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Critical mass: Why it's okay to hate Call of Duty (and any other game franchise)

Mike Bracken's picture

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Screenshot

Kotaku's Luke Plunkett recently wrote an opinion piece entitled Why It's Stupid to Hate Call of Duty So Damn Much. Intrigued by the headline (and always a sucker for a well-considered opinion piece to counter the never-ending stream of gaming "list-icles" out there) I decided to see why people were stupid to hate on what is essentially the biggest game franchise in the world at this moment.

Some disclosure before we talk about Mr. Plunkett's article—I have no vested interest one way or the other in Call of Duty. I played a small portion of CoD: Modern Warfare's single player campaign, found it to be decent enough, and never finished it because I had other titles to review. When it comes to CoD I'm largely indifferent. I don't skip the games because I have anything against the series—but solely because I find realistic modern day military shooters that focus on online multiplayer aren't my cup of tea. I like my shooters in fantasy or sci-fi settings with an engaging single-player campaign. I've always felt that if I wanted to do the things CoD or Battlefield or the various Tom Clancy games ask of their players, I'd just enlist instead. The only point of this is to make it clear that I'm not a Call of Duty hater. Truth be told, I mostly don't give a shit about the games one way or the other. I'm too busy playing stuff I like to spend a lot of energy on titles that don't really interest me (so why are you prattling on here, Bracken? I hear you thinking... Patience. All will be clear soon).

With that out of the way, I plunged into the Kotaku editorial. It starts off strong, with Plunkett talking about how CoD inspires some really venomous reactions in gamers—and how CoD haters are quick to take to the Internet to voice their distaste for the game continuously. Having seen it happen, I know what he's talking about.

After that good beginning, it all goes bad. How does one even justify a statement like this:

"Take a look at any comments section on almost any video game site on Earth and you'll see the same thing. People wondering aloud why the series is so popular, complaining about its incremental updates, mocking its design and lambasting those who have the tenacity to actually enjoy it.

Those people are idiots."

So, you're an idiot if you find CoD's annual updates that charge $60 for incremental changes or you don't like the game design? Really? This is where the level of thought and discourse is at on one of the biggest gaming blogs on the entire Internet? I agree that lambasting something others like that you don't is pretty idiotic—but how can you lump people in with legitimate issues? Oh, but wait—it gets worse.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Screenshot

The article then goes on to make the distinction that it's okay to dislike Call of Duty, but that it's stupid to hate it. And why is it stupid to hate it? Because people who hate a mega popular video game are "obnoxious elitists."

Yes, forget for a second any of the real and valid reasons you might have had for hating Call of Duty. They don't matter. You're an obnoxious elitist. It's that simple.

In Mr. Plunkett's defense, he does eventually say that there are valid reasons to criticize the franchise (followed by "there are plenty of reasons to love it as well"—he never bothers to acknowledge what those reasons might be, of course), but that's only after he's assured us that if you hate CoD then its only because you're the type of gamer who longs for the days when gaming was "uncool" and niche or are certain anyone who likes the game (and Madden, the other perennial whipping boy of gaming) is just a casual gamer who doesn't know anything and isn't as "hardcore" as you are. How is painting people who hate CoD with these broad brushstrokes and generalizations any better than the behavior he's attributing to "the haters?" How is it okay for him to talk about millions of people loving Call of Duty? If hating an inanimate object is ridiculous, wouldn't loving it be just as stupid? Shouldn't it only be acceptable to like the franchise by his earlier logic? I'm nitpicking, but I didn't set the rules of this debate in the first place.

I get that Mr. Plunkett is talking about a certain segment of gamers—but he's lumped a whole lot of other people in with bad apples by insinuating that anyone who dares to dislike the game's design or release structure is an idiot. There are very valid reasons to be troubled by what franchises like Call of Duty are doing to the gaming landscape. It's a successful franchise that other franchises will look to emulate—often in the worst ways possible. Just one example is that full priced yearly releases with relatively minor upgrades are not a good business model for publishers or gamers. It's myopic to think that Call of Duty exists in a vacuum where it doesn't affect the rest of the industry. There's been a certain segment of gamers who've always vocally opposed things like yearly releases with little added in terms of features to justify another full price retail purchase. Before this, it was Madden. There was a time it was Tony Hawk. At one point it was Guitar Hero and Rock Band. Fans will say "don't buy it if you don't like it"—and they're right—but that doesn't make it wrong to discuss these issues. It's not wrong to point out why you don't like Call of Duty just because a billion other people do. A billion people love Justin Bieber, too—does that make him above critical reproach? Does that mean those us who don't like his music shouldn't articulate why we don't like it?

And this is where Mr. Plunkett's piece really starts to lose the plot—he says "people don't walk around calling themselves "moviers", and pretend they're the only ones allowed to watch films. Everybody watches movies, some more than others, everyone with their own likes and dislikes. Same with books, same with TV, same with music."

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 Screenshot

He's right, no one calls themselves "moviers"—they call themselves "cinephiles" or "cineastes" and they very much exist. And while some of my fellow cinephiles can be "obnoxious elitists" who laugh at people listing something like Transformers as the greatest film they've ever seen, and sneer at people who call films "movies," the majority of them are passionate about the artform and interested in sharing their knowledge and perspective not to belittle people, but to help them see things in a broader context. I know firsthand—I've spent the majority of my adult life writing about film.

In the grand scheme of things, this is yet another example of gaming wanting to have its cake and eat it too. Gaming is oh so desperate to be recognized as a form of art—but articles like Mr. Plunkett's demonstrate that gaming isn't really ready to endure the critical analysis required to be taken seriously beyond the confines of mere entertainment. Yes, there's a vocal contingent of "gamers" who hate things for the misguided reasons the editorial points out—but not everyone who hates Call of Duty or Madden or Halo or some other gigantic franchise is doing it solely to be cool, hip, or iconoclastic. If gaming ever hopes to be taken seriously as an artform, if it ever even dreams of rising above the level of disposable culture, it's going to need the gaming equivalent of cineastes and bibliophiles to help get it there. That means people with passionate opinions about things—good or bad—and maybe people not afraid to hate a wildly popular franchise.

