In Search of Real and Relevant Enemies: China, Russia, and Korea

Homefront. Six Days in Fallujah.  Medal of Honor.  Operation Flashpoint: Red River. These four games have several things in common.  They are all shooters set in the present day, feature modern weapons, and require large budgets to produce and publish.  However more than that they also share the fact that they each present either a current American enemy or a nation considered in some way threatening to the United States or her interests.  The much talked about but never seen Six Days would have featured the Iraqi Army.  Medal of Honor of course pits the United States against the Taliban.  Homefront speculates what would happen if a united Korea invaded the Western United States.  Lastly, Red River has the US Marines in Tajikistan opposite the Peoples Liberation Army of China.

This notion of having players test their gaming skill against present day enemies is nothing new.  Shooters from the last console generation (Ghost Recon, Rainbow Six, and others) allowed players to kill Russians, Mexican rebels, and of course terrorists.  There is something thrilling about taking a current headline and weaving it into an action game. For some reason, the excitement intensifies when you replace a fictional conflict in an imaginary country (Full Spectrum Warrior) or a speculative battle (Close Combat: First to Fight).  The idea that this is either happening now or that it could happen sometime in the near future adds the sense of authenticity to the conflict.

Operation Flashpoint Red River. US Marines and the PLA go to war.

Take Red River for example. Like it’s predecessor, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, Red River features the PLA as the enemy force.  Dragon Rising took place on the imaginary island of Skira after an elaborate tale that created a scenario where the US had to aid ally Russia against the Chinese.  In the trailer for Red River, the Chinese are again painted as aggressors who have their own agenda to fulfill by securing their border with Tajikistan.  The Chinese are to be feared because they field a large, modern army and the will to use it against the Americans. So like the latest Tom Clancy thriller, the player can now experience possible real-world events in foreign lands that allow the United States to combat a fierce and possibly real enemy.  In fact, the scenario in Red River does not seem all that plausible.  The same for Homefront, but given the condition of current US relations with both North Korea and China and the size of their respective armies, some clever writing can now produce a gaming thriller. Plus there is the added benefit of not telling the tale of a current US war and thus avoid the controversies that swirled around Six Days and Medal of Honor.

Old Communist foe North Korea invades South Korea and then the US.

The list of possible US enemies is short: North Korea, China, and Russia. Who else can field an army to match the United States? Recent titles Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare and Battlefield Bad Company covered the Russian angle, including an invasion of the United States in Modern Warfare 2. It is interesting to see how a former Cold War enemy still appears threatening years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Old fears of communism live on as these three nations continue to present a military threat (at least in the game world).  The communist nature of China and Korea allows game publishers to skirt the race angle by reminding us that these nations are always aggressive against their enemies. However they do that because they are enemies of democracy and freedom, not because they are people of color. In a world where the main US adversary is a shadow network of terrorists, game developers and writers need to create enemies who are dangerous while at the same time somewhat realistic.  The easiest way to do that is to draw upon old fears of communism and the modern version of Yellow Peril (even if the writers do not voice this fear).  It serves as a reminder to that the United States does not entirely trust these other nations.  We know that while things are fine now but they can deteriorate at a moment’s notice. And because these countries are so powerful, to lose their good will means to invite armed conflict.

In the case of Russia, often times some old party member seeks to reinstate the Communists, while both Korea and China seek to settle old hatreds by securing their borders and the surrounding territories and thus present a launching point for war. All these scenarios become possible since these nations continue to be demonized by American government and media: Russia and North Korea for their aggressive political and military might and China for its economic power. In turn they become natural choices for virtual conflict.

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How Can We Study Game Content in the Class Room?

In this information age college departments encourage instructors to incorporate different media into classroom teaching sessions. So we strive to mesh more traditional class discussions, group activities, and lectures with relevant web sites, television and film clips and anything else we deem appropriate.  You will notice I didn’t mention anything about games and that is because none of my old instructors or present colleagues use video game clips in their classes.  At least that I know of. A few years ago, a professor mine mentioned the Medal of Honor series in a lecture about World War II, but that is about as far as it went.  Of course as a video game researcher, I have used game clips in my classes on many occasions.  In communications classes it is a bit easier.  However non-mass com texts too often refer to video games as only violent, addictive, and popular.

