"Chinese video game targets American troops"
"Watch China kill American soldiers in new video game"
It sounds outrageous. But is it really?
For starters: Let's accept that there are video games that allow you to shoot other people. Whether they are soldiers, mobsters, or even innocent bystanders, some of the most popular games in the world right now involve shooting people. The debate over whether that's right or wrong is one for another place and time.
"Glorious Mission" is a PC game developed in China that bears an uncanny resemblance to many of those games. It is a first-person shooter much like the "Call of Duty" series, except it stars Chinese troops - and the enemies are apparently American soldiers.
The game was co-developed by the People's Liberation Army's Nanjing branch, and is (for now) intended for use by soldiers as a training aid.
The idea of a game being developed and used by a nation's military might seem unusual, but it's not a new one. In fact, the United States did the same thing nine years ago: "America's Army" acted as both a training tool and a public relations campaign to drive recruitment when it was released in 2002.
Unlike Glorious Mission, America's Army featured generic enemies that had no set nationality. But that doesn't mean other developers haven't used the Chinese as villains. The last two "Operation Flashpoint" games, both developed and published by British firm Codemasters, put you in the shoes of American troops fighting the PLA. "Battlefield 2", developed by Sweden's DICE and published by U.S. giant Electronic Arts, has the PLA as a potential side to play as or against, pitting them against American Marines or a Middle Eastern coalition.
Curiously, there is one game that thought about using the Chinese as antagonists... and chose not to. "Homefront" tells the story of an Asian nation invading the United States: North Korea. Why not China? An executive at the game's publisher THQ told Kotaku: "They're just not that scary." He argues that the relationship between the U.S. and China is too friendly now to make them good villains.
Admittedly, there aren't many games that have Chinese villains. (They certainly aren't as popular as Russian bad guys are right now.) But they exist, and they fail to draw much comment when they do appear. So why is the reverse scenario anything to sit up and take notice of?