There will always be people railing against popular things for no other reason than because it's easy attention and makes them feel better about themselves. Unfortunately, that's just the nature of discourse in the Internet age. However, there's not only room for passionate opinions both positive and negative in the realm of gaming—there's a distinct need. This is particularly true of cogent and thoughtful negative opinions, because "game journalism" has demonstrated that it's mostly just a cheerleader for the industry and only marginally interested in being truly critical. Ignoring or attempting to marginalize dissenting opinions by labeling the opposition as "haters" and "obnoxious elitists" is no better than the trolls on message boards who say little more than "Popular Game X suxxorz." It's okay to hate a game or a franchise. It's perfectly acceptable to be passionate about your hobby. It's all right to stand up and voice your negative opinion about a game or franchise in the face of overwhelming positivity—just make sure you can support that opinion logically and add something to the conversation. That doesn't make you an "obnoxious elitist"—it makes you a fan of gaming. From where I stand, there's nothing wrong with that.

Author's note: After Mr. Plunkett's article went up, I replied to him on Twitter with some questions in hopes of opening up a dialogue. Mr. Plunkett hasn't responded at the time of this writing, but if he chooses to at some point I'd be more than happy to let him clarify his side of the issue.

Category Tags
Platform(s): Xbox 360   Wii   PS3   Nintendo DS   PC  
Developer(s): Treyarch   Infinity Ward  
Series: Call of Duty   Modern Warfare  
Genre(s): Shooting  
Articles: Editorials  

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God forbid someone has an

God forbid someone has an actual dissenting opinion. Let's tar and feather that person.

Excellent article Mike. You

Excellent article Mike. You hit on the reason I like coming on this site. Im one of the cinephiles you mention in your article, and I have the same passion for videogames. But there aren't many sites that analyze and critique games in the same way movies are. I appreciate being able to come to a site with writers and readers of such passion.
The whole "art" aspect is thrown around alot when it comes to videogames, but I tend to feel its just a word that comes across as shallow on most sites. Its only you guys that really analyze what that means.

Disposable culture, I like

Disposable culture, I like that. The phrase really tags what I hate most about these every-year sequels that still charge top dollar.

We don't play the first Call of Duty, or the first Modern Warfare. How many games survive ten years, even if it's just in small cliques as a lan-partyfavor?

You have Counter Strike and maybe the first Starcraft. There's a niche of Ultima Online players still keeping the game going.

So many games are so completely forgettable, despite their contemporary greatness. I'm taking an introductory game design class and a lot of the material is history - genres and styles that have come and gone.

And none of it will be played again except as an exercise in nostalgia. That's a problem that gaming will have to overcome if it's going to be considered an art.

Just a small comment about

Just a small comment about your disclosure, when you say that if you wanted to do the things that players do in COD or BF then you would just enlist, its like saying i dont like racing games because if i did I would be better off being a real race a car driver or by saying that if u enjoy GTA... who knows.

What I did take away from Mr. Plunketts article is that hating on COD is like hating JB, its "cool" to hate on them and to me like Mr. Plunketts does not make any sense. So for that reason it does make you "elitist". And that's all it is. Disliking a product and criticizing it is applauded, but hating it just because it's not your cup of tea is kinda like this article.

Thanks for the feedback,

Thanks for the feedback, guys.

I'm not sure what's sadder -- the fact that Kotaku ran an editorial by a respected editor that basically says that anyone who dares voice a negative opinion about a wildly popular franchise is an "idiot" or the 1500+ comments mostly agreeing with him...

I don't really care for

I don't really care for racing games for those very reasons...

The point is that I tend to enjoy games that take me AWAY from the real world and its duties and obligations, or at least makes them more interesting than they are in reality. Not everyone feels that way, sure -- but I do -- and since this is my commentary on something, it seems right to point it out. It's really not there for any other reason than to tell people who don't know me that I really don't give a rat's ass about CoD one way or the other. I'm glad people like it. I've read some very valid criticisms of it, but it's not a game I play. I don't have a horse in the race, in the other words -- my response would be the same regardless what game Mr. Plunkett cited in his article if he used these arguments in an editorial.

If Mr. Plunkett had written an article solely castigating "haters" -- people who basically say "CoD Suxxorz!1!!!!1!1" and nothing else, I'd agree with him. When you start lumping in people who don't like that Activision basically charges full price every year for an expansion pack, or the folks who find the multiplayer terrible, or the people with other legitimate complaints about the game in with those other people, though, he fails. And unfortunately, that's what he did right off the bat when he was pointing out all of the "idiots".

And finally, your last sentence proves you pretty much don't get it -- this article isn't about loving or hating CoD at all. It's about how an author at one of the biggest gaming websites in the universe wrote an editorial that was so short-sighted and flawed in terms of logic that they should be embarrassed they published it.

But I guess calling attention to something like that is as dumb as criticizing CoD right? Kotaku's a big site -- they must be awesome and I'm just an elitist hater trolling for hits...

Thanks for helping make my point, though.

kotuku

Whilst I agree this was an article that was quite poor in its reasoning, I think in general its one of the better gaming websites.
However recently when thought provoking articles about sexism and homosexuality in games the commments section became full of comments which equated to "who cares about that stuff, this is a videogame site."
So it makes you wonder if articles like the one spoken of above are a product of a two way problem.

Agreed. I read Kotaku

Agreed. I read Kotaku regularly. I don't always agree with what I read there, but I've followed them for a long time. This article surprised me because it's not the kind of thing I expect to read there -- I expect more well-reasoned pieces.

I try to avoid the comment sections -- they're usually either depressing or infuriating.

Its all well and good trying

Its all well and good trying to avoid the comments section, but I think its part of a bigger problem. Pieces like the Plunkett article are a reflection of the fanboyism that bleeds through into games journalism. Whilst I enjoy reading viewers comments on here as they seem more reasoned, and I am enjoying posting myself, I definately think that we would all be better off without comments sections. I don't think games journalism should be in a vacuum by any means, but when second guessing an audience creates poor writing like this is the damage to the credibility of this medium really worth it?

Kotaku

I have to be honest here and admit that what surprised me most about this article and the comments here, is that people actually have expectations of Kotaku.