Still, recently I have even begun to use them outside of communication classes, which presents special challenges. Those other media are fairly easy.  You can always record television programming on a digital video recorder, pull the program off of network website, use Hulu, YouTube, and so on.  Likewise you can rent or buy a DVD or use Netflix in order to play a film in class.

Games are no so easy.  Yes, you can find clips on YouTube. However those clips may or may not be what you need for the class. So what you could end up with is a selection of cut scenes from various games and some segments of game play.  Again, that may not be what you need. Likewise, you can search the Internet for other clips from games.  Good luck finding that part you need. There are, however, a few studious gamers who have recorded not only the cut scenes, but the play through sessions as well.  I found an entire play though of all episodes of Alan Wake on YouTube.  They were great quality with no player commentary. Sweet.

Compare that to movies. Last semester I showed most of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled from YouTube.  This semester YouTube pulled the clips due to copyright infringement. I have yet to see a video game clip removed for that reason, though publishers have every right to do so.

I digress.

The airport massacre is easy to find since it comes at the beginning of the scene "No Russian."

If a teacher wants to use game footage in the class room and cannot find what he or she needs on the web, then the alternative is to play the game (or have someone else play) and record the sessions, something I did for my dissertation. This presents another set of challenges.  If you wanted the class to watch the airport massacre scene in “No Russian” (Modern Warfare 2), then no problem, since that is at the beginning of a level.  However, what if the scene you want resides in the middle of the game? Are you willing to play for hours just to get to that section? Probably not.  If the scene footage were unlocked during game play, then perhaps you can go into the features section and play in again while recording. However, there are only a limited number of games that provide this feature (Alan Wake for example).

There has to be a better way.

Alan Wake now playing on YouTube and perhaps in a class room near you.

If consumers can buy or rent DVDs of their favorite films and television shows, why can’t they for games? Obviously the first hurdle is that except for PCs, most games contain a single disc that is not compatible with standard DVD players. They only play in game consoles. Publishers could sell a separate disc for cut scenes or it could be included with the limited or special edition sets that are frequently available.

It may seem like I am asking a lot, but games are texts that have just as much cultural value as television, radio, and film, yet the bulk of those texts are lost to the player after the game ends.  How can I go back and view a section of Alan Wake I played last night?  I can’t unless I replay it.  That’s not good enough. There is so much value to viewing cut scenes and game play.  For example, I played “No Russian” for my writing students this past week and asked them to free write about it. The week before that they wrote summaries of a YouTube clip about the controversy over Six Days in Fallujah. There is no reason even assignments such as summaries, synthesis, outlines, and essays cannot be based on video game texts.  Those texts just need to be available.

Mass Effect 2: One Year Later

Karen Shepard, my character from ME1 & 2, has helped me explore the galaxy, humanity, and alien cultures.

(Warning: Mass Effect 1 & 2 spoilers follow).

January 26, 2011 marks the first anniversary of BioWare’s Mass Effect 2. It is hard to believe a year has passed since we first got to play the second installment of its epic space trilogy.  Mass Effect 2 continued the saga of humanity’s struggle for survival as well as its quest for political supremacy within the Citadel. It would be the biggest understatement to say I have enjoyed that game.  However having completed the games several times, I think I am in a better position to look at several areas of research available due to the volumes of content that come with the Mass Effect experience.  Some of them I have already touched on, yet there are other areas that cry out for exploration, including disability, body image, moral choices, and several mass communication theories to include framing (in-game media broadcasts), agenda setting (Cerebus network), and gatekeeping. To be honest, I have already dabbled into why Mass Effect 2 address the human condition and how some story elements represent cultural hegemony.  In fact I did that not once, but twice.  A few months later, I wrote we need more characters like Joker. Recently I explored how BioWare uses fictitious faith as an option to avoid the controversies of addressing real-world religions. I even argued that my beloved Karen Shepard should die again at the end of Mass Effect 3. In addition, other writers have brilliantly written about some of the political aspects of BioWare’s epic. Jorge Albor over at Experience Points penned “The Quarian Exiles,” “The Salarian Dilemna” and “Cultural Conflict.” One might think that because of the many articles about Mass Effect that we have sufficiently mined universe for cultural ideas.  Not so.

Mass Effect "Overlord" is an opportunity to study disability.

