Activision CEO Compares Call Of Duty To The Hurt Locker, Black Hawk Down
by Phil Kollar on November 22, 2011 at 08:45 PM
This past weekend, I played through the Modern Warfare 3 single-player campaign in full. Without getting into spoilers, this six-hour military epic had me stepping into the boots of various characters to shoot up the New York Stock Exchange, witness terrorist-driven devastation in Paris, and stab a freaking hyena. In other words, it's a little crazy. But according to Activision CEO Eric Hirschberg, people should treat this plot the same as the story of serious military dramas like The Hurt Locker.
Speaking to Kotaku, Hirschberg noted a "sense that games are more exploitative" than films about modern military conflict. Hirschberg goes on to argue that, as with movies, there shouldn't be such a thing as "too soon" when it comes to making games about real-life tragedies and conflicts:
"There will be a time when we look back and find it quaint that video games were so controversial. I think the active ingredient to changing that attitude is time."
To his credit, Hirschberg admits that Call of Duty's narrative may be a little less realistic and a little more difficult to take seriously, but his explanation is a bit confusing:
"The narrative of Call of Duty has been much more good guys and bad guys, and brotherhood and the journey and the battle. And I don't think that's an indictment. It's a choice, one that's maybe a little less literary and a little more action-oriented in terms of its foundation. I don't think that means the narrative structure of Call of Duty is lacking, though. I can name a hundred other movies that are not like Black Hawk Down, but you don't leave questioning about the heroism and the bravery and the action and the sort of extreme experience of battle."
For what its worth, I tend to agree with Hirschberg's overall message -- which seems to be that we should approach game narratives more or less the same way that we approach film narratives -- but I don't think the average Call of Duty game necessarily comes out looking strong in that equation. Modern Warfare 3, for example, has some incredible setpieces that make for great gaming experiences, but the overall story is a bit of a jumbled mess, even by action movie standards. I'd love to be able to seriously compare it to something like The Hurt Locker -- which has its own problems but at least made me think -- but Activision and the Call of Duty developers need to earn that comparison.