Controversies surrounding Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Last updated

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. Released worldwide on November 10, 2009, it generated several controversies. One of the most arguably infamous of these controversies is found in the game's fourth level, "No Russian", where the player controls an undercover CIA agent who participates in a mass shooting at a Moscow airport to gain the trust of a Russian terrorist group. This level was largely criticized for allowing players to partake in a terrorist attack, and international versions of the game were subject to censorship due to the level's content. Allegations of homophobic content arose when Infinity Ward released a video titled "Fight Against Grenade Spam". Some video game journalists chastised the video's use of profanity, and that the video's title forms the acronym F.A.G.S., a pejorative for gay people. In response, Infinity Ward removed the video from YouTube. An easter egg referencing the United States policy "don't ask, don't tell" was also seen as homophobic, though most journalists belittled these allegations. The Windows version of the game was also met with criticism from players, when it was revealed that the game would not support dedicated servers among a litany of other changes. Windows players created an online petition to allow for dedicated servers, receiving over 150,000 signatures in ten days. However, despite these controversies, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 grossed $310 million in its first day of release. [1]

Contents

"No Russian"

In "No Russian", the player can shoot at civilians at an airport. NoRussian.jpg
In "No Russian", the player can shoot at civilians at an airport.

In the game's fourth level, "No Russian", the player controls an undercover CIA agent who participates in a mass shooting at a Moscow airport to gain the trust of a Russian terrorist group. [2] [3] It begins with the player walking out of an elevator with four other gunmen, who proceed to open fire on a large group of civilians at a security checkpoint. [2] The player then accompanies the gunmen as they walk through the airport, killing any remaining civilians. The only legitimate targets are a group of security personnel encountered in waves throughout the airport interior, and a more heavily armed gang of riot squad and FSB members deployed on the tarmac. The level is very graphic, as screams can be heard throughout, and the injured crawl away leaving blood trails or perch themselves on tables and stands as they bleed out. [4] However, the player is never forced to partake in the massacre, and may instead let their comrades kill the civilians. If the player does not feel comfortable during the level, they are allowed to skip to the next level with no penalties whatsoever. [5]

Prior to the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, footage taken from the "No Russian" level was leaked on the Internet. [6] Though some journalists were cautious towards the level's content, they decided to wait until they could actually play the level to judge its merits. [4] [7] [8] After the game's release, "No Russian" was largely criticized for allowing players to partake in a terrorist attack. Vince Horiuchi of The Salt Lake Tribune felt that the level was in poor taste following the 2009 Fort Hood shooting, and questioned why the level couldn't have been told through a non-interactive cutscene. [9] Marc Cieslak of BBC News was saddened by "No Russian", as he felt it disproved his theory that the video game industry had "grown up". [10] Several prominent British religious leaders condemned "No Russian": Alexander Goldberg of the London Jewish Forum was worried that children would play the level; Fazan Mohammed of the British Muslim Forum described the level as an intimate experience of enacting terrorism; and Stephen Lowe, the retired Bishop of Hulme, felt that the level was "sickening". [11] Due to the graphic content featured in "No Russian", Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was subject to censorship in international versions of the game, including the entire removal of the level from the Russian version. [12] [13] "No Russian" was also included as a mission in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Remastered , but besides graphical improvements and an easter egg, the level remained virtually unchanged.

