Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 banned in Russia
Russian gamers and politicians are offended that Russians are portrayed as somewhat terroristic, so they ban the console version and force edits in the PC and Steam versions.
Sometimes, one's biases can balance out very nicely. So please let me lay mine out in all their militant glory.
Bias No. 1: I do not play many video games, and Call of Duty does not impact in any way upon my emotional or personal life.
Bias No. 2: Members of my family were arrested by Stalin's miserable cohorts and abused daily in Siberian labor camps, from which only some emerged and even they were permanently scarred.
So I truly do not have a heavily armed platoon in the feral battle currently waging between Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and the fine nation of Russia.
According to the vaunted experts at Hellforge, the designers of this decided to push the creative boundaries. The chaps at Infinity Ward incorporated a "No Russian" mission in which people who seem to reek of rather pure vodka massacre lots of folks, leading to--disgust upon depravity--the erection of statues of supposed deceased terrorists in Washington, D.C.
The game, you see, imagines a world in which the Russian Federation is being ruled by extreme nationalists. Positing such a heinous concept clearly took a huge level of imagination and led to Russian gamers expressing their internal pain at such monstrous cultural insensitivity.
Russian politicians, perhaps the most independent-minded in all the world, huffed and puffed and threatened to the degree that the console version has been banned, according to the Mirror newspaper. The controversial scenes have also reportedly been removed from the PC and Steam editions.
I am not sure either side comes out of this looking, well, brave.
Somehow, I have a sense that the game designers at Infinity Ward might have known that a little controversy would be caused by scenes so clearly offensive to a nation of peace.
However, I am also concerned that the Russians might be overreacting. If Salman Rushdie had written such an imagined scenario in one of his books of so many words, would the Russian government have banned the book? Would it have sent some operative to stab him with an umbrella or poison his sushi? I think not.
So why get so worked up about something that will largely be played and pirated by youths of an already doleful spirit?
It is hard enough these days to select a country for villainy in works of art. I notice that in Bond movies, where once evil had its origins in Eastern Europe, now it emerges from some indeterminate or impotent nation in order to keep feathers muffled rather than ruffled.
By getting upset about a video game with an obviously false and fictional characterization, Russian politicians are surely giving it far more credence than its creation merits.
I mean, it's not as if Infinity Ward had shown scenes of Polish officers being murdered by Russian soldiers in the Katyn Forest near Smolensk, is it?