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Violence in Video Games: No Russian

For this piece, I will discuss one of the most controversial moments in gaming history. I would like to clarify that this does not represent violence in video games universally.

That being said, we will be looking at the mission 'No Russian' in Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (2009) that puts you in the shoes of a Russian terrorist tasked with wiping out an entire airport full of civilians: Men and women. One might present multiple takes to this inclusion and discuss whether or not it was essential to the plot or if it simply encouraged violence. Still, this sequence ended up making headlines, leading to calls for bans internationally and cementing the idea that video games can make children and adult players alike severely violent. This was reinforced by the fact that this was the most famous game in the franchise to date, with record sales, reaching an enormous audience mostly dominated by male children in their teens. (The first minute sums the mission up well)

Perhaps the most glaring aspect of this mission is that it was not optional when the game launched. Early adopters of the game had to experience it completely, and while you could still choose not to partake in the shooting, you still had to witness the atrocities being committed. Video games are often praised for granting you full control and putting you into the shoes a character you can fully control but this approach to storytelling shows video games can convey powerful emotions such as a strong sense of discomfort that is in line with this game's plot.

One might praise this as a daring experiment that takes storytelling to another level, inspiring future projects such as Call of duty's own 2019 title that included a sequence told from the perspective of a child soldier. This opens up opportunity for deeply personal stories that might otherwise fall victim to stereotypes and misdirected hate. On the other hand, it does seem to perpetuate violent tendencies within individuals that might enjoy these sequences. This could be indicative through the body cam shooting incidences that are filmed from the same first person perspectives as these games. Yet one can argue that these are still pieces of fiction that mustn't be taken seriously as such violent tendencies could equally be influenced by films and TV also.

The arguments for and against are truly endless which is why this controversy is relevant to this day in the video gaming sphere and I am quite interested to know your takes.

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The discussion surrounding violence in video games, exemplified by the "No Russian" mission, continues to be relevant and thought-provoking. It is essential to approach the topic with an open mind, acknowledging that video games, like other forms of media, can offer both artistic storytelling opportunities and engaging experiences while recognizing the distinction between fiction and reality. It is important to differentiate between the portrayal of violence in video games as fictional entertainment and real-life acts of violence. The influence of video games on individuals' behaviour remains a topic of debate, with studies offering varying perspectives. It is worth noting that media consumption, including films and television, can also shape individuals' perceptions and behaviours.


One aspect worth considering is the notion of autonomy and player choice. While the mission wasn't optional upon the game's release, players still had the option to refrain from shooting innocent civilians. This introduced a moral dilemma, forcing players to question their own actions and take responsibility for their in-game decisions. It's a testament to the power of interactive storytelling that games can evoke such complex emotions and provoke introspection.

Furthermore, the controversy surrounding "No Russian" highlights the wider issue of the public perception of video games. The media's tendency to sensationalize and blame video games for real-world violence (even though there is some validity to it) but most criticism often overlooks the fact that games, like other forms of…


In my opinion, outrage over this scene would be valid if the players are made to kill civilians for the advancement of the story. I think it was a stroke of creativity from the developer's side as it emphasises on the notion of choice. Additionally, it raises interesting questions about whether video games, or even media products in general, should be representative of reality or present idealised versions of reality. Even though the scene in question is extremely violent in nature, one cannot say that it is completely at odds with reality as instances like this have happened with alarming regularity throughout history.

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