I’m not the first person to notice that as Hollywood has stopped depicting the military in a favorable light, the video-game industry has released countless shooter titles that place you in the role of a patriotic soldier. The most successful franchise in this vein, Call of Duty, has told stories in conflicts ranging from World War II to Vietnam to a fictional civil war in modern-day Russia that spills over into the rest of the world.
The new installment in the present-day story, Modern Warfare 3, isn’t due out until the holiday season, but thanks to a recent information leak, everyone is talking about it already. You can read a preview I wrote for a video-game site here, and here is the trailer:
However, despite the patriotic themes, some elements of Call of Duty are sure to anger many conservatives. Modern Warfare 2 embedded you with a terrorist group, and you had to kill innocent civilians to keep your cover. (You could opt out of the mission if you wanted to.) This time around, there will be invasions of New York and London — both of which, obviously, have suffered terrorist attacks in real life. If executed carefully, these kinds of scenes could be a powerful reminder of the threats we face — but, unfortunately, careful storytelling is not exactly a hallmark of the series.
Video-game lovers have waited too long for a war shooter that they could defend to their non-gamer friends without the usual qualifications (sure, the plot and acting are terrible; sure, the violence is over-the-top). It’s too soon to make solid predictions, but I would guess that we’ll still be waiting after Modern Warfare 3.