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Call of Civic Duty 2

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Mark Kermode | 11:35 UK time, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Attacked in the House of Commons and defended in print (and in Twitter) by Charlie Brooker, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the latest videogame to be declared a desperate hazard to the minds of the young and impressionable, but to me the whole controversy looks rather familiar: Yes, it's the 80s video nasty saga all over again. Honestly, next thing you know Spandau Ballet will be reforming and playing live.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Bravo Mark, very well put. Unfortunately I've completed Modern Warfare 2 so Keith Vaz needs to start praying for my corrupted soul.

  • Comment number 2.

    Phew. For a second there Mark I thought you were going to have to do jury duty again. Now I can rest assured that you'll be on Friday afternoons for the foreseeable future :)

  • Comment number 3.

    After playing the game I have a wierd sensation that everyone around me is evil and my trigger finger is twitching.

    Of course it could just be the fact that I'm hungover, have drunk too much tea and have RSI from working with a mouse all day.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well in the past 10 years, videogames have become more like films, and films have become more like videogames!

    you hit the nail on the head when you said that the lobbyists wanting bans and restrictions are out of touch with the medium. They still think gamers are 12 year olds or psychotic 15 year olds. In truth the average gamer age in the UK is 28 (and the game is strictly 18 rated), and the average age of an MP is 51......There's a huge generaional divide between those who 'get' videogames, and those who don't.

  • Comment number 5.

    Of course, it didn't all start with the 'Video Nasties' debate in the '80's.

    A good read is Martin Barker's Haunt of Fears: The Strange History of the British Horror Comics Campaign', about the backlash against horror comics in the '50's - a time long before Spandau Ballet.

    Steve W

  • Comment number 6.

    What's the gag with Laurence Fishburne as Charlie Brooker?

  • Comment number 7.

    Usually, as a rule of thumb, most uproar about 'corruption of youth' through any media is absolute sensationalist tosh. Don't they get it than banning things(when it gets to that extent) only makes some of the general public want to see it more? 'The people should not be afraid of their government; their government should be afraid of its people'.

    I've played games like Prince of Persia where I have to stab and slash enemies, yet weirdly I've never copied this action in real life ... hmm, maybe cause I know the difference between fantasy and reality like the vast majority of sensible and reasonable minded gamers out there. How would've thought it?

    And I'm a fan of Brooker's too - Screenwipe needs to come back on BBC4 sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 8.

    Loving the Charlie Brooker photos...

  • Comment number 9.

    Excellent. The world's two most fantastically angry men in one post. It's nirvana for conisseaurs of ranting lexiconal joy everywhere.

    I do hope Mark and Charlie do a show together at some point. Indeed, I'd pay the GDP of a good-sized county - say, Leicestershire - to see Kermode/Brooker, in which Kermode (played by the '50s Brad Pitt of Benjamin Button) is continually taken to task by Brooker (Laurence Fishburne) for his antipathy towards video games. Although outwardly unfazed, Kermode is eventually so fed up with such erudite abuse (particularly when even Chris Moyles seems to be joining in) he secretly stays up very late into the night doing research into Call Of Duty 2.

    In a scene that doesn't happen in real life, Kermode then consumes too much Dr Pepper and - in the subsequent state of refreshment - phones Charlie, telling him that, although the game could do with losing "around 16 hours of its running time", it is saved from being completely awful "because it does at least feature an exploding helicopter."

    When they make their final programme in the morning, Kermode has forgotten all knowledge of their conversation. Brooker then takes Kermode to task on what may seem a contradiction between his backing of video nasties and his attitude toward more popular fare. The interview concludes with the exchange:

    BROOKER: "Are you really saying that the Pirates films should be illegal?"

    KERMODE: "I'm saying that when Gore Verbinski does it, that means it IS illegal."

  • Comment number 10.

    Worth mentioning (as you have before) that as it isn't 'silly season' the media aren't going loopy about it, and so there is no 'moral panic' in the streets about this. There's just a bunch of tedious individuals making comments on subjects they know little about or hoping to raise their profile by being contrary and faking indignation. It will all go away.

    The game doesn't do anything you wouldn't expect – it's not 'Fluffy Bunny Happy Town' on the cover and kill bunnies with a chainsaw in the game. Just as the title 'Driller Killer' gives you some idea of what to expect, parents aren't being duped – if you don't like your kids playing it, take it away from them.

  • Comment number 11.

    It is Spandau Ballets fault though... all of it.

  • Comment number 12.

    'Youth' shouldn't be corrupted by it because 'youth' shouldn't be playing it. The game is an 18 certificate. That means, either, uneducated parents are buying it for their kids, or retailers are breaking the law. The problem is with the perception of videogames as being 'just for kids'. I used to work for a company who sold games etc and we'd always have parents coming in to buy 'Grand Theft Auto' for their 12 year olds xmas etc. When I explained the 18 certificate, they'd just shrug and say 'its just a game'. I'd always retort with 'would you be happy to let your child watch 'The Exorcist'? It's only a film!'

  • Comment number 13.

    People have been complaining about various forms of art corrupting the masses since almost the beginning of time. Everyone knows that Shakespeare's plays had to be performed outside the city limits because theatre was believed to be an outrage to public decency, and he clearly is not the only artist who's had to contend with the claim that his art is somehow capable of inducing violence or anti-social behaviour in his audience.

    I have yet to see the evidence that video games, films, or any other form of art are solely responsible for spurring their audience to acts that they would not otherwise have committed.

  • Comment number 14.

    What about those who don't understand the conventions of video games,but do understand the conventions of war? Do those people have a right to see video games as trivializing these events? or can I not ponder about that because I'm not familiar with either.

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm with fortunesfool73.
    Also, is this the Charlie Brooker of the delightfully scary Dead Set?

  • Comment number 16.

    The joke with the larry fishburn photos is that brooker himself hints that he looks like him, mark is here being playful, building bridges and other cliches. Well done.

