The Media Crunch
Taking a Bite of Entertainment….Daily

Call of Duty Controversy

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In Infinity Ward’s follow up to the nearly 15 million selling mega hit Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, players may stumble across something that tests their conscience and may make them feel that the limit between art and insensitivity has crossed the line.

In the much anticipated Modern Warfare 2 (which sees release on November 10’th) a realistic depiction of a terrorist act involving a few casually dressed Russians take place in an airport that is strikingly similar to a US setting. In the scene, the player gains control of a Russian terrorist briefly and shoots through an airport. In the video which leaked (which has been getting rapidly pulled down) flight goers are purchasing their tickets and going through the metal detectors when you and the other terrorists take out machine guns and mow down everybody inside. Men and women are massacred in brutal detail. When moving through the level, realistically posed bodies are also laying down in stylized pools of blood on escalators and throughout the airport crawling and whimpering. Upon news of the leaked footage, publisher Activision released a statement saying “It’s there to depict the realities of war in a tasteful and thoughtful manner.” You can’t further harm these people, you can apparently skip it and the game is rated M for mature.

In addition to this, another central plot point of the game is a terrorist bombing on Washington DC with fights taking place in the streets near the white house.

Many may posit that this is no different then games like grand theft auto. What many feel differentiates the two is the level of realism depicted in this title. Infinity Ward prides itself over its depiction of realistic combat, rhe weapons are designed after real guns that they tested on a range and its plot similarly mirrors that of the war in Afghanistan. The biggest argument presented for why this scene is included is for artistic expression, but unlike movies the level of immersion that video games provide far outweighs that of a spectator. After events like 9/11 critics claim that it is completely insensitive and appalling to include a level on this scale. Video games have pushed boundaries before many times but there has to be a point where a line is drawn.

Already the press have been quick to jump on this with Australia already considering a re-evaluation and possible banning of the game (which seems to happen frequently due to their 15+ rating). Regardless, the controversy has failed to stop pre-orders as they have already passed the million mark. MW2 is sure to be the biggest title release of the holiday line-up.

In films you are a spectator, you aren’t the character. You aren’t given a choice in this scenario and despite the ability to skip it, it is a section which may have pushed the boundaries too far. In making a case for artistic intents vs. sensitivity, where do you think the line should be drawn?

Written By: Kyle Bulai

Update: Here’s the video:

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6 Responses to “Call of Duty Controversy”

  1. If we are allowed to watch movies, read books, and view television programs that stretch the limits of storytelling (which in this situation, is what you are doing: infiltrating a terrorist organization) why is it suddenly taboo when a video game does so? This is a rated M game, and modern games are very much so an art form with commentary on society in a way just as other mediums do. Drop your thin-skin censorship mentality.

  2. I agree with you (and now have the game). After actually playing through the level and seeing the warnings I think initial reports were blown out of proportion. You’re right in that if videos games are to be taken seriously as a medium alongside books and film, they too need to cover serious subjects instead of shying away from them. Upon posting I’d read an immature comment from a fourteen year old saying “Can’t wait to mow down these civilians.” Not that the age fits the box rating, but I was surprised to see others join in. Is it possible that an intended audience completely misses the ideas put across? I don’t know. At first viewing the scene bothered me but on a deeper level that was its intention, to shock and provoke thought about terrorist actions. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I agree with both of the above considering that the game is rated 18 what the hell are 14 year olds playing it for. Parents cannot buy there children this kind of adult content and then complain about the content contained within. I just watched some chat show earlier this morning and some parent whos son had been murdered by a close friend was blaming the content of video games. She was quite clearly in denial that her son was a psychopath to start with. I totally blaim the parents for subjecting the children to this material and they should not attack video games of this nature to defend there crazy ass children. On another note watching horror films of these days there is far more violent and relastic material in films such as saw which portray real images of death. If people have a problem differentiating between these to types of media then maybe they should have there heads checked out to begin with. Societies always looking for a scapegoat to blame its problems on and personal i believe that society as a concept died along time ago people are no longer each neighbours and everyone is out for themselves in a world that lets face it is riddled with crime and violence.

  4. Interesting issue, did not think it was going to be that good when I started reading it.

  5. I certainly agree with almost everything you said. Your explanation was by far the easiest to understand. Honestly I usually get so annoyed when people discuss issues that they obviously know nothing about. You managed to hit the nail right on the head and explained out everything without complication. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

  6. I have no idea what parents nowadays are doing buying children such violent games. I gurantee you, when a kid from today gets a game like, say, LittleBigPlanet, they will flip the heck out and yell random curse words, which I wouldn’t think is nessescary. I honestly think every single game company should cease production of any first-person shooter they’re making (I don’t care how far they are into development) and start making original and creative games that isn’t so ugly and violent and gets controversy (like this ugly victim we have here).


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