I've read the site for years, and it's always been trashy tabloid "journalism" (I convulse while typing this word), but I enjoyed it for being very easy to skim headlines, and the fact that they pretty much gather all news from other places.
Mr. Plunkett and especially Mr. Ashcraft are worthless, arrogant trolls with not a shred of writing talent between them as far as I'm concerned, and that poor excuse of an article you linked to is only exemplary of it.

I was actually under the impression that most people did not take that site seriously, or anything Gawker-related for that matter.
It's pulp. It revels in being pulp.

Only very occasionally will they feature thoughtful articles, pretty much exclusively by guest writers (Leigh Alexander is always nice to read), but the overall quality is very very low, IMHO.

hmm. i'm no fan of

hmm. i'm no fan of plunkett's writing in general, but it almost feels like you're looking for conflict where none exists. as he says in the beginning of his article (you even point it out in yours), he has no problem with people NOT LIKING call of duty. his beef is with people working themselves in to a lather because OTHER PEOPLE DO LIKE IT. you're taking him to task for saying you're an idiot for 'hating' the game, but i'd argue that you're not using the same definition of the word he is. he lays it out pretty clearly what he means by differentiating between 'dislike' and 'hate' but it seems like you're not acknowledging that distinction? there's a wide gulf between being a reasonable critic of something and frothing at the mouth because someone likes something you don't.

i agree, however, that his assertion that there's not 'gamer' equivalent to film was pretty embarrassing, and a good example of why i find his writing style more than a little grating. also, luke plunkett coming down on anyone for being an 'obnoxious elitist' is absolutely ridiculous.

Maybe you are correct

Maybe you are correct Zolbrod, but the more thoughtful articles you speak of are the kind I don't seem to find anywhere else. I always thought it was a site that mixed the more pulpy shallow stuff and the well written articles very well. I certainly rarely get offended in the same way with regards to this call of duty article.
Im glad you mentioned leigh alexander though, and I also enjoy reading kirk hamilton. Their final fantasy 7 and deus ex letters were a pure joy to read.
Don't you think that games journalism in general is in a pretty shoddy place right now? I suppose thats true with any kind of journalism at the moment, all the different types are really struggling.

Hating is stupid

The logic behind why hating an entire franchise is stupid is:
You buy a game. You either love, like, dislike or hate it. Like a simplified scoring system.
Once you disliked or hated a single release of a franchise no one is ever forcing you again to buy a game of the series.
Initiating hate is the reason why someone should not care about a franchise anymore.
Have a passion for your happy. Great. Invest that passion in hate. Stupid.
Continue hating the single game where you spent money on, ok, and even though all reviews might suggest that newer releases are as bad (or as good) as always hating the series for that (again and again)is pretty pointless.
Though likers can of course continue love it since they are certainly those who buy each release and can have a real opinion (on the changes and continuities).

My last CoD was CoD4. I'm pretty ignorant to the franchise (or Tom Clancy games in general since GRAW) and some disliking arguments are ok, but haters, real haters of it, appear way too often stupid.
CoD haters are similar to Apple haters are similar to mainstream haters are similar to concern haters are similar to DRM haters are similar to profit haters are usually grinch like figures that instead of really arguing just blindly hate anything that's not correlating with their elitist "i know what would be best for the entire media" opinion. Hate on a broader scale is hardly a basis for any meaningful voice in my point of view.
Hate is the most stupid form of boycott because usually it wants to tell those who like the game that their liking is stupid and they better follow the brave elite example of the hater league.

I think the cited paragraph has to be taken as a whole and not that it is already stupid to criticize it at all. This is hardly meant with haters! Haters do all those things combined.

The moviers are a definitely misfit wrong example but i could also easily live without the hate of certain movie franchises.

So, yeah, i agree with the kotaku article.

It's actually schizophrenic by telling haters to shut up and keep their opinions for themselves, basically hate them for hating, but it is also just point 1, 2, 3, 4 & 6 of your criterias which comments you want on this site ... ;-)

Most people hate Call of duty and Justin Bieber

3/4 of people in rich countries play video games (mostly on their telephone or browser but who cares) and only a teeny tiny portion of them play CoD (just like only a tiony portin of people who listen to music like Justin Bieber). Most people do not want to pay to play Call of Duty.

So this Elitist Niche vs. Majority of Gamers representation is pretty much nonsense. Just because a franchise is the most popular in a certain category (retail console gaming) does not mean it is not, in a sense, niche. Other tastes may be more niche than CoD but it is just too easy to arbitrarily stop the cursor at this level. CoD fans could be seen as elitist who more often than not despise angry birds and farmville, angry birds fans elitist who laugh at mine sweeper and so on.

Oh and lol about the "moviers" ! When gamers compare games to movies it often results in absurdities like that.

Unfortunately, that's not

Unfortunately, that's not really what he winds up saying, though -- he mentions people complaining about the game's design and incremental updates as being idiots too. Those people aren't idiots -- they're people expressing an informed opinion about why the game doesn't work for them.

As I said before, if he'd just written an article about people rag on others for liking a game they don't -- with no good reason -- that would be one thing. Instead, he comes dangerously close to saying "if you don't like it, just don't say anything and let the people who do be happy." How does our medium evolve with an attitude like that? How do games get serious consideration as something more than kids' toys if critical discourse is frowned upon?

That's the problem -- Plunkett lumped in a lot of meaningful discussion with his anti-troll screed. Comment sections are places for discussion -- not just rah-rah cheering for the industry. I hate a pointless troll as much as the next guy -- but people complaining about how the game is affecting the industry in a negative way or voicing why the series doesn't work for them is not the trolling he was aiming at. To call those people idiots is short-sighted and clueless. It's almost as clueless as his pop-psychology analysis of why people hate the games in the first place.

I acknowledge the distinction between dislike and hate -- which is silly in the first place, because it's a semantic issue, and he then immediately turns around and talks about people "loving" the game. If you're going to make the argument that it's irrational to feel so passionately that you hate a videogame, by the rules of his logic, shouldn't it be just as dumb to love it? You can't really have it both ways from where I'm sitting.

