Massive Poll: The Modern Warfare 3 Controversy

The Massive Poll returns with a twist! Before we begin we must mention that there are small spoilers for Modern Warfare 3 below, if you don’t want to read about a certain event, click here instead.

Right. A video had been posted showing a scene from Modern Warfare 3. The footage has been created  to look like it was filmed on a home video camera and shows a mother and child having a day out in London. Moments later a large truck pulls up and explodes, apparently killing the child.

This week, there are three options in our poll and in a none too subtle rip-off of the TV show Argumental, we have two guest speakers who will offer their opposing opinions.


Speaking first on behalf of the ‘It’s Part Of The Story‘ Party it’s Adam, a.k.a. AG2297.

In the clip you, the character, are not blowing them (the child and mother) up yourself, this is from the point of view of what seems to be the father in an attempt to provoke an emotional response. You are not a soldier watching it, or a news crew, this is your family, the character at the time.

This is not done for enjoyment; it is done for the shock factor. This same shock factor was used in the popular Dead Island trailer where the child was bitten by a zombie and thrown out of a window landing on the pavement below, dead. While the argument of it not being “tasteful” is often thrown around, how do you be tasteful about such a situation? Is life tasteful in such tragedies? Should games not be realistic when dealing with such issues and always add “taste” too such tragedies?

In the end, Modern Warfare 3 will be telling a story. In that story there will be much death and in this case a child died. This was not gory or graphic. The bomb went off, the child fell to the ground. Did it have to happen? No. Was the terrorist attack made much more shocking and personal to the player as a result? Yes.

This scene can be shocking and you could even call the act sick, but the fact is that these things happen and in fiction (whether a movie, book or game) real life events are often mimicked to engage the reader, viewer or player and this is no different.

On the opposing team we have a second guest speaking on behalf of the ‘Blatant Tabloid Scandal‘ party, it’s that devilishly handsome chap called Tuffcub.

After the headlines following ‘No Russians’ you would think Activision and Infinity Ward would be scrutinising every part of the story to make sure that it is justified, it is required to move the plot along and is something that they can defend. I’m sure they probably did that, and then asked themselves how they can get even more headlines than last year. What’s going to get those red tops in a frenzy? I know, let’s slaughter a child.

When was the last time you had a child blown up for you entertainment? It rarely happens in films or in television programs as – strangely enough – most people do not like watching children die. When it does occur (for example in  Heavy Rain or the film The Mist) it is handled sensitively and usually off screen.

Admittedly we do not know the story preceding the clip but as the person (presumably the father) holding the camera also seems to be dead it’s safe to assume this is not the viewpoint of a major character.

The child’s death is not shocking because they blew a kid up, it’s shocking as it’s in the game with sole purpose of  generating headline news across the world and shifting a few more copies of Modern Warfare 3. There was no need for this to be a family, the sequence could have had the same impact (possibly more) if they had blown the truck up amidst the crowds of tourists on Oxford Street.

To put it simply, Infinity Ward decided to kill a child in their game, to sell more games.

Strong words from both sides, how will you be voting? Will it be Team Adam or Team Tuffcub? Voting closes at midnight on Sunday, results will be published next week.



  1. They’ll be a lot of hate for this as it’s CoD, when I’m sure a lot of people play games with mindless killing. Over the top or not, it is relavent (but maybe not necessary) to the story, and as Activision are telling the story, it’s their choice to have it in. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it, or choose the non-offensive option. It’s not glorified, or for in-game points, or for fun, and it’s done to show the sheer violence of the terrorists. Unlike “No Russian” you are not controlling the event.

    • It’s incredibly frustrating that people claim it’s because it’s CoD. It’s not. The argument isn’t over killing either, it’s the fact that it’s a child.

      • It’s incredibly frustrating that someone assumes I’m talking only about their opinion.

        You’re right, no child has even died a painful or unfair death, and as such we should all pretend it doesn’t happen and never show it. It’s appropriately rated 18 and you have the option to turn off this scene, or not buy the fucking game at all, so people should stop moaning about it.

