Why World of Tanks Is Laying Down Its Arms

War Child raises money to educate children trapped inside war zones around the world. It is an incredibly noble cause to support, and the games industry has worked with the charity to raise funds for years, normally rewarding charitable players with some exclusive, awareness raising cosmetics. But this year War Child and World of Tanks are working together to do something different. This year they are asking players to let their guns fall silent, which is a courageous decision.

Last year, World of Tanks raised an impressive $84,000 for War Child by selling cosmetic skins, and it’ll be doing the same this year too. But on top of that, War Child and World of Tanks have created a truly unique Armistice Day event for the players.

The Lovely Anachronism

Any player can join the event between 11:11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on November 11 with the code “111111.” Doing so will reward the players with a day’s worth of premium content, and more importantly, ask them to choose a time to commemorate Armistice with a two-minute silence.

World of Tanks, a game that revels in the mechanisms of war, is asking its players to lay down arms and let their own guns fall silent, in memory of the victims of war. It is a powerful request, entirely because the game is designed around shooting, killing, and fetishizing weapons of war. This is after all, a game called World of Tanks, an inherently violent game about shooting each other with tanks. Asking players not to partake in this primal aspect of the game is no small feat.

Out of context it is a game simply asking its players to not play it for a few minutes, which is a bit weird but not entirely unheard of. But what they are actually doing is asking the player to reflect on the cost of war, and the far-reaching implications of the acts they enjoy emulating within World of Tanks.

Different Perspectives

This stance isn’t exactly new, with several recent games strongly critiquing war, from Valiant Hearts‘ and 11:11 Memories Retold‘s historic perspectives to This War of Mine’s more modern one. They seek to highlight the victims and cost of war on a personal, intimate level. But these attitudes are rarely echoed in the larger, more traditional multiplayer war games. These games normally try to strip away the pain and tragedy of war to bring players something fun, which is both recognizable but distant. War Child is reintroducing some of these complexities back into the World of Tanks, even if only momentarily.

This fundamentally changes the experience for the players. By forsaking the violence at the core of the experience of World of Tanks, the dynamic between the player and the action changes. Participating the commemorative event forces the users to reflect on every moment they’ve enjoyed the game and the wars and weapons that killed millions across the globe; the same wars and weapons that these players enjoy emulating. World of Tanks is a violent game, where each player is a devastating tool of war trying to destroy each other. But on Sunday, for two small minutes World of Tanks will celebrate peace, and ask the player to join in as well.

The Importance of Reflecting on War

Free-To-Play Switch Games World of Tanks Mercenaries Screenshot

The relationship between games and violence is a controversial one. Not because games incite violence, but because, like films and books and all other forms of media, the audience enjoys it. And while it is perfectly natural to enjoy these moments of simulated violence, we are so rarely asked to reflect on the actual violence that inspires them. Or at least, we don’t reflect on the violence in games that also celebrate it.

It might seem strange for a charity so openly opposed to war to join forces with a game that does all it can to celebrate it. But even games that portray war in a negative light are still essentially fun to play. War Child uses both them create a striking message, one that can be explored in titles like This War of Mine where players desperately try to help children trapped in conflict to games like World of Tanks where it gets players to question why anyone would commit such violence in the first place. They do all of this while helping some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.

On November 11, 1918, the guns of Europe fell silent for the first time in four years. The Great War was over. It was a transformative war for the continent, churning the soil and dispelling the old joyous notions of war. Today some still celebrate war, but we know the truth of it as well. World of Tanks isn’t afraid to explore both sides of our relationship with conflict, and it does it for a noble cause too.