    I love the fan fiction that is developing above, more please!

  • Comment number 17.

    I was wondering are you going to do a video on Edward Woodward. I know you like the original wicker man and in particular his performance.

  • Comment number 18.

    Funnily enough, I just wrote an article about this game and the debate of on-screen violence for my university newspaper and a local magazine where I live.

    And I agree, Keith Vaz hasn't ever played a video game.

  • Comment number 19.

    fortunesfool73: the gag is that Brooker described himself in one episode of Screenwipe as a white Laurence Fishburn lookalike... and that final photo Mark uses looks uncannily like him!
    Of course the issue that we skirt around is that it's not always people who know about a medium who decide how it is to be regulated - see the current Mandelson/ best mates with David Geffen/ filesharing brouhaha as an example of that. Unfortunately, the amateur dramatics of various no-name MPs can and have in the past influenced policy, by exerting pressure on bodies that should know better or instigating trial by media to impose their own opinion on the public. So while we're all mature enough to know the difference between computer games and reality, our views generally count for very little. Booo.
    Still, I'd love to see Charlie and Mark on the same panel/ TV show/ jury/ blog - if only the TV screen was big enough for both these giants of media!

  • Comment number 20.

    Well Mark, when I saw that you had a post on Modern Warfare 2 (MW2), I was prepared to write a very angry reply hailing the merits of videogames. But it turns out I should not be so quick to judge (shame on me). You did an admirable job of giving this historic moment in popular culture its deserved attention whilst not making any narrow minded generalisations. This post adds to the current rhetoric (advanced by BBC4, including the aforementioned Gameswipe) that videogames are finally "ok" and being accepted by the 'intelligent' media.

    It is a shame though, that at the same time there are films like Gamer that are doing (real) gamers more damage, by portraying them as the mindless idiots that the Daily Mail would have you believe are currently buying MW2. Unfortunately, the unlikely tag team of you and Brooker are no match for Gerard Butler (hopefully you did the voice in your head).

    On a further note, I would just have to slightly object to the earlier comment by fortunesfool73 that the youth “shouldn't” be playing it. You use the correct term in "uneducated" (about the game, not a judgemental comment on their schooling) parents; this to me is opposed to parents that are buying it for their children but know exactly what it is about, but think that their children are mentally equipped to understand the same things that the certification board believes magically become clear on your 18th birthday. I grew up on Nightmare on Elm Street films, not because my parents were ignorant but because they believed I understood what was at play and that I wouldn't try to invade people's dreams in order to kill them in imaginary ways.

  • Comment number 21.

    Its interesting to note that Infinity Ward, the creators of Modern Warfare 2, did not actually set out to make a particularly gratuitously gory, twisted, psychotic or horrific game, unlike say other infamous titles as "Madworld" for the Nintendo Wii, "Resident Evil" or even the old "Doom" series. By the same token I wouldn't place it in the same category as notorious films such as the classic Evil Dead series, or the newer Saw series, in terms of its levels of horror, depravity, gore, ect. If anything Modern Warfare's cinematic counterpart is surely something like Platoon, Saving Private Ryan, even The Hurt Locker (I think of the wonderfully, accurately played out sniper scene) - films which show the gritty, grim reality of war, up close and personal. There have been many, many war movies that are generally considered great, in part due to their accurate portrayal of violence in battle.

    The actual issue is Modern Warfare 2 is NOT horrific or depraved nature - in fact it is probably one of the most accurate, realistic portrayals of battle put into a video game thus far, as its creators intended. And it is well known that games are becoming so sophisticated now in their presentation that they not only look more like movies but actually begin to look photo-realistic. For me, the pursuit of realism - a tenet that the majority of the games industry is dedicated to, is in fact the real issue. The reason Modern Warfare 2 has been flagged up isn't because its excessively gory at all (just watch the latest "Rambo" movie for that award), its the level of realism that the politicians cant take, and it puts the player in direct simulation and control of the action. Yes their are plenty of gory, depraved, horror-driven games out there at the moment but interestingly enough Modern Warfare 2 isnt one of them.

    NB: I totally agree with fortunesfool73 about parental responsibility. Respect the certification!

  • Comment number 22.

    Why are there stills of Lawrence Fishburne everywhere in this video? I don't get the joke. Please, somebody clarify.

  • Comment number 23.

    Yep, as mentioned by Tomboston, seeing Mark and Charlie meet up like Nostalgia Critic and AVGN would be well worth the license fee alone!

  • Comment number 24.

    @EstonianFilmFan: check out brooker's twitter account photo,

  • Comment number 25.

    Hey, gamers are just tired of being looked down on by people who think other forms of art are inherently superior. I think the problem charlie (as well as myself) had with the newsnight review video game thing was that it was just another example of that by people who should have known better.

    Also... Judging computer games on some random game on the nintendo wii is like judging the worth of film as an artform after watching bride wars. Just thought id throw that in. zomg.

  • Comment number 26.

    This a really great video. Thanks Mark - hopefully more people will start to think like this soon.

  • Comment number 27.

    @EstonianFilmFan: and then compare that twitter picture to his guardian byline photo!

  • Comment number 28.

    It's always a good rule of thumb to be wary of anything the suspiciously well-fed Keith Vaz has to say. Still, it probably doesn't pay to get too upset about the machinations of a fame-hungry MP, especially over what you have pointed out is a yet another rehash of a thirty year old bugbear. Send dear old Vaz some Horlicks and a laminated picture of himself to cuddle and he'll quieten down soon enough.

  • Comment number 29.

    Once again the people making the fuss have neither played the game nor even bothered to do the most basic research. The BBFC report, which can be easily found on their website, states that the game on the whole contains a level of violence that would place it as a 15 certificate. The sole reason for its 18 certificate is the controversial airport mission, which can be skipped (and the game features quite a strong warning about). So the people calling it 'one of the most violent games ever' or other such nonsense don't know what they're on about.

