The Call of Duty Villain of the Year is YOU

Scratched wrote:

Is promotional material for a game really political?

I think you'd have to make the argument that promotional material *can't* be political. If it can, and especially if it's promoting something that is riffing on current events, then yes of course.

And really, you don't have to squint very hard at all to see political ideas in this.

We're back to that defense of so much entertainment recently: "C'mon, it's just ___! Companies just want to sell and that's what sells! Criticism over!"

See thread on misogyny in gaming.

Here's another comparison:

Scientists open riftway into some crazy hell-dimension or something and nasty critters spill out == Doom 3 is not political

The 99% and Wikileaks movements morph into a terrorist organization == BLOPS2 might just be political

bombsfall wrote:

There is a good point here that I'll readily concede to missing - the game could include any number of twists and turns and ideas we don't know anything about yet. It's lazy of me to criticize it without having full knowledge of what it is. So that's something. But that's not the point anyone is arguing at the moment, so I'll leave that to one side.

Oliver North is a big national defense neoconservative. He has made his living in the past few decades as such since he committed war-related crimes back in the 80s. Yes, that was a while ago, but recent history should prove that many of the things done back then still echo today. The game takes it's inspiration for its villains from Occupy and Wikileaks, two movements that are widely of the left and which are critical of US military policy. As its protagonist, it has a souped-up future soldier. If you can't find a political stance here, I'm not sure what to tell you. Maybe the game turns this all on it's head. Could happen.

That's using something political as a backdrop and not taking a stance. Like i said earlier North is qualified to talk about the things he does no matter what he's done in the past or if i agree with it. Again not a political stance.

Farscry wrote:

Here's another comparison:

Scientists open riftway into some crazy hell-dimension or something and nasty critters spill out == Doom 3 is not political

The 99% and Wikileaks movements morph into a terrorist organization == BLOPS2 might just be political

Well, you could read Doom 3 as a screed about immigration, if you wanted to go that far out. But seeing politics in BLOPS is a much lower hurdle.

Farscry wrote:

The 99% and Wikileaks movements morph into a terrorist organization == BLOPS2 might just be political

May be about something political but not taking a political stance which is what the posters at the top of the thread were talking about. They are very 2 different things.

I'm sorry, but even if they do some massive, exceptional subversion, there will be a political stance behind asking players to shoot an Occupant in the head.

Making a group the protagonists or villains in your story IS a stance. You can even go to Doom 3 for that one. Demons = bad!

That doesn't mean you're not allowed to make that stance! It just means that within the context of the world around it, those choices have meaning. That's all. And many of us find that meaning to be a bit terrible.

bombsfall wrote:

Making a group the protagonists or villains in your story IS a stance. You can even go to Doom 3 for that one. Demons = bad!

That doesn't mean you're not allowed to make that stance! It just means that within the context of the world around it, those choices have meaning. That's all. And many of us find that meaning to be a bit terrible.

That may be a stance inside the game, and most games these days have you do that in some shape or form. If it goes against your personal beliefs like shooting an Occupant in the head then you'll make a choice based on your beliefs. I dont see that as a political one, terrible like you said, but not political.

ranalin wrote:

I dont see that as a political one

If the protangonist and antagonist of CODBLOPS2 are in no way saying anything about politics, then games cannot be political. If this were any other medium, the political nature of this would be obvious. But if the fact that a game involves player choice makes the game unable to be said to "say" something, then I suppose Ebert was correct.

Scratched wrote:

Is promotional material for a game really political?

I don't see that Treyarch/Activision are really seeking anything besides more sales.

What game are we talking about here, FOX SimNewsroom? Sarah Palin: ANWR Driller?

Oh, Call of Duty.

ranalin wrote:
bombsfall wrote:

There is a good point here that I'll readily concede to missing - the game could include any number of twists and turns and ideas we don't know anything about yet. It's lazy of me to criticize it without having full knowledge of what it is. So that's something. But that's not the point anyone is arguing at the moment, so I'll leave that to one side.

Oliver North is a big national defense neoconservative. He has made his living in the past few decades as such since he committed war-related crimes back in the 80s. Yes, that was a while ago, but recent history should prove that many of the things done back then still echo today. The game takes it's inspiration for its villains from Occupy and Wikileaks, two movements that are widely of the left and which are critical of US military policy. As its protagonist, it has a souped-up future soldier. If you can't find a political stance here, I'm not sure what to tell you. Maybe the game turns this all on it's head. Could happen.

That's using something political as a backdrop and not taking a stance.

Here's the thing (I hope wordsmythe will be proud): even if the author's sole intent is to make money and they personally take no stance, their choice of 'backdrop' can have political effects.

