Call of Duty

When Online Smack Talk Ends With A Man’s Hands Around Your Throat

Once again, gaming was the talk of the town for the wrong reasons a few weeks ago, thanks to headlines such as “Gamer throttles schoolboy over online war game” spread over the internet. The usual suspects at the Daily Mail reported the story in which a 46-year-old man was playing Call of Duty all day and suddenly lost it when a 13-year-old boy goaded him over his online death in the game. The man went to the nearby house where the boy was playing, walked into the front room and grabbed him around the throat with both hands.

Behind the sensationalist headline, we once again find there is more to this story than the headline originally led their readers to believe. We quickly learned that we were actually dealing with a 46-year-old unemployed father of three with mental issues, who was also a loosely connected friend of the thirteen year old boy’s family and the incident was over a game with an 18 certification.

When looking at the facts of the story, it’s not hard to see that a game such as Call of Duty is not to blame here. Once again, the growing number of social issues that the media prefer to brush under the carpet are caused by evil games, because its easier than tackling the real problems.

Much more interesting though, were the results of a new study that showed that teens were non-bothered by vulgar slurs online. Most realise that everything is said in the name of banter and that deep down, everyone knows they don’t really mean it. That’s according to an Associated Press-MTV poll of young people between 14 and 24.

The article said “Most say they feel more comfortable with slurs online because people are just trying to be funny or cool. Fifty-four percent of young people think it’s okay to use discriminatory language within their circle of friends because people know we don’t mean it.”  In short, it’s become an accepted part of people’s experience online.

It is quite strange to think that there are two worlds out there. You have the real one, where you are unable to you use offensive language as you’ll be perceived as having the character of an uneducated scumbag, and then this alternate world, which serves as a virtual wild west where anything goes. You can say whatever you want, which although you know is wrong, is equally quite liberating.

Of course, there is a seriously dark and sinister side to this online bullying, it’s a growing problem that needs to be taken very seriously. We all know that bullying should never be trivialised or mocked, but this two-sided life in the 21st century is nothing short of fascinating and showcases the hypocrisy of the modern world.

Jay and Silent Bob will hunt down trolls…

Finally, if you are one of the internet tough guys that spends their time online abusing anyone and everyone that they come across, one of those hiding behind the anonymity of your PC because it makes you feel a little better about yourself, helping you forget the fact your life is actually going nowhere. If you are one of these people, then may I remind you of the film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back? A movie where the titular duo spend their royalty money on airplane tickets, solely to track down everybody on the internet who expressed negative opinions about them so they could kick their asses.

“It’s just a dumb movie!” I hear you shouting at me. Maybe that’s what the 13-year-old thought, shortly before finding a mans hands around his throat. So, next time you find yourself feeling brave and reckless online, maybe you should have a quick think on what might happen…

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IS CALL OF DUTY ELITE PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION A FAIR DEAL?

When Activision originally announced their new Call of Duty Elite premium subscription package for £34.99 or $49.99 a year (or included in Modern Warfare 3‘s top-end Hardened Edition), I originally responded with “What a bloody rip off” and walked away thinking that once again, Activision were milking their cash cow for all it’s worth. They seem intent on squeezing every last drop from the world’s best selling game, whilst fleecing gamers in the process. Once I had time to calm down and look under the bonnet to see exactly what was on offer, I hate to admit that actually the deal could actually end up saving you money if MW3 is your weapon of choice.

A quick look at the FAQ reveals the following: “The annual subscription to Call of Duty Elite is an all-inclusive membership, and that means you get Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 downloadable content, including all of the MW3 map packs and more as part of your premium membership. No need to buy additional DLC.”

Previous Call of Duty games released, on average, four map packs during their life cycle. If you are the kind of CoD Fan that would buy all of these maps, the Elite Package would actually be considerably better value than buying them separately throughout the year.

There is certainly a bittersweet pill to swallow here, as the Elite members will get their hands a new batch of content every month first, rather than waiting for the usual quarterly release of multiplayer maps, extra spec ops missions and new game modes. This means that non subscribers could end up of the pace and playing catch-up, which in effect could be seen as forcing them to subscribe to get the most out of the game.

Value for money or pointless willy waving?

Personally, I am of the belief that Activision are marketing the Elite Premium subscription all wrong. Nobody gives a rat’s ass about gold clan tags, premium theatre, groups, Elite TV and various other willy waving statistic boards. The majority of people are unaware that you actually receive all MW3 DLC, which will be around twenty items and released monthly so you will always have something new in the game. If you don’t like the game, then this will never appeal to you, but for a Call of Duty regular; this is genuinely a good deal.

Although Elite Premium and EA Sports Season tickets are receiving growing criticism by offering their own services, they are arguably better value than paying Microsoft £40 Xbox Live for a marketplace to buy more things. Especially considering that if you were only ever playing FIFA online on your Xbox, which uses EA’s own servers, you have to ask: “What am I paying Microsoft for?”

