My belief that video games don’t cause real world violence are no secret. There’s no science behind the idea that it does and there never has been. It’s just Tertullian all over again.
That said, there are a few things about modern war games, especially shooters like Call of Duty and Medal of Honor: Warfighter that are starting to trouble me.
I don’t think games cause violence. But they are a part of culture: They can play things up or tone things down. And I think the war games are starting to cross a few lines that I’m not sure they can come back from.
#5) Hiring Oliver North
We’ve already gotten into this, but it bears repeating that Oliver North is a convicted criminal currently enjoying an undeserved reputation among certain circles that in no way makes him ethically clear enough to be plugging a video game in any way, shape, or form.
That in of itself demonstrates a lack of awareness on Activision’s part. But it’s hand-in-hand with…
#4) The Jingoistic Rah-Rah Bulls***
These games are, in terms of writing, Team America: World Police, except with zero self awareness.
No, seriously. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a series I don’t hesitate to refer to as having a stupid story. Battlefield isn’t much better. These games are, as fiction, so brutally divorced from modern geopolitics and even basic reality that I wonder if it was written by an adult, or by the developer’s day care.
The problem is how often these fictions adhere to party lines and “acceptable” bad guys. The new Call of Duty has us going after the Chinese, and it’s troubling how many defense contracts are centered around the idea of attacking China or vice versa.
I’m exempting games like Homefront or Spec Ops: The Line because they make a conscious attempt to break from reality a bit. But most of these games like to pretend they’re realistic.
Hey, speaking of reality…
#3) You Can Not Only Use Real Guns, You Can Buy Them From EA
Here’s a list of EA’s “partners” for Medal of Honor: Warfighter. You can buy a sniper rifle from these people.
Look, I firmly believe that most gun owners are responsible adults who respect the safety of others, but the idea of using a gun in game and then buying it over the Internet reads like a bad piece of “socially conscious” science fiction.
Except it’s actually happening. EA looked at the idea of facilitating selling weapons to its customers and said “Oh man, that’s so awesome, let’s do that.”
That leads me to my next problem.