Call of Duty 3’s blood and gore a far cry from good old Duck Hunt days

New games so high-tech and realistic, even soldiers use them for training

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Screenshot from Call of Duty 3

JUST RUN OUT IN THE OPEN. YOU’LL RESPAWN AFTER THE SNIPER PICKS YOU OFF. COME ON MAN, TAKE ONE FOR THE TEAM! Games like Call of Duty 3 no longer make wielding a gun child’s play. When you miss, there is no dog to laugh at you.

Over the holidays, I played Call of Duty 3 on Xbox 360, a game where players become soldiers fighting for their lives in a realistic war setting. Watching the introduction’s impeccable graphics of hovering helicopters, grinding tanks, and mangled soldiers made me eager to test the game.

My excitement, however, quickly became genuine terror as dying soldiers’ screams boomed through surround sound speakers and explosions illuminated the huge flatscreen TV inches from my face. My blood pressure rose as the controller convulsed every time I fired a shot.

As I experienced a mini-hernia, I wondered: what happened to the good old days of Nintendo’s Duck Hunt? Where are the rainbow-shaped eyes of the dog that coyly giggled when you missed a shot? Whenever I missed a soldier in Call of Duty, another would shoot me in the head, splashing blood across the screen.

What did I expect? It’s a different world now. Advances in home-based virtual consoles are making Playdiums obsolete; now you can use Nintendo Wii’s infrared sensors to detect your physical gestures at home.

I admit, I enjoyed spending three hours recklessly mutilating people with bazookas and submachine guns. But I was also incredibly fascinated and appalled with how much my behaviour transformed when I started playing.

After a couple hours, I was either cursing like a Scottish sailor every time my clip ran out or clubbing another soldier to death with the butt of my weapon like my life depended on it. It was scary how involved I became.

The game immerses you in a whole different world " but remember, you can stop playing whenever you want. Just turn off the console and go back to your peaceful lifestyle, volunteering at the Humane Society or helping elderly women with their groceries. After all, it’s just a game. Right?

First-person shooter games’ standards are rapidly increasing. Today, even real soldiers use similar computer programs to help train for real wars.

In a recent Washington Post article, Fred Lewis, head of the U.S. National Training Systems Association, said “using simulations to train [soldiers] is not only natural, it’s necessary.” Games like SOCOM, Medal of Honor and, of course, Call of Duty, let soldiers acquire several basic battlefield skills.

Whether or not video-game violence affects youth has long been a heated debate topic. But if a 12-year-old can use the same war simulation training U.S. soldiers to fight in Iraq, is there really anything left to debate?

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