    The people complaining about the aiport mission may have a point that it's possibly in bad taste or misguided or whatever. However it is again obvious that it's a case of 'I haven't seen this film/played this game, but...', as I've seen many such people describe the mission in such a way that it's obvious they haven't played it.

    It's interesting that someone mentioned horror comics. I actually saw a church minister on TV last sunday morning saying something along the lines of 'well in my day there was a lot of fuss about horror comics and of course that was all very naive and silly, but that was different!'.

    This reminds me of an argument that I seem to remember the Dr making himself on TV many years ago. Essentially what a lot of the people complaining about it are saying is 'I am intelligent enough to realise that real violence is abhorrent and obviously I would never copy it or identify with it, however other people, especially those who play video games, are obviously not as intelligent or sensible as me and therefore should not be trusted'.

    One final point, the idea of showing a jury Driller Killer at 9am in a courtroom is very much like what has happened with the recent 'furore' over jokes made by Jimmy Carr or Frankie Boyle (and going slightly further back, Stewart Lee). Without the context of the routine and the setting, or the delivery of the comedian, of course a joke is going to seem inappropriate, especially when a reporter tells it coldly over the phone to someone whose son has just been killed or injured at war. It is to completely misunderstand the context, just like when a tabloid describes scenes from a film or a game out of context to make them sound far worse than they really are.

  • Comment number 30.

    The main problem that has caused the outcry is the sheer brutal nature of the "No Russian" level that requires you to massacre civilians in an airport with a group of terrorists.

    The simple fact is that only if you are already twisted in the head you might use this game as reason to go out and buy a gun to kill people with.

    MW2 actually attempts to show a realistic portrait of war. The terrible things that a soldier may have to do for the sake of national security.

    I wish that contemporary war films dared to go to this extent and brave controversy to actually bring us something as impressive. Right after I put my control pad down I was wishing that the artists behind this game were given the chance to make a movie.

    The cut scenes are way better than anything I've seen in recent war films only The Hurtlocker comes close to this level of work.

    The honest truth is that warfare is exhilarating - but few filmmakers are actually brave enough to portray it because of fear of backlash. As long as it is handled with integrity and shows the effects of this subject people should explore this relevant topic.

  • Comment number 31.

    I think there is a very real and worrying current trend in modern day politics to intervene and make changes to something one knows nothing about and to police modern day culture with this mindset. I suppose it is a natural response to take action against things if they seem midley threatening as a political figure, but it is and has always been highly dangerous and damaging to leap before you look. Although like you Mark, I don't really have much of an interest in games, but the proposed action in the realms of piracy/copywrite/File Sharing is worrying. The fact that law can be dictated by people who have no knowledge on the subject but are talking only to people with a very biased one sided agenda is a scarey prospect.

  • Comment number 32.

    I don't understand why the do-gooders are making such a fuss over this. There are some computer games that glorify violence and crime, such as Grand Theft Auto (where the aim of the game is to gain a glamorous lifestyle by committing crime) and these should rightly be treated with caution, even though the vast majority of players will feel no sudden urge to steal cars and commit murder.

    Call of duty recreates war scenes with such realism that all glamour is removed, despite the picturesque landscapes. There is one controversial scene, but that wouldn't be as controversial in the context of a movie. The realism is what makes the game popular, not the killing. The only difference between that and a good quality war film is that the user is in control of the outcome.

  • Comment number 33.

    As far as I know, Keith Vaz is the only MP to have whined about this game, and frankly he has form on this subject so I would expect nothing less. The newspapers have inflated his minority-of-one opinion to "several MPs" in every story on Modern Warfare 2, entirely unjustifiably.

  • Comment number 34.

    I'm a big fan of 'games', that's what us teenagers call them, and I'm glad that mark takes this standpoint on them

  • Comment number 35.

    Call of Duty is an 18 rated game.
    No-one under the age of 18 SHOULD be playing it.
    End of.

    It's the parent's responsibility to make sure the kids are doing what they're supposed to, not the people who make games, nor the people who sell them.

    The minimum age requirement for joining the army is 16, you know, the actual army where they send you out to go and shoot real life terrorists and watch the soldiers round about you get killed.
    Maybe the army should have a "Challenge 21" policy.

  • Comment number 36.

    Things I like:
    HEAVEN ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ ^_^

  • Comment number 37.

    Well done Mark for coming down on this side of the debate.

    Brooker is right in the bad taste criticism though. As someone whose gut reaction is to minimise censorship as far as possible, I still wouldn't call for any parts of the game to be cut and I certainly don't want the game banned. In fact if your read the BBFC, it actually highlights the airport action as the main category defining issue for why the game is an 18, so parents have been sternly cautioned. The BBFC's own description clearly states that,

    "Whilst undoubtedly strong and bloody in terms of specific detail and cumulative effect, the violence in the majority of the game would have fallen within the allowance of the Guidelines at '15' which state that 'Violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable.

    The '18' category was, however, deemed more appropriate for a particular mission in which the characteristics of the violence differ from the rest of the game... The violence is bloody and intense, and aggravated by the fact that, unlike other combat sequences in the game, the civilians cannot fight back and are massacred... The evident brutality in this mission does carry a focus on the 'infliction of pain or injury' which, along with the disturbing nature of the scenario it sets up, was felt to be more appropriately placed at the adult category"

    My point about that infamous airport level is that it's clearly there as an unsophisticated, publicity seeking shock tactic moment - and if the developers were genuinely interested in exploring the delicate thematic issue of real warfare, I don't think they would have been quite so fetishistic with the gore a la Mel Gibson. But okay, it's exploitation gaming, fine.

