Sunday, 4 October 2009

Call of Duty 4: The New Male Shorthand

I'm no sporting enthusiast - this is not a secret and because of this, I have gone my entire life without the benefit of what I like to call 'Male Shorthand'. This unique brand of small talk will get through just about any overly-masculine social situation, be it with you potential father-in-law or that one drunk who will just talk to anybody and it's best you just agree with everything he says because he could flip any moment and start threatening to kill you - you know the type. Missing this skill makes me somewhat of a social leper at times. Please stop me if I'm sounding a little too much like Morrissey.

(click to listen to just how brilliant he is)

Thankfully, Call of Duty 4 exists and Modern Warfare 2 is on the horizon. Call of Duty is fast becoming a new form of male shorthand, sitting comfortably up there with the likes of football and veiled cock-comparing. So many males play it now that it's become almost 'normal' to invest large amounts of time into an online game. For many it's a regular social activity and forms a large part of their life.

Enter: Me - the gaming nerd, once confined to the shadows, now out in the open, ready to make all you 'normies' my bitches. Bear witness to my supreme gaming prowess and gawp in amazement as I describe host migration to you. Although I am such a nerd, I am in no way bitter and I resist the temptation to act superior. Instead, I marvel at the ease with which I can now talk with 'regular guys'.
Usually, I want to talk about how tits looked different in the 70's, or how living your life with Devo's mentality is a really positive thing to do. Regretfully, neither of these make suitable topics for small talk. What Call of Duty has given nerds like me is common ground. Society is now my oyster and nerds are becoming increasingly mainstream, the line growing ever-blurry day-by-day.

We live in a period where gaming is becoming more integrated into the mainstream; even cunts like Vernon Kaye admit to their 'COD addiction'. Us gamers are becoming more acceptable and can no longer be easily classified as mouth-breathing bedroom dwellers ; except for when we lose to someone with a higher rank and then we can be all like: "Oh, fuck you. Look at your rank! What, do you live on this game? Fuck you man, go out and get laid, I get laid which is why I don't have such a great rank. Fuck you, nerd. Fuck you."

Whilst the likes of Fifa and Championship manager have been able to boast this 'everyman appeal' for decades, Call of Duty, being a shooter and not having a link to traditional male pursuits is something of a first. Whilst I'm sure there are plenty of men out there who do rank 'shooting things' on their list of interests, it's hardly football. the likes of Fifa are a logical extension of existing interests, but Call of Duty, coming from a more traditional video game mould is a perfect representation of the shifting demographic of gamers. A shooter now has a wider market and could potentially open the door for other, more interesting titles. Call of Duty 4 is in no way a watered-down gaming experience yet it has garnered massive mainstream attention. I'm not saying that your local will now be awash with newly-formed fanboys soiling themselves over The last Guardian, but I do think that if developers like Infinity Ward maintain their character for innovation and development, then we could see the definition of a gamer becoming even more of a grey area.


vandalworks said...

its weird because i wasnt that interested in online gaming when i first obtained my 360, co-op play yes, but it was more for the next gen experience. and then i gained a lend of call of duty 4 off a friend. i played the single player, and thought despite short was one of the better gaming experiences i've had. i then noticed online, and, quite nervously, had a couple of games online. not bad i spose, lets have a couple more. mate txts, asking if i'm done with the game. "yeah story was awesome blah blah blah... onlines alrite too... pop up when you want it."

a week or so later i eventually gave it back after becoming extremely excited at the prospect of online cod. some friends were playing it too, and this for me is where it shined. upon returning, i went straight to merthyr and bought a copy in argos for the princely sum of £30, which, was a heck of a find considering its still commanding similar prices. and i havent looked back since. it doesnt get played every day, but i'd say its played at least 4 days a week. mainly due that other friends play, and also now due to playing with other friends in private games, as you've noticed.

W2 should bring much of the same, and its something i look forward too.

cr0nt said...

