Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:
‘Call of Duty distorts history of US American war crimes’
The popular [computer] shooting game Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is under attack. The game suggests that Russia is responsible for an infamous bombing in the Middle East. In reality, the West carried out that attack.
Modern Warfare is the sixteenth and newest part of the Call of Duty series. It appeared last weekend. In the series, you play as a soldier in various wars. This part is set in a modern setting in the Middle East.
In the game, the ‘Highway of Death’ in the fictional country Urzikstan is bombed by the Russians. “They killed those who tried to flee”, one character says. …
The Highway of Death really exists. It just isn’t in ‘Urzikstan’ but in Kuwait. The road was given this name after a notorious bombing raid. That was not carried out by Russia, but by Western bomber aircraft led by the United States.
“So, uh, it turns out that the new Modern Warfare game just sorta lies about a US war crime and makes it a Russian one, because it needs the US forces to be seen as the good guys … Disgusting”, writes gamestreamer Chowderhead in a tweet that went viral.
“The US bombed, shelled, shot and set alight probably about six hundred fleeing soldiers and refugees,” Chowderhead continues. “If you’re going to make a ‘gritty’ and ‘realistic story’, don’t make war crime denial part of it, OK?”
Highway of Death: hundreds of deaths
On the night of February 26 and 27, 1991, US American, Canadian, British, and French aircraft bombed hundreds of Iraqi vehicles departing from the city of Kuwait. That was in the first months of the Western attack in the First Gulf War.
“Hundreds of cars were destroyed, soldiers screamed”, a survivor told The Washington Post in 1993. “It was night when the bombs fell, lighting the burned cars. Bodies lay along the road, soldiers sprawled on the ground. They were hit by cluster bombs as they tried to escape from their vehicles. I saw hundreds of soldiers like this.”
The number of people killed in the attack is controversial. Estimates range from 200 to 10,000. …
According to US human rights lawyer Ramsey Clark, the attack on the Highway of Death is a war crime. The Geneva Convention says that attacking soldiers who are “hors de combat” (outside of combat) are considered a war crime. The United States has never been prosecuted in the International Criminal Court.
The game is part of a popular US American franchise, says Eline Muijres, game developer and former game journalist. “And it is not exactly known for its nuanced depiction of war history.”
“In this series, US Americans are always the heroes,” says Muijres. “Russians or Arabs are the bad guys. Even if you play a Russian or an Arab, it is always from a very American perspective.” …
Activision, the creator of the Call of Duty series, decided not to sell the game in Russia. Several (state) media said there that the game was a “provocation”. It was also about portraying Russians as bad guys, and the many Russians who must be killed in the game.
This reminds me of an earlier post on my blog:
From TechRadar UK, 8 April 2009:
But is it really ‘just a game’?
“The massacre carried out by American and British forces in Fallujah in 2004 is amongst the worst of the war crimes carried out in an illegal and immoral war,” Stop The War Coalition spokesperson Tansy E Hoskins told TechRadar, upon reading the first reports of Six Days In Fallujah.
“It is estimated that up to 1,000 civilians died in the bombardment and house to house raids carried out by invading troops. So many people were killed in Fallujah that the town’s football stadium had to be turned into a cemetery to cope with all the dead bodies.
The Japanese corporation finally decided not to sell the game after many protests.