Stop buying Call of Duty

Luke Van Der Male

Nauseatingly frequent sequels have become the bread, butter and Lamborghini of our cultural overlords in Hollywood. Yet still I am filled with regret to watch game franchises grow so old. I remember my father playing Call of Duty in the basement before I even liked shooters, and it was so cool then that it was one of the highlights of our week to just watch him play. Unfortunately, it sold so well then that they’ve been rereleasing it every year since. Everybody has it, nobody wants it and it shows up every year, but unlike the phonebook Call of Duty is far from free.

I admit to a certain level of hyperbole, but not as much as I’d like. Any given Call of Duty game is no “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” (though both belong in a hole), but the franchise never changes substantively. 

They add new weapons and rarely a new mode to the same stale graphics and gameplay (they don’t even build a new engine), and put it back out in November and laugh as the gamer-lemmings pay full price. I had hoped this racket was limited to sports games. 

Worse still, the complete brainlessness of the gameplay has reinforced shooter’s reputation as a genre for the stupid, and lent credence to moms everywhere telling children “video games will rot your brain.” 

Perhaps Call of Duty is the only shooter ever made, because that’s the only thing players do: shoot. Any kind of strategy is impermissible to its design. This idiocy in virtual action may have contributed to the Mos Eisley of internet bigotry in the multiplayer lobbies of Call of Duty. 

Call of Duty’s venom has also spread to game reviewing. Remember the last time you saw a mainstream critic give Call of Duty a bad review? Neither do I. For some reason professional game reviewers aren’t criticizing the franchise’s predictability even as the users are.

I like shooters. I dream of a future where games allow us to control and contain our more violent impulses. This is why I think Call of Duty needs to die already. The longer it’s around, the smaller the niche of smart shooters gets. I understand that the recession has made some gamers risk-averse, but that path leads ever down to stagnation.

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