Posted: 6/10/2002 10:50:01 PM EDT
'Black Hawk Down' game planned
Controversy centers on accuracy, content
June 10, 2002 Posted: 9:34 AM EDT (1334 GMT)
Josh Hartnett starred this year in the film "Black Hawk Down," which recreated the disastrous humanitarian mission of 1993.
LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) -- Coming soon: a video game based on the botched 1993 raid in Somalia now known as "Black Hawk Down" and etched in American memory after two dead United States soldiers were dragged through the streets of Mogadishu.
The company producing the game, Calabasas, California-based NovaLogic, said the game was patriotic, intended in part to educate the public about the U.S. mission in Somalia.
But some critics question that aim and whether the game risks blurring the line between history and entertainment and altering perceptions about the bloodiest firefight in U.S. military history since Vietnam.
Some even speculate it could lead to games about other tragedies -- maybe even September 11 -- and NovaLogic says it has a game in the works about U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.
Mark Bowden, the author of "Black Hawk Down" the best-selling book about the Somali raid, said he declined to be involved with the game because it was not in line with his purpose in writing the critically acclaimed non-fiction book.
"We were approached by them and I just told my agent I didn't want to be involved," Bowden told Reuters. "To me there's a qualitative difference between making a game and telling a story."
NovaLogic said the upcoming military adventure game "Delta Force -- Black Hawk Down" would center around a series of U.S. commando raids against Somali warlords, allowing players to take on the role of special forces troops.
In the real-life battle that inspired the book and a hit movie based on it, U.S. troops hunting for Somali warlord Mohamed Farah Aidid entered Mogadishu on October 3, 1993, and were caught in a fierce firefight after a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down. A total of 18 soldiers were killed.
"The whole notion that you would make this part of your entertainment regimen strikes me as a little creepy," Prof. Robert Thompson, director of the Center for the Study of Popular Television at Syracuse University, told Reuters.
NovaLogic said it would publish a version of the game for PCs in the fourth quarter of this year, with versions expected for Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 2 and Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox in 2003.
Marcus Beer, a spokesman for NovaLogic, said the last mission of the game is the one depicted in "Black Hawk Down," though he said it will steer away from the actual fate of that mission so as not to offend anyone, and will exclude scenes of bodies being dragged through streets.
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Creators of the "Black Hawk Down" game say they will alter the ending so as not to offend anyone.
"For us this is actually a logical progression," he said. "This is our take on the whole 'Operation Restore Hope'," he added, referring to the name of the American military's early-1990s operations in Somalia.
"We've had a lot of positive feedback from the military community about this," Beer said, noting two former members of the elite Delta Force are advising NovaLogic on the game, including one commando who actually fought in Mogadishu.
He also said a version of "Delta Force 2" is in use as a training exercise at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and that the company has a retired Air Force general on its board.
The game "re-educates people to a certain degree" about the U.S. mission in the strife-torn east African country, he said.
Beer also said the company will be donating a part of the proceeds from sales of the game to two military charities, with specific details on those recipients expected soon.
NovaLogic is also working on a "Delta Force" game that allows players to fight as U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, and in late May the U.S. Army unveiled a game it is designing that will allow users to take on the role of American soldiers in typical combat missions.
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