Rant: Playing a video game doesn’t actually mean you’re a soldier

“Modern Warfare 3,”the latest edition of the “Call of Duty” series is in stores today.  That means a few things:

1. Activision, the game’s publisher, is going to make a lot of money.

2. People are going to argue on the Internet over whether the game is any good or not.

3. The game’s advertising campaign will tell potential buyers that “there’s a soldier in all of us,” which is absurd.

The third item – the commercial-  is the only one that I have a problem with. I think the way the advertisement pokes fun at the “noob’s” initial challenge in playing a competitive first-person shooter is actually kind of clever, but the silly tagline needs to go away.

Although I can understand why some people would be offended by the idea of a war-themed game, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with using a game to tell a story about war, which has been a fact of life throughout human history.

For example, I thought “Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare,” (2007) generally did a good job of imagining what could happen in a modern conflict in the Middle East and Russia. Although the story was definitely told with Hollywood sensibilities, the concept of U.S. Marines and British commandos fighting against members of revolutionary movements in not-Saudi Arabia and Russia, seemed to be a reasonable reflection of the anxieties of our time.

But the game is still, as the saying goes, only entertainment. I have never served in the military nor reported from a war zone, but I nonetheless think Activision’s “there’s a soldier in all of us,” is ridiculous. The soldiers and Marines who have been to Iraq and Afghanistan, have chosen to do so knowing not only that the United States of America is at war, but that the wars have become decreasingly popular among the general public.

Combat troops also have to meet physical requirements, pass basic training and be strong enough to actually fight. All you need to do to play Call of Duty is pay $60 for a copy.

I’m not saying that people shouldn’t play the game if they enjoy doing so. But if the advertising team for Madden claimed that playing that game somehow meant players are NFL-caliber athletes, every one would realize how ridiculous that statement would be.

Given that no one is likely to lose their lives or limbs playing Call of Duty, Activision needs to get a new tagline.

Modern Warfare 3 Leaked


One of the most anticipated games this year, Activision’s Modern Warfare 3 joins its predecessors — Black Ops and Modern Warfare 2 — in the pre-release piracy box. Modern Warfare 3 is due out in stores on November 8.

Dean Takahashi reports on Venture Beat that a thief had physically stolen one of the discs from the two-disc set from a distribution warehouse where copies are being stored. According to the story, it’s disc 2 of the set for the PC and apparently it’s started to circulate.

The story also reports that Activision is actively seeking the pirates with one posting on Craigslist on being forced to delete or destroy his copy of the game or face immediate fines. Apparently, Activision has stepped up its game on being able to track who has what if the posting is to be believed.

Gamespot had also commented on the report by pointing out that simply having the second disc isn’t enough to play the game somewhat mitigating fears over a rash of spoiler filled vids raining down from Youtube such as what followed Crysis 2.

Estimates can vary on how much of an impact this might have on sales, yet few doubt that MW3 will be a titanic windfall for Activision’s coffers when it hits. Piracy is still piracy, though it arguably did little to dent the record breaking numbers of copies sold for either Modern Warfare 2 or Black Ops when they were released. However, an estimate on revenue lost due to the piracy of Black Ops reportedly tops $200 million that could have gone to Activision. Certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities who has often been quoted in the gaming press for his forecasts on associated trends, has estimated that MW3 will sell “16 million units by the end of the fourth quarter” and “another 8 million next year”.