My position is that it's perfectly fine to love or hate a game. If games are ever going to be art, if they're ever going to be important beyond entertainment, then there's going to have to come a point where they inspire passionate reactions beyond like and dislike. To insinuate that feeling any kind of passion for these things is borderline insulting. Plunkett writes about games for a living -- he should be more passionate about the medium than anyone. It's even worse to disparage "hating" a game for valid reasons, but "loving" it is okay.

However you come down on this issue, there's one point that seems fairly irrefutable -- it's a poorly written piece. If Plunkett wants to blast the trolls, fine -- but he missed the mark in a pretty significant way.

And for the record, I love you guys -- there have been great comments both ways here.

Have you had any response

Have you had any response from Luke Plunkett yet Mike?
Im very interested in what he has to say.
Problem is at the moment, its sad to see an industry which I have such a personal interest in being marred by poorly written articles like his and the industries bad decisions regarding dlcs and the war on the second hand market.
I sometimes think that it makes it hard for me to love this medium.

I agree wholeheartedly with

I agree wholeheartedly with crackajack's post.

First of all, I enjoy Kotaku as a whole, and I disagree with the commenters who describe it as a "tabloid" site or as a purveyor of substandard game journalism. I have read many thoughtful articles on Kotaku over the years.

Mike, to the extent you object to the article, you're missing the point. Plunkett says it right at the beginning: there's nothing wrong with disliking a game, but there's something wrong with hating a game, or a franchise, with the burning fury that a lot of people have. Yes, those people are idiots.

Perhaps Plunkett shouldn't have used the word "idiot". But he's not saying that everyone who hates CoD is an idiot, and it would be wrong to draw that inference from the article. Would you have less of an objection if he used a more neutral term of phrase? Perhaps, but good blog writers are provocative. And frankly, as a reader I'm not interested in reading an article called "Why People Who Dislike Call of Duty Are Generally Speaking, But Not In Every Circumstance, Misinformed."

Mike, I also take issue with your supposed neutrality. You say repeatedly that you don't care about CoD, that you "don't have a dog in this fight", that you can take or leave the series. Yet you also say in your article that "[t]here are very valid reasons to be troubled by what franchises like Call of Duty are doing to the gaming landscape." You say that Call of Duty is an example of a "full priced yearly release with relatively minor upgrades", with "little added in terms of features", and that such games are "not a good business model for publishers or gamers." And then you lump Call of Duty in with to two other vastly different franchises: Madden and Tony Hawk. It seems clear, based on your article, that you disapprove of buying Call of Duty based on Activision's business model, even though by your own admission you played only "a small portion of CoD: Modern Warfare's single player campaign" and "found it to be decent enough". You mention nothing about playing the multiplayer in any of the Modern Warfare titles, and say dismissively that if you wanted to do the things in CoD titles, you would "enlist instead."

If you played more than "a small portion" of the first Modern Warfare game, especially the multiplayer, you might learn that there are substantial differences from game to game. You might also learn that a fan of the series would take notice of these differences. You might also notice that the Modern Warfare games are released every other year (2007, 2009, and 2011). You might also learn that there is a difference between the Call of Duty branded games and the Modern Warfare-branded games, even though all bear the CoD moniker. You might also learn that CoD fans play these games hundreds of hours per year, making a $60-per-year investment more justifiable. You might not presume that CoD has a negative influence on the gaming landscape.

What Plunkett takes exception to is the fact that many gamers take, what he perceives as an "elitist" position on the series -- which, if you will permit me the presumption, seems to be a position that you share to some extent. This, despite your supposedly neutral position on the series. It is an undeniable fact that sites such as Gamecritics view the CoD series with hostility. Those reasons may differ from person to person, but I don't think I have to take a large leap of logic to say that their reasons stem from their general unhappiness with modern FPSes and yearly updated multiplayer franchises.

If you have specific reasons for disliking CoD as a series that are based on opinion grounded on fact or experience, then Plunkett says that you are entitled to them. But if you simply dislike CoD based on silly reasons, from Nintendo fanboyism to Battlefield/Halo/PC FPS partisanship to its presumed yet factually unsupported harmful impact on the gaming industry, then you are -- to use a slightly more friendly turn of phrase -- "misinformed."

Sleeve, You can make all

Sleeve,

You can make all these distinctions until the end of time -- it doesn't make the people who don't agree "idiots". People who argue that CoD offers up incremental updates for each new game or have a problem with the gameplay or mechanics or any of that are not idiots. To lump them in with people who blindly hate on something is irresponsible, misguided, and poor journalism. How about we worry less about generating article hits and more about talking about something intelligently?

I forgot, though -- this is gaming, where no one's interested in anything but having the world validate their opinion and being the first to get traffic.

And unfortunately, Plunkett might say it's okay to feel that way in one sentence -- but in the next, people with legitimate complaints about the series are "idiots" and "obnoxious elitists" -- and that's not to say anything about his idiotic movie analogy.

Mike, don't forget that

Mike, don't forget that we're talking about an editorial. Plunkett isn't telling us that this is some investigative breakthrough; it's just one man's opinion. I don't think that Kotaku held this out as anything other than an editorial, and I don't think that anyone is claiming that the Plunkett piece is anything more than an editorial. So Plunkett is not a "poor journalist" for expressing his opinion, any more than Mike Bracken is a poor journalist for disagreeing with him. Let's just keep that straight.

Distinctions are important. Call of Duty =/ Tony Hawk =/ Madden. These are three separate franchises, each with their own problems. Arguing that these franchises are harmful to the gaming industry because they each have yearly "incremental" updates is nonsensical and -- I'll just say it -- idiotic. People who hold this opinion, based on nothing else, are just as irrational and misguided as Nintendo fanboys or FPS tribalists.

And Plunkett isn't calling the people who disagree with him "idiots". Let's take that word off the table, because you have such an objection to it.

I'll redact it.

People with unfounded, irrational opinions driven by bias are *redacted*. "Elitists" who reject CoD because it "harms the industry" based on a subjective belief of what is "good" for the industry are *redacted*. There's plenty of room for people who dislike Modern Warfare's fast, uncomplicated, killstreak heavy style of multiplayer, or for people who dislike FPSes altogether. It's a big tent.

