why (i believe) we should all care about call of duty


a few weeks back a popular pop singer twerked and swung (on a wrecking ball) her way into the top news story of the week/month. global crisis’? government shut downs? important, sure, but what was up with miley cyrus and robin thicke? who knew that skimpy garb, a lot of tongue, and a demolition scene could work so well to create a media storm of epic proportions.

today a similar media/tech event is occurring. the reality is, however, it’s likely to get noticed only by those who purchase and play first person shooter video games or those who watch the tech business trends. a huge majority of us might miss it altogether. today, the new call of duty ghosts video game is released.

a year ago, halo 4 brought in $220M in it’s first day on the market. one month later call of duty: black ops 2 was released and made $500M in sales on day one. one month ago grand theft auto 5 was released and brought in a whopping $800M in 24 hours. even if you factor in the $265M spent on developing and promoting the game, grand theft auto 5’s first day sales are unbelievable. how much will be spent, today, on a game? some are guessing this may be the first time in history a video game will bring in $1B on day one. 

if you could raise $1,000,000,000 in a day what would you do with the profits?

while this dollar amount is staggering, it does nothing to address the number of hours which will be spent attempting to master the game in these first few days of release. in addition, games such as this are immersive and stick with players. long after they leave the screen, the game is still occupying important regions of players’ internal dialogue and thought. those who attempt to be counter cultural or who cannot afford to give in to the frenzy will spend plenty of emotional capitol consoling themselves (understandably...the social pressures are great). what will be sacrificed as a result of these realities?

a common response i get from colleagues and peers when they hear about my efforts to get people thinking about their tech use is, “i don’t know anything about all that and i’m glad. i’m perfectly happy to never text. i have zero interest in twitter or instagram or facebook. i’ve never seen a video game and i’m all good with that.” while i understand the desire to live according to one’s own callings and values i also believe that we are all impacted by western culture’s obsession with, dependence upon, and blind acceptance of new technologies. for those of us who are aunts, uncles, educators, therapists/physicians, neighbors, cultural commentators, religious leaders, or friends (basically...all of us) there is a high need for us to be aware of the waters within which our nieces, nephews, students, clients/patients, neighbors, readers, congregations, and friends are swimming.

more resources than i can imagine will be spent spreading the word that call of duty ghosts is THE way to spend your time, energy, and money. trailers have been made to appeal to every taste and demographic in an effort to help everyone feel curious (i’ve linked them below to help you see what i mean). we don’t, however, have to drink the kool aid. in simply acknowledging and educating ones’ self about the pressure (internal and external) that results from living in a world that is hyper connected, hyper entertained, and hyper about the “new new new,” we can be better responsive to what is going on in those around us. we may never feel tempted to lose ourselves in a game but plenty of those around us do face such temptation and could benefit greatly from loving folks who are willing to help them find pleasure, release, entertainment, and camaraderie in their embodied lives. even if we do choose to play, we can be aware of how much of our many resources we give to the game and how much we might want to reserve for other endeavors. we can hold ourselves accountable to having as many experiences in the real world as in the cyber world of game play and we can invite others into conversations that might help them do the same.

to be responsible global citizens i believe we must be engaging in conversations with each other. especially those others that are different from ourselves. our conversations are benefitted when they come from places of insight and knowledge, are moderated by empathy and respect, and initiated from love. i wish, today, for many such conversations which begin with call of duty and end with connection, shared thoughts and feelings, and love.

to see how the industry effectively markets to all demographics, check these out:

hip hop/rap trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUBcYogq-3M
Doreen Dodgen-Magee1 Comment