Games of Shame: Call of Duty

There are few other games that spark such an intense burning argument of indifference than the Call of Duty franchise. Oddly enough, I have less difficulty explaining the things I like and dislike about Call of Duty with people who don’t play video games versus some who happen to love games. I find that sad. Someone who is not knowledgeable about game design and mechanics often only serves me a very one-sided conversation which usually ends with my audience saying, “That sounds cool.” Sigh. Dead-battery controllers offer more feedback and responsiveness. While I agree not every single Call of Duty is pure gold, I do believe the franchise isn’t deserving of the spiteful responses it receives.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Zombies | Horrible Night

Sample reaction when I mention I play Call of Duty.

I Play Call of Duty, Deal With It

I didn’t actually start playing Call of Duty until Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. I was fresh off a stint playing Left 4 Dead on Gamebattles, and some friends I made along the way encouraged me to pick up MW2 just so we had something else to play together. It was near Christmas, I requested it, and I received. I had no idea what I really was about to get into.

I liked MW2 for what it’s worth. I had some great times, and I had some infuriating times. It was a different type of multiplayer experience, and until Left 4 Dead, I still didn’t really play online much despite my competitive nature. The thing I struggled the most with was the people I played against. This was before party systems were allowed in certain game modes, the ones I enjoyed the most, and I really didn’t want to listen to all the people trash talking each other. I just wanted to play with my friends. We still loved using a lot of the teamwork tactics we learned from L4D, and I personally would have liked staying in a bubble.

Then Black Ops and Modern Warfare 3 came along. I am a bonafide fan of Black Ops and wishy-washy at best with Modern Warfare 3 after spending more time with it, but I still enjoy the general multiplayer experience. I remember when MW3 came out that I began to really notice the hatred being flung at the overall franchise. I tried to step in on some conversations and immediately was typecast as an “idiot who buys the same game every year.” Realizing I wasn’t about to get anywhere I would retreat from the conversation and go back to actually playing video games.

The Same Game Every Year…

One of the more prominent arguments is that Call of Duty is the same game every year. In some essence, that’s true. It’s a military shooter with its primary focus on online multiplayer. Only in recent years has it gone more to the competitive scene as it tries to breakthrough to MLG. I don’t get this argument. The people who say it’s the same game every year are the same people who buy sports games every year, Assassin’s Creed every year, or any number games within the same genre that are very similar to each other. They’re all the same premise and game every year.

Call of Duty: Black Ops Multiplayer | Horrible Night

“Bang. Bang. I got you!” “No you didn’t! You’re bad!”

What I Think You Really Hate

I’m going on a limb here, but I think the hatred for the game is actually just intended for the people who play Call of Duty. We’ve heard the stories. Hell, I’ve experienced them. I’m sitting on my couch, playing Black Ops with my friends, and I go 3-12 against a 12 year-old. After the game you sit in the lobby and listen to this pre-teen say things that you only hear from Cards Against Humanity. This happens enough that every single Call of Duty player becomes this stereotype. So when I say, “I’m excited for Black Ops 2” you actually hear “I’m gonna tear the shit out of some bitches hellz yeah pwner noob godz 4eva!”

It’s a shame really. I shouldn’t be ashamed that I continue to play the annual record-breaking franchise. I shouldn’t be ashamed that I enjoy playing with my friends. If the game is entertaining then why should this even be a discussion? If you prefer Halo, Medal of Honor, or Battlefield then knock yourself out. For your information, I play two of those franchises, too, because I simply don’t care. If I have fun, I’m going to play it.

You Know Where to Find Me

In the past year I’ve put in over 500 hours into the Call of Duty franchise, and when Black Ops 2 is released you’ll find me there with my friends. I’ll be drenched in anti-shame cologne and likely sporting my pride underwear. Shame will not be a part of the game. When I pick up my Amazon delivery package in November, I’ll proudly stand on the footsteps and tell my neighbors what I purchased. When my Horrible Night friends ask me why I bought yet another CoD game, I’ll proudly get on my soapbox and say, “Why do you have that face?” I’ll also let them know to expect nights filled with “echo echo one-niner” talk as my friends and I go online against those 12 year-olds. It’s been a year, and now they’re in for the rematch of a life time. Frickin’ kids.

