For these new kinds of soldiers, where is the real damage felt?
This is not your typical war simulator. You’re not a gritty soldier fighting on the ground, instead, you’re the operator of a remote, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). When the war is fought on screen, where is the real damage experienced?
Unmanned was written by Jim Munroe, the “pop culture provocateur” behind No Media Kings and developed by Molleindustria, the Italian game studio who uses games to spark social and political discussion. This partnership marks one of the first times Molleindustria has teamed up with a like-minded entity, and the union has sparked numerous press mentions and various awards (specifically two from the 2012 Games for Change Festival).
Typical of any Molleindustria game, Unmanned seeks to subvert the common threads of popular video games, and specifically those in the war genre. Instead of examining war from the front lines, players are placed in the role of a new type of soldier: one who controls unmanned attack aircraft by day, and by night goes home to a suburban life. Throughout a few days in this soldier’s life, players learn that the conflict that most grips that soldier is not on the battlefield, but in his mind. The gameplay begs the question, “when you’re so far removed from the battlefield and the damage you cause, how does that damage the other connections in your life?”
Separated in a unique fashion combining visual narrative, simulation, and satirical gameplay, Unmanned’s story unfolds across two separate screens. Players juggle decisions and actions on both screens while earning ironic and often times, subversive “achievements” that reward you from not shedding blood while shaving, rather than rewarding you for the most headshots in a firefight. The gameplay shines a light on the difficulty of decisions a UAV pilot makes, while juggling the complexities of a “normal” life when the day’s work is through.