You must have heard by now the controversy surrounding Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Leaked videos showed the player engaging in taking over an airport as a terrorist and shooting innocent civilians.
Well, to expand on it, the player is an undercover CIA agent, and the player does have an option to shoot or not. That simple.
I can not say it any better than Rus McLaughlin from IGN.com in his column.
Make sure you give that a good read; now for some brief commentary.
Yes, the game does not force you to shoot civilians. It is a moral dilemma that the player must face. The developers do not force you to shoot the civilians. They are not to blame. I have a strong stance that games will not make somebody grab a gun and beat up hookers and what not.
In fact, something that Rus doesn't mention is this: we should thank Infinity Ward for this level. Why? Well, we know it is violent; the whole damn game is going to be violent. The past two CoDs are extremely violent. Almost three times in Modern Warfare does your player-controlled character kick the bucket. In World at War, Japanese soldiers are burned out of hiding in the grass as you hear them scream. Violence is a hot issue.
But to pick up on what I was saying, it is best that Modern Warfare 2 have a level like this now. Right now. In 2009. These ideas are so fresh in our mind: that videogames are violent and so is real life. There is still conflict in the Middle East. It is best that we examine the situation now to give ourselves better ideas of what is going on today, and what shouldn't happen in the future.
Why is it best that we have a level where we could kill civilians? If it happens any later down the line (who knows, 5? 10? 15 years?) then our society may be too desensitized to the violence and won't think any better of it. Violence in games could gradually become worse, and the shift may be slow to start, but the end result will be so drastically different than from what it is now.
Twenty years ago it was Mario jumping on turtles. Today it is running through a crowded airport with terrorists and an AK-47.
Let this scene cause debate. Let it fire up gamers and parents and politicians. Let this happen now so we know the difference between right and wrong before it is too late.