I would have to disagree - the story wasn't awesome and was too short, the only reason I kept playing was to see more of Price's tache, it was also too easy, even on veteran with maybe one bit where I had trouble - and that was escaping one shot, one kill. I was not impressed with the single player, and I am someone who plays games almost entirely for the story (which is why I like RPGs and adventure more than FPS I guess) - when I arrived online (I have only had a 360 since last xmas) it seemed to be full of twits with lag switches and snipers. Yawn. Same with gears 2 - which pushed me further into the single player aspects of whatever I played (thankfully having been a fan of fighting games since the age of 10 I have ventured online with SF4).

I have only a couple of people on my friends list who ever play this (that'd be you lot!) but you only ever seem to play it when I'm waist deep in Geth (Mass Effect) or thrashing the Covenant (playing through Half Life again having had my steam account hacked - weird without a mouse!), I've actually never played a private game of mw which would more than likely endear it to me, but when I can have at least as much fun with extra zombies (I'm looking at L4D rather than WaW) then I don't see why I'd do it. With the added bonus of having preordered L4D2 out a week after mw2 and the AMAZING indie game eufloria (you can play the original title on the pc - it was called Darwin before they started porting it) on the way then I am more likely than not - barring the single player being the single most amazing story ever - not going to be getting mw2 - I'll see you on the other side ^_^

cr0nt said...

Sorry that was a bit long - I also forgot to mention that barring the multiplayer being made by Valve and being released as Call of Duty: Counterstrike: Source 4 Dead then I won't be playing it - if you think codmw has a good online MP then you should install steam and get a copy of CS - it is actually way, way, way better

cr0nt said...

Bah, after all that, I shouldn't be reading other things whilst typing - the game isn't Darwin (that was in the title of the Journal I'm reading) it's DYSON

The Faux Bot said...

I have to stick up for the narrative here. The game has a scene that forces you to heave your decaying body out of a crashed helicopter following a nuclear blast. Truly fucking harrowing and no doubt a gaming moment that will long be remembered.

cr0nt said...

I'd completely forgotten ^_^

At what point is the character developed enough for you to care? The sight of "a scene that forces you to heave your decaying body out of a crashed helicopter following a nuclear blast" (too lazy to make my own sentence) without any emotion is yet another throwaway moment.

I'm not just throwing this at mw, too many games have such poor scripts and stories.

Examples of games with good stories and acting:

Half Life
Braid [no voice acting, but the 10 stories in 1, each better than most general release games]
Mass Effect

I think that is pretty much the entire list. In the grand scheme of things codmw is not the worst I've ever encountered, but I'd have to say that it is average at best. All of these other games are pretty much contemporaneous to MW so it should never have won a best story award. I am an advocate of Left 4 Dead, it has no story[other than - 4 people vs. zombies - kill the zombies and live] and doesn't pretend to be anywhere near as serious, yet is far closer an allegory of modern society and humanity as a whole than and game in the call of duty series ever could be - and that is just the zombie as a social commentary, never mind the fact that we are forced to replay it 60 or 70 times performing the same actions and other small touches that go unnoticed by so so many people. Which is why I will be playing the second L4D instead of MW2 - some people will have both, and that's cool, if you want a game let me know, but you won't find me on the mw2 playlists, unless someone else buys it and plays using my account, but then its not me anyway.

Just my 2 cents. Whilst I'm alienating the entire world I must also mention that I don't like Morrisey o_0

cr0nt said...

This has to be the longest thread on split-screen (TM) by now right?

The Faux Bot said...

Yeah, I think this one is the clear winner. And we all still love you. ^_^ Insteresting point though, and more in-line with my peice, do you think MW is 'dumbed-down' in any way to boost it's mass appeal? Not even just narratively, but in terms of the multiplayer gameplay it will seem incredibly arcadey when compared to something like operation flashpoint.

cr0nt said...

