This weekend I got a chance to connect with hardcore gamer and old friend Jack Swanson, a student at Purdue University. I met Jack through a shared love of the Guitar Hero franchise, but soon discovered that his love for gaming spanned far beyond a single genre.
This week, Jack stood in line for the midnight release Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which according to sales figures from developer Activision has moved 4.7 million units already, grossing $310 million dollars on the first day (the biggest entertainment release of all time). I got his views on the franchise, how the violent gameplay affects society, and the future of gaming.
8Bit: What is the general story behind the Call 0f Duty series?
JS: Pretty much, you’re killing terrorists. You take the role of an US army ranger in the beginning of the game, which takes place in Afghanistan. Soon your character is brought on as an undercover operative who infiltrates a Russian political organization. The organization has launched multiple terror attacks in Europe, and you’re pretty much trying to prevent World War III. I haven’t finished the story yet, I’ve been online a lot.
8Bit: This game was the highest grossing entertainment release of all time. I’m assuming you got it at a midnight release?
JS: Yeah, I waited in line at a GameStop with about 250 other people. We were all guaranteed a copy because of pre-order, but apparently the first kid had been in line since 7 P.M. just so that he could get home and play it first. I doubt it did him much good though, since some stores in New York started selling the game a week early. I’ve waited in line overnight for things like the Wii before, but this crowd was way more intense.
8Bit: What makes this title so different from the previous ones to cause this kind of commotion?
JS: Well, I don’t think that too many people care about the story too much, but there are tons of improvements to the online play. Mainly, there are new maps and new upgrades for character guns and customization. They’ve added lots of new weapon attachments like a heart-rate monitor, and you can use two attachments now too. Also, you can now customize your kill-streak bonuses to include things like becoming a gunner in a helicopter, or dropping a nuke on the map.
8Bit: The game sounds pretty violent. What would you say to people that say video games cause aggressive behavior in players?
JS: Actually, I think its the exact opposite. Gaming is very stress relieving, and you build friendships while doing it. Yeah, there are a lot of people online who are intense about it, but there’s a huge difference between pressing R on a controller and pulling the trigger on a gun.
8Bit: You said that you haven’t finished the campaign yet because you’ve been playing online. How crucial is online play to this game?
JS: The story is still important, but the online is always changing and keeps people coming back. To me, the thing that really makes a video game is replay value, and online adds a lot to that. I’ve met a lot of great people playing online all over the world. Its like meeting someone randomly, but you already share a common interest.
8Bit: This game has made a lot of strides for the gaming world. What do you think is next technologically for gaming, and what games are you excited for?
JS: I think that eventually, every game will have to have online play or content in order to stay competitive, although I don’t think we’ll lose the disc format all together. Also, I’m excited to see what Microsoft can do with the Project Natal motion technology. As for games, I can’t wait to play Diablo 3 and Bioshock 2, and I’m always anticipating the next FIFA title.