Call of Duty: Modern Warfare developers Infinity Ward and publishers Activision have, since the day it was revealed, banked hard on the way the game is intending to portray a realistic and grounded portrayal of war while tackling very sensitive topics that are relevant to warfare in the contemporary world. Beyond the fact that it’s not an easy thing to tackle in any medium, the question of how politically charged it all is is also more prevalent than it would be in most situations.
The developers have made the statement that it is not, in fact, a political game– but in a recent interview with Game Informer, (which you can and should watch in its entirety below) they delved further into that topic, talking about the nature of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s campaign, the themes and questions it tackles, and why they think it is not, in their estimation, “political.”
According to Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s campaign gameplay director Jacob Minkoff and studio narrative director Taylor Kurosaki, the upcoming shooter is tackling themes and questions that are inherently politically charged and do pertain to geopolitical topics- but it’s not a game that is designed as commentary on any contemporary or current political scenarios in the world.
“I don’t think it’s a political game,” said Minkoff. “But the thing is, people read into that in different ways, right? That doesn’t mean anything. The question ‘is this a political game?’ doesn’t actually mean anything, because what does the word ‘political’ mean to you? Do we touch topics that bear a resemblance to the geopolitics of the world we live in today? Hell yeah, because that is the subject matter of Modern Warfare. Are we telling a story that has anything to do with the specific governments of any countries we are portraying? No. If you’re asking, like, ‘is Trump in the video game?’ No, he isn’t.”
According to Kurosaki, the themes that the game is tackling are ones that have persisted in the world and global events throughout history, and a game tackling these themes could have been set in a variety of time periods. Seeing as there is no particular ongoing political question that Modern Warfare takes a stance on, Kurosaki does not believe it is political in that sense.
“These are sort of like timeless questions,” said Kurosaki. “Maybe I should rephrase that. These are the types of questions that have been asked for the last fifty years. We do talk about concepts like colonialism, and occupation, and independence, and freedom. We don’t maybe say those words specifically, but that’s the realm that we are in. But you could have a game that takes place in Revolutionary America and talk about those exact same things.”
According to Minkoff, the goal of Modern Warfare and its story is one that doesn’t align with what he feels would qualify as a political story, which, he feels, would have to be tackling specific and ongoing real-world phenomena, and then take a stance on them.
“I feel like for me, if you wanted a situation where I would say that yes, it is a political story, I would have to be telling a story about specifically the exact administrations and governments and events in our world today,” Minkoff said. “We are talking about thematic things. We would also have to have, I think, a perspective on it.”
That, however, is not what Modern Warfare is going to do, as per Minkoff.
“We want to present the different perspectives, we don’t want to say that one of them is correct,” he said. “Because what we want you to do is, we want you to understand, this is how these people feel, this is why they fight, this is the outcome of it, this is how these people feel, and this is how these people feel. And what we want you to come away with at the end is an understanding of why all these different groups fight, or groups like them, and to have empathy for all of them, and what puts them in this situation, that they then have to engage in war.”
It’s an interesting answer, that’s for sure. One might argue that their definition of what’s political is too narrow, but at the end of the day, that would be splitting hairs. What it all boils down to is that the game is tackling themes and questions that are geopolitically charge, but not really tackling anything that would pertain to any current global or international events. There is, however, an interesting question to be asked if not taking a stance and wanting audiences to emphathize with both sides is, at the end of the day, a stance in and of itself.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is out on October 25th for the PS4, Xbox One, and PC. We’ve heard a lot about its campaign, but soon, we’ll be seeing footage from it as well. Meanwhile, there’s plenty from the multiplayer too that the developers are yet to reveal, on top of the beta that will go live in September.