Monday, May 14, 2012

Game OverThinker on Ollie North & "Call of Duty"

I don't typically cross-post new Game OverThinker episode stuff to this blog, but this new one that is now up for all audiences at ScrewAttack has a lot of bigger political and general-culture ramifications so I think it's appropriate enough.

The subject in question is the new "Call of Duty" ad campaign, which trots out Iran-Contra creep turned Fox News creep Oliver North to do some reactionry fear-mongering as a game advertisement and (maybe?) make "Call of Duty's" status as right-wing military-propaganda "official."

I'm pretty happy with this episode, though naturally I'd prefer the events in question never happened and thus that I wouldn't have had reason to make it. If this is your first exposure to "The Other Show," feel free to catch up in the archives on ScrewAttack and see some of the older ones on YouTube.


James said...
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Sir Laguna said...

I liked the episode... BUT!

In the final moments of the video, you show Fez, Portal 2 and other one, but, why only those three? there's A LOT of great, creative, beautiful and fun modern games that you could include in there in consoles, and not just indie. why so few?

My theory is that you JUST DON'T KNOW them. you take a lot of time making videos and reading about videogames and don't give yourself enough time to enjoy the hobby and to know new games.

PD: I like Call of Duty by the way, it's... entertaining.

James said...

Sir Laguna: Bob lives in a bubble. Games exist only according to the strict, biased definition he has set up for the industry. There are so many great games he's missing out on, but he refuses to try them out because he "doesn't want to be part of modern gaming." Hell, he did two episodes on Mass Effect, and he never even played the damn thing.

Seriously, Bob, you've got to play the Mass Effect series. Lots of great moments, probably the definitive sci-fi trilogy of our generation.

James said...

Actually Bob, I think you ARE glad that you got to make this, because it gave you another chance to inflate your ego, attack people who don't share your ideology, and wrongfully demonize modern gaming as being nothing but military FPS crap.

Megabyte said...

No, Bob... the politics here are really in your mind. The audience in mind wont be old enough to know this guy, as you yourself basically said int he video. Hear that whooshing sound? It's your point flying through the window.

All this is, is Bobby Kotick stirring up controversy through people like you. That's right, he used you to get more publicity and get the name of his new game even more out there for free.

Want to talk politics? Maybe, just maybe, you might find more fun, interesting, and actually thoughtful answers in the story lines of the 3 armies in Planetside 2.... maybe. Im not even sure it's there, but the odds are there is a lot more there to relate to it then this ham sandwhich.

Sarge said...

Haha. I like you, Bob.

biomechanical923 said...

There are plenty of games out there that take a cynical or critical approach toward the concepts of war, patriotism, duty, industrialization and privatization of militia, etc. Hell, take the Metal Gear Solid series for example. And yes, even the call of duty games give you plenty of things to call into question if you know where to look, especially considering that allies are willing to stab eachother in the back around every corner.

I said this in a previous thread, but I'll repeat it, Bob. The Oliver North situation is pretty similar to "The Boss" from MGS3. The actions of both North and Boss can inspire some introspection.

"Would I be willing to stop our enemies, even if it made me look like a terrorist / war criminal in the process? Could I sacrifice myself for a greater cause?"

I get the feeling that if North was breaking rank to take down religious extremists, rather than Communists, you'd be singing a slightly different tune about his actions, Bob.

Sssonic said...

Well, see, I think this issue is even thornier than you make it out to be here. Because when you get right down to it, the CoD games' unnerving implications and the rather discomforting evolution of same comes about as a direct result of marrying a realistic, modern-age Military aesthetic to the general mechanics of Game Design that have characterized the majority of the industry's output for generations. I guess my point is, if indeed we want to examine the role of modern Military thinking in Video Games, we kind of also need to examine the role of Violence in Video Games in general; not in the alarmist fashion typical of most media stories on the topic, mind you, but rather the extent to which aggression informs a LOT of how we conceive of and play Video Games.