I should point out that by "political stance", I don't mean that the game was designed to promote a particular view. In the same way that someone can make an incredibly sexist game without trying to, one can make a political game without trying to endorse a viewpoint. However, even with that understanding, this is a near-future military game based upon projections of current events, using a polarising political figure as its spokesperson. The campaign around it has gone out of its way to tie it to real life events. If it can be said to say anything, what it is saying is at least in part political.

Ulairi wrote:
Farscry wrote:

It'll never happen, but boy would be awesome if BLOPS2's catering to the sensibilities of the 1% resulted in them only getting 1% of the sales of their previous titles. :D

The problem with the whole 99% populist movement is that it wasn't 99% of ANYTHING. If I start a movement and call it the 100% movement, and say I speak for 100%, I'm being an idiot. The 99% movement didn't represent the 99% I hate the whole metaphor that now is used because of it. The 99% movement receives the same derision from me as the tea party movement does when it said it was speaking for the people. It's not. Both aren't. My problem with the first link from SA is that if it would have been the "tea party leader" being evil we wouldn't have heard a peep. I don't like the CoD games and I think they are horrible not because it is "against the 99%" this time, but because it dehumanize its players and are incredibly violent.

I'm not in the 1% and the 99% sure as hell wasn't representing me, looking out for my best interest or anything of the like.

This latest turn into the realm of modern politics is more disturbing than a heap of dead bomb vest guys outside a stairwell on a survival map. Goyer has managed to take the cold brutality of drone warfare - a terrifying reality - and somehow create commentary that we need to watch out for the gullible Occupy movement. It isn't a creepy arms manufacturer or a rogue general, not even the drones themselves going haywire, it is literally the "Messiah of the 99%" who subverts our drones and starts shooting at us. Because you let him on Youtube. You did this. You broke our arsenal of liberty and it's your fault.

No. This turn into modern politics that a cause that is very popular with the left is somehow being the villain isn't worse than showing a heap of dead bodies. It isn't. If it would have been a political movement that this guy also doens't like, he would have been writing how brave the writers of CoD. Creepy arms manufacturers and rogue generals? Has been done to DEATH. This article reads like "WWAAAAAAAA!!!!!! My political ideology isn't being glorified" Grow up.

Why do you have to be so aggressive with your tone all the time? It really isn't necessary.

bombsfall wrote:

I should point out that by "political stance", I don't mean that the game was designed to promote a particular view.

This where i thought you were going with this. Disagree with the comparison with a sexist game, but save that for later.

Also Ebert can go f*ck himself. I dont care what other people tell me about media. I judge each piece regardless of its source on its own merits based on my own views. Not everyone agrees with me or should they.

EDIT:

This is one of these threads that I should stay out of.

SallyNasty wrote:
Ulairi wrote:
Farscry wrote:

It'll never happen, but boy would be awesome if BLOPS2's catering to the sensibilities of the 1% resulted in them only getting 1% of the sales of their previous titles. :D

The problem with the whole 99% populist movement is that it wasn't 99% of ANYTHING. If I start a movement and call it the 100% movement, and say I speak for 100%, I'm being an idiot. The 99% movement didn't represent the 99% I hate the whole metaphor that now is used because of it. The 99% movement receives the same derision from me as the tea party movement does when it said it was speaking for the people. It's not. Both aren't. My problem with the first link from SA is that if it would have been the "tea party leader" being evil we wouldn't have heard a peep. I don't like the CoD games and I think they are horrible not because it is "against the 99%" this time, but because it dehumanize its players and are incredibly violent.

I'm not in the 1% and the 99% sure as hell wasn't representing me, looking out for my best interest or anything of the like.

This latest turn into the realm of modern politics is more disturbing than a heap of dead bomb vest guys outside a stairwell on a survival map. Goyer has managed to take the cold brutality of drone warfare - a terrifying reality - and somehow create commentary that we need to watch out for the gullible Occupy movement. It isn't a creepy arms manufacturer or a rogue general, not even the drones themselves going haywire, it is literally the "Messiah of the 99%" who subverts our drones and starts shooting at us. Because you let him on Youtube. You did this. You broke our arsenal of liberty and it's your fault.

No. This turn into modern politics that a cause that is very popular with the left is somehow being the villain isn't worse than showing a heap of dead bodies. It isn't. If it would have been a political movement that this guy also doens't like, he would have been writing how brave the writers of CoD. Creepy arms manufacturers and rogue generals? Has been done to DEATH. This article reads like "WWAAAAAAAA!!!!!! My political ideology isn't being glorified" Grow up.

