I think we need to talk, gaming world.
I proclaim to be a gamer. I also will go on record as saying I don’t particularly like Call of Duty. There are numerous highly suspect and intellectually bull-crap reasons why I don’t. I don’t particularly like that the formula hasn’t changed in years – but I can accept from the other side that what isn’t broke doesn’t require fixing. I don’t like the current trend of mass American self-pleasuring. I mean honestly America, just get over it already. Invade somewhere to bring them your own unique sense of democracy – do we need so many different fictional variations? From Russia to Iran, from England to South Africa and from The Moon to the deepest reaches of space, it seems America doesn’t care where – it just likes war. It’s this which many may be surprised causes some strange feelings of mixed hostility towards the US. Such an eager fixation on war for the purposes of entertainment is not always culturally translatable.
I admit, I’m a bit of an elitist. I’m the kind of person who sat down to watch Transformers: Dark of the Moon and saw all of the crass humour, the sexism, racism, homophobia and general nastiness that pervaded it. Big explosions and an hour or so of fighting didn’t really distract me from it.
But HATE?! I think we overuse the word.
To hate something is an intense dislike; an extreme aversion. By its very nature, hate is often irrational and rarely based in any factual evidence. To hate something is often to not understand it, or to miss the point of something that has a valid and necessary place in the world.
And, as much as I lambast the concept of all these war-games set in the US and fictional dictatorships (which are rarely THAT fictional), people like them. There is no actual solid evidence that science can agree on that makes people who play violent games actually be violent. I doubt people who play Call of Duty at the ages of 14 and 15 will go into the American Military Services. One can even argue that despite the mistrust such a culturally divisive attitude brings, that it may even be stopping people from wanting war. By enjoying it in a fictional space, there’s no real reason to crave it in reality.
And whilst behind the scenes the old Infinity Ward thing is forgotten, remember that people are being employed to make the game. A very large staff across the world is earning money and contributing to the economy by making this game; by buying it, the millions who enjoy it are putting money into the economy via value-added tax, fuel duty getting there and other taxes/payments that ensure things are running smoothly. Without it, sure – there would be other games that could sell in those numbers.
But then we’d find a way to hate those. I think we all want desperately to actually hate on a game because it kind of makes us feel better – I don’t think this is elitism, as others have said. I think there is a very human trait that enjoys the sensation of hate, enjoys feeling it. In the process of this enjoyment of the sensation, logic and reason vacate by the back entrance; they have no place in the irrationally guided sense of disliking something that intensely.
Hating on Call of Duty is kind of a small camp it must be said; again, I’ve said it many times, it’s a minority making loud noises and stating the same tripe over and over again in the hope that people listen and they can parade such an opinion around as fact.
It isn’t true that Call of Duty is killing the industry. If I may be so bold, Call of Duty has found solutions to the problem – it’s used the same engine time and time again. It has found ways to keep costs lower in a market where the costs of making a game seem to add a zero to the end of a number each generation. Whereas a game cost perhaps $10,000s for the SNES/Genesis era, then $100,000s for the PS/N64/Saturn generation, then $1,000,000s for the PS2/X-Box/Gamecube/Dreamcast generation and now we’re at $10,000,000’s. What is hurting the market is that the costs have spiralled so much that developers and publishers are more cautious in what they release; doing their best to capitalise on those things. Call of Duty has found a means around a problem – and it is making all involved a lot of money. I’d say that’s not killing an industry – it’s demonstrating that you can do more with older technology and programming than many would have us believe.
As for the online community and Elite, Elite is a very clever service which, at a point where Activision may need to make a new engine for a next-generational machine, can generate money for it. And if they don’t release a new game next year, they can keep Modern Warfare 3 ticking over with new maps, options and weapons for the fans to enjoy. The fans are willing and able to pay for this; so why not? It’s a smart business move. And at the end of the day, it’s the choice of the fans as to whether or not they pay up.
And the online attitudes – the internet is full of that kind of rubbish. It’s just as I said in my last blog post – we only complain about the injustice of it when it is directly affecting us personally, and we may be surprised to learn subconsciously, we do the same thing. It happens in WoW. It happens in Call of Duty. Halo. Battlefield. Rift. Any and all online games carry a large chunk of people who have restricted social skills, because they aren’t good at it or they do it to be part of the crowd, I can’t say. But it’s there. Call of Duty isn’t “special”. It isn’t unique in this. It’s just suffering from the same problem the internet has – anonymity strips us of some basic understandings of right and wrong.
For all these reasons, I question whether we truly hate Call of Duty. There is no reason to hate it irrationally. Sure, I can stand here and be all intellectual about reasons I don’t like it – bugs, errors, the idea of realism in a medium where I don’t really expect it and more – but I can’t say I hate it. I can see the good that Call of Duty does in the industry. I can see that it’s a clever licence, with a big userbase, and a loyal following. You don’t get that by being crap.
My dislikes may be irrational. But I won’t go as far as to label myself as hating it. Because there is no need to – I don’t get it. But so many people do – and enjoy it as well. I wish sometimes I could see what they see in it. I can even learn to appreciate it and enjoy it, but it will never become a part of my soul, it will never truly become a part of me, and in some ways I know COD fans pity the likes of me. I will never see what they see.
But there is no reason for “modern warfare” (don’t throw rotten tomatoes at me! That was an awful pun and I AM SO SORRY FOR USING IT DON’T HURT MEEEEEE!) over this. We can all agree to disagree here.
And besides, if you don’t like Call of Duty – a quick scan over the last couple of weeks of releases, and the next few weeks, should throw up several alternate options for the rest of us. And we’ll enjoy these games, and Call of Duty fans will wonder what we see in them.
We cannot claim exclusivity on this sense of feeling. It’s when we realise this that I think we can all enjoy games together… and perhaps some of that smack talk can just calm down at the same time.