Black ops and red poppies

by John Stephens

This coming Sunday the nation will fall silent at 11 am as we begin a poignant tribute to the men who have served and are serving in our Armed Forces. However there will still be murmurs of unrest over the furore caused due to comments Robert Kotick has made over his company’s Call of Duty franchise.

CEO of Activision Blizzard, Kotick claims that the recently released Call of Duty: Black Ops is “a tribute to the courage, and the dedication and the sacrifice of those people who defend our … freedom around the world.”

However these statements are being hit back at with games forums buzzing with criticisms of the CEO. One avid gamer, Michael Forrest was eager to display his viewpoint on the whole situation as we have passed November 11th and are gearing up towards the annual Remembrance Sunday congregations.

“The game does not represent real war, if your artificial intelligence comrades are gunned down in battle more respawn, ready to die over and over again with infinite lives. Real war heroes only have one life unlike those represented in the Black Ops game and throughout the Call of Duty franchise. The game is not a tribute, it is an insult and it glorifies war.”

A scene from the recently released Black Ops game- Credit: Activison Blizzard

Despite the rather controversial statements which many are stating as a cheap publicity stunt there lies more behind the words that have fallen out of Kotick’s mouth. If you pull back the veil of anger, there is a charity, Call of Duty Endowment, which was set up by Activision Blizzard.

It is to this charity that Kotick has made a $1 million donation from the already record-breaking sales of Black Ops. The game itself was predicted to do significantly worse than the previous instalment in the Call of Duty franchise; Modern Warfare 2. However the newest installment has generated $50 million more in sales on its opening day sales than its predecessor.

Activision last year were quick to state that “they chose to give back to veterans by using the proceeds from Modern Warfare 2 to fund the Call of Duty Endowment and raise awareness for this important issue.” And an immediate grant worth $125,000 was made to the Paralyzed Veterans of America organization.

The funds although helpful are generally regarded as being “worth a penny” to Activision Blizzard by Michael Forrest “he (Kotick) got a $12 million bonus last year, if Activision Blizzard gives $125,000 to paralyzed war veterans it is an insult how they can fund so much for a company executive, but not give back a serious proportion of a ‘tribute’ games income to help veterans.”

Having already had to deal with a protest by fans at Celtic Park parading a sign stating that the poppy was “blood stained” and protests at 11 am on Armistice Day, Fraser Bedwell of Poppy Scotland has said that recent developments were “regrettable” and that “inevitably distractions will occur.”

Overall Fraser Bedwell was generally unhappy with the quotations from the CEO of Activision Blizzard.

“I believe that computer games are generally unrealistic, because in the end war is not a game. Poppy Scotland works with and aids those ex-servicemen and women who have been badly injured in war situations and they have to live with the negative impact it has on their health. they don’t regenerate instantly, unlike computer game characters.”

But overall with the Poppy Appeal, Fraser was satisfied as the “media agenda was very successful” and would also like to thank the Scottish people for “being very generous in aiding the successful campaign”.

Poppy Scotland Appeal Poster- Credit: Poppy Scotland

With a franchise that Activision Blizzard claims is the “number one most played game with troops throughout the world” it seems that more can be done to help the charities and to help the troops that it honours considering the company itself posted $51 million in profit in the third financial quarter this year, according to most gamers.
 But perhaps their gripe means nothing as they flock to buy Black Ops, aiding it in becoming a best-seller in the games market.