Modern Pacifism #2 [2019]

An attempt to play through the 2019 remake of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare without using a weapon.

Modern Pacifism #1

Excerpted from an interview I gave to Matteo Bittanti for VRAL:

The 2019 reboot of Modern Warfare that I played last year feels like a much different game than the one from 2007 in both its tone and intentions, and playing through the newer one as a staunch pacifist did not give me the same satisfaction by any stretch. Between the two playthroughs I learned a lot more about the process through which big-budget games like that are produced, and understanding that the US military has been advising the developers for years left a sour feeling in my stomach that I couldn’t overcome. This is certainly noticeable in the direction the story takes, but the publisher has also publicly stated that their game is not political, an assertion that is absurd and laughable even without knowing any of the details of the game’s plot.

There are choices made in the writing that make me furious, like the historically revisionist take on the infamous “Highway of Death,” the site of a war crime committed by Coalition forces against Iraqi military and civilian refugees who were attempting to retreat from Kuwait. In the game, this atrocity was committed by the Russian military, the adversary these games frequently prop up as an “acceptable” target for the player. In a series of flashbacks, the player’s character is a young girl from a fictional Middle Eastern country who is forced to watch her parents executed, again by the Russian military, shifting focus away from the United States’ own atrocities committed in that part of the world. Modern Warfare is certainly not the only game recognizable as blatant propaganda (America’s Army is literally a recruitment tool) but the way they’ve tried to dodge responsibility and declare it to be “just a game” is sickening.

It took me a long time to figure out how to finish that series, and in the end I ultimately decided to make my disgust the focus of the piece and end the final video by refusing to even proceed, closing on a static shot of a white flag and symbolically giving up on the whole endeavor.