      • “They’ll be a lot of hate for this as it’s CoD” – Not the case.

        And there is a HUGE difference between acknowledging a tragic event and recreating in the form of entertainment.

        People should not just “stop moaning bout it”, this brings a lot of unnecessary heat onto an industry that many of us strive to have accepted and this sort of tabloid-baiting, unnecessary, tasteless scene does nothing but further damage the wider appeal of the industry.

        If there is the need to turn off a scene then the developers know it will cause offence or upset, and thus has no place in a game/movie/book/whatever.

      • Complete rubbish, as “OriginalJonty” states below Homefront didn’t get this kind of attention – it’s a fact that the biggest publishers or companies get the most criticism or media attention. It’s the same in sport, TV, food industry, celebrities, practically everything. EA won’t have got a bigger bashing as this for the female models they needlessly put into Run, which could be deemed derogatory to women and could bring “heat” into the industry.

        It’s not entertainment in terms of you play out the scene is it? In that case you propose all violent films be banned – they are entertainment too, or even educational. Would Schindler’s List have enlightened people to some atrocities that go on had certain scenes been removed? No. This is just another medium. If it’s part of the story and it’s not for amusement, then in my opinion it’s fine.

        And it’s in a game where you shoot people in the face. But you’re okay with that, right?

      • Homefront actually was hit with a lot of controversy, but a) it never had the killing of children depicted and b) its shocking moments were tightly intertwined with key plot points.

        Whilst I’d agree that it has received extra attention for being such a big game, that is not the reason for the “hate” as you claim.

        And it is entertainment, everything you do in any game is entertainment by definition. It is an entertainment medium – it may not be entertaining, but it is entertainment.

        As for the difference, I have said and will continue to state, that it is the fact that it is a child that bothers me. It’s part of our culture, society and morality that the perception of children is that of the greatest innocent. It’s that reason that people always ‘save’ the children first, or they will risk themselves for children. Is their life more precious? I couldn’t say, but it is greatly perceived that way.

      • So if something is in a game that I don’t agree with, but because I play the game I am agreeing with it, by your definition of entertainment?

        Maybe not you, but people do think it’s cool to hate CoD. You only have to compare MW3 and BF3 articles. Most of the MW3 comments will be people saying they’re not buying it, it that it looks the same. Doesn’t happen on BF3 yet it is also just a re-hash of BF2.

        I don’t see who gave anyone the right to value the life of a child over an adult.

      • There are as many people who hate on those that hate CoD as those that hate on CoD though.

        Also I never said about agreeing to anything.

        Essentially it comes down to this, am I okay with the killing in Modern Warfare? Yeah, it doesn’t bother me. But replace the skins with those of a child and I’d feel incredibly uncomfortable, and really, wouldn’t play it.

        And it’s not a right, but an human trait.

    • That’s just typical of a die-hard call of duty 10 year old fanboy. ‘ItZzZ JuSt CoZ iTz COD!!111!’. No it’s not, it’s because the devs/publishers are just begging for the tabloids to go crazy over this, for advertisement for the game. Also because CoD is the most overated, generic, has-been game series ever and is ruining gaming for proper gamers because since CoD, every game is a knock-off of it and less and less original games come out. Those are the reasons people don’t like CoD, not to be ‘cool’. If anything, people who play CoD are the ones trying to be ‘cool’ by ‘jumping on the bandwagon’.

      • So CoD is overrated and generic, yet developers wants to copy it or people want to but it (going by sales), yeah that makes sense. Fool.

      • Oh, and I’m not a fanboy. I used to have BF Bad Company 2 and am currently playing BF3. I can just see that CoD gets a hard time of it. And it seems people like you are making it into a big media thing by making a fuss, not Activision. Not your day, is it.

  2. No brainer for me. Its a game and this section fits in perfectly with the rest of the storyline. Go Team Adam!

    • hooah!

