Passion Play

Image: Ubisoft

The beta test for the new video game Tom Clancy’s The Division was the largest ever — more than 6 million players jumped online to patrol the streets of a ravaged Manhattan as a member of a covert special operations team focused on restoring order after a catastrophic collapse. The game’s launch earlier this month introduced players to a vision of terrorism-driven urban downfall in arguably the most iconic — and most dense — of American cities. According to the game’s developer and publisher, Ubisoft, it was the company’s biggest launch ever.

The story behind the creation of The Division is important because this is a highly relevant video game for the national security community for its portrayal of megacity conflict. The Division seeks to be engaging to first-person shooter players as well as role-playing oriented users who want to spend weeks if not months inside an alternative reality.

Gaming website Gamasutra shed some light on the game’s development and how Ubisoft used a strategy-game oriented studio it acquired, Massive, along with its existing studio capabilities to strike the right balance in developing the game’s look and feel.

One of the most telling, and important, quotes from the article is from a Massive executive describing how the Ubisoft team built and organized the development process. It has applications for any creative project where disparate skillsets need to be aligned toward a common objective: “What are you really passionate about? And, be blunt, where do you think you’re better than us? Because that’s what we want you to do on this project. What would you like to own?”

It’s a similar point to one made by Dave Anthony, writer and director of Call of Duty Black Ops II and a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, that has real relevance for the national security community where clashes and competing points of view need to be reconciled for collaboration: “If you enjoy what you are doing, you will always do your best work… I tried to make it so people would actually enjoy these debates over things they disagreed with.”

Read the article on The Division at Gamasutra.