I think its dumbed down a lot, I think when they initially wrote the script the only dialogue was price saying 'here's a gun. Shoot at at the [what my brother calls] "Jundies"' - I have no idea what "Jundy" is but I'm sure it has negative connotations. Someone with some sense made them write about 100 more lines of dialogue.

As for the multiplayer I am undecided as to whether its as dumbed down as the SP - its a bit less, we are the americans and brits, they are the bad guys, we shoot bad guys, in the sense that its people vs. people, and only the skin for the team you're on changes so its a bit lessened, but depending on the people playing it could be exacerbated through the in game dialogue. Certainly its 'point gun, shoot' seems like a monkey could do it (quicker and easier than typesetting Shakespeare) and I don't see that changing in the new one - although the monkey gets to choose his perks this time. I'm not talking about how easy it is to get into the game, more how the in game tactics work. For those that try to argue that there is more to it, its because I couldn't be bothered writing "choose 1 of (1) walk as far back on the map as possible and put your sniper rifle on (2) peg it toward them spraying your M16 wildly". Considering the possibilities of teamwork, there is very little to none on show - everyone is going for glory and not the win. Let me let loose on the world a fact. It does not matter if you were the MVP if you lose. If you're not playing to win, Viva Pinata awaits ^_^

I think that most games are made for the completely retarded and the casual gamer, not that people with a more vested interest cannot find enjoyment in them, but with the advent of what looks like Natal (pertaining to birth) but is pronounced not in any way like that, it may become more so.

I forsee a branching of gaming, with more consoles and hardware for the casual gamers and the rest of us hacking mice and x360/dual shock controllers to work with the console they came with so that we can play homebrew games/space giraffe/eufloria. It is already there, but i think it will become more pronounced when the fanboys demand consoles specifically for them so that they can play their serious games (I hate fan boys) and moaning like little bitches until they get it (why I hate fan boys, Sony's are the worst, I don't know why, but all can be annoying). Bring back the ZX ^_^ At least MS has given us XNA, which is where the serious gamers and small companies can get their games produced with great support to keep the xbox going well, however good my programming skills are (and they are quite good) and how alluring that copy of Win7 on my desk looks I'm a linux user and always will be so I'm not with that support, and similar for the PS isn't available but is programmable on it, no support, and getting it out on the PS3 will cost a fortune in licenses, maybe I'll stick to making user content for L4D2!!!!!! [in case you never heard Valve will periodically be releasing what they deem the best of the user created content for us to play through]

I think Operation Flashpoint will be interesting, because I have little to no idea of the story and content itself, all I know is that its an 8 hour walk (22 minute chopper ride) from one side of the island to the other. I'd like to see what the everyman mentioned in the post thinks of it (said brother being such an everyman) - I'd keep you posted if I had permission ^_^

Split-Screen said...

You definitely need an outlet. Send me over your gmail address.

cr0nt said...


the first part sans the punctuation and second # is . ofc - gotta be sensible over bots ^_^

cr0nt said...

That's my MSN too for anyone that uses such archaic devices o_o

vandalworks said...

my thoughts on what you've said...

i personally think we are two different entities of gamer. you seem someone looking for something to really get your teeth into and requires a lot of time, whereas myself, i simply dont play videogames for this anymore. i used to absolutely love playing games for 30 hours and only being half way through on my second playthrough, but i'm incapable of this. not because of work or other commitments, but simply choice and a change of taste.

while the games you mention have obvious quality, they're all also games i've not been able to get my teeth into, despite trying. mass efect seemed very promising, yet after gaining entry into spectre i lost interest. bioshock seemed fun and involving, but again, it didnt drag me in. half life didnt do anything for me, and you also mention left for dead which i personally find is a glorified version of horde with the mass appeal of zombies. what call of duty 4 did to me was set the bar higher than any game since has come close too.

