Call of Duty: Coming to a Butcher Shop Near You

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Is the government secretly preparing today’s schoolchildren for a life of war and bloodshed? Thanks to a seemingly harmless video game, this scenario may not be as far-fetched as you think. What if this virtual war-game technology was masked as entertainment in living rooms throughout the “Liberty and Justice for All” system of the United States?

Call of Duty is one of the most popular video games in America today; with its eerily realistic graphics, uncannily authentic war sounds, and challenging courses, it evokes one’s primal instinct to survive. The price of this game, found as low as $49.99 (Call of Duty: World at War), is affordable for most youth today if they have the Xbox or Wii console.

If the title of Call of Duty doesn’t tip you off to the game’s contents, just consider these segments of the game. In a particular level of ‘campaign’ in Call of Duty, the character is ordered to gun down innocent citizens of an airport in Russia. In order to pass this level and move on, the player must kill a certain amount of people and reach an established checkpoint before being shot himself. As the character creeps through the airport and takes out its victims one by one, blood explodes like fireworks over the screen and cries of alarm can be heard from the civilian men, women, and children who were unlucky enough to cross the shooter’s path. As the civilians flee the terminal for safety, empty suitcases and briefcases litter the hallways, providing evidence of the casualties of war.

The creators of this game were extremely thorough in their connection to reality; from the metal detector that goes off as the player passes through it, to the computer screens and magazines that tell of a life uninterrupted by slaughter. As one progresses through the airport, blood stains mar the white tiled floors as if bodies have been hauled across just moments before. It is a revolting scene that turns even the strongest stomach sour. In a game where success is measured in bloodshed and body counts, where are we to draw the line between annalistic intent and entertainment in this cyber land?

What’s the real appeal of Call of Duty? “It gives me something to do when I’m bored. It’s entertaining,” says Joey Slepian, an active player of the game. At twelve years old, he’s already an Xbox addict (Slepian). The realistic graphics take the player into an alternate computer dimension where one can experience incredible events and feel no pain or repercussions whatsoever. Children experience the violence and victory of war without ever having to leave their coach and without the emotional and physical burdens that rest on the shoulders of actual soldiers in the military.

Before the invention of vulgar war-type video games such as this, there were few if any school shootings ever reported. Since 1992, 207 deaths have been caused by school shootings alone (Kelly). What does this have to do with a video game? Ohio State Researchers found that high school students that played violent video games such as Call of Duty held more “pro-violent attitudes, had more hostile personalities, were less forgiving, believed violence to be more normal, and behaved more aggressively in their everyday lives” (Causes of School Violence). Although this violence isn’t directly related to video games, one could easily draw a correlation between the two.

If we are countering this lesson by encouraging blood-and-guts war games like Call of Duty, what values are we really instilling in our children? A parent wouldn’t hand their child a bag of cocaine and say “try this?it’s fun!” Drugs distort reality in a similar way to video games. Drugs are an illegal form of entertainment that physically rot an addict’s brain from the inside out, while video games rot a child’s brain emotionally. Where drugs cause carcinogenic tumors and tooth decay, Call of Duty numbs one’s mind to the scarring, soul-sucking damage that actual murder creates in a human being.
Mankind has been at war with itself off and on since the beginning of time. Humans have been striving to develop new techniques for that long as well. In the United States, one of the most common aftereffects of war is posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This disease is defined as something that occurs after a trauma or life threatening event and has common symptoms such as horrific nightmares, trouble sleeping, feeling jumpy, or losing interest in things one used to enjoy (What is PTSD?). This ailment that plagues war veterans accounts for one of the greatest government losses of war. A study done by the Defense Department stated that 1 in 6 soldiers acknowledged symptoms of PTSD (Meagher). So, wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to reduce this number? By introducing children at a young age to violence through video games in a simulated war zone, the act of taking someone’s life may lose some of its shock value. This gives the government a cheap way to create the perfect soldier; one that obeys all commands unquestioningly, can kill without stopping or feeling any remorse, and isn’t emotionally scarred after the battle so they may be shipped out again whenever needed.

The human condition requires us to feel pain, remorse, and fear when we brutally slay one of our own kind. But, with video games that numb one’s soul, are we diminishing the very thing that makes us human? One may say that it is our intelligence that makes us human, but is it not our capacity to love and care for one another that sets us apart from the beasts? As the rounds of ammunition are released in Call of Duty, who are we really killing?the online characters made up by a computer programmer, or our own irreplaceable souls? Are we purchasing a cheap form of entertainment, or are we ignorant swine, buying our ticket to the slaughterhouse?





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bekkahboo6052 said...
Oct. 12, 2010 at 8:47 pm
So true, although I don't believe that it's a government plot to turn children into "super-soldiers", I do agree that high exposure to virtual murders tends to make people more calloused emotionally and violent. Good article :)
 
wordlvr94 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 23, 2010 at 10:40 am
Thank you very much! It is a bit dramatic but i'd rather have that then keep switching sides :)
 
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