For example, I wouldn't say that the majority of US kids who fought in Vietnam were lured by the illusion of glory.
The larger issue isn't the people who actually fought, but the larger society choosing the war, approving it, accepting the idea of Vietnam as something it wasn't - a maneuver by a Soviet agenda of global takeover - and wanting the war at first, over the horrors to both sides - to this day, our country little appreciates the horrors we did to the Vietnamese people.
Even after years of tens of thousands of Americans killed, and so many horribly wounded, and enormous costs, and finding promises of victory were false, the country still had a large number of people supporting it. Note the big 'Vietnam war movie' that came out during the war was John Wayne's pro-war movie - the anti-war movies appeared after the decade of war.
And these things did cause many to go to war with romanticized ideas - ask vets such as John Kerry.
Vietnam had a draft (as everyone in my family who went can attest).
Even when a country strongly supports a war, there are issues with who actually fights it - for example, the American civil war allowed the wealthy to hire substitutes to go in their place.
The phrase 'Chickenhawk' exists because of how common it was was many (especially Republicans) to 'support' the war while evading service (Bush, Cheney, trump and so many more).
Even WW2 needed a draft despite all the propaganda, the IJN attack of Pearl and the opponents being pretty clearly bad actors. Is the rhetoric about war heroes and the enemy worse today than in the 40s?
WW2 has a lot of interesting things about it many don't realize. One is that the American people overwhelmingly opposed entering the war until Pearl Harbor - it was the only issue that posed a threat to FDR's third election, when Republicans promised not to enter the war. Another is that the US had a huge propaganda effort to build that support for the war, including famous film directors.
(Ronald Reagan and John Wayne took part in the military's movie operations; Frank Kapra led the propaganda side with the 'Why We Fight' series, and leading figures including everyone from Dr. Seuss to Walt Disney played a role).
The World War II experience was so broad, that it was a height of the people appreciating more about war - and it led to things like the founding of the United Nations trying to prevent it happening again - but it wasn't long before the country returned to the normal willingness to accept war, with the cold war's unnecessary rejection of peace and heightened risk of nuclear war.
There's an interesting history as well to how the US got into the business of covert action by people who did have some appreciation of the harms of war - yet desperately wanted the benefits and saw
assassinating, sabotaging, torturing, overthrowing democracies and aligning with dictators, and so much more as 'cheap' alternatives to military conflict, saving lives.
Perhaps to our lizard brain violent entertainment is just a harmless method of escapism and nothing more. If your view is correct and "hoi polloi" are more likely to support war because of war games then isn't all war entertainment an issue? Especially things like the GI Joe cartoon or cartoonish movies like Star Wars? Star Wars is aimed at kids and it glorifies war and warriors. Kids want to be gung-ho heroes like Luke or Han. Despite Yoda's hippie-talk people still wanted to watch Luke cut people up with his sword (and he did). Even the peace-loving fans of Star Trek only seem to buy games in which you blow up aliens in your armed-to-the-teeth "non-military" starship.
Star Trek makes an interesting point - as idealistic and Utopian as it was - radically so for the US - on issues of everything from race to gender (the original pilot had a woman second in command, the network forced her removal) to poverty to peace, it didn't have much ability to escape cold war thinking in making the Klingons a pretty obvious substitute for the demonized Soviets.
(Albeit that the show did have some 'isn't this whole blow up the world thinking kind of crazy' messages - as had art from The Twilight Zone to Dr. Strangelove. But that's different than ground war).
Is the fantasy nature of those worlds enough to cause a separation? If war videogames had space marines or elves instead of the SAS would that make a difference? To be fair, the Pentagon (at some point at least) must have believed there was some impact or they wouldn't have supported all those patriotic war movies. On the flipside there really hasn't been a conflict between major powers since the end of WW2 (the impact of MAD or a distaste for death on a massive scale?). Small consolation to those who suffered in those "minor" skirmishes though.