First, the added content (DLC) “Overlord” infused horror and oppression of the disabled into Mass Effect 2. The “ends justifies the means” mentality used by Cerebus to combat the mechanical Geth put the player in the position of leaving a disabled man in the hands of his oppressive brother or shipping him off to an academy for help and thereby putting humanity at a disadvantage in its war against the Geth’s masters, the Reapers. Anyone interested in exploring how the story unfolds must capture and study the flashbacks the player sees as well as the ending cut scene and in doing so will see how the character Daniel will shift from what Rosemarie Garland-Thomson calls wondrous (awe-inspiring) to exotic (dangerous, alien, strange) to sentimental (to be pitied and taken care of).

Grunt (foreground) and Tali help the gamer explore family issues in ME2.

Body image and gender issues are obvious avenues of exploration in ME2.  Critics will no doubt zero in on First Officer Miranda Lawson, whose tight outfits present the image of sex symbol even as she reminds Commander Shepard, and the player, that she has been genetically bred to be intelligent as well as a powerful biotic.  She therefore often times splits the male player’s focus on her since she is a possible love interest for MaleShep while catering to the Illusive Man’s interest as a Cerberus operative and first officer of the good ship Normandy. Her cool demeanor is offset by the fiery and sexual Jack/Subject Zero who presents the option of unattached sex. In contrast, Samara’s quest to kill her daughter provides room for those interested in the intersection of child rearing and employment and the consequences of being away from home too much.  Kasumi Goto quest reveals a love tale with some James Bond elements thrown in. Of all the characters, it is Tali’Zorah who provides the interesting political/familial/loyalty missions in the game (as does the Krogan Grunt).

The Mass Effect trilogy is well-known for its moral choices.  One of the big selling points was that choices made in the first game carry over into the second.  Likewise, choices made in ME2 will help shape the outcome of the series in ME3.

If you saved the Rachni in ME1 will they help defeat the Reapers in ME3?

I have read accounts of how Shepard’s actions with the Krogan, the Quarians, the Geth, and the Rachni will help to form an alliance against the Reapers in ME3. It will be interesting to see if certain options lead to success or if some kind of pluralism exists in ME (all roads lead to a good ending).

Another rich area of research is in-game media, ala the Cerberus Daily News and in-game news updates on different planets. The CBN ran for one year, providing daily updates from the ME Universe.  These short messages not only enhanced and expanded the canon, but also provide material for textual and content analyses. Just as interesting are the numerous in-game updates the player can listen to.  These quick announcements might provide some insight into how news reports are framed within the game.  What elements are emphasized and which ones are downplayed or even ignored? How do the interests of the Citadel play out against the public’s need to know? Do these news bursts, as I call them, in any way help to set the public agenda for conversation and reaction? This last item is difficult since we are only privy to the reactions of Shepard and those around her.

It seems that the anniversary of Mass Effect 2 raises nearly as many questions as it answers. The middle chapter of this trilogy has one final section of downloadable content due out this year.  BioWare has not revealed if this will be DLC that bridges ME2 and 3, ala “Lair of the Shadow Broker.”  If it does you can bet that researchers will add it to the healthy collection of ME content already available.

Religion in AAA Releases: Some Thoughts on Real and Fictitious Faith

Major digital game titles are not exactly known for straying from the dominant perspective. One only has to look at how these AAA titles cater to white, male, and heterosexual norms. The question (or at least one of them) becomes why does that change when religion becomes the focus?  I am certainly not saying that portrayals of religion should shamelessly adopt a dominant perspective also, but that religion occupies a small space in the narrative of digital games. In the United States, Christianity is the dominant religion, yet games, like other entertainment media, tend to shy away from portraying that faith in ways that reflect diversity of faith while avoiding preaching and cliché religion portrayals.  Of course faith is a touchy topic and just as explosive as race, yet at the same time is core to the human experience.

However religion, at least in the United States, is complex in part because of the diverse nature of our many faiths. After all, to claim Christ does not reveal is one is orthodox, Catholic, mainline protestant, evangelical, and so on. Moreover, those mixtures change depending on what part of the country you reside.  For example, in One Nation, Divisible, Mark Silk and Andrew Walsh report that in New England, 68% of those who claim religious affiliation are catholic and mainland protestants are outnumbered by evangelicals by 3 to 1. When you compare that to the Southern Crossroads (Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri), you find that the percentage of Roman Catholics drops to 18.6 %.  Moreover, half the Catholics in the region are Latino. Lastly, one will find very few minority religions (Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and so on) in this area, less than 0.5%.  The other areas of the country, the South, the Pacific, the Pacific Northwest, etc, are all equally diverse.  How do developers address the many aspects of Christianity in their narratives?  For the most part, they don’t.

