I'm not sure what's gotten into the water over at Infinity Ward but my enthusiasm for Call of Duty:Modern Warfare 2
has been dying a slow death over the last few weeks. First we had Infinity Ward killing off dedicated servers for the PC side of the house which I could label as IW trying to own the process a bit more and to make a little extra advertising coin off of PC gamers. That's certainly their right despite stripping PC gamers of their ability to host and configure their own servers (which is a fairly big deal for that demographic). I was probably going to buy the Xbox 360 version of the game so this doesn't impact me too much. The downside is that the door is now open for more PC developers to do the same which would have severe repercussions in the PC gaming community over the next few years
Then came word that the game would allow you to play as a terrorist as part of one of the levels. You can skip the level if you want
to but the fact that Infinity Ward has the hubris to allow gamers to play the role of terrorists opens the game and the industry up to an enormous amount of criticism. While I didn't lose anyone close to me during 9/11 (although I know people who did) I did have to live with terrorism on a daily basis while I lived in Germany in the early 1980's. The windows in my father's office were damaged by a bomb so I'm probably a little more sensitive than others about the topic. I do see how Infinity Ward is pushing the narrative envelope but this feels like one of those psychology experiments of the 1970's gone wrong. When this hits the mainstream press no one will hear how you can skip the level and no one will hear how you are playing a secret agent trying to protect their cover. All people are going to hear is "You play as a terrorist and you get to kill civilians without repercussion in Modern Warfare 2
Infinity Ward then tops this off by killing team voice chat
and releasing a mildly inappropriate video
which makes me wonder what exactly is going on at IW HQ. I don't doubt that the game will sell well and will receive a ton of accolades but I do wonder if Modern Warfare 2
is going to end up harming the industry through the controversial content and if the game's approach to PC gamers will end up harming them in the long run. Time will tell but I'm a bit worried.