I finally saw the film FURY last month. It certainly lived up to the hype.
In case you didn’t know, Fury tells the harrowing story of a US tank crew in April 1945. Led by the hard bitten sergeant Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier and his four crew take their ‘Easy Eight’ 76mm Sherman tank on a deadly mission behind enemy lines. Most of the battle scenes were very good I thought. You had a real feel of the challenges of a Sherman tank platoon commander trying to spot his enemy and directing the fire of the other tanks and the accompanying infantry. For the tank afficionado there’s definitely points to nit-pick, of course. The infamous Tiger scene was very well paced - I can believe a Tiger I could be active that late in the war (the last Tiger was destroyed trying to break out of Berlin in May 1945) - but the M4A2E8 HVSS was more than a match for the Tiger. I also questioned why they were sent on their last mission without infantry support - tanks cannot hold ground. Later on, we saw Fury drive past a couple of M8 scout cars, what were they doing? Not scouting that’s for sure. I was mostly happy with the film, that is apart from the last battle. This seemed to resort to sheer Hollywood hero action in the best traditions of The Patriot or a John Wayne movie.
I’d taken my girlfriend to see the film. She was quite upset at the film’s end - shocked at the depiction of war. She commented how terrible it was what humans could do to fellow humans. True… I tried to comfort her and said that it certainly brought home the reality of war and was not a movie for the sort who glorify in war. That’s when she dropped a bombshell “Like those who game war?”
… Now there was a knockout blow with one punch!
For a while I did question my motives for gaming. Why do we game? For me, it’s primarily because it’s a fun, social and creative hobby. It has also made me research into the real lives of people who have fought in wars and the grim reality of war. The question is one I’m not alone in asking:
Legatus tackles much the same ground in his blog, including a reference to an article in a previous issue of WSS. Mark Backhouse’s article from WSS 54 did touch on some sensitive issues, namely the assassination of Caligula, his wife and his daughter. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and that is something which simply didn’t occur to Mark when he wrote the article (or myself in editing).
So where did this leave me in regards to my feelings about my hobby of wargaming? It is good to ask yourself questions as it is only then you truly know what you believe in.
I can draw a distinction between the games I play and reality. I do not believe gaming makes me a warmonger, in fact my research and reading gives me an insight into the true bloody cost of war. A game is much the same as watching a movie or a TV soap or reading a book. Watching Eastenders or similar does not make me an advocate of domestic violence nor of infidelity. Reading 50 shades of Grey does not make me a pervert (I do neither, of course!). I recognise them as entertainment, works of fiction. I also believe that you need to tell the whole story in a scenario but am against trivialisation of history (which admittedly we - unintentionally - did in the article mentioned above).