Modern Warfare 3 Under Fire For Ads


By: Stephen Crane

Despite being out for a few months, it would appear Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3's "The Vet & The n00b" trailer has been causing offense for some.

Columnist and former paratrooper with the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, D.B. Grady wrote a column for The Atlantic in which he discusses his impressions of the commercial from his perspective as an Afghanistan veteran. "The Hideous Marketing of 'Modern Warfare 3'" starts off with the line, "There is a television advertisement for a video game called Modern Warfare 3 that is so base and strident that it's hard to believe that it's not deliberately offensive."


The column takes great offense at the portrayal of war as a game. He believes the commercial "trivializes combat and sanitizes war."

"However, as Afghanistan intensifies and we assess the mental and physical damage to veterans of Iraq, is now really the time to sell the country on how much fun the whole enterprise is? (Here I point to the giddy howls of one supposed soldier in the commercial as he fires a grenade launcher at some off-screen combatant. War is great, see? It's like a gritty Disneyland.)"

 He also takes issue with the ending words of the commercial.

"Here's how the Modern Warfare 3 commercial ends. Two smug, A-list clowns strut toward the camera, rifles hanging over their shoulders, explosions consuming the city of New York, and then the words: "THERE'S A SOLDIER IN ALL OF US."

No, there's not."

He does acknowledge that more than a few army vets most likely play the game, but that doesn't mitigate any of the "tastelessness" in his opinion.

In response, Ben Kuchera of Ars Technica wrote a piece arguing that Activision was merely being truthful in its advertisement.

"The characters in the commercial are dressed up like soldiers, but they talk to each other as if they're just trying out the role for fun, just as players do. […] What we're seeing is what Modern Warfare would look like if played in the real world. This is what gamers see in their heads as they play; that image can be hard to take if you're unfamiliar with games, or if you're a soldier who knows the gravity of the acts being portrayed on the screen."

He goes on to argue that D.B. Grady shouldn't be concerned with the depiction of war in advertisements, but rather the "popularity of this sanitized, no-consequences form of virtual war." While to him, and most of the gaming community, the commercial is inoffensive, he can see why non-gamers would object to the portrayal of the commercial.

To some degree this sort of portrayal is symptomatic of how the United States Armed Services present themselves, however. If you look at many of the Marines or Air Force commercials you'll see tags like "It' not science fiction – It's What We Do Every Day."


Let's not forget about America's Army, the very real video game put out by the United States Army as a recruitment tool. It's this same sort of message gamers and non-gamers are bombarded with in almost all mediums. "War is just like those video games you've been playing: except it's in real life!"  It's not merely this one commercial for a game that should be frowned upon by veterans like D.B. Grady. It's the culture that surrounds it from the top down. It's also something we should take a step back from and really examine as well.

Is war the trivial, fun game we've seen so far, or can our games do more to explore what it's actually like? Are we content with things the way they are so long as they remain fun and entertaining?

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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