Disliking CoD because of the incremental yearly updates, without more, is *redacted* in my opinion. Especially when, in the opinion of many, those updates are anything but incremental. I suppose if a hypothetical company did nothing more than release the same game with different sprites and charge $60 for it year after year, then that would be bad. But that's not CoD, and that's not Modern Warfare. Presuming that it is is *redacted*.

My problem, Mike, is that your argument amounts to a straw man: that Plunkett thinks that people who disagree with him are *redact- aw, screw it. They're idiots. In fact, that's not what he's saying at all.

People can like or dislike a game for good reasons, and for bad reasons. Plunkett thinks that people should not dislike a game for bad reasons, and that those people's opinions are not worthy of respect. To the extent you believe that Plunkett thinks that unfavorable opinions of CoD are universally iditiotic, you have misunderstood him.

My other problem is that you have a stealth agenda. You're not really sticking up for people who legitimately dislike CoD as a game. You're sticking up for the elitists that Plunkett describes, people who believe, as you seem to believe, that CoD is somehow harmful to the gaming industry.

Let me suggest that you write an article, wearing your journalist hat, about how CoD is destroying the gaming industry, and stop griping at Plunkett's opinion. Otherwise, suck it up and stop reading Kotaku editorials.

Sleeve, I love you to death

Sleeve,

I love you to death -- but you're really hardcore reaching here.

I have no "stealth agenda" -- I simply take exception (as have others) to Plunkett's assertion that people who don't like CoD (for completely valid reasons, despite what you might think...) are idiots. It's like American politics -- don't actually debate an issue -- just sling around derogatory terms for people who don't share your viewpoint and muddy the water instead.

The very idea of me having a stealth agenda is so stupidly hilarious that I'm laughing. I go on our podcast and Twitter and everywhere else and openly mock Nintendo and all the other dumb shit I see. I've gone on the record countless times talking about things I hate and why I hate them. I don't need a stealth agenda, Sleeve -- I'm opinionated and not the least bit afraid to say what I think, and anyone who's read or followed me or listened to the show already knows that. The idea that I'm so sneaky is dumb. If I had a bone to pick with CoD, believe me, it would have been picked. Like I'm going to sit here and pretend that I don't hate CoD to write an article. Christ dude, conspiracy theory much? I mean, I get it -- it makes it easier to discredit what I'm saying if you can say "well, he's just really a CoD hater" -- but let's get real here.

Idiots are the people who simply hate the game because it's popular. People who hate it because they don't like the multiplayer or they don't like the game design or they don't like the way Activision handles the game's releases are not idiots. They're people with opinions -- and having an opinion and stating it precludes you from being an idiot in my book. See? I haven't called you an idiot once, despite not even remotely agreeing with anything you've said. You have an opinion -- I respect it. I don't agree with it, but I think the fact that you're here articulating something makes you more than an idiot. Luke Plunkett is unlikely to afford you the same courtesy, unless you happen to have an opinion he thinks is worthwhile.

I simply pointed out the arguments that some of the "idiots" have used in support of why they hate CoD. I write in the game field -- I'm aware of those arguments. I'm aware of why people like CoD too. Again, though, I don't really care one way or the other about CoD. It just happened to be the game Mr. Plunkett used to make his silly statement that anyone who didn't love the game was an idiot. If he'd said it about Skyrim or Zelda or CluClu Land, my reaction would be the same. I think the proverbial bug up your ass is that you like CoD and feel that I'm somehow slighting it. I'm not. I don't fucking care. By carrying on (and on...) about it, you're missing the forest for the trees. Did you read the title, Sleeve? It's called Why It's Okay to Hate Call of Duty (Or Any Other Game Franchise). The franchise in question is irrelevant. The problem is that Plunkett comes out and says "if you don't like this because you think the design sucks or you hate the release schedule, you're an idiot and an obnoxious elitist". You're okay with that? Someone who doesn't agree with you is an elitist or an idiot? This is where we're at?

Plunkett can think what he wants -- but he puts it out there and it's going to inspire discussion. He doesn't write in a vaccuum any more than I do. But, this really gets to the heart of the matter -- Plunkett (and you, it seems) don't want dissenting discussion at all. Plunkett (and you) have painted anyone who doesn't share your viewpoint as "idiots". And yet, everyone else is the obnoxious elitist. Pot, meet kettle.

I don't need to write an article about how CoD is ruining anything -- because I've never said that in the first place. You're really hung up on that, though -- like it somehow makes it easier to defend a poor piece of writing by painting me with the CoD hater brush. I mean, really, Sleeve -- you're better than that.

At the end of the day, there are real and valid reasons for loving or hating CoD. Plunkett chose to take several of those valid reasons and assert that people who feel that way are idiots. That's a terrible approach -- and now you're following down the same path.

You're welcome to have the last word -- I'm not going to continue to back and forth with someone who's being willfully ignorant to promote his agenda. I find it disappointing that you had to go the conspiracy theory route, but that was your call. Go in peace, assuming I hate CoD and had some secret agenda to push forth and waited for the perfect moment to put it out there if that's what you want to think. Your mind was made up as soon as you hit the the reply button anyway.

misinterpretation?

Mike Bracken wrote:

Your mind was made up as soon as you hit the the reply button anyway.

I guess yours on the article was made up before you wrote your own article? Isn't that the natural process when exchanging views?

I started my above disagreeing comment already before i read the article in question. So even before i agreed to the Kotaku article in overall i knew that i disagreed on your article, because i think you missed the point. You yourself are perplex by him writing disliking with arguments is okay and at the same time calling them stupid for as you understand it pretty much the same things. Instead of getting it, the implied difference of hate and dislike, you have to think it's a poor piece of writing?
That makes any sense to you? Why take the obvious which you actually seem to agree on when there is something to disagree...

YOU are mixing up stupid haters with arguing critics and blame this Plunkett guy for that. He attacks haters who actually hate the business model, the success and the forming of the entire industry according to this, going somewhere they don't want to. The haters actually do NOT, because they actually can't, hate the games of the franchise because they usually don't know them. (Would be even more stupid to really know each of the series from tip to toe and then hate them all.)