Leliana (Dragon Age Origins) is a member of the Chantry and a fierce warrior.

Instead some titles address fictional religions.  For example, religion plays a central role in Dragon Age Origins (DAO).  While it is apparent from the start of the game that this religion is modeled closely after Christianity, there are obvious differences.  Still the similarities are such that one can point out multiple examples of Christian faith playing out in the game world.  This should not come as a surprise to anyone who plays role-playing games, the genre to which DOA belongs.  Other games in this genre, such as The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion and Mass Effect, also have religious elements.

Mass Effect 1 takes a different approach in that it creates a new religion around the antagonists of the game, the mechanical Reapers. These ancient machines are worshipped by other machines known as the Geth.  During the game, the player, kills two Geth as they worship the Reapers in a temple.  The player gets very little information because he/she is still trying to figure out the relationship between the two races, so we are left to wonder what other aspects of this fictional religion exists.  The in-game encyclopedia, the Codex offers some slight clues, but little information is forthcoming about Reaper worship in the first two Mass Effect games.

The writers of Mass Effect created a religion for the game.

Of course creating a whole new faith is far safer than attempting to navigate religious waters.  Yet if digital game producers dare to call their craft a full-fledged medium then this bridge will have to be crossed eventually.  Hopefully games will be more bold than television has been in this regard.  To be honest, I have no idea how such an endeavor will work out.  Any honest attempt to explore religion without being preachy (like many of those awful PC Christian games on the market today) can still draw the ire of different groups. However this intersection of faith and adventure does not have to provide any answers, nor does it always have to be direct.  I recall a conversation between Mass Effect characters Commander Shepard and Chief Ashley Williams where they briefly discuss her faith.  That is certainly more tangible than the heavy religious symbolism we see in Bioshock or Assassin’s Creed, but it is a reminder that there are multiple ways to explore the faith of individuals and communities.

Will Defending the Homefront Mean Being Anti-Asian?

Kaos Studios' Homefront is due to release Q1 2011.

In a digital game market flooded with military shooters, Kaos Studios’ Homefront might just stand out.  As a gamer, I look forward to playing something different from a stilted campaign and the standard team deathmatch in multiplayer.  As a game researcher, however, I wonder if a strong, character-driven campaign might raise storytelling in this medium to a higher level while simultaneously engendering unwarranted animosity toward Asians in general and Koreans in particular.  Now you might think that is a stretch, but it seems that many of the needed elements are already in place.

If the title Homefront doesn’t ring a bell, you can check out the information on wikipedia and a brief interview with Kaos Studios head Dave Votypka. In the piece Votypka said he and his team looked to Half Life 2 for inspiration. Regular readers of this blog know HL2 is one of my all-time favorite shooters. HL2 resonated with me because I cared about the characters, particularly Eli and Alyx Vance.  If Homefront can make me care about its characters, then I might just come to hate their enemies. That’s the problem. Yes, we can debate the likelihood of a Korean invasion all day, but the real danger here is that making a connection with Americans under the heel of a brutal foreign power may very well cause hatred for the enemy. In addition, there is also the risk that some gamers may begin to agree with positive representations of the good guys (the Americans) while agreeing with the negative framing of the bad guys (the Koreans). After all, it is only natural that we promote and support positive portrayals of those we identify with (known as the in-group) while at the same time harboring negative perceptions of those not in our group (the out-group).

North Korean solder in Homefront

Now in-groups and out-groups won’t really matter all that much if the single-player campaign is simply about herding the player from large battle to next while killing as many enemy soldiers as possible. Those faceless, generic enemies could be Koreans, terrorists, Covenant, Geth, whatever.  It makes no difference.  That is exactly what you will find in most games: enemies that try to keep the player from his/her goal, but it’s just business (the business of winning). But if I can revisit HL2 for a moment, I really don’t like the oppressive Combine.  Not only do they threaten “people” I care about but the setting developer Valve created was quite convincing and thus I decided to immerse myself in it.

A Combine soldier from Half Life 2.

