‘SOCOM’ sets standard for U.S. military in video games

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

Editor’s Note: This is an article in our ongoing “Great Video Game” series in which readers and staffers alike are asked to submit a few hundred words about a video game that they consider to be great.

Esteban Diaz | Editorial Cartoonist

By Joshua Madden
A&E Editor

With “Act of Valor” being released today, I felt it was an opportunity to take a look at how the military is portrayed in the media. With an all-volunteer military in the United States that is willing to sacrifice so much for the rest of us, I think the least the media can do to make sure that the fictional portrayals of the American military are as fair and as accurate as possible.

“SOCOM: U.S. Navy Seals” immediately came to mind as an example of how this can be done right. Sony worked with the U.S. Navy — who provided technical support — on the development of the game. When you pull up the game, that dedication from the developers really shows.

“SOCOM” is a ground-breaking game that often is not given enough credit for the doors it threw open for the rest of the gaming world. While having voice-chat during an online shooting match with your friends is now commonplace, it’s important to remember that before “SOCOM,” this was pretty much limited exclusively to the computer.

In our other article today, reporter Jamie Lim wrote about the importance of brotherhood in the military — it’s one of the few things that Hollywood often gets right about the military experience.

Gaming, however, took longer to get that right. Even now, so many military shooters are focused on the individual, not the team. It was the addition of the voice chat in “SOCOM” that made the team so much more important in the single-player campaign. This is not “Star Fox 64” where you have to constantly save Slippy; you are a team leader who is expected to minimize harm to your own team and govern it effectively.

The voice-chat aspect of the online play also allows for this element to be integrated into online play as well. It’s still a video game, sure, but there is a much more clear team feel in “SOCOM” than in any game that proceeded it. The interesting thing is that while “SOCOM” opened these doors for console gaming, it also arguably did so for portable gaming when voice-chat capability was included in the PSP game “SOCOM: Fireteam Bravo.”

“SOCOM” was the first online game that I remember everyone actually played — an experience that was arguably unparalleled until the release of “Halo 2.” While the “Call of Duty” franchise has largely taken that mantle from “SOCOM,” it’s important to remember that “SOCOM” was answering this call long before everyone was rushing out to buy the newest “Modern Warfare” game.

Does reading this article make you think of a video game that you consider great? Please send us an email at lariat@baylor.edu with a suggestion for a “Great Video Game.” Please include a few hundred words on why you consider your game to be great and you just might find your opinion here.