yes the story is short, but how the action is paced is wonderfully timed and kept me playing until either my eyes were locked shut or the game was finished. having to drag yourself out of the crashed helicopter as mr bot pointed out meant something because up until now you were exactly that, another cog in the army machine, and possibly the fact that you dont know who you're playing yet die sort of adds to the poignancy of the moment. you begin to wonder who he was, did he have a family? etc.

every game i've bought has been played, then simply left on the shelf or traded in. it is only call of duty 4 that i've continually gone back too. the multiplayer offers me plenty of variety, a large amount of friends play it and despite the moments i do occasionally call people over on there for glitching etc i remember its simply a game, and what i want it gives me amply.

I too, do not listen to morrisey

cr0nt said...

Agreed, I think that all people are looking for different things in games, I want something that will introduce and develop believable characters and/or provide a ground to make me think. I'd argue that Braid is SHORT (took me about 6 hours including the speed runs) so maybe 30 hours is a bit excessive ^_^

One point I would like to argue is that about Left 4 Dead being a zombie version of horde - both games are contemporaneous, coming out within 6 days of each other (November 2008) and with games having a development of roughly two years there is no way that this can be labelled such - and I was only saying that as a comment on current society Left 4 Dead is far more accurate and intelligent that cod:mw - not that I think that the story/characters are good/well developed, but that itself is part of the grand scheme of it.
You didn't enjoy the games I did, that is no surprise, we are two different people, if we did I'd start questioning which of us was sycophantic o_0
This is a forum for opinions and I'm merely expressing mine, gaming is not built on axioms!

"yes the story is short, but how the action is paced is wonderfully timed and kept me playing until either my eyes were locked shut or the game was finished. having to drag yourself out of the crashed helicopter as mr bot pointed out meant something because up until now you were exactly that, another cog in the army machine, and possibly the fact that you dont know who you're playing yet die sort of adds to the poignancy of the moment. you begin to wonder who he was, did he have a family? etc."

I would argue that this is in no way poignant - did you at any time stop to ask whether the first 'terrorist' you killed have a family, children? Even the earlier part of the game where you have a character, you are aware of exactly who his family are, you kill him, did you shed a tear for Zakhaev? He lost a child. At your hand. Did you worry about the widow that you have left husband and childless (ok so maybe there were more children but you killed one)? You didn't care about them why? They are all people, they have reasons for doing what they are doing, however wrong they seem by your own moral compass. You are supposed to feel HAPPY about it. Yes you may have prevented other people dying, but to be happy about killing somebody? I disagree that it is poignant because there are no shades of grey (Biohazard ftw) the character isn't believable enough to care if he has a family.

"every game i've bought has been played, then simply left on the shelf or traded in. it is only call of duty 4 that i've continually gone back too. the multiplayer offers me plenty of variety, a large amount of friends play it and despite the moments i do occasionally call people over on there for glitching etc i remember its simply a game, and what i want it gives me amply."

That my friend is £45 well spent. I'm glad that you found something that as given you so much enjoyment, I never got this from it, but there are other games I have, for multiplayer Team Fortress 2 (or in fact ANYTHING from Valve) had many hours from me, so much so that my PC is duffed so I bought the orange box for my 360 ^_^

Everything I have said is debatable, but having studied maths for so long and had it pummeled into me I write everything as fact and wait for the arguments for the statements to arise, if it seems that I'm being argumentative, then understand that I intend no malice, just like to argue these things so that I can properly understand other people's point of view. It's how I learn.

vandalworks said...

oh man absolutely, i wouldnt call it an argument its simply a debate, christ, i'm not going to mention your mother in a derogatory way if i feel my side is lost!

about the poignancy, for me i didnt think of call of duty in that way until i'd got to that point, then you do wonder just who these people are. i know a couple of people in the army and they say that thinking about who you may have just killed is something they cannot consider, you feel loss on your own side but you cannot mourn for those who kill you. one of the biggest feelings i gained from this game was how this does exist in real life and why there has to be so much difference in opinion as to how our lives should be. are we not able to choose? is religion hat is holding us back from human advancement? while i've thought about things like this before, any game which makes me think of such things agains deserves attention.