    My question is this : why save the most horrific violence for Russian civilians? In a plot where you play Americans and the threat is supposed to be to the western world by Russian terrorists, this seems more narratively awkward than have them commit such a massacre on American soil (or on close allies like Brits or Canadians for that matter) That arouses my suspicions that it was a calculated decision on the part of the game's producers to choose civilians that were deemed 'more expendable' - as if they felt they could maximise the publicity whilst containing it to a level where they wouldn't suffer an outright ban in the critical domestic marketplace, so long as they killed the terrorists' fellow citizens.

    I'm not for a minute suggesting that I'd feel so much better, had that gameplay taken place at LAX or Heathrow. Indeed, I've seen the clip of the intense bloodletting in the level where you are faced with the choice of participating in the violence or blowing your cover, and it not so much stands out, as uncomfortably sticks out, from the rest of the game as the BBFC describe and Charlie Brooker's article confirms.

    But it does point to a cynicism that does trouble me because it reflects the overall political sensibilities of the mass media, where the consumer is encouraged to grieve over the deaths of fellow citizens whilst significantly less attention is paid to - one could say flat out ignores and obscures - more politically and ethically inconvenient body counts, of say, Iraqis or Afgahns (and in the game's case Russians). Call me a naive, bleeding heart liberal, but I thought 'non-combatants' was a universal label and that all civilian deaths mattered equally. That does not appear to be the logic at the heart of Modern Warfare's big showstopping number.

    It gives me no pleasure to make those accusations. I consider myself a liberal, I love violent, mindless exploitation films (I'm useless at gaming but I can appreciate the infinitely more sophisticated social commentary Rockstar's GTA franchise), and I have no time for Daily Mail readers and media effects arguments. To reiterate, it's the thinking behind the placement of a sporadic tonal shift of the game, that gives me cause for concern. I am however, very encouraged that anti-censorship gaming pundits like Charlie Brooker or those on CNET, and other advanced gamers have come out saying they felt just as queasy about this particular level as I did. If my induction is right, then it means, the game developers weren't quite as sly as they thought.

  • Comment number 38.

    Is it really "Charlton" and not Charles Brooker?

    I think Mark Kermode is out in the weeds on this one. It's OK for him to take somebody else's word for whether or not some video game crosses the line of bad taste/likeliness to corrupt/likeliness to cause someone to commit violence, or whatever the hell it is supposed to be. But it sounds like Mark is now evangelizing this viewpoint to a wider audience.

    At least the juries that voted to ban the video nasties had seen the films and even though they may have known little to nothing about the horror genre (and got the decision wrong), they were still in a better position to judge than someone who admits to know nothing about the subject AND hasn't seen or played the game in question.

    You can't criticize a politician for making a pronouncement on a game which you presume (but don't know) he hasn't seen and at the same time
    take the opposite view when you are starting with an equal or even greater level of ignorance, even on the say-so of one Charlton Brooker Esquire. I don't have a great regard for Keith Vaz but he may have consulted with other people before espousing his opinion, some of these people may be behavioural psychologists or other "experts"; I have no idea who he may have talked to. It's also possible that it is a knee-jerk reaction and he talked to nobody but there does seem to be hypocrisy here.

  • Comment number 39.

    This is madness! Everyone is missing the point! If you play 'Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2' backwards there is a hidden message that calls for the iconoclasm of western conservative ideology, and some other stuff about the devil and Jack Thompson.

    Now for something entirely different.

    Imagine if Allistair Darling or one o' them there polimaticians stood up in Parliament and gave a riveting speech on how certain unrecognised or undervalued industries could, potentially, speed up economic recovery with some help and support from the government. The various games studios around the UK deserve this recognition as we are lucky enough to have some very innovative and commercially successful developers. With this, how long do you think it would be before certain daily newspapers ceased to create moral panics about games.

    On that issue, it seems to me to be quite incidental that Keith Vaz and the Daily Mail (there I said it) feel the need to speak out about what might turn out to be the most commercially successful game of all time. History has quite clearly shown that attempts to ban a song, movie, or game creates something of a fan based furore to acquire the forbidden delight. Now I'm not saying that Keith Vaz was ostensibly part of Labour plot to create more sales for the game... or am I? No, probably not.

    The point I am actually trying to make is that there have been too many games, movies, and songs that have included execrable content but serve no other purpose. I have seen plenty of slasher and horror movies that are poorly written and seem to focus solely on the 'money shot' (pardon the term) i.e. the 'Hostel' series, 'Saw' series, and 'Final Destination' series, all of which should be in a sub-genre called, 'See How They Kill,' the Three Blind Mice of the horror world if you will. The same applies to music and most certainly games.

    I congratulate Infinity Ward for making such a powerful statement with the latest COD. The '"No Russian"' mission which results in (SPOILER WARNING) a Russian attack on the US is later revealed to be a plot hatched by a rogue US general which you (the player) are commanded by throughout the game. I have to admit that I did feel that the mission was in bad taste but believe that the knowledge acquired later on in the game actually transforms and reallocates the massacre as an integral part of the story, and also as a device for the ultimate questioning of those in authority and power. Basically what I mean by that is that when one chooses to isolate part of a text, song, movie or game without considering the motivation of the piece as a whole, it is equivalent to justifying a war with an excerpt from the bible. A selected quote appears on-screen as I am K.I.A, this time it is one of Ghandi's, “An eye for an eye, makes the whole world blind.”

    P.s. That really does happen.

  • Comment number 40.

    Go and play the game with Charlie and then come back and tell us about it and then I'll value your opinion

  • Comment number 41.

    Two of my favourite critics side-by-side. Glorious.

  • Comment number 42.

    This could be one of the greatest partnerships in history! Go team!!

  • Comment number 43.

    "what might turn out to be the most commercially successful game of all time"

    There is no question about it. This is the biggest launch in the history of entertainment. Of course, one should consider inflation, but as of right now, it is more successful than any book or film ever made. 310 million dollars in under 24 hours. Who knows how much it will make within a week.

  • Comment number 44.

