Why don’t war games feature civilians?

Over at Slate, Michael Thomson has some thoughts about why keeping civilians out of the line of fire in videogames is standard practice, and why it’s a bad idea. Responding to Battlefield 3’s lack of civilian bystanders because, as executive producer Patrick Bach explains, he doesn’t “want to see videos on the Internet where people shoot civilians,” Thomson writes that:

By removing civilians from the picture, developers like Bach are trying to reap the benefits of a real-life setting without grappling with the reality of collateral damage. In sparing themselves the challenge of making their games deeper and more involving, they’re the ones holding back the medium. While video games have come a long way since Mega Man, Battlefield 3’s sanitized environment suggests that players are still limited to the same two basic actions: running around and shooting.


-Richard Clark