I did a post yesterday talking about the trailer that dropped for the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare game. It looks to be a soft-reboot of the franchise, in the same vein as the most recent God of War game. And it looks awesome. To think that I am excited for a game in this franchise, which has born the wrath of Activision’s predatory practices for this long, is amazing. It looks like Infinity Ward has listened to what people wanted – gritty, boots-on-the-ground war. And that’s what they are delivering. A game that people will have a lot to talk about. Everything that has been released shows that while multiplayer is always going to be a thing in this franchise, the single player is getting the love it deserves, and then some. No gimmicks like Zombies. Just a good campaign and great multiplayer. Sounds like a match made in Heaven.
But not to one games journalist, who thinks that this game is going too far. He was invited to a big event Activision hosted inviting tons of games journalists to show off what’s new in this latest entry in the franchise, and give them a taste of what was to come. And he wasn’t pleased one bit. It’s the same guy who made that hilarious Cuphead video where he spent 26 minutes on the tutorial because he’s an idiot – Dean Takahashi. Here’s a link to the article, now let’s talk about it.
I have been a Call of Duty fan from the first game in 2003. But I have never wondered about this question before, until now. Should this particular game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, be made? The small glimpse I’ve seen of it so far tells me no.
Why does EVERY SINGLE article of this nature begin like this? They all begin with having to establish their cred as fans of gaming or a specific kind of game. I guess it’s to try and head off the criticism that they are just the uninitiated. Not for me. I always call bullshit every time I see this stuff, because they say this to immediately set up shitting on something.
The publisher’s Infinity Ward studio recently showed a part of the single-player campaign for an upcoming installment of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, and it has scenes and gameplay in it that are very disturbing to me. It brings to mind the No Russian controversy, where civilians are mowed down in a Russian airport in 2009’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Um, what’s the problem with that? No Russian was a mission that was designed to make players feel uncomfortable. That was the point. Their character was engaging in senseless violence against civilians for a greater objective. It was supposed to be disturbing. Why is it a bad thing that this game is going down the same path?
Infinity Ward developers got up onstage at a recent event at the studio’s headquarters in Southern California. Then they showed a press group the scenes. They warned us the game would be mature, authentic, and gritty. No longer would we be jumping about like superheroes. It is grounded in realistic, modern combat and “a complex world that mirrors our own.” Activision says the game has an “incredibly raw, gritty, provocative narrative that brings unrivaled intensity and shines a light on the changing nature of modern war.”
Man, what great publicity. That sounds awesome! I’ve been looking for a gritty war game that actually shines a light on how war is ugly and the reality of being part of it is awful for everyone involved for ages. I did an entire post about what I would love to see in a war game (linked here). If Infinity Ward actually listened to stuff like that and is going the distance with a dark concept, then they can take my money now!
The premise is that the rules of war have changed. It’s not black-and-white — it’s gray, with a fine line between right and wrong. And yet, undoubtedly, this gritty single-player campaign will be coupled with multiplayer combat where killing is a sport. If you put these things together with extremely realistic human characters, it becomes even more disturbing.
Oh boy. Let the slippery slope fallacies begin.
In the first scene, terrorists attack central London. A team of British SAS operatives gathers in front of a townhouse that they suspect harbors a terrorist cell. In a manner that resembles a raid in Rainbow Six: Siege, they gather together to storm the house. The music is menacing. The military chatter is by the book. And the people look so real. If you passed by a TV with someone playing the game, you could easily mistake the game for a segment of a documentary about the war in Syria.
Again, you do great promotion, Mr. Takahashi. This sounds absolutely splendid. Since Europe is currently dealing with a mass of Islamic radicals committing terrorist acts on the regular, I gotta say, this feels true to modern warfare. Seems like the devs are really putting in some real world connections. You allude to the game’s director talking about the amount of dedication they put into the realism of it.
But the game differs from other gritty combat games based on who is in each room. The characters appear to be Muslim terrorist fighters in mostly civilian garb. But those characters include both men and women.
