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Recently a company named Infinity Ward was responsible for creating the fastest-selling videogame of all time. It was called Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. You may have heard of it. Since its release, it has remained at the top of the sales list and is currently the hottest game on Xbox Live, itself the top online gaming service. It would be fair to say, then (if somewhat of an understatement), that Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is the most popular game in the world right now, if not ever made. So then why do so many people hate it?
Could it be because the game is pushing boundaries? Perhaps. A level towards the beginning of MW2 allows you to take part in a terrorist assault on a Moscow airport. You may opt not to fire on the civilians if you choose (and you can opt out of the mission altogether), but the game doesn't shy away from showing the carnage and terror. You and your fellow terrorists will shoot people in the head as they attempt to surrender, in the back as they try to flee and in the gut as they lie bleeding, waiting for it all to be over. The level, called "No Russian," is a terrible and awesome spectacle, and no matter how jaded you pretend to be, it will affect you.
Perhaps it's this, then, that's the cause of so much hatred for MW2. Fox News would have you believe so, but then, the Fox News audience doesn't really play games. And they hate lots of things. No, that wouldn't account for the sincerely-felt ire of actual gamers.
Maybe we can trace the ill feelings from actual gamers to the controversial decision to "hobble" the PC multiplayer version of MW2 by not providing for dedicated servers. As for why this is a big deal, omitting dedicated server support makes the PC version of the game play like the console version, which, to speed-addicted PC gamers, is like riding in a sedan vs. a sport car. It's a difference a lot of gamers wouldn't even notice, but to those who do, it's an incredibly big deal.
Yet, in spite of the ire, the PC version of MW2 has still sold more quickly than its prequel, making it, like its console cousin, one of the fastest-selling games of all time. This would seem to indicate that the very people who are most upset about this game are nevertheless buying it in huge numbers, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense. People don't actually buy things they hate, do they? Really?
They do. Or, I should say: You do.
Considering the gamer subculture is the same subset of people who ushered the word "meh" into general circulation, this should come as no surprise. Gamers love to hate, and, ironically, they hate to love.
Case in point: the console war. Never in history, outside of professional sports fanaticism or perhaps the war in Northern Ireland, have different groups of people with so many common interests been so completely unable to see eye-to-eye. Microsoft or Sony? Nintendo or Sega? Honestly, who the hell cares? They all make games. Games are awesome. Shut the f**k up and enjoy the surplus. Seriously. The only way a fanatical ire against one console fan base vs. another makes sense is if gamers genuinely believe that the success of one spells doom for another - or "theirs." And yet, even then, with so many games available on multiple platforms, what does the failure or success of one over another really mean apart from the potential loss of a relatively minor number of proprietary features?