Why do you have to be so aggressive with your tone all the time? It really isn't necessary.

You're 100% this is one of these things that I should just stay out of.

SallyNasty wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

edit

Why do you have to be so aggressive with your tone all the time? It really isn't necessary

Can these sort of call-outs be handled in PM? Number one, they derail the thread. Number two, it's a lot more polite *and* effective to settle these things in one-on-one private conversations. If there's no need to reach the community, then don't involve the community in the first place.

I don't know that, Ulairi. That is why I posted. You have read enough of my posts to know that I don't do ambiguity. I say what I mean - usually with a terrible joke inserted.

Maybe agressive is the wrong word, but certainly condescending and dismissive of those who are agreeing with the article.

For my part - I wouldn't have bought CODBLOPS 2 anyways. I am a Battlefield guy.

And to Ulairi's statement about setting - fair enough, I hadn't thought of that. At least it is a new setting rather than the same re-hashed rogue general with a nuke. Probably no one would have batted an eye if it were another totalitarian.

SallyNasty wrote:

Probably no one would have batted an eye if it were another totalitarian.

probably not. These games get piled on all the time. Sometimes rightfully so and others not.

*edited out to respect Ulairi's self-edit, I shouldn't have responded in the thread*

Do people really feel the CoD games are largely "Hoo-rah, USA!" games? Personally I've found them to be the complete opposite for the most part.

I frankly have no idea why people find these narratives interesting in the first place. They're nearly impossible to follow; the characters have so many hidden motives that it is pointless to try to identify with them in any way; any sort of meaningful cause/effect relationships go out the window because there are so many twists within twists that nothing means anything. I never engage with them; the best I can manage is to sit there, bemused, while utter nonsense unfolds before me.

The torture stuff definitely makes me uneasy; I had to do some of it going through Splinter Cell: Conviction's coop mode. Considering that torture is categorically the most extreme form of violence possible, it's absurd to package it into a little interactive vignette wherein you bash the guy's head through a table, he talks, then you murder him anyway. It's like an Uwe Boll movie.

And when you take into account the fact that it seems to never actually work in real life, the message becomes incredibly complex. Why does this myth persist? Who are the forces trying to normalize this behaviour? Is there some kind of torture-industrial complex out there lobbying for it?

Prederick wrote:

Splinter Cell, meanwhile, has always tried to trade in a more "realistic" kind of "actions have consequences" kind of world, with varying levels of success. I mean, there's never been a reason to make a "24" game, because we already have Sam Fisher to make the "do we torture the terrorist to find the bomb (the answer is inevitably yes)" decisions. And those decisions are generally right. I don't think a game has been released that, for instance, showed you torturing someone, and that person giving you fault information in part because he genuinely doesn't know anything and he'll say anything to make you stop. You follow the faulty information, the bomb explodes, people die, and you have failed on multiple levels. I think Splinter Cell's come closest, but I don't think anyone's done that kind of angle.

This is what I'd like to see as well. Maybe a game where you play as a deranged young man who thinks he's Jack Bauer, joins the army, tortures someone against orders for no real reason at all, gets no results, and is subsequently court marshalled amidst a sea of public outrage and horrified peers. I guess I'd like to see these games become a bit more aspirational.

4xis.black wrote:

This is what I'd like to see as well. Maybe a game where you play as a deranged young man who thinks he's Jack Bauer, joins the army, tortures someone against orders for no real reason at all, gets no results, and is subsequently court marshalled amidst a sea of public outrage and horrified peers. I guess I'd like to see these games become a bit more aspirational.

Well, to do that, gamers would have to be okay with a narrative where they explicitly aren't the good guy (not Saints Row "we're the badguys but we're still the coolest!"), and you're not allowed to be the villain in the vicarious, over-the-top style that makes you more interesting than the good guys. It'd potentially be a narrative where you don't win, you fail, you are proven wrong, and your actions were needless.

Now, while the comparison isn't a like-for-like swap, the ME3 ending cluster-flibbertigibbet makes me gamers as a whole aren't quite there yet. I'd love to see a game try, but again, I don't think AAA titles will even attempt to scratch that right now.

Personally, I think it would be more interesting if the scenario turned out to be the rich elite decide there's no need for the unwashed masses anymore, and thus unleash their hijacked droid armies. But then again that story has kinda been done to death while nobody has tried the "Julian Assange-inspired folk hero is secretly trying to take over the world."

And before you say that this is just right-wing propaganda designed to smear progressives, remember that there have been plenty of incredibly dangerous, supposed men of the people throughout history from Rome's Marius to France's Robespierre to Russia's Lenin.