      • Agreed, it is part of the story. What sort of topic did people think ‘modern warfare’ would be about!

    • but the fact that this section was released prior to the game, makes it seem impossible to /me/ that it could be anything other than an attempt to spark argument or bait the tabloids. I think it would probably fit well in the game, but the way it’s handled is there to start a shit storm.

  3. Obvious Tabloid Baiting TBH.

    Ask yourself this: Take the depicted event as an event in it’s own right, not a shocking part of a story. Would Activision or IW include the World Trade Centre 9/11 event in ANY of their published game? Probably not and with good reason, they wouldn’t get licensed in the US. Why then do they think it’s a good idea to include a ‘bombing in London’?

    Ok, I’ll admit that it’s an over-reactionary stance to take but it’s the stance that Activision/IW are baiting for.

    Games should remain fictional as a form of escapism, they should not ‘cut too close to the bone’ in an obvious attempt to rile emotions from supposedly fictional events that mirror (too closely) a real life attack on a city and it’s inhabitants.

    • Not MW’s biggest fan but MW3 show WW3. The US, UK, France, Germany etc all get attacked in game. I’m willing to bet that a lot of skyscrapers will be on fire or damaged in the New York section of the game. There’s fighting in London Underground. The whole game will cut ‘close to the bone’ because it is portraying a what if story should WW3 break out. A war game is not going to be pretty.

      Homefront could be considered much more brutal than this, showing civilians being killed and the inclusion of mass graves. There wasn’t a lot of media outrage over that.

    • TV goes close to the bone so why can’t games. Spooks showed 2 london bombing just 2 couple of months after it had happened. Where were the complaints then?

      • Should say “a” not “2”. Posting from a phone is a pain

      • Quite.

      • Exactly, a London bombing may not be a particularly nice way of representing our great nation to the world but it is nevertheless a reality of modern warfare – which is the topic of the game is it not?

  4. Can I get a “Team Adam” t-shirt – all proceeds go to child victims?

  5. I think they’re certainly courting the controversy quite deliberately, but it’s not as clear cut as all that. I think it’s somewhere inbetween wanting to get a short scene that gets the most impact.

    Yes it’s somewhat callous, and a sign of possibly rather simplified plot that continues what I disliked from MW2, but it’s not as cut and dry.

  6. For me it is simply down to whether it is relevant to the plot or how they are trying to get the player to feel at that moment. Out of context it is hard to judge it. It won’t change whether I get the game or not because I don’t enjoy cod games.

  7. It’s media baiting. There are plenty of other ways to create the same impact in the story(if it required). It doesn’t help that it takes place in London which had a Terrorist Attack 6 years ago and will create more negativity. It could be considered very insensitve.

    Usually when a game or film decides to kill off a child, they usually have some character development but never do they bring in a kid just to kill off. You could kill children in Fallout 1&2(but most players felt guilty doing so).

    I know that controlversy sells, but there is a very thin line between it helping to sell to putting customers off your product.

  8. Although I have no problem with te scene I umagine the story could go without it. They clearly want the press from it. Pathetic really

  9. For anyone who has pre-ordered the hardened edition. I thought you may be interested in something i found on shopto’s forum.


    Just seen and measured the box size for the Hardened Edition and first thing to say is that is ISN’T going to fit in anyones letterbox.

    The box measures :-

    23 1/2 cm high
    16 1/2 cm wide
    9 1/2 cm deep

    Its one heck of a lot bigger than the Hardened edition of Black Ops and MW2 etc and it will be shipped out in a cardboard box as it’s far bigger than “normal” jiffy bag sizes that would be used for games/dvd’s etc.

    Make sure someone is in ;)

  10. I don’t think the game developer would honestly just try and offend people, thats not their goal. I can see why they wanted to add this, to create contrast and view the events in a different perspective to have the player more emotionally engaged than viewing it from a war-hardened troops perspective.

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