When I started this blog, I didn't really have any intention of focusing on military stuff. The basic theme was meant to be universal - to apply equally to every sort of fiction. I think that in a lot of ways it still does, but most of the examples I give (because of the stuff I'm interested in and I know about) end up being military-related. I also think that I use a lot of military examples because they're separated, in a sensory way, from what most would consider to be "reality". I've tried to give "civilian" examples as I go along, but it's been kind of lost in the larger blobs of army relevance. So, to try to catch up everyone who doesn't plan on writing about A MAN'S LIFE IN THE MARINE CORPS, I'm going to go back on all my articles and summarize a key point that relates to Non-Military Life, skipping the few that are already about "civilian" stuff.
Gameplay Systems and Depicting Reality: There are a lot of shows that are meant to be "like reality except otherwise noted". When they mess with the other things that aren't explained by their one weird thing - for example, when Harry Potter is unrealistic in a way that doesn't involve magic - it becomes noticeable. Of course, whether it's "noticeable" or not depends on whether you know about it in the first place, but if you DO know about it the difference is going to draw your attention away from the fact that it's supposed to be connected to reality (and thus, your own experiences).
Artistic License: There are plenty of movies "based on a true story" that change minor or major details. This is pretty much a universal issue: if you change something, it stops being "reporting" and starts being "this is my story that I wrote, it's similar to something that really happened but isn't". "True Story" movies are like the news: people use them as a fast way to get the facts and they can't always be bothered to follow up on it. Could you follow up on literally every story you've ever seen, down to first-hand sources (multiple first-hand sources, in case one is lying)? It's just not possible. Therefore, it's the job of the crew to ensure the information they're passing on is accurate. The difference between "fiction" and "lies" all comes down to how it's presented to the audience. Even if you don't take it seriously, something that's assumed to be true is something you're going to assume is mostly correct.
The Trappings of a Soldier: The way anyone dresses, and the kind of stuff they have, affects what the viewer thinks about them - but most importantly, it affects the things they have access to. Do you keep your wallet in some kind of magic hyperspace? No, you keep it in your pants pocket. If you wore something ridiculous and impractical with no pockets, where would you put your wallet? A backpack or purse or something. Clothing, regardless of style, has to have some practical function, and if it doesn't then you're going to have to forgo the things that you can't carry with you. Everything has a logical root in this situation.
Armor Design: If you're going to depict materials, make sure that the materials actually seem like, you know, the materials they're meant to be. Metal is metal, plastic is plastic - if you make the former look like the latter, it loses all its implied weight and hardness. Conveying the impact and force of a situation like a car crash is important, too - it all looks the same from a third-person perspective, so it's really up to the crew to make it seem "believable".
Casualties and Narrative: This actually isn't that big a deal, since death on the battlefield isn't often as common as death in "civilian life". In fact, I suspect it's this that causes the problem - in a "civilian" show, death is dramatic because it's rare and because a character that the audience has grown attached to is leaving. "War" shows may try to play by the same rules, which doesn't work because of how common and everyday death becomes.
The Psychology of Uniforms: There are plenty of uniforms we deal with in our everyday lives - government uniforms, corporate uniforms, school uniforms, whatever. These serve various roles as befits their status, but the underlying message is always the same: "we are a group. Please treat the person wearing this uniform like a member of this group." This can be dehumanizing, often intentionally (you're supposed to treat a cop like a cop, not like some random guy you don't know) but there are always side effects. One of my favorite books that deals with this is Terry Pratchett's Night Watch, where during a riot a constable is sent outside with his helmet off and a mug of cocoa - to be "a lad that everyone knows" rather than "a cop".
Aggregate Characterization: Everyone, not just soldiers, is a product of their environment. If a person has information, they have to have a source for it. Nowadays you can rely on the old staple of "I heard about it on TV" or "I read about it on the internet", but when you're talking about a farm boy in 11th century Britain knowing how to speak Arabic and jury-rig a lock, you'd better start coming up with some answers. Similarly, the beliefs and social standards of an individual are always going to be heavily influenced (but not necessarily determined) by their culture and home, and the exposure they have to other cultures and ideas.
Comparisons of Power: PvP versus PvE: The basic idea that other people are just as "developed" as you are is pretty much universal no matter what you do. Dunbar's Number is a key concept in this - there's only so many people you can actually think of as "people", and everyone else falls under the general blanket of "not quite people". Capitalism, as a system, often requires that some advance while others fail. Every time you cheer that you're getting a raise, that's money that other people aren't getting. Of course it's more complicated than that, and you shouldn't necessarily feel BAD about getting a raise, but every dollar you spend is a dollar not given to charity and if you think about it too hard you're going to collapse inward.
Basically this is going to explain why most people have at least one "dump group" - a term I'm using to describe people who are universally mistrusted or loathed that an individual feelings can just "dump" their negative feelings on. If you don't think you have a dump group, ask yourself: are you currently thinking "at least I'm not better than those short-sighted bastards who hate a group just for who they are"? Yeah. Dump group.
Accessible Realism: The gap between "presentation" and "detail" is more than just "realistic games". It's also the gap between "intellectual" and "entertaining". For example, would you sit and listen to a boring person even if he had intelligent things to say about a topic - or would you rather listen to someone who says intelligent things in a funny way? The success of people like Harry S. Plinkett and Ben Croshaw would suggest that the latter is true. It can be double-proved by the fact that Croshaw's column "Extra Punctuation" is nowhere near as well-known as his animated stuff, even though he actually explores more well-thought-out concepts in it.
Vehicles and their Crews: Vehicles are, obviously, not just a thing the military uses. The type of vehicle a person owns influences how they are perceived - compare a motorcyle to a pickup truck to a sports car to a station wagon. The social dynamic is also present on things like fishing boats and airplanes, or basically any place where people are in a sealed-off environment for a long period of time. Finally, real-life vehicles also can be "unempathic", which can be a cause of things like road rage. Your brain doesn't think it's getting mad at a person, it thinks it's getting mad at an object, which is perfectly okay.