Call of Duty, if Activision’s latest promotion is to be believed, is a game of men. It’s about men doing manly things in a way that can only possibly appeal to men, and women not only have no place in it but serve only to pull men away from their manly play-time. Hyperbolic? Nope, sorry. I really wish it was, but check out the trailer for the Call of Duty: Ghosts Onslaught mission pack:
This is almost a good promotion. It’s big and fun with a clever premise- that all the responsibilities in day-to-day life make getting in a satisfying round of gaming hard to do, to the point that abduction becomes a service. There’s some good set pieces, decent acting, and fun toys in the live action bit. “If there’s a nut allergy… we can make it work.” That’s some nice understated-humor writing. It even ends with a good minute-plus of solid gameplay. So why on earth is something so clever also so stupid?
Men are abducted from their boring wives and dull family duties, and not a single woman is invited to escape her responsibilities for a good round of shooting things in the face because…? They don’t enjoy it? Their pleasure lies in tying men down to family duties? They’re so much more responsible than men that they’d never consider an escape fantasy? The writers have no women in their lives, so no knowledge that they enjoy a nice round of gaming as much as men do? Or maybe it’s just that Call of Duty is such a big dude-bro-fest that Activision can market it more effectively by blowing off 50% of the population.
It wouldn’t have taken much to salvage this trailer. The ad was very careful to show that the abductees knew what was coming and were more than happy about it, so that negates the whole “OMG They kidnapped a woman!” complaint. Change the guy stuck at a boring work dinner into a woman, she sees that COD tattoo and knows the night just got a whole lot better. Or the woman in the parking garage gets to escape her husband and crying baby for a few hours. None of that happened, though, and instead what Activision released as an official promotion for their game wasn’t the message of “Responsibility is hard to avoid. We can help.” they intended, but rather “We can help you escape the women in your life.”