Allegations of homophobic content

In October 2009, Infinity Ward posted a video titled "Fight Against Grenade Spam" on YouTube. In the video, professional baseball player Cole Hamels delivers a public service announcement that advocates against the use of grenade spam. Hamels uses profanity in the video, calling grenade spam "for pussies", and says "what the fuck" when he is blown up with grenades. [14] [15] Soon after the video was released, it was quickly discovered that the video's title forms the acronym F.A.G.S., which is a pejorative term against gay people. [16] Phillip Kollar of Game Informer criticized that the title's acronym and use of profanity, and felt that Infinity Ward was condoning homophobic slurs. [17] Freelance journalist Mitchell Dyer echoed Kollar's statement, and commented that the video "seems to enforce the asshole-ry" of homophobic slurs. [18] In response to the backlash, Infinity Ward community manager Robert Bowling remarked that while the video was intended to be a social commentary joke, he understood why people found it offensive, and removed the video from YouTube. [16]

Further allegations of homophobic content arose when an easter egg was discovered in the game's opening tutorial level. If the player remains idle for a brief period of time, they are able to hear one soldier ask another soldier about his sexuality, and then remark "don't ask, don't tell". [19] [20] This easter egg references the United States policy "Don't ask, don't tell", which prevented openly gay people from serving in the United States Armed Forces. [21] Jim Sterling of Destructoid felt that the easter egg was "too silly/stupid" for people to be angry at, [19] while James Sherwood of The Register commented that people were trying to generate controversy over unimportant dialogue. [20] Lyle Masaki of Logo TV's NewNowNext.com deemed the easter egg to be homophobic, but not representative of the game as a whole. [22]

Criticism of the Windows version

In a webcast conducted prior to the game's release, Bowling revealed that the Windows version of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 would not support dedicated servers, and would instead be powered by the IWNet server. [23] Infinity Ward would go on to state that the Windows version would also lack console commands, not support multiplayer matches larger than 18 players, and the inability for players to ban other players who are cheating. [24] These decisions angered many Windows gamers, with Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica commenting: "at launch, this will be one of the most locked-down, inflexible, and gamer-unfriendly game ever created." [24] An online petition was created to have Infinity Ward allow dedicated servers, which surpassed 150,000 signatures in ten days. [25] Additionally, users on Amazon.com submitted over 125 one-star reviews for the Windows version of the game. [26] Mike Griffiths, CEO of Activision, stated that while Infinity Ward was aware of the petition, they weren't overly worried. He commented that IWNet would allow for a "friendly consumer experience", and that the benefits outweighed the negatives. [27] Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 would go on to sell more than 4.7 million copies and gross $310 million in the United States and United Kingdom in its first day of release. [28] According to Bowling, while only 3% of the game's sales came from the Windows version in the UK, it still outsold the Windows version of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in its first week. [29]

Incorrect language in Karachi map

One of the multiplayer maps in Modern Warfare 2 was Karachi, which was based on the real-life city of Karachi in Pakistan. The map contained numerous signs and banners in Arabic rather than Urdu, which is the language spoken in Karachi. This garnered criticism from numerous video game journalists, including Brian Ashcraft from Kotaku [30] and Jim Sterling from Destructoid. [31] Though the journalists blamed Infinity Ward for being "racially ignorant", there was no official response from the game developer or publisher, and the map remains in its original state.

Related Research Articles

Raven Software American video game development company

Raven Software Corporation is an American video game developer based in Wisconsin and founded in 1990. In 1997, Raven made an exclusive publishing deal with Activision and was subsequently acquired by them. After the acquisition, many of the studio's original developers, largely responsible for creating the Heretic and Hexen: Beyond Heretic games, left to form Human Head Studios.

Activision American video game publisher

Activision Publishing, Inc. is an American video game publisher based in Santa Monica, California. It currently serves as the publishing business for its parent company, Activision Blizzard, and consists of several subsidiary studios. Activision is one of the largest third-party video game publishers in the world and was the top United States publisher in 2016.

<i>Call of Duty</i> (video game) 2003 video game

Call of Duty is a 2003 first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It is the first installment in the Call of Duty franchise, released on October 29, 2003, for Microsoft Windows. The game simulates infantry and combined arms warfare of World War II using a modified version of the id Tech 3 engine. Much of its theme and gameplay is similar to the Medal of Honor series; however, Call of Duty showcases multiple viewpoints staged in the British, American, and Soviet theaters of World War II.