Can the same thing happen with an occupied United States? Kaos brought in former CIA field operative Tae Kim to add authenticity of the invasion scenario.  Add to that noted screenwriter John Milius (Red Dawn, The Hunt for Red October, Clear and Present Danger) and you have all the elements for an engrossing story. In fact, the assault has already started.  Early promotional images of Homefront typically have the enemy soldiers towering over the camera; the viewer has to look up at the occupier, who is the authority. From the beginning we are made to see the invader as large and intimidating. When you compare that to images of the Combine from HL2 you will see the propoganda machine from the world of Homefront already engaged and doings its best to imitate the atmosphere of a masterpiece.

Of course there are readers who will dismiss this as nothing more than entertainment.

The Other in charge.

Those who support that point of view will argue Homefront is simply fiction.  My response would be that even digital games carry certain messages embedded in their content.  One of those messages here is that a nation and a people most Americans barely know or understand has been written into this game as a merciless enemy who now sits on our shore. While all known intelligence suggests the North Koreans are in no shape to mount such an invasion, because they are (to us) so mysterious, can we really know what they are thinking and planning?  We believe they are aggressive (look at the recent artillery attack on South Korea) and we know they have nuclear ambitions.  What else are they capable of?  They are the classic “other.” It is too easy to demonize and hate that which is other.  Fear and oppression are often-times the consequences of categorizing groups we don’t care to know as “other.”  The phrase yellow peril is not used that much anymore; it has since been supplanted by fears of communism and terrorism, but all that can quickly change.  A triple-A release like Homefront can expose millions of Americans to a hostile Korea. It also happens that the upcoming Operation Flashpoint: Red River features possible conflict between the United States and China in Tajikistan. However Red River is a niche shooter for those who love realistic tactical military games. Homefront has broader appeal by far and the from the looks of reaction so far should steer clear of the outrage surrounding Six Days in Fallujah and Medal of Honor. Those games centered around present US conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Homefront represents a fictional war. To be more precise, Homefront presents a fictional conflict between the United States and Korea and is therefore more acceptable to the American public than those other two games.  However it also embodies cultural conflict with the last cold war enemy, which is also dangerous, albeit in a different way.

The Fractured State of Social Media in Gaming

It seems that social media is all the rage these days.  Facebook. Twitter.  Blogging. Linkedin. Four square. And so on. The mass communication field is no different.  As researchers and teachers we are searching for ways to examine and incorporate social media into more traditional mass media.  For video games this presents an especially tough challenge, which is ironic since video games were social media years before Facebook arrived. And yet while console games have carried an online component for the past ten years, in many ways the explosion of other social media has left gaming behind.  There is certainly no need (and this is not the space) to recount how popular Facebook and Twitter are, but before these two social behemoths became popular Xbox Live had friends lists that allowed gamers to interact with their peers from around the world. Yet today the bulk of “social” in online gaming is adversarial multiplayer matches or cooperative games.  Two recent releases that showcase these features, and more, are Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit and Call of Duty Black Ops.

EA's Need For Speed Hot Pursuit

Criterion’s Need For Speed Hot Pursuit (NFSHP) contains a feature called autolog that immediately presents your friends records and accomplishments for a race or challenge you just completed.  In addition, it allows you to jump right into a race so you can attempt to beat your friend’s time. This shameless adaptation of Facebook game score announcements has been hailed as a shot in the arm for the racing genre and arguably so since it encourages racers to compete for the best times even if they cannot race head-to-head.

Black Ops takes a different approach.  When the player enters the multiplayer suite, he/she is treated to a crawler at the bottom of the screen which displays challenges his/her friends have completed or new ranks earned.  I admit those messages are mildly interesting, but they don’t really mean much to me.  Black Ops also contains a file share system much like the one Bungie has been using for Halo games since 2007.  Recent multiplayer matches can be viewed and saved for friends or the entire Black Ops community to see.

These two models work better than say, a web application like dynasty anywhere in NCAA Football 11 because they exist in-game.  And while web extensions like Bungie.com have been quite successful, the ability of gamers to interact with other players or information about those players is certainly more organic when it is contained to game world, first, and then to other, extra-game media.