I also feel like you're over-selling the extent to which FPS's in general and Military FPS's in particular are the "public face" of Modern Gaming. Like, I won't argue they aren't still a big, BIG "thing" right now, but I think the overall zeitgeist it's had since the release of the original "Modern Warfare" (and holy crap, has it already been five years?) is starting to wind down a little; indeed, I think the increasingly-desperate marketing schemes like the Oliver North thing are a sign of that, as the companies responsible for turning these games out try ever-more attention-grabbing stunts to try and hold on to their audience's interest.

Lord Slithor said...

This video kind of articulates the feelings I've had about the current crop of FPS games, and the gamer culture, along with the greater geek culture that it's a part of...but I'll get to that in a bit.

Recently, I went back and played some of my favorite FPS games from the '90s: Doom, Heretic, Rise of the Triad, Strife, and Wolfenstein 3D. One thing I remember about all these games that it seems the current gen FPSes seem to have forgotten is that they were FUN! And I think part of the reason why was because as you said, nowadays it's impossible to make any kind of FPS without some kind of political baggage attached to it. Even the original Wolfenstein 3D (and to a lesser extent its sequels, including the most recent one), in which you gunned down Nazis with joyous abandon, wasn't even trying to make any kind of statement except maybe, "It's fun to kill Nazis! They deserve it!" (which kind of reinforces your comparison of the current state of video games in addressing war that the John Wayne movies of the 1940's did).

People can say what they will about games like Duke Nukem Forever and Bulletstorm. Those games were seen as failures, maybe in part because IMO they were throwbacks to that time. And it's probably because they felt so anachronistic gameplay-wise and aesthetically to modern gamers that no one got behind them. But I saw them for the throwbacks they were, and I think maybe that's why I enjoyed them.

And while this indeed may be an attempt by Activision to drum-up some free publicity for this game, I think it would have been impossible for them to get Ollie North and NOT know his past history. I think that it was deliberate on their part. Whether or not that means they agree with his politics, however, is still up in the air.

But as you've said before about the gamer culture getting meaner, I have to agree too. The evidence is there both from the reactions of Mass Effect 3's ending to the Cross Assault incident. But more troubling is that it goes beyond that, and into the geek culture in general. On the whole, I think it's gotten more insular, less welcoming of women and minorities, and in general gotten a whole lot more mean-spirited. Time was we nerds took in those who weren't considered cool enough to hang with the popular crowd. But now it seems we've become bullies ourselves. And you're not exactly immune to this either, Bob, as in the past you've derided others for implicitly liking something you didn't (Transformers and Expendables come to mind). But I'll give credit where credit is due, and that you seem to have gotten better about that lately.

So I think the problem isn't just gamers, but the nerd/geek culture in general. I've said this before, but when I see what it's become, sometime I don't know if I want to be associated with it anymore. But like you, I try to find the good that's still there, and find reasons to keep fighting for it.

Wendy said...

As if the gamer community at large gives a shit about Oliver North, what he did...or even care if they did know. I'm an unapologetic conservative and I really just don't give shit about Oliver North.

Moviebob, you really are starting to show way too much bias against the games you don't like. We get it, ok? You don't like FPS. You've been beating that dead horse for some time now. Please move on. It's just getting way too old. What's next? Another video defending the Metroid game everyone else hates?

Move on. Nothing to see here.

Anon1 said...

It seems like you didn't actually watch the video or seemed to pay attention to only the parts you wanted to hear. It seems ironic to me that everything that you claim Bob to be can apply directly to you. Every time Bob posts any opinion you go off on a tangent on how he is bias or being intolerant. There is a difference between tolerating and respecting someones opinion. When you respect someones opinion, you can both look each other in the eye and say the other person is wrong. When you tolerate someones opinion, you are essentially saying, "I know you are wrong, but I won't say you are to your face and treat you like a child that still believes in Santa Claus" and it is a little condescending. You expect Bob to come out on every issue in the manner of "I believe is 'this', but it is okay if you believe in 'that'. When you argue politics or theology, it isn't like debating whether chocolate or vanilla is the better ice cream. Morals and Values are absolute. There is a right and there is a wrong. By all means continue to disagree with Bob. But stop getting angry with him because he refuses to meet you half way.
P.S. You're wrong ;P

Smashmatt202 said...

I have no idea who Ollie North is... but if he was convicted, even if whatever legal BS allows him to still walk free... That just says something really BAD about whatever he endorses, you know?