£45 well spent? it was £30 in argos when i had it, best bargain ever! lol. see, i tried team fortress and its another game i couldnt get into. what i'm saying about left for dead also is not that its copied from gears of war, but thats its simply similar to a single mode of another game, i'd have preferred more depth for my money had i bought left for dead. i've played it a little and while i can see its fun, personally it wouldnt carry any lastability for my needs.

an example of how different we are games wise is street ighter, i enjoy the game immensely but play little, while after the games i've played against you i can see how much effort you've put into it and fair play, i must commend you on it. being able to pull off some of the combos you're capable of impressed me muchly.

cr0nt said...

"are we not able to choose? is religion hat is holding us back from human advancement? while i've thought about things like this before, any game which makes me think of such things agains deserves attention."

As long as you don't go Richard Dawkins on us that's fine ^_^

I have both Gears 2 and L4D, and I really enjoy playing both, but never play Horde, none of my friends ever play it and if you start online you have to start from the first wave every time with idiots, when I want to get back in where I finished at wave 33 - I think the downside of horde is that it takes so freaking long to get through, but a campaign on L4D takes half an hour or so and the versus less than an hour. But this is a completely different discussion -_- [another 10 pages!] Plus I got l4d:goty for 10GBP, which for me is awesome, now if only my achievements unlocked in it...

One thing I have noticed about team fortress 2 as time goes by is that there are no patches to prevent people from map hacking, but nobody does any more, those who did got bored and went to play other games and left those actually interested in playing it to play, I still see people doing such silly things in codmw but there are patches for that and it is more popular but it is interesting that the hacking died off at a similar rate!

"an example of how different we are games wise is street fighter"

for sure, I've loved the franchise since I was just starting secondary school, and I only play it as much as you play cod ^_^ I do have the bonus of the arcade stick which helps immensely, all I have to do is turn up and it does things for me - still, I could be better, and with the advent of BlazBlue and SSF4 I'll be spending yet more time playing them!

Might have been interesting for someone else to have posted something... saves the two of us talking amongst ourselves, I'm not counting the one-liners

The Faux Bot said...

Gentlemen, you have officially set a new record for this blog and I am totally honoured to host your truly epic debate. Seriously, this makes running the blog worthwhile.

I want to add that a big reason that COD4 manages to be narratively effective, the helicopter crash in particular, is merely because it is actually shocking. Playing the 'horror of war' card is nothing new in shooters - Call of Duty as a series plays it every time it revisits Normandy- but you are always reassured by patriotism and overcoming facism with your brothers in arms. Conversely, in COD4, you die horrifically in a nuclear blast. You get erased. There is no recourse, no revenge, just nuclear devestation. War with a minimum degree of glorification - something that should surely be celebrated in such a typically bloodthirsty genre.

vandalworks said...

finally! i though myself and the charming cront were doing all the work there for a second!

i think its one of those things that does come down to taste. i'll never dispute that cod4 isnt the best told game story wise, but its speedily driven and what is there had me playing an awful lot, and for me thats a modern day miracle.

cr0nt said...

I will agree that it is pretty well paced, but may have preferred it if they cut out the american campaign completely and killed off soap ^_^

For me the appeal of left 4 dead is that yes each campaign is short, and there aren't many, but that every time you play through it can be completely different keeps me going back. That and the love of horror films. Homage to George Romero, and some of my other favourite films keeps me loving it. Now we just need a GOOD Evil Dead vidya gamez - and hopefully one that isn't going to be based on the remake of the second film (irony?) which WON'T feature Bruce Campbell.

