The newest trailer for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 is out, and it includes compelling footage of gameplay in London and Paris, among other places. The London scenes zoom through an Underground tunnel — and even show a Tube train derailing. It’s understandable that Londoners, particularly those who experienced the 7/7 bombings or know someone who did, would be unnerved by such scenes.
The paper quotes Vivenne Pattison, spokeswoman for Mediawatch UK, as saying, “I have concerns as these games are hyper-real and take place in a landscape we are familiar with. In light of the fact we have just had the 7/7 inquests, it is in incredibly poor taste.” One of Mediawatch’s self-proclaimed missions is to, “campaign against violent, sexually explicit and obscene material in the media.”
It would be easy to say that game companies are capitalizing on these kinds of events. They are, after all, earning a profit from the games they design and sell. That said, the Call of Duty series didn’t get to be one of the best-selling game franchises simply by being gory and exploitative. If you watch the trailer above, you’ll see that it’s gripping, exciting, and incredibly lifelike. This isn’t just a game — it’s a chance to vividly imagine that you’re in the thick of a conflict on the modern-day streets of London and Paris.
As I’ve said before, these kinds of games can help both teen and adult players make deeper sense of current events such as the 7/7 bombings or other incidents. Anyone who is aware of those bombings, whether they experienced them directly or not, may have some leftover anxiety. Playing a game like Modern Warfare 3, with its built-in rewards and chances at heroism, can help people move past those anxieties.
Instead of banning these games, perhaps they should be handed out for free as a public service to anyone who needs to work through lingering fears about what happened that July morning in London. What do you think?