'Call of Duty': Game or lifestyle?

Call of duty 3
To many, this is more than just a game. (photo by C. Sullens)

By Kristina Testagrossa

There’s no question that “Call of Duty” is hugely popular. The realistic, military-themed first-person shooter videogame series has taken the gaming world by storm, with 9.3 million copies of its eigth title, “Modern Warfare 3,” sold in just the first 24 hours of the game’s release.
But what is it that makes this game so appealing to people worldwide? In an informal survey of about 30 Fitchburg-area gamers, they revealed the shocking (or not-so-shocking) thing they like most about the game: getting to shoot people.
What may actually be shocking, though, is that just over a quarter of those gamers admitted to playing it for over 16 hours per week. That’s a lot of killing and dying.
In addition to this, over 60 percent of those surveyed said they had stayed up past 4 a.m. playing it. These late nights may be affecting their social life and their adult responsibilities, as several people admitted to turning down plans with friends and significant others In fact, 10 people surveyed admitted to missing classes and work shifts due to playing.
This game is consuming not only gamers’ sleep, but also a large amount of monetary resources. In addition to the game’s $60 price tag and applicable online subscriptions, almost half of those surveyed have admitted to purchasing the “Call of Duty Elite” service. This service adds more multiplayer-based benefits and statistic-tracking capabilities for the more “hardcore” gamer, and comes at a cost of $50 per year.
Best Buy carries a full line of “Call of Duty” gaming accessories and downloadable content that consumers go crazy for, and Best Buy employees sometimes see the craziness firsthand. “I was talking about headsets with a kid and his mom,” employee Alex Easley said of one workday. “They were wondering the difference between the $179 “Call of Duty” headset and the $299 one. I couldn’t find a difference other than the hookup from the Xbox to the headset. They both had all the same specs otherwise, but the kid demanded the more expensive one.”
The final decision? When his mother asked him to choose between that and driver’s education, Easley said, “He chose the headset.”
He was also choosing to play a mature game, filled with realistic depictions of war and intended for players 17 and over. However, the majority of gamers surveyed said that every single game they have been in has had at least one underage player. Yet underage players had to have someone buy the game for them. Do parents really know what they’re getting for their kids?