Going back to your earlier point, Mass Effect is what you make it - if you decide to do all of the collection side quests and not progress with the story until you got them then you are going to be bored stupid, and maybe one of the planets is a weak point [which depends on what order you do them in, but it can seem like a drag to have to go through another heinous battle on the insanity difficulty - which I'm still working on for my last 2 achievements, then one more playthrough to make the choices I want to have affect the second game with the loading in of options] and it also depends on how much you do of them before spectre [Keeper Hunter sounds like a PSP game...]. If you did loads of them first then I'd recommend going back to visit it only playing the story aspect of it and seeing how you get on, I can provide a loan once I do my two more plays [that goes for anyone on here Kris can vouch for].

In Bioshock I particularly like the layering of the story, if you haven't read Ayn Rand and don't know about Objectivism [I already had and did] then you have the actual story, if you do know then you have another aspect, and there are more layers of that onion, but it still doesn't compare to that of Braid. They won't be to everyone's taste, and I know plenty of people that find Braid pretentious [to the usual argument of "games are games and not art, so they shouldn't consider themselves so", but there are other arguments] and so don't like it, but I'm not one.

Not that I am trying to drag this on any more ^_^

The point I'm trying to make (more than likely unsuccessfully as undergrads are continually coming into my office disrupting my train of thought) is that in comparison to most of the other games mentioned cod:mw does seem dumbed down and doesn't challenge the status quo enough, I will concede that it does with the crash, seeing as I'm the only one that doesn't feel the same way you do, but I don't think that it goes far enough. And I think that was the whole point of the OP in the first place. Not that dumbed down games are bad - I love fighting games, whose entire story is "there's someone else, pummel them in the face until they fall over". What do you think?

vandalworks said...

see, thats probably why left for dead didnt appeal to me. i'm not a zombie fan and i find horror films generally tedious. it has been quite a while since i've watched one tho, so maybe i should try watching one or two. there was something about the gameplay i didnt like too, just moving about it didnt feel quite 'there' for me. this is the problem i have with codmw, every shooter has to compare with it and none so far for me have.

as for mass effect i didnt do any side missions, just story and i didnt feel drawn in, i'm really not sure why. i can see why these games are popular and why to many other people they are great games, just not ones for me.

as for braid i only tried the demo and it seemed pretty cool, just something i'm not sure i'd want to pay money for. maybe one day i'll have a look at it, as it did seem like a lovely little video game. as for thr "art is not videogames" debate, this could be a whole other thread, but my view is that in most genres of media is always a few examples of which can be described above all else in its medium as "artistic" or perhaps even simply conceptually brilliant, and i'd say that videogames does have some examples. what art does is convey mood, create discussion or look visually pleasing. videogames can do all these as can film. while the traditional idea of art is strongly held, only time will show that people will use other media to create art, just like literature and even television and film have

cr0nt said...

If you're going to watch a horror film I'd recommend The House of the Devil by Ty West. It was the single best film of this year's FrightFest [one of the biggest horror film festivals in the world]. If you can't get that then Let The Right One In is a very good film, not so very 'horror' though, it does have a vampire in it...

If you only like comedy horror when you do watch it then you can't go wrong with Dead Snow. Nazi Zombies and the tag line: Ein! Zwei! DIE!

I'd actually go as far as saying that The House of the Devil is one of the best films I've ever seen in any genre. And I LIKE films, at least as much as I like my vidya gamez

cr0nt said...

A little adendum now that the time has passed - has anyone passed a verdict on Operation Flashpoint? Is it too realistic to appeal to the everyman?

vandalworks said...

cannot say i've tried man, if its realistic as in ghost recon then i wont go near it!

cr0nt said...

Its aledgedly the most realistic war game ever made, my brother was cursing that it was ever made when he ran down to 30 bullets with 400 enemies running at him, but he claims that it is also amazing.

Proof that realism needn't be removed to have an everyman interested, the story and character development sounds awful and it doesn't look much actual fun so I'll be staying away.