No Game

How anybody who has played or watched somebody else play Call of Duty can remain ambivalent concerning these depictions of carnage is beyond me. The player is the triggerman who kills hundreds of imaginary people on the way to winning the game. By the time a player is good enough to finish the game, hundreds of thousands of imaginary people have been killed by their hand, of finger as it were. Most people manage to separate fantasy from reality, but not without some cost. It is impossible to graphically and mindlessly gun down hundreds of thousands of people without de-humanizing real people to some degree.

I worked with a partner addicted to Call of Duty. In Providence, one of the two person crew is supposedly "in charge." That person has been me for the last ten or so years, and I have had some great partners over that time. Something just wasn't right with one of them, and I never figured it out until years after I "shacked" him (shacked is the sports equivalent to being traded mid season.)

It was only after he had broken the addiction that he told me why he had been missing calls, showing up late, having temper outbursts with patients, blowing streets and sleeping through most of our calls. The "game" had him hooked, it was all he saw, all he thought about, all he wanted to do. A network of players were in his web, and hour after hour he played the game, rushing through his job to get to his fantasy.

That a grown man can be so enamored with a game is testament to the addictive hold these things have on a person. Images of bloodshed and mayhem do not need to fill the minds of people. A life with purpose is far more satisfying than one spent in a world created for profit that promotes murder, violence and power. He very nearly lost his job over a video game. Imagine the power these games hold over people who have yet to grow up.

A boy from Newton, Connecticut has decide to do something about the problem.  While I salute him for his efforts, I already see people's horror over the murder of twenty-six people by an allegedly mentally ill person who spent too much time killing imaginary people beginning to wane. I mentioned getting rid of those kind of games to somebody I know who has a young son. The notion was quickly dismissed, the game defended and even glorified as a means for communication between father and son.

There are some mighty big players profiting greatly from the production, distribution and sales of these games. As long as there is money to be made, the games will go on. All I can do is continue to express my opinions concerning them, and hope that somebody listens.


  • Dean Smith says:

    If you replace "Call of Duty" with "meth" the article reads the same.  The issue is addiction, not video games.  Don't let moral panic simplify a complex situation/

  • Michael Morse says:

    Actually, panic set in in September while I was watching a Patriots game and one of the commercials depicted two young guys running around city streets "shooting" each other with their cell phones-graphics included. There is little I can do other than not allow any game that depicts killing another human being into my house, which is what I do.

  • Dan says:

    I served on a submarine where on any given evening, you could find a crew's mess full of intelligent, hard-working, dedicated men playing the types of games you described.  Occasionally during the midnight watch, you could head over to the wardroom where a few nuclear-trained submarine junior officers (taking advantage of a rare period where there wasn't some other pressing concern) could be see playing the same type of thing.
    On shore duty, I managed to be instructor of the year, work on my Master of Engineering, volunteer at the local fire department, and take my dog to the park daily, while occasionally getting the entertainment value of video games where computer images controlled by other people got shot.
    To vilify video games (which sell tens of millions of units to people who can also lead productive lives) while ignoring the element of personal responsibility, is to forget about the most significant aspect of the problem while proposing punishment for those who choose a form of entertainment that some people simply happen to not like because its an easier scapegoat than a failing individual.

  • Michael Morse says:

    The individual who failed shot 26 people, most of whom never played responsible games that depict the slaughter of human beings, in my opinion had he not spent countless hours shooting imaginary people he would not have done so.

  • Dan says:

    I don't doubt the possibility that what you say might very well be so.
    The problem is, (in my opinion) we can't judge the medium that many people choose for entertainment or its merits (or lack thereof) based on the behaviors and actions of someone who's mentally unstable.
    And I would disagree that most people necessarily incur "some cost" while separating the fantasy from reality in those types of video games.  I think a great many people can successfully separate the two without issue.  Over the past 20 years or so, violent crime in this country has fallen 50% (FBI) while more realistic violence in movies and video games has become normal.  That correlation obviously doesn't suggest causality, but it's also hard to show that with such massive popularity regarding violent video games, that people lose something about their humanity or moral discernment in the process.

  • michael says:

    Well statded, Dan, I'm not trying to change the world, but I can and will change my world, and that world will not include video games that allow a person to be the triggerman simulating killing other simulated persons. And, I will use whatever medium, no matter how small to express my opinions.

    • Dan says:

      Thanks for the replies…I appreciate the discussion.  Hopefully I didn't appear too contrarian — I've enjoyed your blog for years!

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