*Warning: This article contains graphic material and is not suitable for children. It also covers material that some may be offended by.
*A minor spoiler is included for those who haven't played Modern Warfare 3's campaign.
The time of the year is fall. Leaves slowly drift to the ground. For us up North, winter is upon us. It also marks the closing-end of the year. Yup, the next yearly-run Call of Duty game is here.
What does that mean? Tons of people have purchased it, parents will scout out for their children to own it for the holiday season, and the media will now tag the title with controversy. All of those are happening as we speak.
No one will forget Modern Warfare 2’s debatable mission No Russian. Here, you get to play as the bad guy; one of Makarov’s henchmen. You have the ability to shoot innocent civilians – straight on the turf of a Russian airport. Keep in mind, when you first pop in the disc, the game strictly tells you there are some material in the game that may offend some players. You have the option to accept and witness the event, or walk away and ignore it all together.
Same goes for Modern Warfare 3. For those who know what I’m talking about, there’s a particular intro scene on the London mission, where the player is taken control of a father who seems to be enjoying his vacation time overseas with his beautiful wife and young daughter. It’s more sudden and unexpected what transpires next.
The truck explodes, nearly five feet away from the child playing with the birds. “Holy s****” was my reaction. I was thinking in my mind before the tragedy ensued: “They won’t go that far.” Turns out they sure as hell did.
Now think about though: This game is based on war. War conceives violence; it’s what happens. Innocent lives are taken, including women and children. Realism is enabled here. Though Infinity Ward’s approach is notable for over-the-top campaigns and Michael Bay-like stories, they also take emotional factors and outcomes referencing the natural cause from the battlefield.
Was it out of line to have an innocent child – whose age roughly five or six years old – to be blown into ashes? I say no. It’s not right, and I sure as hell am not happy it happened. However, this event creates this sense of fear, sorrow, pain, and understanding that we do not live in a perfect world. Bad things happen and not everyone can be saved. This is what we call modern warfare, or the real world.
In comes the media. Parents are irate and the news places the spotlight on the issue of this content because it’s a videogame. You’ll hear “This isn’t right for kids” or “They should be sued!” simply by this one small scene in the campaign. Give me a break.
Look, we see this form of violence all the time in movies and television shows. Hey, watch Collateral Damage starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. The movie’s introduction displays the exact tragically death of his wife and son – both die from a terrorist attack with a bomb explosion. What’s the difference between this in a movie and a console title? There isn’t one.
I have grown tiresome of games being targeted which such negative feedback and criticism. Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas’ ‘Hot Coffee’ scene and its result of going to court made me sick. “It involved sex! Bring ‘em to court!” Yet, not too far later, God of War was released and featured a scene where Kratos has a three-way with two naked woman – bare titties and all. The right to censor kicks in again.
There’s a reason we have a ratings system. There is also a reason why movies like Saw are rated 'R'. But the problem that many of parents and the media cannot realize is that the game industry and the film industry coexist. They draw this invisible line between the two. Their vision is that violence in a game is being controlled by the player; while a movie with graphical content is being watched for entertainment. One is wrong, while the other is okay because it's being watched…not controlled.
Listen, I don’t want my six-year-old nephew playing this game. First off, he’s too young. Secondly, he hasn’t learned fully about death; let alone processed it. But eventually kids learn that death is inevitable, and the one happy world they grow up believing at the early stage isn’t such a pretty sight later on.
So take upon the fact that it’s the parents’ responsibility to have their kids exposed to MW3. Don’t sit in a GameStop line and purchase the title for a kid under-aged if you’re skeptical about the content. Do research. These people that complain about content like the London event are nothing more than hypocrites. If you don’t like it (or are offended), then save the pain and avoid the purchase. Please, just do me a favor and stop the criticism. It’s rated ‘M’ for a reason.
How about you, gamers? Do you believe graphic content, such as a child's death, should be censored/taken out? Is it necessary to make such a huge deal over "controversial" content?
GamesBeat 2014 — VentureBeat’s sixth annual event on disruption in the video game market — is coming up on Sept 15-16 in San Francisco. Purchase your ticket now to save $200!