 10 minutes. It’s all part of the same thing.

“And the big arguments about games inducing violence – they’re a load of nonsense; violence has always been there. And possibly, the reason the crime rate is declining in the US is that people are now staying in and exploring violence through games rather than going out and beating people up.”

The full interview can be read over on the Guardian games blog.

Battlefield 3 launched in the US earlier this week and launches tomorrow in PAL territories on PC, 360 and PS3,