The Dryden Observer

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Sense of Duty: Modern Warfare 3

Chris Marchand

Chris Marchand served as editor of the Dryden Observer from August 2009 to April 2018.

Around this time every year, I’m forced to ponder the uncomfortable relationship between first-person-shooter (FPS) video games and Remembrance Day.

In the early years of the phenomenon, FPS games were predominantly WWII-based, infused with a teaching ethic and reverence for history and the soldiers who fought in the legendary battles that defined our century.

They once tread a fine line on the boundaries of public acceptance and gave themselves names like Call Of Duty, and Medal Of Honour to appeal to the better part of our nature.

But in the last 10 years our military history has become our military present. The games have followed suit, dropping the clunky weapons and historical settings of the WWII era for present-day conflicts real and imagined.

The reverence and noble purpose of ‘The Great Wars’ has been replaced with a kind of nihilism that better matches our terror-obsessed culture.

It would be one thing if it were just 13 year-olds playing FPS games, but I include myself among the thousands, nay millions of 30-45 year old men worldwide who kiss their wives and children good night and spend the next few hours shooting and being shot at by millions of other thinking and feeling humans online. If I manage the time zones right, I can shoot Arabic, Asian, or European fathers and husbands.

Between its release date Tuesday and Remembrance Day this week, the newly released Call Of Duty Modern Warfare 3 might reach half a billion dollars in sales.

How do we reconcile this obsession with combat on a day when we are to acknowledge the horrors of war. I’ll admit, aligning my entertainment choices with the sense of duty I’m obliged to feel is a very modern problem I’ve yet to figure out.

And while we do that, shouldn’t we turn off the machine for just one day?

Or could the game companies shut down those online servers for a few hours out of the respect they once built their successful, multi-billion dollar franchises on?

Chris Marchand


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