Infinity Ward, Inc. is an American video game developer. They developed the video game Call of Duty, along with seven other installments in the Call of Duty series. Vince Zampella, Grant Collier, and Jason West established Infinity Ward in 2002 after working at 2015, Inc. previously. All of the 22 original team members of Infinity Ward came from the team that had worked on Medal of Honor: Allied Assault while at 2015, Inc. Activision helped fund Infinity Ward in its early days, buying up 30 percent of the company. The studio's first game, World War II shooter Call of Duty, was released on the PC in 2003. The day after the game was released, Activision bought the rest of Infinity Ward, signing employees to long-term contracts. Infinity Ward went on to make Call of Duty 2, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty: Ghosts, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and the Modern Warfare reboot.

Neversoft American video game developer

Neversoft Entertainment was an American video game developer, founded in July 1994 by Joel Jewett, Mick West, and Chris Ward. Neversoft was known for the Spider-Man video game as well as the Tony Hawk's and Guitar Hero video game franchises. The company was acquired by Activision in October 1999. Their last game was the Extinction mode of Call of Duty: Ghosts, and the studio merged with Infinity Ward, a primary developer on the Call of Duty franchise, on May 3, 2014, and was made defunct on July 10, 2014.

Call of Duty is a first-person shooter video game franchise published by Activision. Starting out in 2003, it first focused on games set in World War II. Over time, the series has seen games set in the midst of the Cold War, futuristic worlds, and outer space. The games were first developed by Infinity Ward, then also by Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games. Several spin-off and handheld games were made by other developers. The most recent title, Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, was released on November 13, 2020. The next title, Call of Duty: Vanguard, will be released on November 5, 2021.

<i>Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare</i> 2007 video game

Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare is a 2007 first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It is the fourth main installment in the Call of Duty series. The game breaks away from the World War II setting of previous entries and is instead set in modern times. Developed for over two years, Modern Warfare was released in November 2007 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and Microsoft Windows, and was ported to the Wii as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare – Reflex Edition in 2009.

Activision Blizzard American video game company

Activision Blizzard, Inc. is an American video game holding company based in Santa Monica, California. The company was founded in July 2008 through the merger of Activision, Inc. and Vivendi Games. The company is traded on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker symbol ATVI, and since 2015 has been one of the stocks that make up the S&P 500. Activision Blizzard currently includes five business units: Activision Publishing, Blizzard Entertainment, King, Major League Gaming, and Activision Blizzard Studios.

<i>Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2</i> 2009 video game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is a 2009 first-person shooter game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It is the sixth installment in the Call of Duty series and the direct sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, continuing the storyline. It was released worldwide on November 10, 2009, for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360. A separate version for the Nintendo DS, titled Modern Warfare: Mobilized, was also released on the same day. A version for macOS was developed by Aspyr and released in May 2014, and the Xbox 360 version was made backward compatible for the Xbox One in 2018.

Sledgehammer Games American video game development company

Sledgehammer Games, Inc. is an American video game developer company formed in 2009 by Glen Schofield and Michael Condrey. The pair formerly worked at Visceral Games and are responsible for the creation of Dead Space. The company is an independent, yet wholly owned subsidiary of Activision and is based in Foster City, California. The studio is known for developing or co-developing various video games in the Call of Duty series.

No Russian Controversial level from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

"No Russian" is a controversial mission in the 2009 video game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and its remastered version, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 Campaign Remastered. In the level, the player can participate in a mass shooting at a Russian airport. "No Russian" is noticeably more graphic than any other level in the game. The player is not forced to shoot anyone, however, and may skip the level altogether without penalty if they are uncomfortable with its content. The plot of "No Russian" revolves around undercover CIA agent Joseph Allen, who attempts to gain the trust of a Russian terrorist named Vladimir Makarov.