One final note: as former military I've found Call of Duty to be hillariously unrealistic. Sure, they get the sound effects, visuals, and feel of the guns right. But everything else is the modern equivalent of John Wayne movies portraying WW II. I wouldn't take anything from the series too seriously.

Redwing wrote:

Do people really feel the CoD games are largely "Hoo-rah, USA!" games? Personally I've found them to be the complete opposite for the most part.

I've often thought that people who don't actually play the games slap those labels on and don't think twice about it in discussion. There's a bit of patriotism in some of the narratives but for the most part they avoid that kind of thing. Half the time you're playing as Brits that have come to clean up the US's mess anyway.

Blind_Evil wrote:
Redwing wrote:

Do people really feel the CoD games are largely "Hoo-rah, USA!" games? Personally I've found them to be the complete opposite for the most part.

I've often thought that people who don't actually play the games slap those labels on and don't think twice about it in discussion. There's a bit of patriotism in some of the narratives but for the most part they avoid that kind of thing. Half the time you're playing as Brits that have come to clean up the US's mess anyway.

That's pretty much it. The Modern Warfare story as a whole, if you focus on the characters, is about a pair of British SAS agents more than anyone else.

Redwing wrote:
Blind_Evil wrote:
Redwing wrote:

Do people really feel the CoD games are largely "Hoo-rah, USA!" games? Personally I've found them to be the complete opposite for the most part.

I've often thought that people who don't actually play the games slap those labels on and don't think twice about it in discussion. There's a bit of patriotism in some of the narratives but for the most part they avoid that kind of thing. Half the time you're playing as Brits that have come to clean up the US's mess anyway.

That's pretty much it. The Modern Warfare story as a whole, if you focus on the characters, is about a pair of British SAS agents more than anyone else.

Case in point: The USA's PC in MW1 gets nuked, dies horribly, and then the SAS guys fix it. (Amusingly enough, it's the best executed, "You tried, and failed _horribly_ as a PC" I've seen done recently.)

Here's the thing: It could be done quite well. This doesn't seem to be so, but I will withhold major judgement until I hear more. (It's a COD Activision game. I'm not likely to play it. Only reason I played MW1 is because I got it for free with my video card.).

But... well, let's put it this way: I'd be massively more sympathetic to an anti-liberal view if we lived somewhere where the liberal ideology had just f*cked us over so very thoroughly. (Unconstrained capitalism, pushed by our version of sort-of-conservatives, has done a lot of damage.) But I'm all for new and interesting stories. But for basically popcorn movies, it seems unsettlingly jingoistic. (I will add that the "rogue general" crap also strikes me the same way.)

I'd _love_ to see a solid Deus Ex style game playing with this, though.

I personally have a hard time seeing Treyarch going down the pro-Conservative route with their story though, it just doesn't fit. The first Black Ops was surprisingly competent story wise, I was definitely in the camp of people who thought that Treyarch dropped the ball with the gameplay, but it was the first time a Call of Duty plot had actually shown any sort of nuance. And I would hardly call it gung-ho, pro-war and apple-pies for all.

(As an aside, I'm not saying the earlier games needed any plot to work, the Modern Warfare sub-series developed more as it went along to it's detriment, whereas I think Black Ops was actually a better game because of the story.)

It was difficult to tell exactly who the good guys and who the bad guys were in Black Ops, in fact, I could barely tell who the hell I was even working for at the end. I'm going to give Treyarch some credit and assume they're going to bring some more of that ambiguity to the table with Black Ops 2.

There was ambiguity in BLOPS2?! I would agree that the story was neat, in a way it brought together many staples of the Cold War period genre. But at the same time, the good-vs-evil balance was anything but ambiguous.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

There was ambiguity in BLOPS2?! I would agree that the story was neat, in a way it brought together many staples of the Cold War period genre. But at the same time, the good-vs-evil balance was anything but ambiguous.

By the end it was pretty clear, it certainly wasn't during. And we had no idea from marketing material.

I have a question for some of you. If there was a game that had the "traditional" conservative idea/group/person be the good guy and the "traditional" liberal idea/group/person be the bad guy, would you guys be offended by that? I ask because it is very common for the evil businessman, the paramilitary group (blackwater), etc things that are usually associated with conservatives, these things are often the bad guys in movies and games. How would you guys feel if it was the progressive environmental movement, the 99%, the trade union, etc.things that are traditionally associated with liberals? Would all depend if the story was good? Or would just the idea be offensive?

I ask because I read a lot from the guy at something awful and it seems the writer is mad at just the idea that the liberal could be the bad guy.