No matter what side of the Call of Duty fence you sit on, whether you love or hate them, the franchise has garnered some amazing accolades.
As poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning emphasizes, let me count the ways.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare III is the fastest selling video game in history within its first month of release. According to statistics from Activision, every day, gamers of the franchise rack up over 1900 years' worth of game play. This amounts to nearly 3 billion years of game play. That’s a lot of extinction level events under one video game series. A-list actors and actresses have thrown their weight and support behind the franchise. Who can forget Kevin Spacey’s warmongering ways in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. Other phenomenal actors that have lent their voice to the franchise includes: Brandon Routh (Call of Duty: Ghosts), Sam Worthington (Call of Duty: Black Ops 2), and even Jason Statham (2003’s Call of Duty).
Science even supports the demand for Call of Duty game play. A recent study done by Current Biology found that people who played reaction demanding games like Call of Duty had noticeably faster decision making processes.
Whether you’re a die-hard fan of the series or a casual gamer, you may have missed some rather interesting facts surrounding the franchise. For some, they’re rather fascinating and for others, downright disturbing. For those in the latter group, here are the 15 disturbing facts you may not have known about Call of Duty.
15 Rated ‘M’ For Mature
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare did more than just transport its audience into a more digital modern warfare. It set the tone for a grittier, modern setting that its successors and rivals would soon imitate after.
There was a gritty realism that came with Modern Warfare. While previous Call of Duty games transported us to the beaches of Normandy and other important historical areas of the European theatre, Modern Warfare’s brought the battlegrounds to its present day. Its stunning presentation and immersive single-player story line drew fans into the realism of the game’s mechanics and gameplay.
Perhaps then it comes as a surprise to many that Modern Warfare was the first game in the Call of Duty series to earn an ‘M’ Rating from ERSB. Especially considering that it’s the fourth game within a highly successful war franchise.
14 London Has Fallen
Only July 7, 2005, London would forever be changed. In one of the worst attacks on British soil, four suicide bombers brought devastation and horror to central London, forever immortalizing that day as the 7/7 bombings. During the attacks, four devices were detonated, three in London’s Underground and one on a double decker bus.
These terrible terrorist attacks would also be forever immortalize in Infinity Ward and Activision’s run of Call of Duty. In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, a cutscene unfolds in which a family is enjoying a vacation in London. The scene unfolds through a video recording and in it, a truck pulls up and stops in front of the vacationing family and detonates, killing both the mother and daughter on screen. The personal nature of this scene incurred ire and a sharp response from Londoners and British Parliament.
13 Enemy At The Gates
If you’ve ever played the 2003 release Call of Duty, you’ll encounter a Soviet mission called “Stalingrad.” In it, Soviet soldiers must survive an assault by German forces as they try to get into the Red Square. Soviet soldiers though are not issued any rifles, only ammunition, which may be reminiscent of another Soviet battle scene played out in the 2001 movie Enemy at the Gates.
The reality is, the Soviets were largely well-equipped thanks in part to Allied assistance and domestic production. The only instance in which Soviet soldiers died en masse due to a lack of military equipment was during the beginning of Germany’s invasion. During World War II, the Soviet army was one of the most robust and forward-thinking military forces in the world. Their officers were well-educated in military operations, making this scene particularly mythical.
12 No Woman, No Cry
Speaking about Soviet campaigns, did you happen to notice the lack of women soldiers within the European theatres depicted in 2003’s Call of Duty? In fact, you never see an inkling of one, though in reality, female soldiers, pilots, and sailors played a crucial role in the Soviet’s success during the second World War.
In fact, of the 800,000 women who participated through the various Soviet military campaigns in the European theatre, nearly 200,000 of them were decorated for their efforts during the war. A further 89 eventually received the “Hero of the Soviet Union” medal, the highest Soviet Union award given to military personnel. This includes Soviet war heroes such as Lyudmila Pavilchenko, a Soviet sniper with 309 confirmed kills or Lydia Litvyak, the “White Lily of Stalingrad” and a notable Soviet fighter pilot. Their absence in Call of Duty was a missed opportunity for video games.
