Friday, March 16, 2012


Remember when you played card games, board games, guessing games?

Now, as you probably know, games are played on an Xbox, Nintendo, mobile phone, laptop, or on a PC.

The other day I read about a two-day event called Call of Duty XP, a get-together in Howard Hughes' old hanger where he kept the Spruce Goose. Six-thousand players attended -- guys who play one of the insanely popular "Call of Duty," Modern Warfare," "Battlefield" video-games that are gritty simulations of military combat. The event ended with a "Call of Duty" tournament -- 32 four-person teams competed for $1 million in prizes.

I'd never heard of "Call of Duty." I was amazed that so many people were hooked on it. But since I'm hooked on conquering and improving various computer processes that I use daily while maintaining my YouTube channels and blog, I certainly understand how seductively fascinating "playing" on a computer is.

Googling "Call of Duty," I studied pictures, videos, and Websites. I read about forums, discussions, blogs, clubs, and noted that there are 24/7 hot-lines where players can get support.

The creators of "Call of Duty" brag about its fidelity. Some of the gameplay could be mistaken for Youtube footage from Iraq or Afghanistan. They're touting the fact that veterans just back from these wars, and active military people, play it in their off hours.

Maybe you don't play games on any of your gizmos, but children do -- kids who are going to become our inventors, our advertising execs, copy writers, designers, architects, authors, rappers, singers, -- celebrity performers who will inspire the next generation.

Okay, we've got violence and perversion in blockbuster movies, but gizmo games are played for hours on end. You're not just watching. You're practicing violence.

What about Farmville, Mafia Wars, and other seductive games you can play on Facebook? I don't play video games, but I know when you're playing on a computer, you're deep into an imaginary world, avoiding little ideas, little pings of energy, that might get you active in the real world.

Why now, more than ever, are these games being played?

Maybe because right now there are no oases, no place where you can forget what's going on in your city, your state, your country, the rest of the fomenting, world.

I think these war games are encouraging and teaching players the thrill, the ecstasy of brutality, inflicting pain, using everything you know -- to kill better, faster, more thoroughly, gruesomely.

Okay -- killing games have been played throughout history. They're going to continue to be played in the same way that marijuana will be smoked, drugs will be taken, people will drink too much.

T.S. Eliot said, "This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang, with a whimper." I'm whimpering.

I'm quietly. writerishly shouting BEWARE OF GAMES. You can lose YOU in game playing.

Play the real game, the tricky one we all play 24/7-- the game of life -- live it, protect, nurture yourself and your loved ones -- keep alert, curious, involved with whatever concerns you.

If that takes you to a church, a school, a hospital, a dog pound or to a park to be a protester, or into politics locally, or nationally-- whatever... Wherever that game takes you, go and do something that needs to be done.

Here's a "Call of Duty" promotion video. The budget for making it was nine figures; Oscar winning screenwriter/director Paul Haggis ("Crash," "Million dollar Baby") worked on it.

If you're sort of intrigued, click. I'm hoping these HOW TO PLAY IT instructions will discourage you.



Ameer S. Washington said...

I play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 Online. And I have a full time job, have a novel on the market, written several blogs this year, am working on my second novel, a book over poetry, and another book that will be a prequel to a series my 17 year old mentee has been writing since 6th grade. I grew up in the dangerous city of Newark, NJ on a street that once had the highest crime per capita for a single block in the entire country. I've yet to murder another human being and have been playing violent games since I was a kid.

Interestingly enough, the majority of Call of Duty players are adults with jobs or college students. Sure violent games are used as simulators for soldiers, but their business is killing anyway. And get this, Call of Duty MW3 (the abbreviation, because that's way cooler than saying Modern Warefare three) sold over 6.5 million copies the first day and raked in about $1 billion in the first week. So on the flip side, what if all the young kids playing it wanted to become computer geeks who make video games. Plus, you get to play with a headset and can chat with people all the way across the world.

I think a balance needs to be struck between real life and play. So video games offer the same escape as movies or television. Almost anything done in moderation is safe. However, you're right. Video games can be addicting, so parents must curb their children's habits in playing. While I must constantly curb my own. But isn't that what life's all about anyway. Self discipline.

Ha, as you may see I am and will forever be an adamant defender of video games. Especially the violent ones. Great post though Em. You make very valid points and arguments but I am A.S. Washington aka The Video Game Devil's Advocate. How's that for a persona.

Maureen Jacobs said...

I used to belong to a clan called The Old Breed. I played COD, Call of Duty, under the name {TOB} Mommymomo. I played all the time, every day, anytime I had the time. Met a lot of cool folks, talked to them on a team speak client, even send holiday cards to them. I had lots of fun. Tons and tons of fun.

But I then realized that it was making me frustrated. While playeing, many noobs were cheating. They had total disrespect for the players, the clan, the teamwork. Perhaps I expected too much from the non TOB players. Maybe I was overly sensitive. I even tried to avoid those times when many noobs were hitting the servers. It was no longer fun.

Perhaps I will revisit it again. I do miss the chats with TOB Bionic, Oledigger, Arythecat, and a whole list of others.......

I guess I shall popover to and check out what I have missed for the last year or so......

Anonymous said...

So this is today's game of all games. Don't care for the violence and power of killing. I play fb games but not this kind. I enjoy the fun short attention games. Thanks for sharing this info Em. kam

Carola said...

Research has shown that when young people play violent video games they do become more violent. Yet when states try to outlaw the games, the courts over-turn the laws because the laws violate the game-makers' free speech rights.

Unknown said...

Was it one or was it two Christmases back that Grand wanted "Call of Duty" game for the Wii? (I lose track of time.)

It intrigued me to what it was and what it was about. I think I am the one who purchased it for him. He played on his own and with friends for about two weeks.

He then graciously allowed us to play it together. At first I would be 'killed' almost immediately. I got to point where I would get a few high scoring 'kills' in before I got 'killed' off.

It did have excitement and did bring guilt upon me as to what had I done (it is simulated, but the overwhelming violence is absolutely there) as you have said. I have had the simulated experience first hand.
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However I had the 'elder' mind to separate out reality from gaming. I didn't get lost and stay lost there.

I'm not sure that younger less developed minds can do that with gaming even with a game rating or suggested age. I am now very aware there are many gamers that are psychologically addicted to gaming, liken to gambling, alcohol, drugs, etc. (Going back to re-read here, why yes you already said this!)
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For us, thankfully Grand lost all interest. He didn't enjoy the 'thrill' of killing with Call of Duty. However there are still 'building' or 'mining' games he would stay on the computer with all day every day if he was allowed to. His Mama has caught on to that, allocating only so much gaming time per week.
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Many parents seem to use the gaming as the 'babysitter' of today as was said about 'television' the generation prior to this.
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Bless my daughter, she is the one to put her foot down, Mama off the computer, Grand off the netbook....and we are all back around the Scrabble board once again ~ together.
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Once again your blog subject was thoughtfully stated and written. Some aspects of some gaming are indeed very disturbing.
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Love you Ms. EM, your John Cullum and your family! I'm @grammakaye on twitter.

Linda Phillips said...

Em, I'm with you. I hate violence and anything violent turns me off.

I am so old fashioned that the only games that I play are backgammon and solitaire. Both on the computer.

When I do play backgammon, I play it online against an unknown, human opponent via Microsoft.

That is about as aggressive as I care to be.