A recent report in Newsweek’s NewsGeek section has drawn attention to how video games, just like other forms of entertainment, can carry political messages. The article by Andrew Whalen criticises Call of Duty: Modern Warfare for grossly distorting the Highway of Death incident, depicting it as a Russian war crime rather than an American one.
The real event saw the US military attack a column of retreating Iraqi forces — a column that included Kuwaiti refugees and hostages, the very people the US were supposedly ‘liberating’. In the game this war crime is slightly fictionalised but it’s clear it is the Highway of Death slaughter, and this time it’s the Russian military who violate the Geneva Conventions. As a result, the game has been banned from release in the Russian Federation.
So (having been alerted to this article by the eagle-eyed Max Parry) this seemed like an opportune moment to share with you some of my thoughts and findings about the international censorship of video games, and the Pentagon’s role in the game industry.