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PBS asks why Call of Duty isn't about duty, why Medal of Honor isn't about honor

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Jamin Warren, founder of Kill Screen Magazine and host of PBS Game/Show has a dense 10-minute look at wargames that is worth your time if you play games, or are a citizen of any country that has ever been at war. So basically everyone should watch this.

Warren nimbly charts the course of wargaming from sixth century India to the modern day, specifically focusing on the modern fixation with the first-person shooter genre. War has changed since World War I, from a kind of sport for the ruling class to an asymmetrical morass of violence. And yet our most popular wargames regularly miss the mark in portraying real war in a real way.

Fighting wars requires teamwork, tactics and careful conservation of resources like fuel and ammunition. Today's most popular games are a fantasy that bear little to no resemblance to the realities of modern combat.

"Sure, games are fiction," Warren said, "but that doesn't mean we shouldn't ask anything of them," pointing to games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem as examples of better explorations of the themes of war than Call of Duty.

Warren also spent time praising the Arma series of infantry combat simulation games. Polygon spent months embedded with the elite group of Arma players, including members of the active-duty military, at Shack Tactical. You can read our feature here.