Really really hating something is imo something i am either afraid of or really have to label stupid. Hate means passion, passion about something you actually should not care for because you are then definitely not the target customer and probable never will be. As a possible costumer your main concern ought to be if the product is worth your money.
If you think 4hours of SP for XX€ is too short. Ignore it.
If you think 15$ for 4 new maps is too much. Dislike it.
If you think endless spawns on trigger based linearly shifting battle fronts is a very poor design. Ignore it.
If you think the AI sucks. Dislike it.
If you think perks are bullshit and you want pure gameplay. Ignore it (and play CS1.6 or Quake Live or...).
Where is there ever a reason for hate?

How is that saying going? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.
Haters act as though they were fooled twice (or even constantly because the whole industry stinks because of CoD or so), which they just aren't, other gamers buy it, give willfully with joy their money to Bobby, they themselves don't have to and still they complain about the greedy companies they don't give no cent.
That's imo a good definition of stupid.

Hate includes passion, and passion for something you actually (should) spent 0,0 bucks on, after you realized spending 50 on the first one was an enormous error, is not stupid in your opinion?

Maybe you use hate easier than me or mean it less hard even if you mean literal hate, but hate is something actually never should be complied. Maybe i'm too much of a christian, maybe i'm to much of a do-gooder or maybe my countries history sensitized me for the real meaning of real hate, but i hate definitely never something so unimportant as luxury goods, games, still i consider myself passionate about my hobby.

I think the point is here

I think the point is here that surely Mr. Plunkett couldve made his point without resorting to the kind of language and clouded thinking that he claims to be against. Surely trolling trollers is just trolling regardless of the point?
For the record I adored the call of duty 4, it felt like a breath of fresh air amid all the second world war shooters, of which I was sick of. And the weight of the weapons, and just how smooth it all was really impressed me. However it didn't take that long for me to get bored of how many modern military games were getting churned out. However, I never got into the online multiplayer aspect of these games, maybe thats why I got tired of it so quickly, it felt like the solo campaigns started to become an afterthought, throwing in shocking scenes to give the impression of freshness. But maybe im not the audience anymore.

Or maybe im just an

Or maybe im just an obnoxious elitist?

If you guys take nothing

If you guys take nothing else from my comments, please understand that I am not saying that all people who dislike CoD or MW3 are "obnoxious elitists".

Got it? Good.

I stand by my comments. I'm not a "conspiracy theorist", I just think that people should say what they're thinking. If you think MW3 is harmful to the gaming industry for whatever reason, say so. Don't employ the half-baked rhetorical strategy of imputing your opinion onto someone else under a guise of smug mpartiality, e.g. "some people would argue that MW3 is harmful to the gaming industry."

Mike, if the sole objective of your column was to raise the level of video game editorial dialogue, then mission accomplished. But then you wouldn't have called it "Why it's okay to hate MW3", would you? (Notwithstanding your "or any other franchise" qualifier.)

Honestly, better to redact

Honestly, better to redact "elitist" than "idiot". Calling people "elitist" as if your faux-populism is some sort of trump card is just about as idiotic as it gets.

sleeve wrote: I stand by my

sleeve wrote:

I stand by my comments. I'm not a "conspiracy theorist", I just think that people should say what they're thinking. If you think MW3 is harmful to the gaming industry for whatever reason, say so. Don't employ the half-baked rhetorical strategy of imputing your opinion onto someone else under a guise of smug mpartiality, e.g. "some people would argue that MW3 is harmful to the gaming industry."

Maybe it's just me, but people saying what they're thinking is the most over-glorified attitude of the internet age. An obnoxious person can say the most prejudiced statements because "that's the thinking". A man who claims to have a college degree and high GPA can say Occupy Wall Street is worthless and that the 99% should stop whining and that also counts as "saying what they're thinking". Stating one's thought is not the end-all, be-all to posting your texts for the entire internet to see. Too few people actually bother to research before they write. In many cases, they can't even attempt to reach out and have a dialogue with people whom they know have differing views to theirs.

An article published in Kotaku -- a widely read gaming site -- that is poorly constructed, dismissive and discouraging of critical thought can be just as harmful to the industry as the trends a bestselling series could start. In my opinion, this is actually worse. It enables this lynch mob culture that the internet is already teeming with. To tie this into videogames, look at all the reactions to authors who give low-scoring reviews of high profile games. Just recently, Scott Jones caught flak for his Uncharted 3 review. The most awful thing with the fallout is not the fact that a lot of people disagree with him, but that they reacted in a way that is unhealthy and destructive. How many personal insults has Scott endured? How many death threats has he received? How many NeoGAFfers saying they would sexually abuse his mother does he have to read? That an article in Kotaku would take the same attitude of insulting people who don't like this one game series is disheartening, because it sends the message to gamers, that "hey, it's okay to label people who hates this thing we like. Let's start by calling them 'obnoxious elitists'!" I'm sorry, I hate cyber-bullying. I don't need people insulting me because there's something they like that I feel negatively towards.

I think you misread Mr

I think you misread Mr Plunkett's article. Let me start off with the quote you pulled out...

"Take a look at any comments section on almost any video game site on Earth and you'll see the same thing. People wondering aloud why the series is so popular, complaining about its incremental updates, mocking its design and lambasting those who have the tenacity to actually enjoy it.

Those people are idiots."

I think by focusing on what he said before the and, you are missing the whole point of his article. I don't think Mr Plunkett is insinuating that anyone who dares to dislike the game's design or release structure is an idiot or elitist like your article suggests; at least, thats not how I read it. He is speaking about those who feel hatred towards this franchise and have an overwhelming desire to negatively comment on it every chance they get. He merely suggests that there may be an underlying reason for this hatred... Elitism? Maybe. Stupidity? Likely.

I think when most rational people try something they don't like, they may write a negative review or comment in the forums then move on. What appears to be happening with this franchise in particular is the vocal minority are screaming from the rooftops how much they HATE the game! They feel the need to call those who enjoy the game sheep who just feed the machine. Just look at the user reviews on Metecritic, there are just over 6000 total reviews, 4000 of which are negative. To put it into perspective the top 5 grossing films in history have just under 4500 total user reviews.

It begs the question, what is it about this franchise that pisses these people off so much?

Unhate

@anon
Exactly. "And"
I said that more or less already but thanks for making it obvious.

