November 8, 2011

Why My Moral Outrage About Modern Warfare 3 Has Faded

I used to get weirded out by Call of Duty. It wasn't that I didn't like the games, shit, I love the games, they're pretty much the video game equivalent of Michael Bay movies (which I also love), it was their content. Whenever I mowed down countless waves of terrorists/Russians/Brazilians/Enemies/Zombies that wanted to kill the United Stated of Badassery I just always had a pang of "this is kind of messed up because it's happening in real life," going through my head.

I've been writing posts on this for years now, including this one about the "there's a soldier in all of us" marketing campaign, this one about creating responsible war narratives, and this one on the realistic violence in the series. Yet as the launch day approached I just found myself not caring anymore. I'm either just desensitized to all the insane violence/propaganda in the games or the franchise has evolved from war simulator to the insane world war action spectacle that is so far from realistic it has now evolved into "cartoonish."

I mean the new game has the Eifel Tower collapsing in the midst of gigantic battle for freedom, which is almost plagiarism from Team America. The villains, who in the first chapters in the franchise were radical muslims and nationalist russians have now become some type of James Bondian syndicate of people who just don't like the United States, including corrupt US generals. Even the ad campaigns are now more comical, gone are of the days of normal civilians fighting battles, now we have zany Jonah Hill ripping off one liners and firing at a faceless enemy.

So with the Call of Duty franchise embracing it's Bayish destiny, does this mean we are entering into an era of responsible video games. Hardly, just take one look at the marketing campaign for rival shooter Battlefield 3, which features the tagline: "Is it real or is Battlefield 3." Obviously, it's not real, because no gamer dies while playing Battlefield, yet with over 3 million people buying Battlefield 3 in the first week there still is a demand for the ultra-gritty combat simulator. Luckily, Modern Warfare 3 is projected to sell 9 million copies in it's first day, it looks like some people still prefer to have the "game" in their war simulators.

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