Game of War and War as Game
“Do you wanna come and play?” asks Kate Upton to promote Game of War in one of the most talked-about Super Bowl ads this year. She’s sporting the garb of Game of Thrones, but this is no HBO series. It’s not a movie either.
It’s a video game.
Upton’s enlistment brings glamour to the otherwise gloomy reality of war. You can’t swipe a screen without catching a glimpse of Kate calling you forth to play with her. The idea of lending some sexed-up branding to a product targeting male consumers is unremarkable.
But there’s something troubling about spending 40-million dollars to brand a war-game in light of another group’s recent branding efforts.
Terrorists are marketing war as a game, and they’re using targeted ads.
Their ad is longer than industry standard; it runs about 22 minutes. They also break a few accepted media rules, for instance, failing to include subtitles, a graphic content advisory, or humanity.
The most hated terrorist group in the world has big aspirations. They’re trying to trend on Twitter. Their branding experts recognize the need to reach their target demographic–uneducated, impoverished, terrified young adults, often left orphaned by previous marketing campaigns–but the time-honored oral tradition for describing the virtues of murder and cowardice have grown old.
They needed something fresh. Something sexy. Something with the appeal of a video game.
So they “acquired” a cast, wrote a script, and began shooting on-location. They, too, strove to paint a sexy picture of war. But rather than titillate viewers with busty blondes, they tugged on the heartstrings with corpses and burned babies. Gamers are encouraged to build a different kind of kingdom, a caliphate, where the only rule is that everyone must play the game.
They’ve shown us their sexiest face, and it is unrecognizable as human.
Perhaps they fail to see the irony of their propaganda. They, like Dorian Gray fail to see that every slice cuts deeper into their own flesh.
But God has a way of turning tragedy into victory. He used the greatest tragedy of all, the crucifixion of Jesus on a Roman cross, to declare victory over death. Might such barbarism as we have witnessed also be part of a solution yet unseen? We can only pray.
Heroes offer their lives.
Villains take them.
War is not a game. But for some who think they’re playing one, it wont be long before they reach the end.
And there will be no credits.
About Jason B. Ladd
Jason is an author, speaker, Marine, and father of seven. He has flown the F/A-18 Hornet as a Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 (MAWTS-1) Instructor Pilot and the F-16 as an Instructor Pilot. His award-winning book One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview has been optioned for film adaptation. He is represented by Julie Gwinn of The Seymour Agency.