Games of Shame – As much as we love them, we’d be embarrassed if you saw us playing them. We will talk through our fears and see if our love of the game is worth it.


Giant Bomb (images)

3 Comments Games of Shame: Call of Duty

  1. Andy

    Great article Brandon.

    Like every game CoD isn’t going to be for everyone, but unlike so many titles it is easily the most visible game in the marketplace. Due to yearly increments and the massive sales that keep coming with them I think a game like CoD will always be an easy target for naysayers.

    I hadn’t thought about it until reading your article but how will my vast enjoyment be received by soon to be peers in the Game Design program I’ll be starting later in October? Need I worry about my ruining my credibility as someone who enjoys games by proclaiming my love (and occasional simultaneous hate) of Black Ops? You know as well as anyone that I enjoy a wide variety of games and will go out of my way to play the weird and obscure. Would that all be skewed if people knew how many hours I have in Blops?

    Clearly you and I are not eh twelve year old stereotypes that people associate with Call Of Duty. After chewing on the whole thing for a while I don’t think we should have any sort of guilt for loving what we do. A game like CoD offers depth that someone who does not play it wouldn’t understand. You and I are getting enjoyment out of it that is vasty different from what tickles the fancy of the community of obnoxious teenagers we mute quickly when we enter lobbies out of party.

    The older I get the more and more I notice that people like to dump on things that other people like to try and feel good about themselves. To try to feel like they’re part of something maybe. They don’t understand, they don’t want to take the effort to try, and they throw their voices to the chorus of others like them. It happens everywhere, in every form of entertainment. Movie reviewers get dumped on for reviews of movies that the public hasn’t had a chance to see. Who better qualified to talk about something than someone who has experienced it versus someone who hasn’t? The gamers who hate on CoD without giving it a fair play, who assume that all CoD players are bratty twelve year olds are part of a larger problem that I have with how a lot of the internet and the anonymity it provides.

    It’s been a day or two since I wrote the above paragraphs in a late night tizzy. As you can see I have a lot to say on the subject. After much reflection I realize is that it really doesn’t matter what games I like or what other people think about what games I like. My choices make me and define me. If other people don’t like it, good for them. I’m sure I don’t like a lot of crap they think is fantastic, and that’s great for them. Whatever makes people happy. If that happens to be making fun of me for how I choose to spend my free time and money then fuck them. I’ve got better things to do and worry about than how other people perceive me and the things I do.

  2. Brandon Coppernoll

    Andy, awesome comment!

    I agree. I think you made your points well, and it will be interesting how peers from a game design perspective perceive Call of Duty. Do they love it for the low barrier to get in the game? Do they hate the incremental approach? It will really interesting, and I think you better tell me later.

  3. Justin Gifford

    As a guilty party in the hate-on-CoD crowd, I should definitely apologize if my disdain has ever come across as “this game sucks” or “anyone who plays it is a mouth breather.” Exactly 100% of my lack of enthusiasm for it comes from my personal experiences with the online crowd in MW2. The controls are tight, it looks fine for what it does and the weapons and damage models are great – but when a game’s clearly focused on its online play, it’s a real downer when so many of the people who play it (or insist on using their mics in public chat rather than in-party) are total asshats.
    That said, maybe I’ll try and join you guys in Blops 2 – I might develop a different attitude towards it after playing with a group of guys who aren’t coming up with new and horrible things to call the losing team.

    Also: if I ever become staggeringly wealthy, I’ll definitely start playing. And then pull a Jay and Silent Bob on all of adherent’s to John Gabriel’s Greater Internet F-wad Theory.

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