You might have noticed Modern Warfare 2 has been released. Everyone wants a say on what our mate Bob Kotick is calling ‘one of the largest entertainment launches of any media of all time’. I doubt any news channel would be interested in the gazillions of copies sold if the game were a ‘Cuddly Bunnykins Simulator’ rather than violent killing spree. The laws of reality mean that in some distant parallel universe Modern Warfare 2 is a Cuddly Bunnykins Simulator and I find that much more disturbing than any ‘terrorist incident’.
Back in this reality we have a game where you shoot lots of people in the head, some of whome are unarmed civillians. Let us take a look at the reactions to the release..
The Politicians: Labout MP Keith Vaz raised his objections about the game in the House of Commons yesterday,
“It contains such scenes of brutality that even the manufacturers have put in warnings within the game telling people how they can skip particular scenes,” he said. He then asked what steps ministers were taking to ‘ensure that violent games did not fall into the hands of children and young people’.
Happily our new gaming champion, Labour former digital minister Tom Watson, was on hand;
“It carries a content warning, it is an 18+ game,” he told Vaz, “It should not be sold to children and the Government’s job is to make sure that adults … can get what adults should be able to and children are not in danger of being subjected to adult content.”
The Daily Mail: The Mail could not make its mind up. They reported on the section of the game where you can murder innocent civilians calling it ‘shocking’ and ‘brutal’ and but they have also published an article where they feature the Modern Warfare 2 launch party last night and have some lovely glossy photos of Gerard Butler, Zoe Salmon and Vernon Kay. Is the Daily Mail implying that ex Blue Peter presenter Zoe Salmon is endorsing killing civilians? Or that the face of Family Fortunes, Vernon Kay, likes nothing more than watching someone’s brains splash messily across a wall after a well timed head shot? The Daily Mail also makes no comment that all the celebrities are wearing poppies, surely a missed opportunity for some scandalous news – how dare Dom Jolly wear a poppy when he clearly likes being a terrorist!
The Sun : Choosing to focus on celebrities rather than slayings, The Sun tells us ‘Stars including Gavin & Stacey actor Mathew Horne, rapper Goldie, Lily Allen’s actor brother Alfie, and model Danielle Lloyd and her footballer boyfriend Jamie O’ Hara walked up a camouflaged carpet to get to the premiere.’ Wow, Danielle Lloyd! Infinity Ward must be dead chuffed! At the very bottom of the article is a brief mention of the controversy – but who cares about that, look at the pictures of Alfie Allen!
The Telegraph: The Telegraph takes the opportunity to tell us that Professor Mark Griffiths of the International Gaming Research Unit at Notting Trent University says ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is not going to make adults behave more violently’
“There is no definitive proof or research to show that violent video games, make adults behave any more violently,” he explained, “Younger gamers, typically under the age of eight, tend to be more influenced by games and what they see on screen. They usually try and mimic what they have watched on the big screen. However, adults which this game is certified for, have already formed their cognitive sensibilities and will not usually start acting differently because of a video game.”
The Daily Express: Follows much the same pattern as the Daily Mail – one article detailing the “Terrorist” game but they also have a video, ‘Game of the year Modern Warfare 2 was unveiled in London at a Leicester Square premiere, midnight store opening and VIP party – and we were there!’
The Guardian: Muted coverage compared to other media streams, perhaps as Charlie Brooker writes for the Guardian. He calls Modern Warfare 2 a “dumb Tom Clancy romp” with the terrorist incident being ‘jarringly misplaced’
“Don’t worry. It won’t turn anyone a killer. But it is a strange and misjudged lapse into tastelessness that would actually be less offensive if played for laughs – and an easy target for reactionary kneejerk critics of videogames. Called Keith Vaz MP,” he concludes.
So what have we learnt? If Modern Warfare 2 had been released five years ago there would have been universal condemnation. Gamers now have champions in the media such as Charlie Brooker and MP Tom Watson who are trying to change the way video games are perceived. Modern Warfare has been launched as if it were a blockbuster movie complete with camouflage carpet for A- list stars such as Gerard Butler and, uhm, Danielle Lloyd to walk down. It seems this glamour has deflected some of the controversy because ex Blue Peter presenters cannot be terrorists… can they?