11 Halo, It’s Me
Halo was a big deal when it first debuted. It showed the industry the future of gaming through its impressive aesthetics, character development, and revolutionized multiple gaming for next-gen consoles.
It was a pop culture force of nature, and with the successes of every entry after the original, raising an entire generation of gamers. But that all changed when Call of Duty: Modern Warfare debuted. When Halo 3 was released, it generated over $170 million sales in its first day within the U.S. An impressive feat unto itself considering its Xbox exclusivity.
But soon after Modern Warfare’s release, Call of Duty dethroned the Halo franchise as the most popular Xbox Live game to be played on the console. The multiplayer world has never been the same since.
10 Don’t Cry For Me, Activision
As one of two playable characters in Modern Warfare, Sergeant Paul Jackson was part of the U.S. Marine Recon team tasked with locating and capturing Khaled Al-Asad. But his last particular mission doesn’t go according to plan and players experience the shocking realities of nuclear warfare.
The devastation of nuclear warfare was felt through the mission, “Aftermath,” in which players have to navigate Sgt. Paul Jackson through the dreadful realities of nuclear fallout. The intensity of the scene often leave players shocked and surprised. But if you can drag yourself far away enough from the chopper before you succumb to your injuries, crawl towards the remnants of a playground nearby. In the final moments before your death, if you listen closely, you will hear something particularly haunting: the sound of children playing and their desperate cries for help.
9 The Falsity Of Drone Strikes
Since their first operational use in 2001, drone attacks have been met with staunch opposition and strong controversy. Many purport that drone attacks do more harm than good. They’ve been used to executive U.S. civilians without a trial. Drone strikes have also revealed the ugly truth of war, the escalating civilian casualties with every drone strike.
Their presence in the Call of Duty series illustrates the falsity of drone strikes. Since Modern Warfare 2, drone strikes have been some players' favourite killstreak rewards. In fact, over 800 million drone strikes have been called in during Call of Duty online matches. In reality, studies have shown the negative psychological impacts drone strikes have had on their operators. While Call of Duty portrays simulated realism, one should be concerned with Call of Duty’s perceived realism regarding drone strikes.
8 Time Travel With Black Ops
As one of the most popular trilogies in the Call of Duty series, Call of Duty: Black Ops has been instrumental in propelling the franchise forward after its departure from Modern Warfare. Black Ops has a great story line, with special ops Alex Mason carrying the single player campaign to new, yet reflective heights.
In fact, one of the biggest tropes that Black Ops employs is the flashback imagery. But, these flashbacks are where things get a little fuzzy, and frankly, downright sloppy. Making its appearance in the mission “Operation 40,” Mason starts the mission with an M16 complete with an ACOG scope and M203 grenade launcher. The only problem is, “Operation 40” takes place in Santa Maria, Cuba on April 17, 1961. The only problem is, U.S. armed soldiers weren’t deployed with M16s until 1964. Other false historical references include the AK74u and the improbable Nazi base in the Arctic Circle.
7 Blurring Reality With Fiction
The latest Call of Duty release, Call of Duty: World War II, strips the series back to its roots. A back-to-basics version of the franchise, World War II, closed its private beta a mere few weeks ago. But according to one writer who participated in the private beta, Call of Duty: World War II blurs the line between historical realities and fictional entertainment.
In his observations of the private beta, contributing Forbes writer Paul Tassi, notes the lack of swastikas on German soldiers, replacing the infamous Nazi symbol with iron crosses. Fundamental changes that seemed out of place were the introduction of black and female soldiers. While the game deserves praise for its inclusion of diversity, where are the other ethnic representations? Surely, a better way to represent diverse inclusion in World War II would have been to allow players “build your own character” designs.
6 The Marathon Of Okan Kaya
The famous warrior poet Nasir Jones once quoted, “sleep is the cousin of death.” But the effects of sleep deprevation on your body are real, and can result in serious health problems, such as heart failure, high blood pressure, and depression to name a few.