Nightdreamer wrote:

An article published in Kotaku -- a widely read gaming site -- that is poorly constructed, dismissive and discouraging of critical thought can be just as harmful to the industry as the trends a bestselling series could start. In my opinion, this is actually worse. It enables this lynch mob culture that the internet is already teeming with. To tie this into videogames, look at all the reactions to authors who give low-scoring reviews of high profile games. Just recently, Scott Jones caught flak for his Uncharted 3 review. The most awful thing with the fallout is not the fact that a lot of people disagree with him, but that they reacted in a way that is unhealthy and destructive.

I think you also took it exactly the opposite way it wanted to be understood.
He said stop hating. To extend his agenda i think it's fair to do like Mike has done by adding Why It’s Stupid To Hate Call of Duty So Damn Much (or any other gaming franchise OR any critic or critique you disagree with)
Haters can also be those dreadful number whore fanboys.
I understood (or want to understand) his article as an appeal to calm down, relax a bit, focus your passion more on liking and loving something, and only in between dislike and criticize some bits, but don't let hate be your main driving force. Don't define your passion by hating as much as possible and shouting around that only those games you like are good, all others should rot in the shelves and bring hopefully one day those greedy publishers to bankruptcy.

Those of you who did get a different message out of the article have not read in a forum were are haters? or just ignore them more easily than me?
I've been on a website where a guy reviewed _every_ game with a 0,5/5 (lower wasn't possible). iirc he did that with over a hundred games. and no, it was no satirical joke to scoring itself, since he also made up a corresponding negative text too. I am in a forum where Demons (and Dark) Souls was the _only_ good current-gen game and everything else was mainstream crap, repeatedly criticizing no matter the genre with the same arguments over and over how shitty everything else was compared to that godly game.
Randomly pick any EA-game thread and you will certainly find someone bitching currently of course about Origin, previously about yearly releases, or killing Bullfrog, or killing CnC, or killing NfS (Porsche), or killing NfS Underground (by those who are younger), not being innovative, no new IPs, never, ever...
I hate something, you should too. blablabla
This week you were able to get Burnout Paradise for _free_ via Origin. And guess what the outcome was in many comments: Hate. A fucking free game....

Those were the ones he addressed. Not the critics.
Because that would attack himself as he is a critic(?).
I still don't get how someone can get it in this way which cannot make any sense at all.

Quote:

harmful to the industry as the trends a bestselling series could start

So you want to judge if something is harmful to the industry?
What is harmful to the industry?
Music games almost died by now. Was it harmful that the success was such a sharp peak? For the time the trend lasted definitely but would it have lasted longer, with more sales in the end, if the peak would have been lower? Sell 9 copies this year, none next year, is not really different than selling 3 years in a row 3 games. Can anyone tell if there would have been any way to make it last forever? Or is not more so that once you have played one music game you are done with it? So once all possible customers were reached the industry had to shrink to pre music game era?
I don't see occasions were someone could really say if it is harmful to the industry. The industry will always follow the money. And if we have not enough innovation and people get fed up with playing the same game over and over they will signal it some day and then they will of course innovate again. Those who signal early might find that the point was already reached to cry out but hating doesn't help when all others still enjoy those games you are already thinking of as harmful to the industry, only because you are wanting something other.

Love, like, dislike, argue, but don't hate. Please. Thank you.
BTW
Unhate. Love the ads.

Comment/Moderating Feedback

Hey everyone, we probably let this discussion go a little too far without moderating. I'm going to ask folks to be mindful of the Code of Conduct and try to express yourself while respecting the opinions of others.

If you have a differing opinion, that's great. We love hearing different points of view at GameCritics, but there's no need for someone to call out Mike or anyone else with "you don't get it" or "you missed the point" or having some ulterior motive.

There's also no need to beat a dead horse. If you made your point once, making it two or three times ain't going to make it any more clear.

I also wanted to link to this blog post by reviled comic book artist Rob Liefield on how he deals with haters. I may not like his artwork, but I love his point of view.

Hmm, my thoughts on hate.

I'd say a lot of the hate comes from gamers who feel the popularity is undeserved because of obvious flaws to the series/games, a lack of evolution in the story-telling and game design, as well as the games omnipresence in the media. Many gamers, I bet, HATE the game because of its overwhelmingly popularity despite having no evolution in both game design and story telling and having flaws among other things.

At the end of the day, hatred comes from some deep opposition, and if what you oppose is quantity over quality then that doesn't make 'haters' stupid at all, if that is what you oppose. Personally, I oppose all things that I find or are known to be flawed yet has enormous popularity. Justin Bieber is indeed one of them, but just because I name him doesn't mean I'm jumping on the hate JB bandwagon because everyone else is.

Just my thoughts while reading this article and comments, and just to note I don't actually hate the series. Personally, the hate goes towards Halo.

Great read and some good criticism.

Old and Common Argument

The linked piece is a common diatribe against self-appointed elitists who affect a loathing against anything wildly popular based solely on that popularity. Nothing new in the least, although the author apparently thinks it is.

It's hilarious that people

It's hilarious that people are OKAY when Kotaku -- a widely read site -- uses yellow journalistic headline "Why it's stupid to hate Call of Duty so damn much" that straight up calls people who don't like Call of Duty stupid, and then would defend Luke Plunkett for using insulting words like "idiots, obnoxious elitist, and a**holes". However, they're offended by Mike Bracken for his audacity to disagree without using a single derogatory term, for using a headline that essentially says it's okay to feel a certain way about this and other games, and for taking conscious efforts to give Luke the benefit of the doubt and for reaching out to him for comments. I don't need to be preached about un-hate because the true un-hating that has to be done here is to tell people to stop acting like Biff Tannen.

Please don't read too much into my posts because none of my points have anything to do or anything that applies with the music industry -- which, last I checked, do do fact checks and have a way better journalism. All I was saying is someone has to call out other sites and tell them to chill out on the jibes, passive-aggressive or not.

Irony

Chi Kong Lui wrote:

...discussion go a little too far without moderating....while respecting the opinions of others...there's no need for someone to call out...

I don't want to sound like a troll but i smell irony.

