The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Video Game In Poor Taste in Time of War

3 min read


When beginning my holiday shopping, I came across a peculiar advertisement promising a “saga of cinematic intensity.” Always interested in intensive cinema, I clicked to view an ad of what I realized is actually a video game: “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.”
The video game culture has never really attracted me, but after learning about “Modern Warfare”, I began the process of becoming a part of my generation’s fascination with video games.
I learned that there are several military games out there, ranging from a kind of bizarre science fiction game called “Gears of War” to a World War II simulation called “Medal of Honor.” Most of the “Call of Duty” series is also focused on World War II.
As a history major, I suppose I should be happy that students are learning about military history—even if it takes an expensive and habit-forming video game that makes war into a fun way to spend a Sunday morning.
However, “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare” is sorely out of place. While it is in theory a fictional war timed for the “near future”, much of the fighting takes place in an “unnamed” Middle Eastern oil-producing nation. The United States invades the Middle Eastern country looking for an ultranationalist power-hungry Russian trying to stage a coup. To put it in one reviewer’s words: “You’ll be conducting full-scale assaults in Middle Eastern countries from moving from house to house, taking out what seems like a never-ending stream of enemy troops along the way.” While the story is still fictional, it sounds somewhat plausible to me, and it is a little too similar to the world’s recent conflicts to be a mere coincidence.
The game was met with wide acclaim for its realism in picture, sound, and surroundings. From just looking at several screenshots (not that I’m an expert), I can tell that this is true—in terms of the picture and graphics, the game is a real winner.
However, this game is completely inappropriate for the times our country is facing.
I have had several friends and acquaintances severely injured and even killed in the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. They were proud to serve their country and do what they were ordered to do, and I am proud to know them.
It’s very raw, even for me—a private second class in the Virginia Defense Force and hopeful coast guard officer candidate—to loose someone in a war that they were ordered to fight in.
Games like “Modern Warfare” do not make it any easier.
As I read reviews of the game, one of its major advantages was its reward system—for example, if you kill seven enemies without getting hit yourself, you get an attack chopper that will kill more of your enemies in the game. There is an option called “last stand” where when you are nearly dead, you can pull out a pistol and kill your opponent, who does not realize that you are still alive. You can also become a “martyr” and drop a live grenade when you are going down.
According to one reviewer, options such as these “add a healthy dose of mayhem to the proceedings.”
When I asked several UMW students that I know why they played this game, the most typical responses were that it is fun and they are good at it. One person even showed me the “killer cam”, which is a feature that allows you to watch yourself get killed all over again so you can analyze your death to hopefully avoid it next time.
Students at Mary Washington: if “Modern Warfare” is how you have fun, you are a twisted person.
There are people your age—or younger—out dying right now in a war questionably similar to the one that you have such fun playing. While I realize that you probably have a great old time playing soldier between homework assignments, have some respect for those people out serving and put your killer cam down.
Send a letter to the troops instead, thanking them for battling the enemy without such options as an attack helicopter or killer cam. Killing other people, enemies or not, rips apart a soldier’s psyche—and that is not worth bonus points.
Laura Summers is a senior.