    As far as censorship is concerned the vast majority of the public (ie. Adults of sound mind) should be trusted to self censor. As a parent I censor my childrens viweing and use of games / internet as they are not old enough to understand the difference between reality and entertainment. If they accidentally see something and act it out then that is due to my failing as a parent and I should be punished for it. Not them.

    All of the people that have commited attrocities and then blame movies, well they would have done it anyway as they were not of sound mind before watching. Just something else would have set them off, like a fine for returning a library book late. Should we not ban libraries then? Of course not!

    What I have always maintained is that if Movies could corrupt people, then Mary Whitehouse should have been a serial killer! Alas this is not perfectly accurate as this would assume that she watched all of the things she complained about. I will stake large sums of money that she didn't.

    This means her opinion on the subject matters about as much as my opinion on the current state of the deck chair industry. I don't like deck chairs, I don't own a deck chair and it is a long time since I have sat on a deckchair. Does that entitle me to stop other people using them and banning them?

    Lecture...... OVER!

  • Comment number 45.

    ....this reminds me of a president using Rambo to prove a point.Too bad for the president..

  • Comment number 46.

    We just got a rambo shoot-em up arcade game in the bowling alley in which i work part-time. Stunningly realistic throat ripping for children of all ages with a appallingly bad nu-metal soundtrack. Best watched for the cut-scenes alone, proof that Stallone's weight DOES fluctuate second by second.

  • Comment number 47.

    The problem politicians have with video games is that they believe that they're the most immersive entertainment medium. People who play these games, especially teenagers, aren't as impressionable as you'd think. As much as us gamers love to cut up a hooker with a chainsaw in Grand Theft Auto, we wouldn't be so keen to do it in real life.
    Besides, video games should be the last of the politicans' worries. Teenagers are growing up on scat sites and ogrish dot com, so blowing away innocent civilians at an airport isn't exactly going to have a huge effect on them.

    And what's with everyone getting their trousers in a twist and totally respecting the classification guides. Just because a game or a movie is rated 18 doesn't mean you have to be 18 to play it or watch it. Me and my feiends played Goldeneye when we were eight, and that was a 15 rated game, and we turned out just fine; haven't killed anyone yet.

  • Comment number 48.

    The Video Nasties were not the beginning. Fredric Wertham wrote a book called Seduction of the Innocent

    He believed that Comic Books were causing 'juvenile delinquency' and a a 'negative form of popular literature'

    'Corruption of the Youth' and 'Evil Popular Media' are all used to describe Comic Books, Films and Video Games. This debate has been going on longer then you think.

  • Comment number 49.

    I think this is rather relevant to the discussion in hand:

    Very funny!

  • Comment number 50.

    Whenever i see a politician complaining about a film or videogame it is my natural reaction to argue against his point of view, especially when they outlaw a good natured romp such as Robert Rodriquez's From Dusk Till Dawn which was banned outright in Ireland for several years. It just didn't make sense that it should have been banned.

    on a completely different note, i wonder has the good doctor seen this...

    Danny Dyer's response to Mark's impressions...i think he thinks Doctor K is an actor or something.

  • Comment number 51.

    psychfursfan83, I posted the very same clip on the facebook fan page to an underwhelming response. Thanks for bringing it up again as it allows me to use the profoundly witty, borderline genius, appellation of 'Dyer-tribe' once again. I demand recognition for what is quite possibly the most wittertaining appropriation for anything ever.

    Anyhoo, I think that we should all call for a response from Dr.K.
    I mean, I don't know about you Mark but if someone called ME "a two bob f-in' wrong'en" and then threatened to "put some'ink right across [MY] cannista" I would have to respond accordingly. Just because you have glasses does not mean that "ink" won't do a considerable amount of damage.

    On that note I would just like to posit that Danny Dyer is one of a species of cephalopod. Now imagine the Doc's impression of Danny Dyer accompanied by a rigorously wobbling and gesticulating octopus. Now what do you think would be more entertaining, that? Or one of Dyer's movies? Answers on a postcar... or just on this blog...

    If you agree that the Doc should respond please type (or copy and paste), OOOOOwaaaaOOOOyaaaaaaI'mDannyDyerOOOOOWAAAAAA!

  • Comment number 52.

    If he is a species of Cephalopod perhaps he will audition for the "Oldboy" remake.

  • Comment number 53.

    With a Kermode voiceover?

  • Comment number 54.

    Mark i have been a fairly avid gamer ever since i was a child and i can tell you this; the most recent Call of Duty ONLY has such controversy because of the extravagant publication (that you touched upon) its release has been given. There are FAR more violent and offensive games out there that deal with issues some of the most controversial films don't even go into! I am 110% positive the controversy will be over within the week, 2 weeks at most.
    This kind of game too shouldn't really be held responsible for a controversy covering all games that have mature content, as the CoD games have been, and always will be, very simple games with very simple story-lines that concentrate on nothing more than engaging the player in an immersive shooting gallery. It is, after all, a shooting game and that is not to be ignored as a pretty normal form of entertainment these days.

    Besides the game is getting very average reviews anyway.

  • Comment number 55.

    I'm so far out of the video game loop that I'd never heard of Call Of Duty... However, now that it's been brought to my attention, I am shocked and appalled! And my morals are outraged. Seriously though, can we be sure that this fuss has not been deliberately provoked by the C.O.D. publicity machine? I'm sure it's done wonders for their sales!

    On the other hand, mayhap *video-game* nasties are the latest scape-goat for society's ills. Mark mentioned the 80s VHS-nasties hysteria and before that they were blaming TV progs like The Sweeney, pop music, comic-books (as mentioned above by Soap) and even earlier than that it was the fault of gin!

    Call Of Duty would seem to be set in a war-type setting. Surely death and destruction are acceptable under those circumstances? It would seem less acceptable if the game-player were to take on the role of a pimp or a rapper, say, with the purpose being to demand money by menaces and get rich or die trying, thereby promoting urban decay and a selfish all-for-one-and-shoot-the-rest-with-a-gat type attitude.