I have no idea how many comments they deleted and how strictly its moderated, but Kotaku allowed a ton of comments disagreeing with their article. Also by 'COD ruins the industry'-haters. From 'bullshit article' to 'yay, you're right, too much hate involved'. Every, also endlessly repeated opinions.

But here it gets already too far when opinions are iterated, in my case to further investigate why someone can understand it as i believe is a simple misinterpretation maybe ignited by the offensive language?
I wrote i don't get it why someone gets it that way and i think i used question marks whenever possible. I wanna know what i myself don't get, not blame anyone or call stupid or whatever.

The irony now is you want to moderate haters of haters- more or less the article is a poor piece of text better never done and don't dare to question if we got it right and don't assume reasons why we did-, while you say the initial haters ought not to be moderated, should be allowed to communicate there hate always, everywhere because they have reasons for their hate.
Kotaku allowed "Luke writes nonsense" while you don't want to allow "your article is based on a misinterpretation"?
You are more driven to moderate by "you (might) have missed the point" than by people who are telling others that they enjoy the wrong, because bad, game?

@nightdreamer
It's "sad that so many agree", which is in the language certainly much softer but basically not really anything else than calling the agreers opinions wrong or also stupid... subtlety makes accusations not less meaningful in my book, actually i like direct wording more so there is less room for wiggly interpretation.

crackajack wrote: I don't

crackajack wrote:

I don't want to sound like a troll but i smell irony.

Being a long-time reader/commenter to the site, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and respond.

crackajack wrote:

I have no idea how many comments they deleted and how strictly its moderated, but Kotaku allowed a ton of comments disagreeing with their article. Also by 'COD ruins the industry'-haters. From 'bullshit article' to 'yay, you're right, too much hate involved'. Every, also endlessly repeated opinions.

But here it gets already too far when opinions are iterated, in my case to further investigate why someone can understand it as i believe is a simple misinterpretation maybe ignited by the offensive language?
I wrote i don't get it why someone gets it that way and i think i used question marks whenever possible. I wanna know what i myself don't get, not blame anyone or call stupid or whatever.

How Kotaku chooses to moderate their comments has no relevance here. We've adopted a far more strict Code of Conduct than most other sites in order to be more inclusive and encourage more open-minded discussion. At the same time, before anyone calls us out for any past grievances, we are no robots. We're all humans moderating humans and stuff that falls into gray areas and stealthy trolls may get missed.

If you feel you need to question someone's motivations and interpretations without respecting that point of view and using dismissive language like "Get over it" or "you missed the point," that's not going to fly here.

Key difference, crackajack,

Key difference, crackajack, is that Mike reached out to Luke because he seeks to understand Luke's points even despite fundamental differences. Did Luke extend the same luxury to people who don't like CoD? No. Also, calling someone wrong is not the same as calling him stupid; unless I'm missing something, no one person is without flaws, and we need people calling out our mistakes (constructively) if we want to improve. All I, and I imagine everyone else, want is for Kotaku, a popular site, TO BE BETTER. We don't have any hateful agenda to push and no one is deliberately trying to humiliate their writers, as you seem very intent on doing to Mike. No one is wigglily interpreting anything, Mike is just saying "be fair, and for the record, insult sucks." He's not hiding any passive aggression behind a veil of civility.

Well played sir. I remember

Well played sir. I remember getting COD4 as an early Christmas gift from my wife that year (I believe it was a week after release). I let that game site there till Christmas night however as I didn't think it would do much for me. I was a Halo man through and through for my multiplayer at the time, and I wasn't all that jazzed about any COD titles before. They were solid, and entertaining games to be sure, but I like sci-fi and fantasy so much more than WWII themed stuff that there's no comparison.

After finishing playing the campaign and getting all of the achievements a handful of days later (only the second game I'd ever gotten a 1,000 on, or cared to) I then proceeded to play the multiplayer every free hour I had for the next 8-10 months probably. The customization, the tight mechanics, and something as simple as a sprint function made that game the only thing I wanted to play through the Fall of 08'. I wore out a controller completely on that thing, the sticks were worn down to nubs, and they started to flop around they got so loose.

Since then I've played every COD campaign on Vet, got all the single player Chievs on all of them, and had a generally good time doing it (with the exception of MW3 which I have yet to play) I've also collectively logged maybe 15-20 hours of multiplayer on the past four iterations, and never picked up Black Ops till a few months ago on the cheap. To say I've lost my taste for it is an understatement. I still enjoy a mechanically solid shooter of most any kind with the difficulty cranked up all the way, and COD does tight mechanics better than any.

However, with each passing entry all I got was more bored. I really never got into COD:WAW multi at all. I did think the campaign was pretty good, probably the second best of the bunch. It was also the most compound swear inducing FPS campaign I ever played. I was genuinely excited for MW2 when it came out, for both it's campaign and multiplayer. A couple weeks later it was collecting dust.

It's like getting in early on some new band whose stuff just blows your mind, and you really think they're gonna be the next time tested band that fills your head and heart with music for many years to come. Three years later you couldn't care less about their fourth LP of repetitive swill. Certainly a video game series of success has a built in audience far greater than your new favorite unsigned band, but the idea is the same.

I just don't care anymore. I'll play MW3's campaign someday, and surely queue up a few matches of multi too, but anymore it's just a record I don't care much about listening to. All Activision has done over the past four years is take the great game that was COD4 and slap on some new skins, and a bunch of unneeded perks and attachments until it was like a pizza with thirty toppings on it (this is news to no one) Add to that an unbearable amount of screaming racist, homophobic children instead of any kind of teamwork, and it's nothing more than a trend. MW3 is like a pair of the newest Nike's or some hideous Tapout shirt. It's just something the kids do now because they're supposed to. It's got much more in common with that Transformers movie than it does gaming.

Now sure, if I could make 775 million in five days putting out the same pap that the kids are screaming for, I'm sure I probably would too. I'd rather make 775 million in less than a week putting out something new and evolutionary. It's too bad Activision couldn't do the later. Of course with becoming aware of the kind of person Bobby Kotick is, it goes against all that I stand for to even root for a company like that. I don't need to wish it all would go away, I'm happy just not giving a shit anymore.

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