Blackwater: The Game dropped on October 25th, and Complex recently received an opportunity to interview former Blackwater Operator and game consultant Frank Rincon, a former Reconnaissance Marine with 27 years experience in the personal security business.
Though not a gamer himself, Mr. Rincon recognizes the value of Kinect as an entertainment device and as a training tool.
“I’m hoping that as the technology improves and the game develops, we may someday get a good training simulator. Right now, for somebody who doesn’t have that tactical skillset, this is a good introduction to it,” Rincon said.
Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince had a hand in game development, making sure that the game reflected the realities of what Blackwater actually does.
“What Blackwater does is get our people, our assets, from A to B safely, securely, and without incident.”
I asked Mr. Rincon where the “Blackwater tactics” came in when you’re dealing with what is, essentially, an on-rails shooter. As a former infantryman, I was able to point out that after kicking in a door (an action that’s physically required of the player) the player then stands in the doorway engaging targets, something that contravenes every close-quarter battle tactic that I was ever taught, but Mr. Rincon’s perspective highlights some of the differences between real-life Blackwater operations and your typical shooter: “There are times that you’ll be standing on the other side of the door looking in, and you don’t need to go through that door. [Blackwater operatives] don’t do search and destroy, we don’t clear buildings unless we’re securing an asset…Then our mission is basically search and rescue.”
B:TG even goes so far as to reward players for selectively engaging targets; identify and take out the leader of an armed group, and the rest will withdraw, resulting in more points for the player. This kind of less-violent approach makes Mr. Rincon optimistic about changing the public perception of the PMC.
“I hope so. It’s about asset protection, personnel protection, not about killing a bunch of different guys…Most of the guys I’ve worked with in Blackwater are ex-military, and while we don’t fall under UCMJ anymore, we still fall under the laws of the country we’re working in. ”
Blackwater: The Game is available in stores now for Xbox 360. Read on for our full interview.
Complex: What kind of jobs have you worked for Blackwater?
Frank Rincon: Program manager, Iraq and Afghanistan, interface between gov’t and guys. Detail leader for ambassador in Iraq. In Iraq ’03.
How much input did Blackwater have with the game?
Call from time to time. Erik Prince oversees what went into the game, not really a paramilitary organization, escort personnel and assets, confrontation from point a to point b. Safe, secure without incident.
Was the game already in development when it took on the Blackwater title, or was this designed around the blackwater brand? Are you a gamer yourself?
Getting into it, though it would take away from training, maybe one day get a training simulator. For somebody who doesn’t already have skills, it’s a good entry-level game. You do get fatigued. You can sit there on the couch all day, but at least with this game you do get fatigued.
How realistic is the gameplay?
When we talk about “Blackwater Tactics,” are we talking about convoy security, room clearing, react to contact, that kind of thing? It’s in development, get better as we go, there will be times you’re looking into a door and you don’t know what’s there analyze what you’re looking at before you go in. Do as little damage as possible. Eliminate leadership, get more points. Save personnel, save assets.
The setting is a fictional North African country; as Blackwater is a real-life PMC, do you think there’s any element of ethical conflict in portraying what is potentially a realistic scenario? I’m thinking of the recent blowback against essentially non-fiction games like "Six Days In Fallujah."
Blackwater is made up of former US military, still getting orders from same people. Still fall under rules of country you’re operating in. Most of my guys have been military, come from a spec-ops background. What you see in the game is the guys who were military longest, have the most experience. For kids getting into it, they may not understand the concept of what the individual operator is, the concept hasn’t been around that long. Mission is basically search and rescue. Just escort duty wouldn’t
Lack of blood, other games are more realistic. User-friendly.
Step towards changing perception?
I hope so, not about killing a bunch of different guys, it’s about asset protection, personnel protection. Different levels of blackwater.
You can actually do dynamic movements and edge around corners. Good for adolescents and kids without military background.
Good introduction for kids out of high school, get them off the couch. Hopefully game will develop down the road.