Have you played This War of Mine? I've never played it since it appears to be a story game and I've never enjoyed a videogame story, but it seems to be what you're after. I don't think you'll ever see an anti-war combat-based game though. I've heard it said that one can't make an anti-war combat film because the combat will always come across as exciting to the audience. If that is true, then I can't see how it could be done with a videogame.
It's interesting how often artists have tried to make 'message' shows, and had the opposite effect. Oliver Stone made 'Natural Born Killers' to satirize and oppose gratuitous violence in film, but instead only gained fans for the violence. Normal Lear created Archie Bunker to oppose his bigotry and Bunker gained many fans.
One of the few 'military' works intended to have an anti-military effect was Chris Hedges' book on the realism of war:
Acclaimed New York Times journalist and author Chris Hedges offers a critical -- and fascinating -- lesson in the dangerous realities of our age: a stark look at the effects of war on combatants. Utterly lacking in rhetoric or dogma, this manual relies instead on bare fact, frank description, and a spare question-and-answer format. Hedges allows U.S. military documentation of the brutalizing physical and psychological consequences of combat to speak for itself.
Hedges poses dozens of questions that young soldiers might ask about combat, and then answers them by quoting from medical and psychological studies.
• What are my chances of being wounded or killed if we go to war?
• What does it feel like to get shot?
• What do artillery shells do to you?
• What is the most painful way to get wounded?
• Will I be afraid?
• What could happen to me in a nuclear attack?
• What does it feel like to kill someone?
• Can I withstand torture?
• What are the long-term consequences of combat stress?
• What will happen to my body after I die?
This profound and devastating portrayal of the horrors to which we subject our armed forces stands as a ringing indictment of the glorification of war and the concealment of its barbarity.
Unfortunately, the book is little-known, but it is very useful for its purpose if read at doing just what I suggest of helping people to be better informed and not 'gloss over' the real horror.
I have played "This War of Mine" and really like the idea and parts of the game, though it seems somewhat flawed in gameplay. It's apparently based on people with real experiences with the experiences as civilians in a war area wanting to share some idea of what that's like to educate - good for them. I wouldn't call it a 'story' as much as an environment to see.
I don't quite want to equate 'anti-war' and 'war realism', though they can overlap. Part of the anti-war message is the actual message why to oppose war, but another part is to try to counter the messages
that sanitize or gloss over or romanticize or otherwise distort war in a positive way.
You can find quotes from leaders at the turn of the 20th century about how much society needed a glorious war, that help show why the needless millions killed in WWI was made easier.
Another area of this we haven't really talked about is how the actual happenings of war can have a sort of numbing effect, normalizing them - this is how Allied military leaders in WWII began the war telling each other they were determined to avoid 'atrocities' and immoral war, but by the end of the war had no issue with things like fire-bombing cities.
When war is an everyday experience, I wonder if there isn't a 'violence breeds violence' effect making it harder to end - as well as the other influences such as the need for 'victory' and the claims that all those killed will be disrespected without such victory.
Our long period without large ground war for America - or currently, for most of the country not to experience it - seems to me to have conflicting effects - on the one hand, making such violence seem extraordinary and not acceptable, but on the other, the horrors forgotten and more accurately never learned. Watching the build-up to the Iraq War is a good case.
The same author mentioned above, Chris Hedges, has a great book with a great title - "War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning" - that talks about the seductiveness of war, how he was capture by it as a
war correspondent, and the societal views of war.
One anecdote he tells is that he had a circle of friends in Chile, who were all 'liberals' who hated the authoritarian regime of generals; but when the Falkland war with England began, they all became
strongly 'patriotic' in supporting the war and the leadership - which turns out to be a leading motive for leaders to go to war, to lessen the opposition.
It's why George Bush said as a candidate for president that he wanted to be a 'war president' because he knew it would give him a large increase in political support for his domestic agenda, e.g., tax cuts for the rich.