Tuesday, January 25, 2011

In Defense of Call of Duty, Modern Warfare

It's not surprising to see a Russia Today article that draws a parallel with the deadly suicide bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo airport and the fictional attack on the airport in C.O.D.M.W. I'm not aware if the Russian media is as hysterical and irrational as the American media (although I doubt that it could be as bad), but if this had happened in the U.S. terror and hysteria and calls for hearings and legislation to crack down on violent video games would be deafening. I would also not be writing this, because there is absolutely no reason to try to talk sense when the soccer moms go on one of their periodic rampages of fear and loathing, such as after the recent shooting of a Congresswoman in Arizona. Americans will always wave the bloody shirt if there is any remote chance of scoring political points against their opponents.

I don't know if Russian politics are more mature because of their exposure to the truly horrifying realities of the 20th century as opposed to most American's virtual and vicarious exposure, but that's the way it seems. (I'm also surprised and impressed that the Russian authorities are compensating the victims. In the U.S., victims are useful as props in the demonization of politically unpopular third parties, then ignored along with the actual perpetrators if the victims/perps don't fit neatly into the messianic narrative.) If there is no political angle, even the worst catastrophes are taken in stride. In America, shit doesn't "just happen". Someone must be blamed, and generally not the actual perps, but those evil and irrational haters who encouraged them.

The point, if I can allow myself to get to it, is that there is no connection between the "No Russian" mission in the video game, which is the player trying to embed himself within a group of Russian Nationalists employing a "false flag" attack on civilians that will be blamed on "muslim terrorists", and the real life suicide bombing of Domodedevo. (At least, I hope not). The player is not encouraged or required to shoot any civilians and in fact is trained in an earlier mission to avoid collateral killing and friendly fire. The reason the game is so popular is that it combines extremely realistic graphics and story lines with a pretty sophisticated geopolitical outlook and surprisingly clever plotting including double agents and rogue generals. I should probably mention that it's much more than I require in a video game, as I just like to shoot and blow shit up. Also, I can barely complete it on normal difficulty, so to be honest, I suck. The take-away is, War is Hell, and no player is motivated towards actual violence or killing civilians. But don't tell the soccer moms, the fear's the only thing that makes their lives interesting.

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