We’ve been doing a lot of coverage of video games here at the loadout room. I really enjoyed playing COD: Black Ops and thought it was a novel combination of contemporary history with an action-adventure game. You can read my take on the plot of the game at my blog but when I saw the trailer for Black Ops II I thought it was laughable. I can’t fathom why they took the series in this direction, duplicating what many other games have done and discarding what made the first game unique. This take on the new Black Ops game was a breath of fresh air and I’m glad to see someone calling out Oliver North. My generation sees him as this grandfatherly type figure on Fox News but the reality is that he should be sharing a jail cell with Eric Holder. -Jack
The next iteration of the popular first person shooter hardly needs any marketing campaign: immediately after the official announcement, the gaming press diligently started to operate as an extension of Activision’s PR department. Small and big media scrambled to produce the most comprehensive list of features, talking polygons and frame rates, revealing plot fragments, speculating on new gameplay additions that may or may not rejuvenate the trite shooting genre.
Given the predicable hype, it is surprising to see among the promotional material a serious, high-production-value “documentary” about 21st century warfare, touching upon cyberterrorism, robotics and counter-insurgency.
The 6-part video—available here in “interactive” form or here in sequential form—prominently features military commentator P.W. Singer and Oliver North, the key figure of the Iran-Contra scandal that nearly brought down the Reagan administration in the mid ’80s.
Allow me a digression. The Iran-Contra affair is one of those rare cases in Cold War history where it’s absolutely clear who the bad guys are. Oliver North, at the time working for the National Security Council, was involved in the clandestine sale of weapons to Iran (a rather common practice during the Cold War’s proxy conflicts). The proceeds from the sales were then illegally diverted to finance the Contras, a network of CIA-trained guerrilla groups, who opposed the democratically-elected government of Nicaragua. Contras were notorious for their human right abuses such as murder, torture, rape and executions of civilians. They also funded themselves through drug trafficking and it’s been alleged that the CIA was supporting, or at least, tolerating these activities. These last allegations were disproved after an investigation led by, well… the CIA.
The story of how Oliver North went from being a convicted felon for these activities, to Republican candidate for the Senate, best-selling author, news commentator for Fox News and eventually testimonial/media-stuntman for Activision, is a kind of twisted version of the American Dream that I’m not going to tell.
Read the rest at Kotaku.