At the time it was released, the level “No Russian” from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 was one of the most shockingly violent video game scenes ever created.
In the scene, the player is a U.S. Army Ranger who undertakes a deep-cover mission for the CIA, infiltrating an ultra-nationalist Russian terrorist group. The player sees the scene from this undercover Ranger’s point-of-view as the terrorists step out of an elevator with machine guns and lay waste to hundreds of civilians at a Russian airport terminal.
The player is unable to stop the massacre, as the game makes the player start the level over again as he turns on his comrades. He must go through the whole level watching men and women stop down in cold blood in front of him, or he can choose to participate in the slaughter. The game designers rather chillingly put horribly wounded individuals in the path of the player, as if to coax them into slaughtering victims as “mercy killings” to desensitize them.
I played through No Russian multiple times because I wanted direct knowledge of the consequences of my choices. The first time through I had done what came to me naturally, which was to try to stop the event, but firing on the perpetrators ends the mission immediately. The next time I stood by and watched. It is not an easy scene to stomach, and I tried to distance myself emotionally from what was going on.
The third time, I decided that I would participate. I could have chosen not to; I could have simply moved on then, or even shut off the system and never played again. But a certain curiosity won out– that kind of cold-blooded curiosity that craves the new and the forbidden. I pulled the trigger and fired.
To games familiar with the franchise, this video will be old hat and nothing to be all that upset over. To normal humans unaccustomed to the depravity of this scene, it is every bit as shocking as Infinity Ward wanted to impart.
This is the scene that the Daily Mail is hinting at when it claims Adam Lanza planned theSandy Hook massacre based on his exposure to a video game scene:
Police investigating the Newtown school killings have been looking into the possibility that gunman Adam Lanza may have been copying a video game as killed 26 people in the massacre.
Two months after the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School, little remains known about Lanza’s motive.
Before the killings, he had smashed his hard drive, making his online trail and habits impossible to follow, but police did reportedly find thousands of dollars worth of violent video games.
It is believed that Lanza played the games, which included the Call of Duty series, for hours on end.
Along with the video games, Adam Lanza also learned how to fire guns during numerous sessions with his mother Nancy Lanza at a shooting range, where the two ‘bonded.’
The Hartford Courant reported today that detectives are probing whether Lanza may have been copying a scenario from one of those video games as he fired rounds from his mother’s Bushmaster assault rifle in two classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14.
The U.S. military spends billions on simulators to help train soldiers to kill. Law enforcement agencies have simulations to train officers in “shoot/don’t shoot” scenarios, and to show them how rapidly a scene can go from seemingly benign to shockingly lethal. No sober, rational person can dispute that video simulators are highly useful in teaching people to kill.
Lt Col Dave Grossman author of On Killing and On Combat, authored another book in 2009, Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action Against TV, Movie & Video Game Violence. It proposes not doing away with violent video games, but restricting them for purchase from those too young and psychologically underdeveloped to readily discern between right and wrong. As a reviewer notes:
Too frequently in the wake of such crimes against society we see, in the criminal investigations following, that the suspect did play violent video games and was also withdrawn, isolated and ‘strange.’ Time and time again these descriptions are used to characterize the killers and yet a percentage of people still deny any connections. Of course people who own firearms are also reluctant to see links between ‘guns and kids’ but the access to guns vs. videos is a bit tilted towards the ease and public acceptance of violent video games either in the home or at arcades. While the detractors would demand ‘proof’, it seems that videos are far more accessible to kids than guns and laws exist to keep firearms locked up while children are almost encouraged to play those games and keep quiet. Young minds, investigated by so many fields of psychology and behavioral studies, have proven very malleable and young eyes and hands have been shaped by some of the most violent games to be capable and quick in their manipulations of real firearms (when they are able to obtain them). We see proofs of such in the hit ratios at nearly all such shootings. Accurate, fast and seemingly indifferent to the results. But some will say ‘oh how could a stupid little game with a mouse and keyboard provide any benefits in any of those areas’ and thus discount or completely dismiss the possibility and then they walk smugly away.
For those who will learn, will see and hear and absorb the correlation of ‘violent games’ to ‘violent behavior’ and ‘repeated, memorized actions’ to ‘eerily professional ability and kill ratios’, Col. David Grossman’s books will be a valuable tool in hopefully curtailing their kid’s exposure to such games. It should be noted that Grossman calls for such restrictions for younger kids and not adults, he’s not suggesting a curtailing of 1st Amendment rights in any way but saying that young people should be protected from impacts and influences that are better coped with by adults. Of course some detractors would say that is unnecessary and even foolish as they see nothing in anything that is even potentially malevolent. Those types will always be around and trolling for responses.
For parents of children this is a must read book as are “On Killing” and “On Combat” – both helping parents to understand the portions of their children’s psyche that can be wrongly influenced by their repeated activities over even short times – don’t be put off by a small number of negative reviews who cry unfair or foul. Buy it, look at the current events of today and recent history, and ask yourself what has changed in the raising of kids and what is the biggest sole occupier of kid’s time today versus 25 years ago… and how is that all working out for society?
The review was posted 48 hours after Sandy Hook.
Perhaps it is time to stop the knee-jerk responses to absolve video games for crimes they quite obviously contribute to under the right devil’s brew of circumstances.