Controversy, of course, followed the series too. The mayor of Las Vegas expressed displeasure at his city's depiction as a terror attack victim. The interactive interrogation and torture scenes in Splinter Cell: Conviction polarized game critics who felt that the violence misinformed the audience about the efficacy of torture. I myself have criticized how the GRAW and Rainbow Six: Vegas series trade off sensationalist fears about Mexico.
On the other hand, though, the Clancy franchise has always felt more nuanced than its brethren. Rainbow Six by its very nature featured an international team, and both Ghost Recon and R6 have featured playable women characters for years. Where the Modern Warfare series tends to suggest local allies are useless, the Mexican soldiers in Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter were competent and necessary allies. And while he was most certainly a conservative, Clancy wasn't the neocon caricature some of his detractors claim. He publically opposed the Iraq War, for example, believing the U.S. lacked suitable provocation for the invasion. His feelings on it were so strong that before the invasion he nearly came to blows with then-Pentagon advisor Richard Perle.
On October 1st of last year, Tom Clancy passed away after a struggle with heart problems. His legacy as a writer and storyteller was never in doubt. He popularized the techno-thriller, widened the field for political suspense novelists and helped heal the rift the Vietnam War had opened between civilians and service members. His legacy to videogames, however, is more specific.
"Tom's legacy is going to be in creating and having started Red Storm Entertainment and having had a brand succeed," says Larry Bond. "They were the guys who really created the first-person shooter in my opinion - and that genre is now as strong as any other genre within the market."
Richard Dansky agrees, calling Clancy's influence immense. "Without Tom Clancy there's no Rainbow Six, and without Rainbow Six the tactical shooter as we know it probably wouldn't exist. And I think it's fair to say that Red Storm's been a very influential studio in terms of the gameplay and approaches we've pioneered. That's another part of his legacy, and one that I've always been proud to have been a part of."
And, of course, the Tom Clancy brand will carry on after its creator. Ubisoft Red Storm has been running ops in the Clancyverse for years, and according to Dansky, they're proud to carry the franchise forward. "Obviously, I can't speak for everyone else, but the folks I talk with on other teams have always understood and relished the challenge of doing justice to the brand and what it's stood for over the years. And at the same time, the signposts laid down for us from the very beginning of the brand, those strong hallmarks of "What is Clancy?" will continue to guide us as they always have." The Clancy brand, he adds, means a lot to the Red Storm team, some of who have worked on the series for over a decade.
From using wargames to test out his theories about Soviet invasions to the founding an influential studio, Tom Clancy changed games and games changed him. Far from a disinterested investor looking to make a buck, he took an active hand in building Red Storm and was the first writer to successfully launch his work as a game brand. His influence to games is immense, and the world he created - one of intrigues and agents, honor and technology - will live on our screens long after him.
Robert Rath is a freelance writer, novelist, and researcher based in Hong Kong. His articles have appeared in the Escapist and Slate. You can follow his exploits at RobWritesPulp.com or on Twitter at @RobWritesPulp.