Following stern criticism from two games writers yesterday, Infinity Ward's Robert Bowling pulled back a viral video for Modern Warfare 2, couched as a PSA from a group called "Fight Against Grenade Spam" that called the tactic "for pussies."
Destructoid's Samit Sarkar, following the event unfold over Twitter, reports that Infinity Ward took fire publicly from Phillip Kollar of Game Informer and freelancer Mitchell Dyer over the video's language, tone and especially, the way the fake interest group's name formed the acronym "F.A.G.S." In the video, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher - and Modern Warfare fan - Cole Hamels (pictured, at right), pretends to deliver the public interest message that randomly throwing grenades around in multiplayer is "for pussies," and throws in an "oh f—k," at the end when he himself is blown up. "Fight Against Grenade Spam" appeared as a title card introducing Hamels.
In the end, Bowling said he could "appreciate the concerns" although he felt "the core gag is great," and ultimately, the video was taken down.
Overreacting how? I'm not organizing a mass boycott or even saying I won't buy the game. I'm just pointing out that their decision to become complicit in one of their communities most oppressive slurs in a not-terribly-fun ad campaign is stupid and makes me reconsider my purchase more than any other controversy surrounding the game thus far. But it's an official video released by them that for all intents and purposes says, "Yeah, we think it's hillarious to use the word FAGS as well! LOLOLOLOL!" Just look at all the YouTube comments saying how totally awesome IW is for that bit. Whether it was their intent or not, that stupid joke condones a part of their community they should be shunning.
Bowling noticed the exchange and replied:
I think it was more of a social commentary joke of that stereotype than it was a fist-bump of acceptance to it.
Dyer replied to that, copying the message to Kollar, with:
The problem is that it was so poorly handled/executed that it looks derogatory. It seems to enforce the asshole-ry.
Finally, Bowling relented in the following tweet:
I agree. I think the core gag is great, the end is a bit too far from the intent of the joke & can appreciate the concerns. Pulled.
And now the withering, scorching comments about political correctness and who has the right to take offence and to what shall begin again, thanks to a video that needlessly took one step over the line. Just a slight tweaking of the PSA group's title, as one Kotaku reader pointed out, to "Fight Relentlessly Against Grenade Spam," would have preserved the spirit of this piece and skirted all the outrage, even with the "for pussies" line.
Many gamers, judged largely on what I've seen in commenting threads and in behaviour online, haven't expressed a lot of sophistication on this subject or a great willingness to have a mature discussion about it. It tends to break down to "I'm not offended so, no one else can be either," and accuse anyone who is of politically motivated dishonesty. By no means do I accuse Infinity Ward or Bowling of homophobia or having that same small-minded attitude. But the video was pointlessly provocative, and made not only the studio, but also some of their biggest fans, by their reactions to it, look foolish and reprehensible to the general public. Bowling made the right call in removing it.