Modern Warfare 2: Player Discretion is Advised

By  |  Wednesday, October 28, 2009 at 5:11 pm

modernwarfare2tThe following story has a spoiler on the upcoming first-person shooter Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. It’s also a bit of a rant. But even if you avert your eyes now, the game itself will ruin the surprise for you anyway. I’ll explain:

Yesterday, some footage of Modern Warfare 2’s opening scene leaked onto the Internet. You can watch it at GameDat by clicking the video that says “modern warfare 2 leaked gameplay w/sound,” but I’ll tell you now that it sees the player playing as the enemy, experiencing their evil by gunning down scores of innocent civilians at an airport. The nature of the scene is a conversation for another day, maybe once the game’s out and I’ve had a chance to experience it. Briefly, I’ll say that I enjoy seeing video games push the envelope by making people uncomfortable.

What’s really grinding my gears today is how publisher Activision and developer Infinity Ward will handle this sensitive material in the game. Activision says players will get a warning message before the segments occur, along with the ability to opt out and skip ahead.

Who exactly is Activision trying to shelter here? Kids? If they’re playing the game unsupervised — which they shouldn’t be, per the game’s “Mature” rating — I don’t see why they’d be compelled to skip the scene. Extraordinarily squeamish adults? Oh please.

I’m reminded of the “viewer discretion is advised” messages you get before a TV show with explicit material airs, except those warnings occur at the outset of a show, so people know to change channels or make the kids go upstairs. Activision and Infinity Ward, to my knowledge, aren’t putting a warning on the box (aside from the aforementioned “Mature” rating that would’ve been there anyway). Instead, they’re essentially tapping you on the shoulder as you play and yelling, “Watch out! This scene’s going to stir your emotions!”

If you don’t think that’s silly and self-defeating, ask yourself if you’d want that to happen to you during a movie.


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14 Comments For This Post

  1. NanoGeek Says:

    The difference between this and the movie is that while watching a movie, you aren’t controling the character. You have no control over his actions.

    However, in the game, you yourself are controling the character. It is actually you killing the virtual innocents. That is the difference, and I have no problem with them putting in a warning. Infact, since this is something that will probably be unexpected by casual buyers, I think it is a good idea.

  2. Backlin Says:

    Yeah, I’ll have to go along with NanoGeek on this one. There is a scene in Modern Warfare (1) that involves seeing a section of Middle Eastern military (I can’t remember the country) line civilians up against walls and gun them down, the only difference is you have no control over movement at all, since it’s supposed to be a pretty in-depth scene. The camera takes the viewpoint of the former ruler that Al Asad kills, and you take no control of any movements other than looking around with the right control stick.

  3. Seumas Says:

    Boy, there’s nothing I love more as a thirty-two year old adult male than purchasing content for myself and being treated like a child that needs to have everything explained to me and/or cushioned and nerfed for me.

  4. ediedi Says:

    @Seumas: yup, it’s silly, but the real reasons I suspect are legal, not moral. So, who cares anyway.

  5. NanoGeek Says:


    The game isn’t explaining and cushioning everything. Only this one level has a warning and that is because it has your character doing something that probably wouldn’t be expected in this game, and because it is something that some people (myself included) wouldn’t want to do.

  6. James Says:

    Who cares, I just wanna get this game. Pretty stoked.

  7. Jared Newman Says:

    Can we dig deeper here? @NanoGeek and @Backlin, why, in your opinion, is it worse — and not just different — that the scene is interactive? Are you afraid of the emotions the scene might stir up?

    I don’t want to sound rhetorical, but let me put it another way: Should video games be nothing more than popcorn entertainment, carefully packaged to provide fun while sheltering the player from anything more thoughtful?

  8. NanoGeek Says:

    @Jared Newman

    It seems worse to me because, unlike a movie where you have no control over what goes on onscreen, you can only win the level in this game if you have your character kill innocent people. To put it another way, no one goes to a movie where you are rooting for a villain/general evildoer. Even if innocent people in a movie are killed, 99% of the time they are killed by the antagonist, the guy you want to see the hero stop. However, this games makes you the villain and forces you to want to kill the innocent. It is forcing you to commit a horrible (albeit virtual) act.

    This is of course personal opinion, and I’m sure most people won’t be bothered by this, but I believe that this is why Activision is putting the warning screen in there.

  9. Big_Boss2000 Says:

    I think more games should follow Infinity Ward’s(and Sucker Punch’s) lead, I mean they’re aren’t doing anything new we’ve all played GTA, but by sheltering us into being good like in almost EVERY SINGLE GAME really restricts people’s thoughts and seriously gets boring after awhile; it’s refreshing to see that game developers are willing to push the envelope in order to enhance MW2’s story and when it comes down to it if you have a problem with it you have the freedom to skip the scene, or just not buy the game at all.

  10. NakedSnowNinja Says:

    it’s a video game. so, you guys need to stop worrying so much and try to grow up. because who cares if your doing it or not. it’s NOT real.

  11. jason Says:

    The problem is that everything in thisgame is possible.Traitorous generals,emp bombs knocking out 2 thirds of u.s. power,all of it could happen.That is why the game should stir up an emotional response,not a massacre in an airport. Ironicaly,that is probably the most unlikely to actually happen with today’s beefed up security forces.

  12. Simon Says:

  13. That Free TV Site Says:

    HALO RULES!!!!

  14. Today's Top Products Says:

    Hey, this is a really great article…. Good work.

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