Unless you support him, in which case... Um... Less power to you.

Yeah, even though Bob SAYS he doesn't endorse or encourage any kind of political point of view, that STILL won't stop the super right-wing guys who constantly post here from calling him a damn dirty liberal or whatever...

I try to be more open-minded then that. You know, listen to what he has to say, and think about it, if only for a little bit... Although I still tend to give knee-jerk reactions to what he says...

Oh cool, he's actually showing the ad campaign, that's a plus!

This is a "fun" show? You know, even though I like how Bob insists on having fun with his topics and stuff, I REALLY like episodes more when they're about more insightful stuff, and ESPECIALLY if they get into politics. I don't know, Bob just has interesting things to say about them, and I like it.

I knew the comparison to O.J. Simpson was going to come up. I was going to use him as an example myself at the beginning of this post, but I decided against it...

Oh GOD, American Dad! You know, that show has actually gotten a lot better over the years. I rather like it. Too bad we didn't get to see it... But now I'm going to check it out myself!

Okay, a lot of this history stuff is going over my head, I'm going to have to watch this video a second time through to get the whole picture.

But, uh, yeah, way to do EA's job of holding the medium back another couple decades, Activision. >:(

Oh yes, I remember that episode... Ah, good times... I even used it as an idea that Conservatives might want to buy Halo 4 when it comes out, thereby losing supporters for Mitt Romney, but that's another topic.

Honestly, I completely understand the desire for those more "simplistic" war movies, sometimes we just want to turn off our minds and watch good guys shoot up bad guys... But you know, you can't EXCLUSIVELY have those kinds of movies, or games for that matter. And yeah, the video game industry is still young, and in a particularly immature stage... I'll be glad when we finally grow out of it, though.

All Grown-Up was a lame spin-off of Rugrats, BTW.

Yeah, maybe it's because I'm noticing it now, but the right-wing has gotten particularly outspoken these days, and they're not afraid to say despicable and hurtful things to whoever and whatever. This is why I can't really get into the Republican party, even though I KNOW they're not all like that. I just don't want to be associated with those kinds of people, and I feel Republicans, if they don't want people to make fun of them or talk down to them, should really find a way to make them more appealing and less... needlessly ignorant and hateful.

Honestly, I totally agree with Bob on this. Sorry, but to me, he's just making a whole lot of sense here, especially near the end with his summation.

And really, this is THE perfect tie-in to the plot that's going on. Gaming really HAS reached a low-point, and it almost seems like the Necrothinker is justified in his war on modern gaming... But still, that doesn't mean we can't still somehow SAVE gaming and keep it from getting to that ultimate low point. Like the mini-montage implies, there are PLENTY of good, creative, innovative games still being made today, and thus, still worth defending the medium!

ANImaniac said...

Normally Bob I don't agree with you on matters of politics, I am a fan of yours because of your intelligent opinions relating to geek culture. But honestly to me you seem to be waaaaay too bias regarding your leftist ideals. But dammit Bob this time your one hundred percent right. Activision's decision to make Ollie North the spokesmen for the Call of Duty series is not only reprehensible on a moral level (the man's a goddamn treasonous war criminal, who name actually comes up when googleing the term "treasonous war criminal") but is also irresponsible for the possible damage this stunt could have on the industry as a whole.

I don't normally play COD games. The series as a whole has never really interested me, But I do have younger brothers who love online shooters and do play them. Normally I get them the latest game in the series (most likely used) as a quick and easy Christmas gift. That won't be happening this year and I don't think I will be buying any other Activision products in the foreseeable future.

Anonymous said...

Can I request that you do crosspost Game Overthinker stuff to here? This is where I follow most of your stuff, and I don't visit SA or youtube regularly. This is the most convenient place for me to get all news related to your stuff.

Omegalittlebob said...

What's really a shame is that the Call of Duty series, isn't as mature about war as it could be. Everyone practically plays the games for multiplayer anyway, so I wish the developers had taken some risks with the single player. One of my favorite game trailers of all time, is the Infamy trailer for Modern Warfare 2. It makes it seem like it is going to have a lot of deep philosophical comments about war and violence, and it make it sound like the villain might have some real depth and the story wouldn't be the most pathetic and laughable story i've EVER experienced in a game.

