Opinion Other

The problem with Call of Duty isn't just its marketing

Call of Duty tweet.jpg

Marketers behind Call of Duty decided not enough people knew about the game. So, in a move that probably seemed super smart on paper, the official Twitter account changed to become a fake news organisation. It began reporting on some fictional awful events in Singapore, involving martial law and outbreaks and so on.

Now, of course, this is easy to shrug off. The handle didn’t change. It still said “@callofduty” - the Twitter username Current Events Agg. however didn’t indicate that. A quick glance and you could’ve easily mistaken it for another legitimate news source. It has 2 million Followers, after all and was reporting on news, as per the account description (at the time - it’s now back to the standard Twitter game account).

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Many might shrug this off - again, it was quite obvious if you looked at the account. Nonetheless, many would not. It’s not like the account was talking about invading another planet - it was talking about an actual country, in a world where attacks like this can and, unfortunately, do happen.

If I saw that and it mentioned Cape Town (instead of Singapore), and I was outside the country, my first thought would be contacting my loved ones. I wouldn’t have looked at the handle - I would’ve assumed the account appeared in my timeline as a news source, being Retweeted! I’d be emailing, calling, doing anything to get hold of loved ones. No one should have to respond like that because of video game marketing.

I’m not sure who they thought would benefit from it - they could’ve easily done another YouTube clip, with obvious fake news, on their YouTube channel. We all would’ve known it was not real - but changing your social media account, almost without warning, giving little indication you’re just hyping a video game, and then talking about awful incidents in another country seems unwarranted.

We all have ethical responsibilities as users of platforms - but this is especially the case when you’re an account with more than a million followers. People don’t need much to respond - think about what happened after the Boston bombings and the various false accusations and emotional responses.

Further, it’s not like people aren’t aware of Call of Duty. I don’t really know what the point of this change was, but I can’t see anyone benefitting. Certainly, we’re all talking about the game - but not in any favourable way. That’s not the kind of attention you’d want. For many the game has gone from neutral “oh another COD” to “I don’t want to support such people”. No one benefitted from this and it’s in really poor taste.

But to me, that often speaks to the games themselves in their subject matter and how they focus on narrow definitions of right and wrong (hint: American military decisions are usually the right ones!). If anything is in poor taste, it’s more often the games themselves and their tedious and lustful focus on militarised shooting and pornographic showcasing of weapons. They’re not as bad as Battlefield 4 “Give Cops Guns”, but the constant bravado in the shape of a gun aimed often at a “bad guy” (who we’re told is bad, not shown) has become one of gaming’s most boring and gross dynamics.

The Twitter account incident is awful but not surprising when we start to unpack where Call of Duty started to go wrong thematically.

How do you feel about the whole thing?

Tweet image credit: Polygon

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