Call of Duty
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)
On Sunday nights I spend a few moments teaching a group of men, grown up boys, and then I peal away to teach a group of boys, little versions of men. This past week, in the course of our conversation we talked about video games. I bragged that I have finished every conceivable level of Mario Kart. I thought I would immediately become, in their eyes, an icon. I was wrong. For the most part several of my little men were way past Mario Kart, they were triumphant in the game Call of Duty.
I could make a good case that Christian men should stay away from Call of Duty, but is there any debate that little boys should play Call of Duty? I could go a step further and ask why a Christian man would allow his little boy to play Call of Duty? Is there any reasonable justification?
In the new version of Call of Duty, subtitled, “Modern Warfare” the player can not only take on the role of Americans killing terrorists, but of terrorists killing Americans. We are what we think.
I heard a story last week of a 6th grade boy in one of our local schools who upon engaging in a fight grabbed a pencil off of his desk and stabbed another boy who he had knocked to the ground. I have no idea if this pencil wielding little boy plays Call of Duty, but I think his instincts are an indictment on our addiction to violence. We are not raising men, we are training killers.
At this point some will make the case that video games do not influence behavior. At this point I make the case that people who make that case, are idiots.
Here are some statements of review from the New York Times on the new entry into the Call of Duty series:
“Makarov and his band of killers, including you, are sent to an airport terminal in Moscow. Makarov and the others open fire with heavy-duty machine guns, tearing into a crowd that flees in panic. The terrorists wade through the security checkpoint, driving the screaming civilians before them. Soon the floor is covered with bodies.”
“It must be pointed out that the entire level is wholly optional. At the very beginning the game asks if you want to skip a potentially offensive scene. Perhaps more interesting, the player does not actually have to kill any civilians; you can watch as your comrades do all the shooting. The player is not forced into combat until all of the civilians are dead and you go up against the police and military forces now surrounding the terminal.”
“But even though you don’t have to kill any civilians, you can’t save them either. If you go through the scene at all, you will watch them mown down, then crawling for their lives before finally being dispatched. It will cause nightmares for some, and I cannot imagine it will be healthy for the mental state of some players who are already unbalanced.”(1)
As a white middle aged man, I had to take note of the following paragraph:
“But Infinity Ward clearly pulled many punches it could have thrown in trying to make the scene as realistic as possible. There are no children or obviously elderly people in the terminal and very few women. The thinking seems to be that if you’re going to allow a player to act out killing throngs of helpless civilians, the victims should be almost entirely white middle-aged men.”
If the crowd of civilians were notably African American, Jewish, or Latino the game would have probably never made it to the shelves. If it did, it would not have been there long before the NAACP or the Rainbow Coalition had it canned. Yet it should be canned for one reason, the game is anti-people.
What if the crowd had been full of children? Would there be a public outcry? But its just a game, right? The truth is that this game, and many like it are being played by children. Yet, we say nothing. Apparently it is also being played by children who are being raised in Christian homes. True, there is a movie type ratings system on games, but the real question is why is there a market for such violence? It is because our minds are a bloody marketplace. It is because we are depraved. We need to renew our minds, to think on pure things. Our culture is screaming for rescue. The filth and violence in our video games, television shows, books, and movies have one message, that we are in desperate need to think about something else.
At the very least, Christian men with little boys - get these type things out of your home! It is your duty.
My name is Nick and I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to leave a comment. I too am a middle-aged white American male. I am also a Christian, a father and a Veteran. I have been on this journey of becoming the man that God is fathering me to be. I wanted to commend you on your thoughts of violent games. My wife and I will not allow them in our home. Our kids are 10, 8 & 5 and all love to play video games. Our only struggle with that is how much time they spend doing so. It upsets me to know that there are a lot of lazy Christians out there who look past at what entertains their children. And as a Veteran, I think these kind of games are a disgrace to our country. War is hell, but it is Biblical. It is not something that should be used as entertainment. Thank you for your post. I look forward to reading more.
Brian, thank you for saying what needs to be said - especially when some might feel the need to draw their toes back!
I must confess that I love to play Call of Duty which I started with the very first edition for PC it is a WWII game. Upon reflection, I think of how many hours I have wasted playing it. I must say that I only played as a U.S. soldier, and I did learn a lot about WWII playing that game - at least time and place connections. I played as the good guys, going after the bad guys.
As with all things these days, it is harder to find the line between good and bad in new games. There is also much more gratuitous violence and language in them. There is a sort of moral equivalence imposed because in most newer games you can play as either side, and often don't even get to choose. Of course that's not to mention games like Grand Theft Auto which are just self-led expeditions in debauchery and crime.
Over the last year or so, I have gradually quit playing video games. My 16 year old of course plays them - C.O.D. and Halo. The younger kids just play Mario games.
Matt, I agree with you that the more I observe my kids and the college age kids that I teach, I have begun to believe that video games are more harmful than benign.
When I was 16, all I wanted to do was get out of the house - hit the road, go fishing, shooting, hunting, football, go on dates (not necc. in that order either!) but now days, many kids are content to stay in their room and play games. They have all their friends on the headset, and together they can roam the world with a soundtrack of their choosing and blast terrorists - with no risk at all. This leaves them with relatively little desire to get a job, a car, or even a girlfriend! Time seems to stand still for them and the world is at their fingertips.
I suppose there is some upside to that from a safety standpoint, but what seems to suffer the most is maturity - both mental and spiritual. I had a student in Multimedia who was very talented and hardworking- paying his way through school and making straight A's. All of sudden he dropped out and lost his job because he was playing World of Warcraft around the clock. That was 3 years ago and he apparently hasn't recovered yet.
Even games that seem harmless in terms of content worry me because they seem to feed the instant gratification needs in our kids. In the game, if you bash a brick you get a gold coin. Bash enough of them, and you get extra powers, level up, etc. This sounds like it might teach them to work for achievements, but it doesn't. Instead they think that every simple thing they do should be rewarded (pressing a button) and if there is no immediate reward, or the task to difficult, they lose interest.
As it applies so often -things must be done in moderation. My question - How much is too much?