Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Duffelblog on “Counterinsurgency”


The satirical military website Duffelblog today reports on a  “Realistic new ‘Counterinsurgency’ video game lets you watch troops fuck up until you’re fired.”

An upcoming real-time strategy game is designed to let you watch your troops fuck up until you’re fired, sources confirmed today.

Titled Counterinsurgency, the debut video game from Seattle-based Green Wood Studios breaks new ground by pulling players into a protracted campaign mode with virtually no way to win. During this time, you — playing as the Theater Commander — get to witness gross mismanagement and malfeasance on the part of your subordinates until you are replaced.

“Most RTS games are about achieving measurable objectives, such as destroying the enemy team or acquiring key resources,” said Jerry Cevalos, the lead game designer, during an interview at GWS. “We went the opposite direction by instating a nebulous end-game of installing and sustaining a democracy.”

This part will certainly sound familiar for anyone who has followed the seemingly endless COIN campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere:

According to a preview of the game, despite having superior forces and materiel on the player’s side, things quickly go haywire after the campaign begins. Faulty intelligence gained from tortured prisoners leads to a missile obliterating a wedding, killing 23 unarmed civilians and a CIA asset. A shadowy, Russian-backed cartel quickly gains recruits from the angry populace, and the Red Phoenix Army is born.

Numerous pre-scripted and dynamic real-time events wreak further havoc on your command, from vehicle-borne IEDs blowing up civilians and gate guards, to special ops raids killing the wrong people, to soldiers disobeying orders or going on murder-sprees.

“You could be in the middle of stability operations in a nearby province, and a disillusioned soldier will desert his post or leak classified documents,” Cevalos explained, referring to unscripted incidents that can happen during gameplay. “And don’t be surprised if your best troops with fleshed-out skill trees quit the military and get replaced with inept morons.”

Making things worse, the insurgents are often indistinguishable from neutral non-playable characters, making accidental civilian deaths practically unavoidable. This problem is compounded by vindictive locals falsely accusing their rivals of being guerrillas, while others have no interest in ratting out their insurgent friends and family. All of these contribute to the loss of Confidence Points and bring your command tenure to its inevitable demise.

“Whether it’s sending Special Forces to train people who will later try to kill them or arresting a dozen Marines in a drug and prostitution sting, we intend to make this the most realistic RTS to date,” Cevalos added.

3 responses to “Duffelblog on “Counterinsurgency”

  1. Rex Brynen 02/02/2018 at 8:58 pm

    It was a great piece–and I’m a huge Duffelblog fan!

  2. The Shammer 02/02/2018 at 7:57 pm

    Professor Brynen,

    Thank you for featuring my article on your website. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it (and creating the graphic to go with it).

    The Shammer

    P.S. I think my favorite line is “Counterinsurgency is scheduled to be released after the War in Afghanistan ends, sometime in 2031.”

  3. centreofgravitygames 06/12/2017 at 12:27 pm

    Seems a legit simulation, I’d totally play it! Are construction materials for building schools being used to create IEDs?

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