2 Cents to Play: The Call of Duty Controversy

Originally published on The Daily Iowa Arts Blog 11/13/2009

****While we already had an excellent post on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, or as I affectionately call it “COD”, it is set to be the biggest entertainment release ever. There is a specific part of the game that warrants discussion. I’ll let you know where the spoilers start.****

Like seemingly every other red-blooded American male, I stood in line to get the newest COD game. When I got home and booted up the campaign to see what the story offered. I was alerted with a message saying that some missions might be offensive and I had the option to skip them.

These types of parental guard are now common place in most “M” Rated (17 and up) games. Assassin’s Creed gave gamers and their parents the option to turn of blood. The recent Brutal Legend demo (and I’m guessing the game) gave the option to do the same as well as bleep all F-words. As a 22 year-old I dismissed the menu. Bring it on. Then I ran into this little mission early into the game.

***Spoilers Begin Now BTW***

Anyone who’s played the COD series knows each game is about immersion. Breaks between missions only exist to load the next level and any cut scene usually puts the player in someones shoes like in the mind blowing intro to the last game.

The “No Russian” mission in the latest COD game is the best example why violent games use to (and still do to some extent) garner so much controversy. It’s all about engulfment – the player taking on the mentality of a character – that scared cable news pundits when the old Grand Theft Auto games came out. No one wants to think their kids have some taboo desire to be a criminal or terrorists but it’s fine if they’re allied soldiers or athletes.

Game companies always point to their games rating and some of the aforementioned in game options. Popular Chains have now even begun to respect the ratings and the controversy has appeared to die down. However its just like getting booze, all you need is an older friend – sometimes a stranger will do.

If you want to try (and likely succeed) at beating the DI video game guy on Xbox Live I’ll be around: Docholliday8706

Playing Now: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony, NHL 10

Wish I Was Playing: Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2

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