<i>Call of Duty: Black Ops</i> 2010 video game

Call of Duty: Black Ops is a 2010 first-person shooter video game developed by Treyarch and published by Activision. It was released worldwide in November 2010 for Microsoft Windows, the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii, with a separate version for Nintendo DS developed by n-Space. Aspyr later released the game for OS X in September 2012. It is the seventh title in the Call of Duty series and the third to be developed by Treyarch. It serves as the sequel to Call of Duty: World at War.

IW (game engine) Game engine developed by Infinity Ward

The IW engine is a game engine developed by Infinity Ward for the Call of Duty series. The engine was originally based on id Tech 3 as its core, since the engine itself is proprietary with inclusion of GtkRadiant by id Software. Aside from Infinity Ward, the engine is also used by other Activision studios working on the series, including lead developers Sledgehammer Games and Treyarch, as well as support studios such as Beenox, High Moon Studios, and Raven Software.

<i>Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3</i> 2011 video game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is a 2011 first-person shooter video game, jointly developed by Infinity Ward and Sledgehammer Games and published by Activision. The game was released worldwide in November 2011 for Microsoft Windows, the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. It is the third and final installment in the original Modern Warfare saga, a direct sequel to 2009's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and the eighth Call of Duty installment overall. A separate version for the Nintendo DS was developed by n-Space, while Treyarch developed the game's Wii port. In Japan, Square Enix published the game with a separate subtitled and dubbed version.

Call of Duty: XP 2011 was the first annual convention hosted by Activision to celebrate their video game series Call of Duty. The convention was held in Los Angeles, California from September 2–3, 2011 in and around a 12-acre hangar where developer Infinity Ward showcased their upcoming game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and online service Call of Duty: Elite. The convention offered fans an opportunity to observe and participate in various events and attractions such as a $1 million tournament, live performances from various artists, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer, paintball, jeep off-roading, zip-lining, and a full-scale replica of Burger Town from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.

Mohammad Alavi is an Iranian video game developer who currently works at Respawn Entertainment. He is best known for his critically acclaimed work on the Call of Duty series at Infinity Ward, creating the iconic "Crew Expendable" and "All Ghillied Up" missions from Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) as well as the controversial "No Russian" mission from Modern Warfare 2 (2009).

<i>Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare</i> 2016 video game

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a 2016 first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. It is the thirteenth installment in the Call of Duty series and was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on November 4, 2016.

<i>Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered</i> 2016 first-person shooter video game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered is a 2016 first-person shooter game developed by Raven Software and published by Activision. It is a remastered version of the 2007 game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and was initially released as part of the special edition bundles of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare in November 2016 for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Microsoft Windows. A standalone version was released for these platforms in mid-2017. The game's story follows the United States Marine Corps (USMC) and the Special Air Service (SAS), who take on missions to fight against a separatist group in the Middle East and an ultranationalist group in Russia.

All Ghillied Up Level from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare

"All Ghillied Up" is a level in the 2007 first-person shooter video game Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and its remastered version, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered (2016). Set in Pripyat, Ukraine in 1996, the player assumes control of then Lieutenant Price and is assisted by their superior Captain MacMillan. The player may deal with enemies stealthily, overtly or avoid engaging them altogether.

<i>Call of Duty: Modern Warfare</i> (2019 video game) 2019 video game

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is a 2019 first-person shooter video game developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. Serving as the sixteenth overall installment in the Call of Duty series, as well as a reboot of the Modern Warfare sub-series, it was released on October 25, 2019, for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