    As a child of the 1970s my play-time revelled in and glorified The War! (i.e. WW2). We all had Action-Man dolls with different uniforms like SAS commandos and Waffen SS and when we weren't playing with Action-Man we were re-enacting war films with model soldiers or pretending to decimate each other with plastic Tommy-guns and Lugers.

    And it didn't do us any harm! Or so my therapist tells me.

  • Comment number 56.

    Violent films, video games, music videos etc. don't make children or youths violent. Poor parenting and lousy life skills does. You don't have to be fan of games to see that the outcry about their content fails to address the basic premise of all artistic creations. If you don't like it turn it off. If you don't want your kids playing it don't buy it and talk to your kids friends parents about it. Personal responsibility not political grandstanding is my answer to this debate.

  • Comment number 57.

    this debate has been going on since the invention of writing and probably since the invention of language itself! many of the great writers and artists of history have been banned or at least been held as a degrading influence at some point or another. While i'm not comparing Socretes to c.o.d the basic agument is the same, people do nasty stuff to each other because they want to not because of a book, video game or horror film. You simply cannot persicute the massive majority of people who enjoy these things just because a miniscule minority do nasty stuff.

    As many others have pointed out it is NOT a game for children and any responsible adult should not let children play it.

  • Comment number 58.

    Why is Lawrence Fishburn Charlie Brooker? I do not understand, could you please clarify this good doctor!

  • Comment number 59.

    As a teenager (and therefore probably the target audience for a lot of video games) I always find it incredibly patronising for politicans to lecture the country about violent entertainment, as if we're too braindead to seperate video games from reality. What's worse is when people see games like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto and lump every video game into the 'VIOLENT AND CORRUPTING OUR CHILDREN' category, completely ignoring games such as Mario Galaxy or Little Big Planet or the Civilization series (to name but a few). You don't see people wanting to boycott The Lion King because they watched Oldboy.

    Still, I think there's definately a stigma surrounding video games: I wouldn't think a mother would allow her 13 year old child to buy an 18 rated DVD, but I've seen on more than a few occasions a parent buying games such as Grand Theft Auto for their kids. That's not the fault of video games, it's the fault of stupid parents, but it's still worth thinking about.

    It's a shame games like Call of Duty are dismissed by a lot of people just because of violent content. It's a fantastic game, and the fact that it's had one of the biggest entertainent launches in UK history should show that games are no longer the domain of the nerdy and niche, but a legitimate art form that's rivaling movies, at least in financial terms.

    And I've always felt that what Charlie Brooker is for TV, Mark Kermode is for films, albeit with less swearing.

  • Comment number 60.

    Oh, and remember when the Rolling Stones were seen as devil worshippers and posioning the youth? We look on that now as nonsense; hopefully we'll do the same in regards to the hysteria surrounding games like Call of Duty.

  • Comment number 61.

    Actually, I've been thinking. Mark isn't interested in video games, but perhaps he should watch the several videos on the web of the section of the game that's causing the controversy, then review it as a short film.

    As the section gives no extra information or rewards, and can actually be skipped, it's merely an elaborate cut-scene.

    Personally, it did shock me – I don't think any normal person wouldn't have been – but it would have shocked me in a film or a book or a play as well.

  • Comment number 62.

    Sorry, this will be my last post on the matter.

    Some people seem to think that the reason the '"No Russian"' mission is so pernicious is that it involves killing defenceless civilians, everyday people like you and I with families and a reason to live. I think that if I was in the actual army where they actually kill people, this would all seem even more nonsensical than it is right now.

    It all reminds me of that scene in one of the Austin Powers movies, the first I think, where a 'faceless' henchman is killed (steamrolled) and we are transported into the home of the deceased. What is actually quite a funny scene is also a very potent exposition of how we view death/murder, that is, "it isn't anyone I particularly care about so, meh." Now I know that the referred to henchman was a 'baddie' but the same applies to the 'goodies'.

    This gives me a chance to bring up that superfluous scene in 'The Dark Night.' Imagine if you will that the ferry load of civilians had decided to detonate the ferry full of convicts, or vice versa, which one would you have seen as the lesser evil? We are of course invited to think that any loss of life would be tragic, but lets face it, although it would have been a shocking and unnecessary boosting of the movie's kill count, would we have really cared too much? As far as I remember there was not one developed character or at least a character that the story could have done without that was on either of those ferries. If one or both of the ferries had gone up we would have all known that this was a terrible thing but would we have really held a small inner service for the victims? NO!

    Why can't we treat the soldiers in the game with the same respect as the civilians? I know that the enemy soldiers might be trying to kill ME (though not actually me), but ending someone's life is still ending someone's life (though not actually a real someone), plus what about all of my comrades that I saw shot before my eyes? Did I click the right stick and respectfully go down on to one knee every time this happened and pray, or cry out to the heavens, 'NOOOOOOOO!' or 'WHYYYYYYY!?' no I did not. Sure when Ghost (a close companion) is ruthlessly killed I was upset and angry, but that was because I felt (don't laugh) I knew him, more than the average corporal anyway.

    Furthermore on the subject of defenceless civilians, there is an achievement in the game called 'No Rest For the Wary' which is worth 10 gamerscore* wherein the player is given the challenge to 'Knife an enemy without him ever knowing you were there in Single Player or Special Ops.' To bring my argument back, how can we justify getting this achievement? How can I possibly know that the soldier I choose to kill, 'without him ever knowing' I was there, really WAS going to try to kill me back? What if his insensitivity to my presence was brought about by a newly gained apathy to mortality due to witnessing the horrors of war? Worse still, what if he was simply daydreaming of his family and had, just as I was sneaking up on him with my knife at the ready, decided to change his life, perhaps start a survival school for underprivileged teenagers?