B.L.C. Agnew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
B.L.C. Agnew said...

I'm torn about this - on the one hand, I totally 100% agree regarding the choice to use Ollie North as an ad man for the new Call of Duty game.

On the OTHER hand, Bob you really need to play more games, and the more you talk about the state of modern gaming the more apparent this becomes. I get that you're a huge fan of film, and I agree that it's great that the vast majority of films didn't descend into macho vengeance porn bullshit in the aftermath of 9/11.

And you know, what? NEITHER DID VIDEOGAMES.

Fun fact, Call of Duty took place entirely in World War II until 2007 (not long before Hollywood gave us the macho vengeance porn that is 2008's Rambo), and for the most part, Call of Duty (along with a couple copycats) is kinda the the only series that's literally all about gleefully gunning down hordes of middle-eastern and Russian boogeymen.

Other games, like The Witcher 2, BioShock, Deus Ex, the Mass Effect series, the Fallout games, and Assassin's Creed have plenty to say about war, greed, race, patriotism and humanity other than "They'll always need men like us" and I get that they're not the "face" of gaming as much (and don't fit your narrative of the situation) but making broad statements like "This is what videogames did" when you mean "This is what a single franchise did a half-dozen years later" is damn disingenuous.

Again, I get that Call of Duty, as the BIG HUGE GAME is a very public face for the medium. But you know what else is too and says a lot more about similar subjects?


Oh yeah, I'm going there. Now I'm no Son of Master Chief (I like the games, but then I like a LOT of games), however when you look past the surface Halo has some stuff up its sleeve. On the surface, it's about the "ra ra military!" fighting a war against a fanatic foe who's religion demands our death, but it's about humanity UNITING in its hour of greatest need (this is driven home even more in the ARG narrative "I Love Bees" which is great enough to single-handedly validate the existence of the franchise). Additionally, it's revealed in Halo 2 that the Covenant is being used, their religion being twisted by a party with a different agenda who's manipulating them to accomplish something that would spell doom for everyone. We learn that these are not EVIL aliens, just duped ones, and many actually join humanity to combat ignorance and destruction.

Hey, how about that? Halo's not sounding too bad now, is it Bob?

woodlee said...

Bob I love U man! As a full hetero/former Marine/Comic book nerd I have no greater compliment then this...Dude I would love to have Your MANBABY(provided that your baby is your perspective and giving birth means passing it out)You rock!!

Unknown said...

thank you

Anonymous said...

I submit that MGS4 looked at the subject of "war" with the maturity which you feel is absent from gaming. Yes, even with all its fantastical Les Enfant Terrible stuff. No other game has ever looked at the military-industrial complex with as critical a (solid)eye. I also submit that Modern Warfare 2 is actually a lot more anti-war than people give it credit for. Think of the scene in Gladiator ("Are you not entertained!?!?") for the jist of my argument. Tons of violence, but none of it gratuitous (as opposed to say, blowing up the Eiffel Tower just because it's there, or nerve-gassing Paris because BAD GUYS ARE EVIL, ARR!). You're supposed to think "man, sucks how DC's been destroyed", not "man, can't wait to have a shootout at the White House!"

Anonymous said...

Jesus, guys, the real world is knocking on gaming's door. I know it's easy to have a knee-jerk reaction to this stuff, but this is a subject worth exploring. How do gamers think that their medium is somehow immune from politics?

Also, Bob, you are so right about how it feels like we're moving backwards. Somehow, gaming in the 90s and early 2000's was MORE inclusive of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, (ect.) Than it is today.

I really liked this episode. Spent a lot more time exploring the issues rather than the storyline stuff you seem to want to do. And for the most part it's all well explained.

John T. said...

Have you played Iji? It's the most mature examination of the caustic effects of warfare on the human psyche I've ever seen in a video game, AND it has a slew of well-developed female characters, AND it involves a lesbian relationship that's treated with dignity and respect.

It ain't Apocalypse Now, but it sure isn't bad for a 2D freeware game programmed by one guy. That it also plays like a perfect combination of System Shock and Contra is icing on the cake.