Controversy and Modern Warfare games have often walked hand in hand. The “No Russian” level of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 comes to mind. In that level, you, as an undercover CIA agent, take part in a mass shooting at an airport in Moscow. The mission was highly controversial, and many spoke out against developer Infinity Ward. Word is beginning to pour in of more controversial moments in the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. With this news, Michael Condrey, the co-founder of Sledgehammer Games, says he’s worried that Modern Warfare is flirting with controversy “for the sake of headlines.”
In an interview with Venture Beat, Condrey says that Modern Warfare will have a “tough challenge” considering the current state of the world. Infinity Ward, which is developing the new title, has maintained that it will strive for a more realistic take on modern war. Condrey, however, found those to be “an unfortunate choice of words, rather than the actual intent to depicting the unspeakable atrocities that are the reality of today’s modern conflicts.”
Some of the older Modern Warfare games existed in a post-9/11 world, which was reflected in their themes. There was a rise of anger toward terrorist groups in the Middle East. Those games often placed gamers in the role of a soldier fighting against said terrorists. The setting was acceptable at the time, more or less, but Condrey says that theme can’t exist today.
“The creative challenges of realistic ‘modern warfare’ are complex,” he said. “Western ‘heroes’ killing ‘villains’ in the Middle East simply isn’t good enough.”
Modern Warfare is a dance with the devil
Condrey is experienced with war games. Sledgehammer developed three Call of Duty games over the years, including Modern Warfare 3, Advanced Warfare, and WWII. Naturally, he also knows a lot about the controversies behind some Call of Duty games. However, he believes the next game must tread carefully. His fears are perhaps derived from a recent play test for Modern Warfare. In the demo, it was reported that there was a scene where two children use a screwdriver to kill a Russian soldier. The argument here is that the game might be going overboard.
“I maintain that video games are the most important art form of our time,” Condrey said. “I respect every developer who strives to deliver their work as an extension or reflection of their artistic vision. That said, MW seems like a tough challenge for any studio, especially if they are being pushed by publishing to be more controversial and ‘darker’ for the sake of headlines.”
Of course, we won’t know if Condrey’s words ring true until Call of Duty: Modern Warfare comes out. The game will release this Oct. 25.