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Modern Warfare on Moral Welfare?

November 17, 2009

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has been hailed as the ‘entertainment event of the year’ by the Telegraph. Not hard to see why after Infinity Ward’s juggernaut absolutely smashed sales records this week; 4.7 million copies sold on day of release compared to the now meagre 631,000 copies that were sold by Grand Theft Auto IV.

But of course this profound success was always going to suffer the dogmatic nonsense and usual harsh criticism and controversy found with violent games. Among the criticisms, The Guardian has actually reported that in Russia titles have been recalled from shelves, purportedly because of its unfavourable depiction of the country. This (supposed) peremptory action, like the other criticisms to be addressed, all completely overlook vital attributes or basic facts about the game.

Other criticisms have come from religious leaders like Fazan Mohammed who states that these games are “a much more intimate experience”, and that “you’re mentally playing out the effects of violence.” While obviously true, this game is designed for entertainment; it would not be entertaining if there was no current propinquity or affinity with people towards games with violent themes. In his obstinacy he goes on to reference Joseph Goebbels’ assertion that his ‘entertainment’ was more powerful in conditioning the German Psyche than Hitler’s speeches were. Whilst this may or may not be true it is of course completely irrelevant. Presuming similarities in agendas between Nazi war-time propaganda by Hitler’s right hand man and the work of a games publisher makes about as much sense as directing rebuke towards a game for inspiring violence whilst ones religion has provided obvious inspiration to numerous violent individuals.

Another, more short sighted comment about the game was made by the Telegraph’s Hannah Betts. What the Guardian termed a “startlingly sexist and outdated piece”, and it was quite relentlessly so, is an attack from a literary soapbox which berates men’s adoration for games such as that in question and the subsequent neglect of their spouse. What she embarrassingly fails to realise however is that the prevalence of women gamers is actually massive. And despite her piece being a cheap shot (attacking the masculinity of gamers… come on) she kicks up a fuss about break ups and neglect between couples who are concerned with hardcore gaming but if you’re relationship cannot survive the release of an addictive game it is probably a good sign that that person you left is not the one.

Fortunately these rebukes have been met with more sensible comments about the game (such as those in the Observer or the Times) which denote an ability to put things into perspective and understand what aspects of society actually demand condemnation. At the end of the day, the game is rated 18 which means not for f****** kids; if people cannot see the immediate failings of parents in that respect then any further argument from these people deserves little to no attention.

Controversial characteristics of the game are of course not all in the eye of the beholder, it just so happens that the ones discussed here are due to their ignorant and headstrong nature. It is a shame that at this stage of gaming evolution we are still suffering ill thought and impulsive attacks on games, it is energy that could be spent much, much better.

As for my own two cents, consider members of the military. They are trained to kill other human beings and many do so on a regular basis. Amazingly, these often not well rounded individuals manage to refrain from going on a killing spree simply because they have experienced it firsthand. Individuals must be a few rounds short of a magazine if they understand computer games to be some sort of doctrine.

Now lets lock’n’load!

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