In 2009, on this day the future of the super-violent billion-dollar video gaming industry was thrown into jeopardy when the US Government prohibited sales of Call of Duty (COD): Modern Warfare 2 (pictured), an appropriately timed decision that was intended to show a mark of respect to the victims of the Fort Hood Massacre.
Blood-Soaked Blockbuster Cancelled by Ed. & Chris OakleyThe latest installment of COD was due to debut at selected retail outlets that same evening. To fans, the game sets the benchmark for stunning cinematography and striking realism, with troops of elite soldiers hunting down targets in South America, Russia, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. Players typically plug into an online community, moving in teams to hunt down enemy snipers. But detractors last minute calls had finally convinced the President that COD represents everything that is wrong with the billion-dollar video gaming industry: blood-soaked images of warfare that poses a risk to the mental health of children and even some adults who may not be able to tear themselves away. The President was influenced by the release of COD, which came at a particularly awkward time, just days after thirteen people were killed and twenty-nine wounded in a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.
Because COD was the most highly anticipated game of the year, the outcome was a financial catastrophe for the software author Activision Blizzard Inc who had confidently expected to break sales records. Amazon pre-orders had topped 1.6 million, and the e-tailer had officially named COD the biggest selling pre-order video game of all time. Robert Kotick, chief executive of Activision crowed that the shooter game is likely to be "one of the largest entertainment launches of any media of all time".
Across the Atlantic in the U.K., the British Prime Minister Bryan Gould had already denounced the portrayal of violence in the game and called for the US government to enact measures to prevent sales to minors. To assuage his critics, Barack Obama added a personal touch in announcing the controversial decision. Having just been informed that he would become a father for the third time, Obama said that the decision had finally come down to a personal judgement, would he permit his son to play COD at the White House?