Infinity Ward and Activision have been marketing Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for PS4, Xbox One, and PC as a realistic, dark, gritty, and sometimes gruesome take on modern warfare. Like, it's really been leaning into this, and apparently its appropriate marketing, because according to one report, the game makes the infamous "'No Russian' level look like a Pixar movie." That said, despite all of this, neither Activision or Infinity Ward are pitching the game as a political one. There's political themes -- it's a war game -- but to members of the development team that doesn't make it a political game.
Now, as you may know, politics in games is a hot-button topic. Some people rage war against politics -- or at least what they perceive as being political -- being in games. Meanwhile, others are increasingly frustrated by developers shying away from the term "political" because of the possible PR ramifications.
Recently, on two separate occasions, leads at Infinity Ward insisted the game isn't political. During a recent interview with Game Informer, studio art director Joel Emslie said "No, we're just making a game," when asked if the title is a political game. Emslie then added that "it seems insane to get political." Meanwhile, campaign gameplay director Jacob Minkoff explained to Game Informer that while the game has political themes and is about modern warfare, it's not making a political statement in reference to the current political landscape.
As you can see, to Minkoff, asking if a game is political doesn't actually mean anything, because "political" is a very broad framing that means something different to everybody. And that's perhaps why it lends itself to so much controversy. Indefinite definitions tend to lead to a wide range of interuptations, which perhaps explains why something as simple as whether Infinity Ward frames Call of Duty: Modern Warfare as a "political" game is so controversial.
I'm liking this. I'm liking this alot.https://t.co/QG4KasbODo— Monkey342 (@Monkey_342) August 10, 2019
Love that they are trying not to be political https://t.co/txVW5M6BkC— Craniusmaxximus (@craniusmaxximus) August 10, 2019
Got to admit after the last few years of games/movies/Tv-shows constantly dipping their products into modern politics— The Wanderer (@ASilverWanderer) August 10, 2019
It’s so refreshing to see a game studio say fuck that, and just focus on making a good story
Not a message
Consider my faith restored
Saying Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare isn't a political game when you are literally role-playing as a soldier — a human apparatus of government weaponry — has to be the most LOL GTFO things I've ever witnessed in vidya.
Next, you man will tell me loot boxes aren't gambl- oh nvrmnd— Bae Grylls, Tumblr Bisexual (@TheAuracl3) August 9, 2019
This is possibly the worst gamedev interviews I’ve ever seen. The Narrative Desinger and Campaign Gameplay Directer shouldn’t have any problems bending over backwards to avoid the word “political,” because they’re already spineless. What a garbage answer.https://t.co/F8FCTP1BJ3— Ophelia "Gay Mergirl" Goings (@whatmakesgames) August 9, 2019
As someone who attended the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare reveal event, where IW cited documentaries like The White Helmets and Last Men In Aleppo as inspirations, allow me to respond to IW's new claim that it's "not a political game."
Hold on. This fart will take a min to brew.— Sam Machkovech (@samred) August 8, 2019
Imagine unironically believing a war game can ever be apolitical.— Queen Adrian (@queen_adrianV) August 8, 2019
Cod devs: "we based our new game on modern conflicts like in Syria"— Xenolalia@SawCon (@keep_indoors) August 8, 2019
Cod devs: "theres no politiccs in this game where we called americans 'the good guys' tho"
Real sick of developers doing everything possible to avoid being “political”— Princess Lily (@Lilyisfun) August 8, 2019