Command & Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars

War is ultimate form of conflict. It arises from scarcity of resources and the clash of ideologies on a wide scale. Beyond rivalries, beyond clans, beyond feuds and skirmishes, war is the peak of human conflict. It is the end of dialogue, the beginning of madness. It is with a firm understanding of these principles that the Command & Conquer series has arisen as one of the greats in real-time strategy games and as a powerful allegory for modern geopolitics.

Brotherhood of Nod – The Clash of Ideology

The most obvious allegory in the C&C series has been the rivalry between the Brotherhood of Nod and the Global Defense Initiative (GDI). Standing in for radical Islam (or Communism), and NATO, the Nod and GDI share radically different views of the world. Nod is said to be a cult like political organization which is hundreds of years old. Operated now by a megalomaniac named Kane (an allusion to the Biblical Cain), Nod’s ideology is connected to Abrahamic faiths (Christianity, Judaism, Islam) through its piety and narrow view of socialization and the law. Followers of Nod are placed in the crosshairs of the GDI, an organization that is the combined arsenal of the western powers.

In addition to being convenient depictions of real world groups, these two allow for great diversity in units and characters not possible in other RTS games. In conventional warfare games, it is often difficult to distinguish one type of tank from another, making big obtuse colorings a must. While team colors are a convention of RTS games and are present in this title, they play a back seat as it is very easy to distinguish one type of soldier from another.

Connections to Communism for Nod grow more obtuse the further away from the Cold War we get. However, it is a necessary connection because Nod replaced the Soviets in the series, as the primary villains, and because though both sides have varied strengths and weaknesses, it is largely symmetrical warfare, balanced and equalized by the game developer. This would not be the case in a comparison of modern fanatical terrorist groups and NATO itself. In modern asymmetrical warfare, simply identifying an enemy is far more difficult.

Global Defense Initiative – The Scarcity of Resources

What ties C&C to the conflict between the West and Islam the most is Tiberium. Tiberium is an extraterrestrial substance which is dangerous, radioactive, and toxic, but which carries tremendous properties. It is a source of almost limitless energy, and is highly sought-after by both GDI and Nod forces. The allusions to petroleum are present, if heavy handed. Tiberium, like petroleum, can toxify an environment if released without control (oil spills). Using tiberium for fuel can cause tremendous pollution, and both substances are volatile.

Despite all of that, it is the relative scarcity of tiberium which links it so closely to petroleum. Everyone in the game is interested in collecting as much as possible to preserve their way of life, their cause, and to ensure the destruction of their enemies. This is also true of petroleum. In both cases, the societies affected are dangerously addicted to what is a very dangerous substance. In this game, 30% of the Earth’s surface is now uninhabitable due to tiberium exposure, and the resulting wars between the GDI and Nod are only making it worse.

Scrin – The Coming Storm

This title adds a new faction to the mix. The Scrin are an alien race which long sat dormant on the outskirts of our solar system. The events of a previous game, in which a tremendous tiberium explosion was set off by Nod, caught their attention. They arrived on Earth with the sole intention of mining the tiberium for their own use, but were surprised to find two heavily armed opposing forces of indigenous life forms. The Scrin in this game are ill equipped to handle the situation, but their superior technology makes them a match for the Nod and GDI.

Their presence in this game seems to be little more than foreshadowing of a larger conflict between the forces of Earth and the Scrin. This conflict will likely play out in future releases. For now, however, the game plays out with the Scrin disrupting action for the GDI and Nod, acting as a spoiler, a direct result of their war. The Scrin, an unexpected side effect of the war between these two factions, may be the ones to finally bring that conflict to a close.

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