Battlefield 1 draws ire of veterans

(Photo provided by Lorraine Longley)

British serviceman, John Longley who served at Camp X in Oshawa during WWII challenge

A recently released world war-related video game that is expected to sell 15 million units,  has drawn the ire of some veterans and their families.

Veterans are raising concerns about the developer and publisher of the game – called Battlefield 1 – profiting from the experiences of veterans.

Set during the First World War, Battlefield 1 is a first person shooter, developed by DICE, a Swedish video game company and is published by Electronic Arts. During the official release weekend of Oct. 21 – Oct. 23, there were 749,189 players in game during peak hours across PC, PlayStation 4, and XBOX One.

The use of war in popular forms of entertainment has existed almost as long as the formats, but to veterans and their families the commercialization and glamourization of war in the entertainment industry draws strong emotions.
“I don’t think they should be profiting off of it… they glamourize a lot of it, to make people believe that war is glamourous, while it certainly isn’t,” said Arthur Boon, formerly of the Perth Regiment and the 19th Canadian Army Field Regiment. “I was there from D-Day to VE-Day, I was wounded twice, and there is no glamour to it… it shouldn’t be done that way, I believe in having documentaries that tell what the war is all about.”

Lorraine Longley, whose second husband John Longley served at Camp X in Oshawa during the Second World War, echoed a similar sentiment.

“I don’t agree with that at all (using war as subject matter) profiting off of our soldiers who gave their lives, who were mortally wounded, coming back without legs and arms. I just don’t agree with it at all,” said Longley.

Battlefield 1 engages players by having them take on the roles of six soldiers all fighting during the conflict under the command of different nation states that were involved in the First World War. A Royal Flying Corps fighter pilot, an ANZAC runner, and a Bedouin warrior under the command of Lawrence of Arabia are just some of the roles players can take on.

Boon believes that the portrayal of war in books and films is also inaccurate when compared to the realities faced by the men who enlisted and served during both World Wars.

“Some of our top writers weren’t born while the war was on, they have followed along and made money off of war. They go and get stories from generals and from the high command. They don’t tell it like it is on the ground. The way (war) happens is when the private soldier… is out there on the ground fighting that war. He knows what it’s all about,” said Boon.

Battlefield 1 was released exactly three weeks before Remembrance Day. This Remembrance Day will mark the 97th consecutive Nov. 11 in which residents of the Commonwealth of Nations will pause, reflect, and remember. The game is a strong reminder of the First World War for a new generation that may be unfamiliar with that war. But to veterans such as Boon, there is no reminder needed.

“My father served in World War One, one of my uncles served there and was killed at Vimy Ridge, my grandfather also served there, and I served over in Europe, and I also had four uncles who served down in Italy during the Second World War with the First Regiment, and one in the air force. So our entire family was involved in both of those wars. So I remember both of them (the First and Second World Wars),” said Boon.

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James Bauman is a second-year journalism student at Durham College. He enjoys writing about sports, arts, and culture for The Chronicle. James is a former three sport athlete who can be found on the links during his downtime. He hopes to cover sports for a daily publication, and eventually to work as a sports columnist.