This sounds really awesome. I love that we finally are getting away from video game villains just being men. I like that women can be enemies now too. Especially if you’re fighting radical Islamic terrorists, where it happens a lot that women are either used as living weapons or are radical themselves and will go the distance. For a game that is marketing on showing ugly, believable warfare, this goes so far in selling that concept to me.
And in the final room, you confront an unarmed woman. She tries to divert you. She moves despite your warnings to stop. She then grabs a bomb detonator. You have to shoot her.
Yup. That’s war. It’s ugly. It ain’t pretty. Sometimes you gotta do some morally gray shit. You are really bad at making this kind of game sound bad. Everything you say makes me want to buy this game more.
This is the nature of modern combat, the developers say. But this should not be a part of a modern video game, in my opinion, given the thin line between civilians and warriors and given the impression it creates in our world, which is driven by social media sound and video bites. It looks so much like you are killing innocent civilians. And if you make a mistake, you are.
Another ideological idiot who I guess never saw the studies (so many studies. Tons and tons of studies, mostly commissioned by governments) showing that video game violence has no connection to real life violence. No, can’t have the facts get in the way of a good narrative, eh?
To that last bit, yeah, war is an ugly thing. Civilians die all the time. Earlier he brings up that there is a woman who runs for her baby but the devs said you can’t shoot her. Personally, I think that wouldn’t be the worst if there was a chance she could be a casualty. War is ugly, and letting the players be able to experience that first-hand is what I have been wanting to see for ages. Maybe have things get crazy, and you’re shooting and fail to realize you killed someone just trying to protect their child. It would leave an impression, for sure.
My reaction is not that the developers should censor themselves or someone else should censor them. My question is about choices. We can make this kind of game, but should we? But should this kind of content, which we can see in movies or books, be in a video game? Should they be depicted in a form of art where we have so much agency? It’s going to be a Mature-rated game that kids shouldn’t play, but I had a conversation with an Uber driver who told me he lets his 6-year-old play Call of Duty.
So…you don’t want gaming companies to censor themselves, you just want them to not put stuff in games. In other words, you want them to censor themselves. This guy is so full of shit.
And as for the Uber driver you talked about, it’s up to parents to figure out what their kids can handle. That’s part of being a parent. If more people would actually do it, what a world it would be. I personally wouldn’t like my 6-year-old play a game like this. At least not if I hadn’t talked with them and they understood that it isn’t real and that hurting real people is bad. There are some kids who get that, and can handle that. My favorite episode of Bullshit! had that, with a kid who understood and a mom who knew her child understood that difference. Parenting is hard. Perhaps you are unaware.
I would like a Call of Duty game that makes me think hard, feels intense, and is fun to play. And I usually shrug off criticism from people who say these games are too violent. As far as I can tell, you still play the “good guys” in this game. Michael Condrey, the former co-head of Activision’s Sledgehammer Games, said at our recent GamesBeat Summit event that, in the age of the shooting at Christchurch in New Zealand, is it really appropriate to make a game like Modern Warfare today.
Oh for fuck’s sake. Slippery Slope Fallacy! The fact that the shooter did video of himself committing the crime like it was a video game doesn’t mean that video games bear the blame for it. It means that he was a fucking psycho who decided to treat killing innocent people like it was a game. He even pimped out PewDiePie just because he thought it was funny. The contributor to this was the fact that this guy didn’t feel empathy and wanted to kill people who are part of a religion he doesn’t like. This is NOT on the shoulders of those who make games. Infinity Ward isn’t responsible for this. Nor is any other developer. But we have to get moral grandstanders like this nitwit who decide that they should tell them to censor themselves in order to appease his sensibilities. Maybe, if this game is too dark for you – don’t play it. That’s an option. You don’t have to play games like this. You can stick to Fortnite like the rest of the plebs.
The article wraps up with – dark war game bad and shouldn’t be dark war game. As for me, fuck that! If what this dude talks about is only part of this game, I cannot wait to get ahold of it! The visuals are amazing, It’s going back to warfare without all the bombastic set-pieces. I wanna play.
Until next time, a quote,
“I will say this – getting out of the Vietnam War through daddy’s connections and then not living up to your end of the bargain is probably a form of cowardice.” – George Carlin