The problem with console games application of social media is that they are limited and inconsistent across the gaming medium.  Right now, gamers using Xbox Live can watch movies together via Netflix or watch a sporting event together using the ESPN app.  There is also the new video chat via Kinect. And of course gamers can play together in real time across many games in different genres. However, while the concept of playing together is as social as social can get (at least online), the options that exist outside of real-time interaction are extremely sparse.  What the medium needs is a way to generate social interaction outside of the standard multiplayer, co-op, or movie-watching sessions without asking users to create either text-based or out-of-game media. That is the problem with dynasty anywhere: it requires users to sit down and write about their games ala a sports journalists. That brings a limited response because it is so far outside the realm of virtual football as to be foreign to most of the participants.  Game related social media should a) occur inside the game and b) be restricted to the simple creation of media such as film clips, challenges to best friends, and announcements of scores and so on.

Activision's Call of Duty Black Ops

For example, suppose I finish a multiplayer session in Black Ops where I record 25 kills on a certain map.  I could choose to have that match uploaded into my file for my friends to see.  If they log onto Black Ops within, say, 24 hours, they will have an opportunity to play the same match type on the same map to see if they can beat my score.  If they do that, oh, 20 times, they could get a reward (think achievement or trophy).  The objectives could change daily or weekly.  Today it might be kills, but next week you may have call in more helicopter strikes on a certain map than I did.

A second approach could be to create the feel of having friends playing even when they are far from their consoles. Your friends’ play styles could be incorporated into gaming sessions. Black Ops has a game mode called combat training.  In this mode, the player (and friends if desired) fight against computer controlled bots.  This is nothing new of course though Black Ops developer Treyarch did add the nice touch of allowing the bots to display names from the gamer’s friends list. Shooting bots “disguised” as your friends is a nice middle ground between plain vanilla bots and actually having your friends in the match.  It makes things more personal.

However if the game took information from those friends such as favorite weapon, kill-to-death ratio, and accuracy (that information is already recorded and displayed elsewhere in the game) and incorporated those stats into bot play, it adds another dimension to the game play.  Now, not only is my success important to me, but it also factors into how well my friends do when they play that particular mode. If the idea of helping your neighbor (in this case fellow gamer) is not the epitome of community and social, I don’t know what is.  This next step in social gaming seems, at least to me, like a natural evolution of the shared gaming experience.  After all, video games are a unique medium and that should be reflected in how gamers interact with each other.

Categories: Social Media

Holiday Gaming 2010

Half Life 2 is on the top of my holiday gaming list.

Once I finish grading final papers and exams, I plan to sit down for a few weeks of hard-core gaming.  One of the perks of teaching in academia is the solid month off between the fall and spring semesters.  Oh the gaming!  Of course, I have some ulterior motives (read: research) in mind for some of these games. On the top of that list is The Orange Box, but I also plan to start (and complete) Splinter Cell Conviction, Halo Reach, and Call of Duty Black Ops.

Valve’s The Orange Box contains one of the finest first-person-shooters ever crafted in Half Life 2.  I simply loved it the first time through and have been waiting to play it again.  While the games characters, especially Eli and Alyx Vance, shine I also want to more fully explore the various settings and the pace of narrative. To me, HL2 is a game that does more with less.  Yes, the game engine is old, but it still manages to create wonderful environments and mood.

I'm determined to actually finish a Splinter Cell game.

Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell Conviction presents a different challenge.  I have never finished a Splinter Cell game, though I really enjoyed Splinter Cell Chaos Theory on the original xbox.  I can’t seem to get the hang of stealth games, no matter how I try.  At least Conviction offers a co-op suite as well and a friend has offered to go through it with me. I would rather play co-op than adversarial multiplayer anyhow.

Similarly, Halo Reach also has a co-op mode called Firefight where you and some buddies (or strangers even) team up to fight off waves of alien bad guys.  This is where co-op is at its best.  You either work or “perish” together. Unlike adversarial multiplayer where people don’t really communicate, co-op modes like Firefight (and Horde mode from Gears of War 2) force players to talk to each other in order to survive and advance to the next round.

My goal for Call of Duty Black Ops is simple: finish the campaign.  I spend most of my time in the game playing team death match or combat training (both online). I think I’ve been a little lax regarding the single-player campaign since I have played a Call of Duty game every year since ’05. It’s gotten a bit old now.

My hope is that aside from having a lot of fun, I will gain some insight or epiphany that will, in turn, produce some good blogs (and perhaps a conference paper).

Categories: Uncategorized