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Peace in the Era of Call of Duty
Posted on Tuesday, April 15 2014 @ 12:28:35 PST

This member blog post was promoted to the GameRevolution homepage.

In a world dominated by violent media, Americans are no more eager to go to war than they were in the 1980s or the 1960s or the 1940s. Hasn't it always been someone else's problem?

The overwhelming majority would rather go on thinking it had nothing to do with them and there was no way of preventing it in the first place. That is, of course, patently untrue. It's like saying video games have ruined children when parents have never been more apathetic.

I've been struggling with the amount of violence in video games for the past few months, but it's all a matter of processing. That's where parents fail. They see headshots and soldiers getting blown up on the big TV in the living room and think that it's no worse than the movies they saw when they were young. The difference, of course, comes from the consideration that things moved a lot slower in the 1980s or hell, the 1990s.

Call of Duty seems like such a singular, closed-off experience compared to Saving Private Ryan. There's no collective audience to multiplayer shooters, but I remember sitting and watching Steven Spielberg's epic war film with my veteran grandfather. Suddenly, the movie meant so much more to me than any game.

It's in connecting with others that we can achieve the kind of peace that defuses situations like those in Crimea. Even here in the Western hemisphere, we can do something about the fear on the other side of the world. It'd be easy to bail out and sing a few Beatles songs, but I'd rather focus on the veterans that return home from Afghanistan and Iraq today to prove my point.

Earlier this month I posted about Operation Supply Drop and while the charity is incredibly progressive and giving, you probably already know someone who could use a helping hand after serving. You probably see them outside the convenience store or behind the counter working a minimum wage, but manageable job.

Now consider that those soldiers left here to defend corporate interests and they returned to see the same corporate interests humbly aided by tacit endorsement of bank bailouts and auto-industry prop-ups. Consider that those soldiers lost friends and brothers protecting those interests.

Take it one step further and consider that Russian troops in Crimea have now laid down their lives for the same reason. Consider that the wealthiest Ukrainians lived in the Crimean peninsula and in order to protect those assets (bank accounts) Russian soldiers have followed familiar orders.

Call of Duty and other modern war games never deal with gray like this. You're either the secretive commando trained in black ops scalpel carving or you're the front lines soldier who takes down the radar dish and jumps off the roof in perfect sync with an explosion that levels two city blocks.

Where are the millions of people sitting at home hoping the war never happens? Where are the farmers? Where are hopeful masses that didn't know we needed a war in the first place? Where are the Crimean McDonalds employees going next? How are our two sides any different and how can we rely on violent gaming to change anything in light of this total and complete lack of understanding?

I've always liked video games because they build self-esteem, they lend power to the powerless, and they provide an organized means to settle differences that you may have never noticed, but it feels like they'll never stop the desire to use up all the ammunition from the last war before the new one gets off the ground.

This is a staff blog, but we think it's worth featuring in our Vox Pop. If you write a blog, you have the chance of being featured as well. ~Ed. Nick Tan
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