For Some Soldiers and Veterans, There's Comfort in War Video Games

By Rutkoski, Rex | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

For Some Soldiers and Veterans, There's Comfort in War Video Games


Rutkoski, Rex, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Too often lost on the battlefield, some area veterans contend, is a sense of feeling in control.

The "bad" guy doesn't always go down.

The outcome isn't always what you want it to be.

That's why some military veterans and some of those still on active duty take comfort, and perhaps even a measure of virtual revenge, in playing video games with war themes, one of the hottest of which is the "Call of Duty" series.

This week's release of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3" was greeted with considerable anticipation by civilian and military gamers anxious to fight the good fight once again. Winning rave reviews already is the realistic graphics, weaponry and sense of being in the middle of the action.

"The technology kind of puts you back there to do it again. That's kind of appealing to gamers in the military," says Capt. Mike Clark, 35, of Mt. Pleasant, who spent 18 months in Afghanistan with the First of the 110th Infantry, Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

Awaiting his next mission, Clark is doing advocacy work, including involvement with the Wounded Warrior project, for the Veterans Affairs out of Highland Drive, Pittsburgh.

"I have friends who never served in the military that appreciate a lot of the things we've done over there, and video games like this kind of give them the opportunity to see what it is actually like over there, because the game is so realistic," he says.

The game scenarios "are not far from the truth," says Christian Rey, 24, a Bloomfield native who served last year in the Army National Guard in Iraq, where he and his buddies spent some of their free time playing video war games.

"It's how some soldiers like war movies," he reasons about war gaming in an actual theater of war.

But, "unlike a real battle, you can hit 'reset' and everything will be fine," he says.

Sam Long, 32, of Lower Burrell, a seven-year Army veteran who was in Iraq for eight months and Afghanistan for eight months, says that "reset" button makes all the difference.

"If you get blown up in a video game, you're not really playing for keeps like you are in real warfare," he says.

Pete Kane, 25, of the South Side, an Iraq veteran who served in 2008 and '09, plans to make the $59-plus purchase of "Call of Duty" next week. He appreciates the first-person point of view and finds the depiction of how elite Special Forces do what they do "pretty interesting." He and his friends in the 56th Striker Brigade Army National Guard Unit also played video war games during down time in Iraq.

"It gave you a little adrenaline rush," he says. "There's a lot of time sitting there waiting in a war zone."

Air Force veteran Bob Mazzei, 50, of Lower Burrell occasionally plays video games with his son, Greg, 28, a sergeant who served two tours in Iran with the Army and now is in pilot training in Florida. …

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For Some Soldiers and Veterans, There's Comfort in War Video Games
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