The world is caught in the middle of a financial crisis and everyone, more than ever before, is having to watch what they spend. If you are one of the gamers out there who have paid  £40 to Microsoft for Xbox Live, £40 for a game and then £35 for an exclusive club, then you have just blown £115 to play one game on a console. How many people can actually afford to do this? As people begin to get more thrifty, you can see on many gaming forums that there is a growing voice of people calling Activision greedy, as they are tired of playing the same game each year.

Franchise down… Repeat, we have a franchise down.

Even hardcore CoD fans seem to be getting more excited about the release of Battlefield 3, and maybe it’s not about CoD refusing to change or even the fact Battlefield 3 has Jet Fighters; but people are simply getting tired of Activision’s greed and are starting to make a stand.

So as the haters begin to defect from CoD, the irony is that they could quite easily end up spending more anyway, as they will have to pay for individual map packs for Battlefield over a year. Gamers will never win, and maybe that’s what attracts us all; the constant challenge and thrill of the chase.

That said, if your life is not complete without CoD MW3 and all of the map packs for the next 12 months, then the Elite premium subscription package is officially a good deal, and don’t let anyone tell you different.

Call of Duty vs. Battlefield: Let the battle commence.

There are many people out there who simply don’t have enough time or money to play every new game out there and find themselves buying one or two games a year. Just like ladies of a certain age will buy one album a year that was spoon-fed them from a local commercial radio station.

This very often means that the occasional gamer will pick up the latest instalment of Call Of Duty every year without fail and get increasingly frustrated with getting their ass handed to them on a regular basis by people who live on the game and are more concerned with personal glory and being ten times prestige in some insane and pointless willy-waving contest. Critics will tell you there are many problems with CoD: Black Ops but one of the biggest for me is the amount of idiots that you find online, and don’t get me started on camping! The biggest problem for those who some might call “Noobs” is the lack of community as it seems to be dominated by smack talking types with a win at all costs attitude.

The amount of tantrums heard on the mic by people shouting at other members of a team for not having the same class as the rest of the team is tragic and quite laughable at times, let’s be honest; it’s a game to kick back and relax to at the end of a hard day and not to be taking so seriously. However for people that feel this way, do not worry as Battlefield Bad Company 2 is a fantastic alternative and something that may have been overlooked by a few of you but offers more rewards as well as better value DLC! (more…)

The Golden Joystick Awards 2009: Reflection

GJPHThe Golden Joystick Awards have now been officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the “World’s most Popular Video Game Awards”. To put things into perspective the event polled a whopping 1,223,646 votes this year with a 47% surge in voting. There is a strong argument that the general public should not be allowed to vote for anything if shows like Big Brother, X-Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and the awful “Song of the Year” show on ITV, where Westlife won year in and year out, are anything to go by, but we are not here to discuss such inane TV shows.

I was somewhat surprised at this being the 27th Golden Joystick Awards. If I am truly honest I never realised that Jetpac had the accolade of winning the first Game of the Year way back in 1982, which appeared on machines from my gaming past such as the ZX Spectrum, BBC Micro and the Vic-20. For purists the game is even available on the Xbox Live Arcade. This shows just how far gaming has come especially considering that video game sales now eclipse that of music and films alongside the fact the cash-strapped UK consumers alone spent £2.7 billion on gaming in the last 12 months.

The Golden Joysticks are widely becoming known as the “Gaming Oscars” and this year arrived at the same time as the Eurogamer Expo, at a time when everyone is excited about games and the big Christmas releases.

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Supermarkets muscle in on the games industry

TescoWord spread around Twitter and the internet like wildfire: once again Britain’s supermarkets were going to sell a top game at a cut-price. Over the last few weeks we have seen the likes of Operation Flashpoint and Fifa 10 being sold on release day for between £25-£27 by the usual suspects; Asda, Morrisons and Tesco.

Sainsburys seemed to throw their hat into the ring when it was leaked that they were to offer the much anticipated title Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for only £26 until November 15th. Predictably Asda then announced for £32 and Tesco for £25 if purchasing another chart title. What does this trend mean for the games industry?  It’s a double edged sword over which both sides will argue passionately about.

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Gaming Soundtrack of my life…

disk2Any self respecting gamer will tell you that the only way to fully enjoy the gaming experience and have the feeling of being completely immersed in a game is to wear headphones. Not only will it give you the edge in games like Call of Duty as you hear the footsteps behind you, but just like any movie, a fitting song in the right scene will make it unforgettable. I believe this is why gaming soundtracks are now more important than ever.

Sometimes a gaming soundtrack can not only enhance the game but ensure that it stays with you for the rest of your life. Before you say that’s pushing it a little far, mate, we can all listen to a song or watch a movie and twenty years from now recall the first time you encountered it and the memories that go with it. Gaming is no different, especially if experienced at 2am on a cold and dark Thursday night and you complete the game that has taken over your life in glorious HD and complete surround sound headphones.

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