Fight Against Grenade Spam - A Lesson in (Dis)Respect

Everybody who reads my blog, or knows me personally, knows that I love games. And there's one video game that I've been really excited for - the new Call of Duty game, Modern Warfare 2. It's the sequel to one of my favorite games, and pretty much everything I've heard about the game so far has only served to heighten my excitement for it.

There was (or still is, I guess) some controversy surrounding decisions they made about the PC game, but I've kind of glassed over all that. I understand why it's bothering PC gamers, and I don't think they're wrong to be upset. But the fact is, the changes don't affect me, since I play on the Xbox, so I haven't bothered to get worked up about it. Especially with all the last-minute marketing moves they've been making.

That is, until I saw this one today (UPDATE: They removed the original video, but many copies still exist on Youtube. I've linked to a different one for reference):

I do hate grenade spam. Getting killed by a random grenade is very frustrating (there's no way to defend against it, after all). And for the majority of the video, I was enjoying it. Then, at the end, I realized the not-so-subtle acronym.

Fight Against Grenade Spam = FAGS. Awesome. Keep in mind this was put out by the developers (or publishers, but that doesn't really change the point) - a professional company. Not some random kid on Youtube - an actual, profit-seeking, can't hide behind the anonymity of the internet, company. And they folded gay-bashing into their marketing.

I'm really shocked by this. It was a totally unnecessary, unwarranted use of an offensive term. The fact that they "hid" it (again, not subtly) in an acronym doesn't make it any better. I'm really interested to see how this all plays out. There's a bit of a discussion going on over at Kotaku on this - some people (like me) are critical of this move. Others think we're overreacting. Either way, I imagine Infinity Ward (the developers) will have to make some kind of public comment soon.

I see this public comment going one of 3 ways (there are other ways they could do it, but they're less likely than these three, in my opinion):

1) Apologize in a standard PR manner
2) Apologize sincerely
3) Claim it was unintentional (followed, most likely, by a PR apology)

I expect to see the first. I would love to see the second. But if they decide to play the arrogance card, and go the third route, I won't be buying the game when it comes out in November. I can move past a public accepting of a dumb mistake, but I won't support a public display of bigotry.

Here's hoping they do the right thing. I'll update if something new comes up.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Just wow.

I hate to say it, but these video games have to appeal to a man's "macho" side in order to sell. And while you're a socially progressive, educated man, the majority of the people that violent games are marketed to are not. I can only imagine the thousands of high fives between 'bros' because they find the acronym F.A.G.S. so funny.

Even the word pussy is offensive. I'm ashamed to say, I use it too, but it implies that anything weak, lame, or unappealing is woman-like. But I'm nor surprised it's being used. The player of the video game (again, I don't think that this is your mindset when you play) must feel like a macho badass for these games to be successful.

Jeremy said...

Yeah. It's really saddening. Thing is, I don't think people are making a big deal about how "funny" the acronym was, and I don't think it was an intentional slight on the gay community. But the fact that it was used, and that nobody stopped them and said "hey, wait a minute - is this really necessary?" is really saddening.

Unintentional bigotry is still bigotry. I don't think this should lead to a condemnation of the company, but I just wish they would've had a little more forethought. As somebody else suggested, they could've made it "Fight Relentlessly Against Grenade Spam", which makes the acronym "FRAGS", a slang term for grenades.

That would've been funny, and we wouldn't have had this problem.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a 3. Sorry. Maybe you can bum it off someone.

Anonymous said...

dont be such a fag
it probably was unintentional and i sure as hell didnt even think about it until i saw all this controversy bullshit
if anything i figured people would be getting all pissy over the pot references
if you can take a dick you can take a joke so stop being a fag and grow a pair or get off the internet

Anonymous said...

Wow, anonymous, you sure have intelligent things to say...let me guess...Harvard grad?

Jeremy said...

@Anonymous (the second one): It wasn't an unintentional acronym. But I do believe that they didn't mean to be offensive - they were playing off common slang used on the internet, and used in reference to grenade spammers / random grenades. My problem is that they chose to use a word that is offensive, regardless of if they were actually trying to offend.

I'm sorry that you don't see a problem with that. But some of us do.

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