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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.


https://youtu.be/XVYMKd2Datk (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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