References

  1. JOHNSON, ROBERT. "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 destroys records in first day sales rampage, pulls in $310M". nydailynews.com. Retrieved November 20, 2020.
  2. 1 2 Payne, Matthew (April 2016). "The First-Personal Shooter". Playing War: Military Video Games After 9/11. New York University Press. p. 80. ISBN   9781479805228.
  3. Yin-Poole, Wesley (March 15, 2011). "Call of Duty No Russian actors "tearful"". Eurogamer . Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  4. 1 2 Peckham, Matt (November 2, 2009). "Is Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 Terrorist Gameplay Artful?". PC World . Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  5. Klepek, Patrick (October 23, 2015). "That Time Call of Duty Let You Shoot Up An Airport". Kotaku . Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  6. Thorsen, Tor (October 29, 2009). "Modern Warfare 2 massacre 'not representative of overall experience' - Activision". GameSpot . Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  7. Hoggins, Tom (October 29, 2009). "Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 leaked footage analysis". The Daily Telegraph . Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  8. Wildgoose, David (November 2, 2009). "Monday Musings: War Games". Kotaku Australia . Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  9. Horiuchi, Vince (November 16, 2009). "Oh My Tech: 'Call of Duty' has troubling scene". The Salt Lake Tribune . Retrieved December 12, 2009.
  10. Orry, James (November 10, 2009). "BBC reporter 'saddened' but not 'shocked' by MW2". VideoGamer.com. Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  11. Ingham, Tim (November 16, 2009). "Religious leaders slam Modern Warfare 2". MCV . Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  12. Welsh, Oli (November 17, 2009). "Activision chose to censor Russian MW2". Eurogamer . Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  13. Ashcraft, Brian (December 9, 2009). "Modern Warfare 2 Censored In Japan". Kotaku . Retrieved August 3, 2016.
  14. Sarkar, Samit (October 30, 2009). "Cole Hamels: 'Pussies' use random MW2 grenades (Update)". Destructoid . Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  15. Good, Owen (October 30, 2009). "Cole Hamels Reminds You That Grenades are "for Pussies"". Kotaku . Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  16. 1 2 Graft, Kris (November 2, 2009). "Infinity Ward Pulls Modern Warfare 2 Video Amid Criticism". Gamasutra . Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  17. Good, Owen (November 1, 2009). "Infinity Ward Removes Modern Warfare 2 "F.A.G.S." Video". Kotaku . Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  18. Sarkar, Samit (October 31, 2016). "Infinity Ward pulls MW2 Hamels video after Internet furor". Destructoid . Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  19. 1 2 Sterling, Jim (December 2, 2009). "Modern Warfare 2 has a homophobic Easter egg!?". Destructoid . Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  20. 1 2 Sherwood, James (December 9, 2009). "Modern Warfare 2 hit by anti-gay claim". The Register . Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  21. Bumiller, Elizabeth (July 22, 2011). "Obama Ends 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Policy". The New York Times . Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  22. Masaki, Lyle (December 9, 2009). "What does a homophobic joke tell us about "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2"?". NewNowNext.com . Retrieved August 4, 2016.
  23. Robinson, Martin (October 19, 2009). "No Dedicated Servers For PC MW2". IGN . Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  24. 1 2 Kuchera, Ben (November 5, 2009). "PC Modern Warfare 2: it's much worse than you thought". Ars Technica . Retrieved November 15, 2009.
  25. Thompson, Michael (October 29, 2016). "Modern Warfare 2: the case for the dedicated server". Ars Technica . Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  26. Pereira, Chris (October 21, 2009). "Why Do PC Gamers Hate Modern Warfare 2's New Matchmaking System?". 1UP.com . Archived from the original on June 9, 2016. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  27. Martin, Matt (November 5, 2009). "Activision "not overly concerned" by MW2 PC complaints". Gameindustry.biz. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  28. Orry, James (November 12, 2009). "Modern Warfare 2 sells 4.7 million day one in US and UK". VideoGamer.com. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  29. Plunkett, Luke (November 11, 2009). "Modern Warfare 2 Selling Just Fine On PC". Kotaku . Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  30. Ashcraft, Brian. "Something Modern Warfare 2 Got Wrong About Pakistan". Kotaku. Retrieved June 4, 2019.
  31. "Modern Warfare 2 rocks the racial ignorance with Pakistan". Destructoid. Retrieved June 4, 2019.