Australian gamer Okan Kaya obviously failed to heed that advice when he set a Guinness World Record for gaming marathons. In November 2012, Kaya set the new world record for gaming at 135 hours and 50 minutes. That’s five days of solid gaming! While Kaya was granted reprieve via 10 minute breaks for every hour of gameplay, due to the incident in Taiwan in which an 18-year-old collapsed and died after marathoning Diablo 3 for 40 solid hours, Kaya’s marathon of Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 put him 37th place in the global leaderboards of Black Ops 2. Patience it seems, really is a virtue.
5 We Are The World
In 2013, a rather disturbing propaganda video appear showing the United States under attack. In fact, the video clip came from a North Korea state TV propaganda video that depicted a bombed New York City. Uploaded by North Korean propaganda agency Uriminzokkiri, the video in a dream sequence shows the scene of destruction while Michael Jackson's "We Are the World" solemnly plays in the background.
The only problem with this propaganda video, other than the fact that "We Are the World" was written by Americans, is that the bombing sequence North Korea used in their propaganda video was from a scene in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3. In fact, the caption that accompanies the propaganda video states: "Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing." The irony here is beyond baffling.
4 The 'No Russian' Massacre
“No Russian” is as controversial of a Call of Duty campaign mission as they come. Featured in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, “No Russian” is still the only mission in Call of Duty in which you’re prompted with an option to complete skip the entire mission.
It’s a stellar piece regarding interactive atrocities, as your spend the entire mission massacring innocent civilians as you trudge along through a Russian airport. While a Call of Duty game designer argues it was never meant to create controversy or even sell more copies of the game, nonetheless, it was a difficult and controversial mission Call of Duty mission. It was so controversial, that this notorious section of the game didn’t make it in the Russian release of the game. In the Japanese and German versions, the mission restarts if a civilian is killed.
3 War Never Changes
War, war never changes. While the anthem to the Fallout series, this memorable quote is relevant to all aspects of Call of Duty. After all, while the franchise simulates interactive atrocities, much of the series is wildly inaccurate.
Yes, locations are accurately scouted and research is conducted during the development of the games, but nevertheless, the games still have the ability to create some weird and rather unnecessary mistakes. For example, grenades in real life would devastate anyone within their radius, include the seemingly harmless flashbang grenades. The physical toll of close proximal cannon fire would deafen any military combatant. Let’s not even get into the carrying capacity of these soldiers. Two primary guns, a holstered pistol, grenades, and countless ammunition? Perhaps that’s why they can only run for 5 seconds at a time.
2 Bear Through The Good And Bad
One seemingly out of place easter egg that has gained prominence since being discovered has been the discarded teddy bears scattered throughout various Call of Duty games. Since their first appearance in Call of Duty: Finest Hour, the teddy bears have become a staple of the franchise.
But here’s where it gets rather interesting, or disturbing, depending on which theory you’ve heard. Since being discovered, many theories have been developed as to why teddy bears have been strategically placed throughout many of the Call of Duty games. The origins are hard to trace, but one of the most consistent and disturbing stories regarding the bears has to do with a developer who worked on Finest Hour. According to legend, the developer’s daughter fell fatally ill while the developer was working on the game. This prompted the developer to include a teddy bear as a sign of remembrance for his daughter.
1 The Long-Term Cost Of PTSD
Every soldier who has fought on the battlegrounds has been impacted in one way or another. Many veterans who have fought and returned have experienced incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Originally recognized in World War I as “shellshock,” PTSD has been a long standing consequence of every military campaign. The effects of PTSD can be far reaching. PTSD can be a debilitating disorder. The symptoms can have negative effects on a person’s mental and physical health, work, and personal relationships. While it’s slowly getting the recognition it deserves, the long-term cost of traumatic stress has had profound impacts on soldiers who have seen active military service. While Call of Duty portrays war in a seemingly realistic fashion, it still falls short in addressing the very real issue of PTSD.