Counter-Strike: The Unofficial War in Ukraine by@nebojsa.todorovic

Counter-Strike: The Unofficial War in Ukraine

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Counter-Strike maps are holy grounds for players. When you start playing, you close the door of the real world behind you. That’s the rule. That’s tradition. Sadly, the holy ground is desecrated.
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@nebojsa.todorovic
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Some ten years ago, I watched an HBO documentary, “Man at War.” What’s it about?


Well, I’m going to share the IMDB’s plot summary with you:


A film about the international community of people fascinated with World War II, who fulfill their ambitions in computer games. They take the role of pilots of flying machines during WWII and participate in air battles in real time. Some of them treat it as a hobby, but for many of them the game has become their life. Has a new human species been born - Homo Virtualis?


Yeah, I know, it doesn’t say much. The same applies to the official movie poster.


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You have to see it to feel the passion of gamers. Ten years later, I still have vivid memories of players dressing up in WW2 pilot uniforms. Some items were authentic, and, I’m sure, expensive. I also remember that some players were direct descendants or close relatives of the actual WW2 pilots. Just imagine, you play a game with a picture of your grandpa next to your screen with all the medals and stuff. Talking about honoring your heroic ancestors in the digital world. Groovy!


There’s not a single review, and the IMDB rating is rather disappointing - 6.9/10. I’m not a fan of these war games where you fly a plane or drive a tank, but the story about these devoted gamers deserves so much more attention and praise.


Now, I have to be honest and warn you that both comradery and animosity between players were taken to the extremes. They made it feel like a real war. I just know that some of these guys wouldn’t mind getting the taste of the “real thing.” But hey, it’s just a video game, or is it?

The Unavoidable GTA Detour

Before we get to the main point of my story, I have to say unwillingly a thing or two about the GTA controversies, so we’re clear. It’s a long list, and I’m not going to delve into it. This is dangerous and painful territory. I’m not going to be a defender or an accuser because it’s a lose-lose scenario.


The scary reality is that we have people who crossed the line between fiction and reality in the most tragic ways. The triple homicide in Fayette, Alabama, was marked by two quotes that are pointless to discuss:


Life is like a video game. Everybody's got to die sometime.


What we're saying is that Devin Moore was, in effect, trained to do what he did. He was given a murder simulator. He bought it as a minor. He played it hundreds of hours, which is primarily a cop-killing game. It's our theory, which we think we can prove to a jury in Alabama, that, but for the video-game training, he would not have done what he did.


You don’t have to guess twice which lines were spoken by the murderer and which ones by the anti-video-game activist, do you?


At the same time, we have people for whom there’s a “link” between “The Catcher in the Rye” and serial killers. You simply can’t win an argument in these situations. You can only lose your mind and your innocent gamer’s soul.

Shoot, But Keep Your Mouth Shut!

I consider myself to be a proud and sentimental representative of the good old school of gamers, which I elaborated on in my story about Blizzard.


I played CS 1.6 when some of the gaming hotheads were still in diapers. I’ve always minded my gaming manners. Some things are sacred. There are unwritten rules and etiquette in the CS world. Just like in “Highlander,” the movie.


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Counter-Strike maps are holy grounds for players. When you start playing, you close the door of the real world behind you. That’s the rule. That’s tradition.


Sadly, the holy ground is desecrated.


I have no problem with any player’s nick or avatar. You want to CS:GO under the name of “SlavaUkraini,” no problem. You want to use Putin’s picture as your avatar, no problem.


The veterans of the Balkans Civil War (former Yugoslavia), arguably one of the bloodiest and cruelest ones since WW2, are among the most civilized and respectful Counter-Strike players. Both Ukrainian and Russian players can learn a lot from them.


You can’t stream the Netflix movies, order a Happy Meal, or lose yourself in the depths of the PornHub jungle, if you’re in Russia, because that’s going to stop the war in Ukraine.


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Should all war video games be banned while people are fighting and dying in Ukraine? No! On the contrary, I’d rather have people “occupied” in the virtual than in the real-life war zones. Let the virtual world absorbs and locks all hatred and killing impulses of our flawed human nature and endless political disputes.


Unfortunately, these days, I spend more time muting Ukrainian and Russian players than playing CS:GO, although I don’t understand the word they’re shouting at each other. I chat with players from all over the world. We’re appalled, to say the least. There are players from countries with centuries-old disputes and countless conflicts. Crazy as it sounds, the war games are the zones of peace and virtual friendship for them, even if they only last until the end of the current round.


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I’m not the only one who doesn’t have sympathy or respect, or understanding for the brave keyboard warriors on either side of the conflict in Ukraine. The fact they’re playing while their countrymen are fighting and suffering means one of the following: they’re either somewhere safe, far away from the conflict zones, or too young to enlist. I don’t know what’s worse, to be old enough, but not courageous enough to help your country, not necessarily by bearing and using arms (“Hacksaw Ridge” comes to mind), or so young, and already poisoned with hatred.

The Future of War Games - Between Bloody Reality and Dodging Responsibility


The simple and undeniable truth about the present and future war games is that they’re based on past wars. First comes a war, then a game about it, not the other way around. So, you can never blame war games, like them or not, playing them or not.


C’mon guys, not even beauty pageant contestants don’t believe in “world peace.” Just ask Sandra Bullock.


We need war video games to catch the evil genie of war in a bottle (game), and never let it go.


Play with war game guns; don’t play with the real guns in a real war. To fix that line from a clearly troubled mind, I quoted earlier in my story:


Life is NOT like a video game. Everybody's got to die sometime. TRUE, but only in a game you can die more than once. DON’T FORGET THAT!

PEACE!!


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