This post was intended to report and analyze yesterday’s release of Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops. But I have failed miserably.
You see, Call of Duty is this video game franchise that produces extremely successful, if controversial, war games. Last year’s Modern Warfare 2 was the biggest entertainment launch in history—“entertainment” herein referring to CDs, DVDs, video games, and (presumably, laughably) books. Within the first week it garnered $550 million in sales; within a few months it made over a billion. MW2 has had over 25 million unique players, meaning, in a sense, the game compiled the largest military on the planet.
Chances are you knew most of this already. Chances are you know the controversy surrounding the games, summarized nicely here by a skinny person, and here by a less skinny person. Kobe and Kimmel have already put in their two cents. The content of this article (as originally intended) would have just synthesized information about the new game’s release and hopefully piqued a response about the role of video games in contemporary masculinity.
Well, that was the plan. But really, it was doomed from the start. For a story like this, I didn’t want to just regurgitate fiscal info (“Controversial Game Set to Make Lots of Money”), harp on geeky details (“The Red Ring of Death: Problems with Treyarch’s Physics Engine”), or be too full of myself (“My Roommates and I Are Losers: A Day in the Life”).
I want to speak for real, everyday gamers. So I present to you a review compilation from—get ready—a bunch of dudes with webcams.
I fled to the fringes. I abandoned the central swath of the bell curve and entered the twilight zone of CoD fandom. I discovered a fascinating internet underclass that is seemingly powered by the obscurity of their opinions and the vehemence with which those opinions are held. The two disparately shaped reviewers above are but a small sampling. Alas, there doesn’t seem to be an end.
I am slightly ashamed to admit I actually understand the content of these vlogs. But even a video game novice has to be taken aback by these clips—in a sort of anthropological way, right? Seriously, the technical depth and human passion of these people could be written about in future academia. Throw in a gender studies angle (*crush*) and you’re approaching a legitimate historical phenomenon. We read about Greek theater, Egyptian dining rituals, and American Revolution–era recreation with complete seriousness. What’s the difference?
At least this is how I hope to justify the time I’ve spent listening to epic dorkiness (the British accents don’t help). If I can play off my time-wasting as some sort of qualitative cultural survey, then it makes my meta-dorkiness less obvious.
Lastly, if you don’t plan on buying Call of Duty: Black Ops, here’s what you’re missing, brought to you by a guy with camouflage-pattern chest hair: