The Call of Duty franchise has been under attack and heavy criticism for the past few years for its lack of innovation and stagnant visuals by many gamers. While the franchise might deserve some of the flack it gets, it receives it with no punches pulled. However, we as gamers, tend to turn a blind eye on many game series which do the exact same. Whether it’s nostalgia that blinds our vision, or maybe we are just too reluctant to admit that some of our favorite childhood franchises have become the same thing we despise.
Childhood franchises like Pokémon, Sonic the Hedgehog, and even Mario – we loved them decades ago and we still do, to this day. They shaped our childhood and defined us as gamers. We owe them our appreciation for video games. We smile when we see a young boy or girl playing a Pokémon game on their Nintendo handheld system; because we know what kind of wonderful experience awaits them, the same one we went through. We can relate to them, for a short time, without ever knowing their names but that feeling of comfort is not permanent at least not in our society. Things change – not every child will be playing Pokémon or Mario.
The lot of them are playing their favorite game at home, which these days are usually the Call of Duty games. This is where our blood beings to boil, we ask ourselves “Why do these kids spend their time with this drivel? Don’t they know they buy the same game every year? Where is the innovation?” A plethora of questions we ask and they tell us “because it’s fun.” How can a game that recycles its content, and gives us practically the same game very year be any fun? It’s not like when we were young. We usually got a brand new Pokemon game ever year, sometimes two brand new games. We would go on an epic quest, fight a Pokémon terrorist organization like Team Rocket, best 8 Gym Leaders in brutal battles, but most importantly catch and train our Pokémon. We did that every year.
Wait…this doesn’t seem right.
Pokémon has been the same game every year at its core but we love it because it is the same. We grew up with it and playing a Pokémon game makes us happy. It reminds us of our childhood. We don’t criticize it much or at all for that matter. The world doesn’t go into a spiteful rage when the next Pokémon game is announced but the tables are turned with Activision’s game. We polish up every hateful comment we can think of, we bash the developers, and we insult Activison. However, Activision respect’s our intelligence enough not to sell us the same game twice. Red and Blue, Ruby and Sapphire, and X and Y…you get the point. They know the lengths we are willing to go for that one extra Legendary monster. Basically, if we refer to Call of Duty as the “same game every year” we should do the same for Pokémon as well.
Now the argument to be made against that is Pokémon games aren’t the same every year because they introduce new characters, new locales, and hundreds of new Pokémon but we can say the same thing about Call of Duty. Every campaign is new, we meet new characters, we get new guns to play with, and a lot of new maps to try out in the multiplayer mode. In actuality, both Pokémon and Call of Duty are not the same games everywhere – they are different but not very different. But that didn’t stop us from having conversations about our Pokémon experiences during lunch break at school in the same way many young gamers talk about their Call of Duty experiences today.
As gamers, we need to start looking past this, and also look at ourselves. Call of Duty is bigger than us, and it affects more people than us. Why should we lambast the people who play and like the Call of Duty series, when we are guilty of liking a franchise that is guilty of the same crime? A kid likes Call of Duty as it gives him enjoyment; it’s a fun experience for him or her, just like it was for our generation with Pokémon back in the day. Call of Duty is this generation’s Pokémon in a lot of ways. They both give us very similar sequels and children gravitate towards them.
Now, maybe when the next Call of Duty game is announced we can just leave the pitchforks in the tool shed, move on, and spend that energy in playing another video game.