Pop Culture references in FPS games

An interesting way of sustaining the immersion into a FPS game like the Battlefield and Call of Duty series is there use of the stereotypes and tropes of the broader ‘war’ genre. The Battlefield and CoD series often play with depicting war and action through self-consciously drawing upon plot developments, character arcs, etc from the canon of war fiction. What is interesting is how this has been achieved through deliberately referencing other popular culture – particularly films. This can be done through referencing pop culture in the achievements or trophies one earns during the game, for example Battlefield 3’s achievement ‘You can be my wingman’ is a reference to the film Top Gun.

Voice acting offers another example of this – like using the actor William Fitchner to voice a Battlefield 3 character similar to the one he played in ‘Black Hawk Down’. This gives a type of authenticity by linking the game to iconic popular culture anchors, as well as depicting believable urban and regional landscapes and object.

There’s a fascinating ecology of the ‘city at war’ mapped out in these games which is built up through these references to other pop culture and the level of detail given to providing a sense of realism to the environment. This must result in a heightened visceral and emotional connection between the game and the game’s space of war & action.

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