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CVG
Interviews

Army of Two: The 40th Day

Producer on reviews, layoffs and violating the Geneva Convention

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If 40th Day again doesn't receive critical success do you think EA will continue that commitment?

Turner: That's something that I honestly don't know. I would hope so. I like working with these characters and these games but that's going to be up to critics and we'll see how that gets received. I hope it does because it's a great game but I've no idea until it happens.

A recent study criticised games - including Army of Two - for violating the rules of the Geneva Convention in regards to the depiction of torture and civilian property destruction. What's your reaction to that?

Turner: I saw that actually. I think it's a kind of self-fulfilling study. They wanted to prove something so they went about figuring out how to prove it their own way, right? They wanted to prove that videogames are bad and violent so found games that committed war crimes. I don't really get their point.

Zoom

Their argument was that these games teach kids that soldiers go around torturing people and blowing up churches...

Turner: I'd like to believe that adults have enough reason to understand that this is a videogame, pixelated violence and in real life it wouldn't be acceptable. I would hope that we can take more responsibility as people and kind of say, 'this is a game, I realise that it's bad and it's my responsibility as a parent to have my 17-year-old play the game, have a well-rounded viewpoint and realise what it is'.

You're obviously adamant in pointing out that Army of Two is a videogame, but at the same time you've done a lot of research in maintaining war authenticity. Where do you draw the line?

Turner: It's kind of a blurry line in the sand, it's not like a wall we don't cross. We play it by ear and we can kind of sense when things are going to go wrong. A good example of that was the tone; in the first game the tone was inappropriate. We admit that and now we've gone and fixed that.

It's kind of a trial and error thing, there's a grey area. You want to push limits but you can push them too far without really knowing and that's where I think a lot of responsibility falls on us to be aware of what we're doing, do focus tests and ask opinions.

We take it you wouldn't have done anything like the Modern Warfare 2 airport scene then?

Turner: We wouldn't have done it, we didn't do it. For me personally I think the alarm bells went off in a big way on that one because it was out of context. When the footage got leaked thousands upon thousands of people saw it on a clip not knowing what it was. I'm not saying they were overreacting but people were generating these pretty outlandish opinions even though they didn't know what the scene meant in the grand scheme of the game.

Zoom

You're playing a CIA agent, it's designed to show the atrocities... it's pretty awful and if you fail to see that side of it than you're not getting the whole picture. That being said, I thought it took it a little far; it was pretty out there. But I like seeing that they have guts like that.

From a writer's perspective do you see the narrative purposes of a scene like that?

Turner: Absolutely. I say maybe they pushed it too far but in a way that's a good thing because the media of videogames is very young. We have to start pushing limits, making statements and seeing what kind of social and cultural relevance that we can have which hasn't really been nailed yet.

I think [Infinity Ward] were pushing towards that direction and trying to make people experience something truly terrible. Whether they were successful or not I'll leave up to the players to decide, but I liked the fact that they were trying something new that people haven't done before. I think that's really gutsy and my hat's off to Infinity Ward for trying at least.

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