A long, long time ago, I remember a controversy that surrounded Modern Warfare 2′s “No Russian” mission. As of today, after finally playing it, I am able to comment on a bygone Internet hiccup. Enjoy.
As an American military officer inserted into a Russian terrorist cell, I stepped off an elevator and proceeded to mow down innocent Russians in an airport. Under the context of “maintaining my cover”, I slowly shot at those that had raised their hands in surrender and those that withered on the ground in pain. Fighting my way across the tarmac later on, battling with armed FSB agents, I found it odd that my survival instincts kicked in. Sure, I had just committed a terrible crime against the Russian population, but I still had to protect my own butt. After dispatching more than a few agents, I ran with my fellow terrorists to the escape vehicle. It was there that I was shot.
Ah yes, the bigger picture. The terrorists had known all along that I was a mole. Made me feel stupid for killing all those innocent civilians under the guise of “cover”. I now wonder if I could have walked through the entire mission never firing a bullet or lobbing a grenade….
When I first loaded up Modern Warfare 2, the game prompted me by asking if I was okay with playing a particularly graphic mission. I quickly pressed okay because I knew which mission it was talking about. I really think, that this mission was okay given the context it was presented in. Although, I do think that there was something a bit sick about the slow and methodical way the terrorists made their way through the airport. Reminded me of watching an accident scene…except for the fact that I was actively participating in causing the scene.
I am amazed where video game narratives are able to go in this day and age. No longer are we having to deal with simple stories of princesses needing to be saved but instead having to deal with stories that feature moral “gray” areas. I am also amazed at how sucked into the narrative I was. I seriously thought I would blow my cover if I didn’t shoot people. Only afterwards did I take a moment and realize that I could have shot into the air.
As a Christian, video games are often difficult to approach. Though I didn’t feel personally convicted over this game, I do wonder in retrospect just how “active” of a participant we are to be in situations like the one painted above. While the context of the mission may have been okay, I have to ask myself to what benefit was there in mowing down virtual civilians? That brings to mind an entirely different topic of killing in video games. We’ll tackle that one another day.