    Just thinking about it makes me want to erase the 10 points that mark me as a despicable and morally bankrupt person. Does it really though? Of course it doesn't, there is no doubt that if he was alerted to my presence he would have busted a cap right in, or somewhere around, my ass. The reason this soldier would do this is because he has been PROGRAMMED, by very clever, pasty be-specked men, in dark rooms lit only by computer screens, to do so. The same goes for the civilians in the '“No Russian”' mission, they have been PROGRAMMED to stand there at the beginning of the level. Just as before, when I feigned interest in the emotional disposition of a faceless soldier, I could quite easily do the same with every one of those 'innocent' civilians. What if, during that level, I only shot people who I thought 'looked' a bit evil. “Hmmmm that guy over there dresses like a sex offender” BLAM! “That woman over there looks like she hits babies!” BOOM! “That guy over there looks like Michael Bay!” BOOM! BANG! KABLAMO!! What I am saying is that if we are not given character description/development, then to be honest, we generally don't give a crap.

    As I said in my first post, I did think the mission was in 'bad taste' but did it stop me from shooting? No.

    The point now is that, yes we are in control of what happens on-screen, games being the most interactive medium, so consider this. What if, at that moment in 'The Dark Night' each person in the cinema was taken to another room and given two detonators, one for the civilian ferry and one for the convict ferry and had to choose to either blow one up, or even both, or skip the entire set piece, what would you do? Bare in mind that if you opt to skip the scene, you may miss what might be, because you haven't seen it before, a vital part of the movie. I'd just like to also restate, as others have, that you are actually given the option to skip the mission in the game.

    * For those who don't know, gamerscore is an incentive that increases the longevity of a game. All games come with 1000 possible gamerscore which is attained through various 'achievements.'

  • Comment number 63.

    Dr Kermode.. ,Check

    Modern warfare 2.. che.. eh...?

    Charlie Brooker.. Che.. Whhhaaa?

    Gratuitous Shots Of Lawrence Fishburne...

    I have officially stepped into the twilight zone.. And how glorious it is! :-) MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 64.

    Btw, I would also like to express how awesome I think the mix of things I love in this podcast are. That is all.

  • Comment number 65.

    it's stupid, don't people realise that videogames and films aren't real?

  • Comment number 66.

    It seems Mr Brooker likes you too as stated in his twitter comment here in full.
    (Okay, let's think of a videogame to convince Mark Kermode (who I like). Something along the lines of Fatal Frame / The Path / Dead Space?)
    I don't think it will be long before we witness both of you hand in hand skipping through the heather together.

  • Comment number 67.

    I saw this just minutes before you beat me here darkdreamweaver1! Doesn't matter though. I was wondering when Charlie was going to set the record straight. Knowing that everything is fine between Britain's best loved critics means I can start eating and sleeping again.

    I think the fact that so many people have commented on this video expressing their delight at having a Kermode/Brooker blog combo is evidence to show that the general demographic of you're listeners/viewers is very close. This is why I believe that it would be an extremely wise choice for the BBC to consider giving Charlie a slot on the culture show. A brilliant idea struck me and actually made me laugh; imagine a segment of the show where Charlie review's a game followed by an attempted 'play' by the good doctor. That could probably turn out to be one of the funniest things I could ever hope to see. If that idea does not come to fruition, I was wondering if, when Charlie Brooker does eventually get a 'Gameswipe' series, you Mark, might be interested in making me, and dare I say millions of other people extremely happy by appearing on his show and maybe having a go at a game? Maybe even a two player, perhaps even Vs? Obviously this would be funny but I ask not just for comical reasons. I truly believe that something like this would improve the respectability of games and gamers if a critic from a different stratum was seen to publicly endorse gaming as a legitimate part of modern culture, rather than a subculture. 'Gameswipe' will happen, it's just a matter of time considering the 8 million viewers it received for the hour long one-off special.

  • Comment number 68.

    Victor Hugo fans might disagree but Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame is a wonderful film, and especially bold because of it's exploration of the sexual lust the purital villain has for the gypsy girl. However, something I've still to this day never heard mentioned is the bold political analogies of Disney's The Jungle Book: It was made in 1967 at the height of the Civil Rights Movement - in the film the apes sing jazz, live in a slum and are voiced by black actors, singing "I want to walk right into town/I want to be like you", threatening to burn the jungle down if their demands are not met. Every other animal type in the film represents a contemporary group: Throwbacks to the dying British Empire (elephants), a beatnik (Baloo) and the ever observing Beatles-esque beat combo (vultures). Yet despite the Afro-American 'apes' the film doesn't offend, largely because of the skill with which it carries off it's prophetic analogy. the fact that it was so on the button when such films take so long to make is a testament to the creatives behind it.

  • Comment number 69.

    I want Kermode & Brooker to do a show.Brooker`s humour and Kermode`s brains would deliver awesome ratings and awards and fame to both of them.

  • Comment number 70.

    I like dr k, but that was the most pointless "my 2 pence" video blog ever. In short "i dont have an opinion but if i did i would go with CB". It was just an exercise in empathy for another form of media (that he is not interested in) who suffer from arm chair pundits with no incite. of which he sort of just became.
    I wrote this after drinking some beer i won in a children in need raffle at work so dont hate me........yes i know its only 6:30

  • Comment number 71.

    There's a few sour apples like this kid who only add more fuel to the fire, and offer a little objective standpoint to these politicians...

    I'd say the kid was genetically missing a few screws to begin with, but you never know. Crying and punching a wall with your bare knuckles because you couldn't "get into the game"? Really?

  • Comment number 72.

    Taxi for one! You have obviously had too much...

    Basically Gareth, this is exactly the kind of thing that respected critics and social commentators need to be doing. If they have no idea about something then it is best to leave it up to those that do.

    Besides that, you sort of miss the point of the blog. Dr.K isn't saying, as you put it, "i dont have an opinion but if i did i would go with CB." I know he defer's knowledge of the subject of this specific game to Charlie Brooker, but the point of the blog was to illustrate the difference between "not being interested in something and thinking that something is bad" as the Doc puts it.

    I don't hate you Gareth, I just think you're horribly wrong, drink up because your taxi is nearly here. Oh, and can you take James with you too? :P

  • Comment number 73.

    I can't even begin to express how wonderful it was to see someone mentioning Tale of Tales' "The Path".
    THAT is where this medium should be headed.
    It basically isolated the essential ingredients of "Silent Hill", surgically removed these factors from the occasionally rather contrived plots and transformed it into something pristine and beautiful.
    Their latest work, a "real-time interactive 3D vignette" based on Oscar Wilde's Salome is equally unique, if not more so.

  • Comment number 74.

    Also, I haven't had the chance to play Modern Warfare 2, but I was incredibly impressed with the first one.
    Especially that short segment in "Conflictostan" after the [SPOILER:] nuclear bomb goes off and for a few excrutiating minutes you're forced to drag your limp, irradiated body over the scorched ground before finally collapsing; thousands of miles away from your home and loved ones.
    It's an overreaching idea, yet handled with such finesse that the result is actually something sublime.
    - No pun intended.

  • Comment number 75.

    This has been happening to Video games for a long time, happened to Doom almost 20 years ago and some before that.

  • Comment number 76.


    Ha, I remember at the tender age of fourteen requiring my mother to help me buy GTA and Resident Evil (the original classic) - both games I had borrowed previously from friends, indeed my mum even said that Resi looked boring (she watched me do a puzzle out of context, I was bricking it at the time), the shop assistant explained the age rating. I simply explained that I had played them, I was still fine and since I was paying for them myself my mum bought them for me. I think a good deal is for parents not to buy the games themselves but if the kid saves up for it maybe he/she is mature enough to cope and the parent should take a closer look.

    Dr K, I think you over did the Fishburne gag, not saying it was in bad taste, just that it wasn't funny the fifth or sixth time.

    And Yes!! Brooker vs Kermode review show. Get off of Newsnight review and do a more informal show! go on even Newman writes for Empire, you can slum it as well.

  • Comment number 77.

    I'm a fan of both Kermode and Brooker, and always trust Mark's film reviews.

    Mark's comments in his 'Call of Civic Duty 2' video are spot-on. I can always respect anyone, professional or otherwise, who admits to not having seen a particular movie or played a specific game, and so can't judge or comment on it.
    I, for one, can't stand politicians (and other ill-informed commentators) who make poorly judged and sweeping or general statements.

    I agree with the other posters above, that a Kermode Vs Brooker show would be well worth watching. Or, preferably a Kermode AND Brooker show!

  • Comment number 78.

    Clearly there are some delicate minds who can't handle it...

  • Comment number 79.

    Perhaps an MP could buy a copy of the game. (Don't worry you could expense the cost of purchase under the heading -research) Then play it as say a mindless person would. Then after say two weeks of playing the game, see if it turns the player from a responsible MP into a mindless teenager with issues of doing the right thing in real life....

    Mmmmm I think this will be a bit too much of test for your average "trustworthy" MP. However I am sure the rest of the gaming community (of voting age)won't have a problem following playing of the "game"

  • Comment number 80.

    I do wonder if Dr Kermode could be converted to the gaming cause by playing a co-op game of Left4Dead2? I pick that game particularly as, in my opinion, it does a better job of capuring the zombie vibe then anything that Romero has ever done, including the 1966 original - and I speak as a very serious lover of horror movies..

  • Comment number 81.

    Go mark! i never thought i'd hear you even slightly accept videogames as an entertainment medium, I think you would love some games that have great narrative and story, although most/all videogame to movie adaptations are usually rubbish. Have a go and then report back, ps. keith vass needs to try videogames too, he's trying to stop our fun!

  • Comment number 82.

    Why do we see Laurence Fishburne every time you say Charlie Brooker? Haha. Computer games, like movies, only have the ability to influence people to hurt or kill if those individuals alread have issues. Why would any ration person decide that s/he should go out and start shooting people because they did it in a game or saw it in a movie? This is an old issue that will forever continue as entertainment mediums evolve.

  • Comment number 83.

    This Keith Vaz character is a moron, i think the british public would be much more shocked to find out he claimed £75,000 in expenses for a flat, when he lived only 40 minutes from Westminister. He later started renting this flat out to occupants. I find that much more despicable than any amount of video game violence.

  • Comment number 84.

    Should 10 year olds be watching pimps and prostitutes in their bedrooms?

    I am not so bothered about COD but GTA 4, which even Charlie Brooker states, employs gratuitous imagery designed to shock. My aunt is close to caving in to the nag factor, and buying GTA 4 for her 10 year old. This is really about PARENTS THAT CAN'T SAY NO. Here we have a rare chance to help them.

    fortunesfool73 wrote:
    'Youth' shouldn't be corrupted by it because 'youth' shouldn't be playing it. The game is an 18 certificate. That means, either, uneducated parents are buying it for their kids, or retailers are breaking the law.

    GTA 4 should be labelled "contains images of prostitution and drugs".

    'Fortune' has got it right. Retailers should LEGALLY have to ask customers buying 18 certificates if they are buying for themselves. If not - no sale. In the same way it is illegal to buy alcohol for children, it should be illegal to buy 18 certs, particularly sexual material, for children.

    My cousin will shortly be learning about sex at school. Should he be watching pimps and prostitutes as homework?

  • Comment number 85.

    The fallacy is of course that you need to know about Horror Films/Computer games.

    What you need to know about is HUMANS and PSYCHOLOGY - how does it affect them. Not what Mark or the director thought about when they made the film.

    Of course if the politicians know about the psychology is something else.

  • Comment number 86.

    Excellent review of the new Dimmy Dire* film.

    *The good doctor can have that one on me, the squeey voiced mockerny actor is welcome to my canisters.



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