Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2: Is it Promoting Terrorism?

Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 is a first person shooter game, in which the goal is to aim quickly and shoot to kill as many enemies as possible with your rifle, the main concept is to kill or be killed. Many people have been offended by this game because you play as a terrorist shooting down innocent civilians. I have analyzed Call of Duty Modern Warfare and in my analysis, I will discuss the specific controversial issues behind this game and arguments against the content of Modern Warfare that I have researched.

Terrorism is a very controversial topic that has been talked about in schools across the world, and that has also received national attention. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was developed by the company, Infinity Ward and published by Activision. The game was officially released worldwide on November 10, 2009 for Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and Microsoft Windows. It is the sixth installment in the Call of Duty series and the direct sequel to Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. The video game has won the Best Shooter and Best Multiplayer awards at the 2009 Spike Video Game Awards and has received high praise from multiple video game magazines.

Set five years later after the events of Call of Duty 4, the game is based in Russia, where the player assumes control of Sergeant Gary Sanderson and is part of an elite terrorist task force that travels around the world. The methodology of this game also includes the different mechanics that players can perform. The player can move around freely, interact with other game characters, and use weapons such sniper rifles, pistols, grenades, sidearms, and knives for combat.

I played this video game on Steam, as well as watching walkthroughs to get a better sense of how to play Modern Warfare. I played the game for a couple of hours and I got into it after a while, although I did feel a bit queasy from all of the constant shooting and the gore. Even though I am not a big fan of the shooting and the blood, I thought this was an interesting experience since I had never played this particular game before.

Source: YouTube, property of Infinity Ward

After I played this game, I discovered that there were several game elements that have sparked controversies in recent years. The first issue that stood out to me was the Moscow airport massacre that takes place in the fourth level of Modern Warfare. This level has received heavy criticism for allowing players to participate in a mass shooting terrorist attack. I believe that this game controversy was the most prominent as we briefly discussed it in class. The player starts off by walking out of an elevator with four other game characters, who open fire on several civilians and then walk on, killing any remaining civilians. This part of the game gave me the feeling that this installment of Call of Duty is indirectly encouraging the use of terrorism and saying that the spread of violence around the world is acceptable. Also as part of the level, the players has the choice of ignoring the screams of the innocent victims and walking by, or to take part in the shooting activity.

Another controversial issue that I found in this video game was the graphic portrayal of violence and the central plot of the game. The main character of Modern Warfare is a modern day military participant, and the shooting and the gore throughout the game are portrayed very realistically. According to a Common Sense Media review, most of the game plot includes traveling to different locations in the world and taking characters down with a wide selection of weapons, all seen from a first person perspective. As part of the plot, the player travels with their collection of weapons in hand to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, the icy mountains of Kazakhstan, the roads of Afghanistan, Washington, D.C., and various military bases.

Screenshot of shooting in action.

The last controversial issue that I researched is related to an offensive map that was featured in Call of Duty Modern Warfare’s multiplayer mode. In a video that was uploaded to YouTube in September 2012, picture frames were shown on the second floor bathroom of a building within a Brazilian town in the game. When the player is able to view this map, the frames contain religious quotes from Muhammad that are translated as “Allah is beautiful” and also, “He loves beauty.” Then, the player is able to see that one of these paintings was located above a toilet. Many Islamic individuals complained and were offended by the image. As a result, Activision was forced to remove the content and to issue an apology. I felt that this was a controversial issue worth looking into because I feel that this kind of content that video game developers produce is a reason why video game companies and all of us as a nation have recieved backlash from foreign countries.

However, an article that I found from the Den of Geek website shared an opposing opinion on the controversy surrounding Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2. According to the author, Modern Warfare does tell a story of terrorism, but it does not encourage it and also acknowledges that the fight many brave soldiers across the world are battling is not as simple as shooting up buildings, killing people, and being done right away. The writer also says that just because there is terrorism in the game, it will not encourage people to join in on terrorism. I personally disagree with the point of view in this article because as I have discussed in previous blog entries, I think the fact is that there are some instances when video games can influence the behavior of players who are at an impressionable age.

I think that this game could be strongly compared to the Halo video game series, which I have played before. In terms of the violence on screen, they are both very graphic in nature and they are both in the first person shooter genre. I also think that while they are two different games, the objectives and tasks are similar to each other because they both involve shooting people down and traveling through different locations.

The themes of both of these games also revolve around war and fighting. I personally consider Halo to be a better game because from what I have gathered, in Halo most of the people you shoot as a player are bad guys and there are not any levels I recall that involve shooting down innocent bystanders. Also, the characters in Halo are fiction, compared to the characters in Modern Warfare, who are based on actual people who travel to real world places.


To conclude, I did like playing Modern Warfare, but I think that it contained very strong messages and content. For one, I felt like the game promoted terrorism, particularly in the airport genocide level. I also thought the intensity of the violence was controversial. My argument is that terrorism is a topic that should not be taken lightly in video games. In this post, I have analyzed the specific controversial issues that Modern Warfare presents to gamers and expressed my opinions. I believe that there will be more games like this one and that this game will continue to be in the news since the topic of terrorism is not easily forgotten.


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