Last night, Infinity Ward posted a short video on their YouTube account featuring an in-game version of Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels (who will be facing the New York Yankees tonight in Game 3 of the World Series). In the vignette, Hamels advised Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 players that random grenades are “for pussies”; the “public service announcement” was provided by an organization called “Fight Against Grenade Spam.”
I somehow missed the “FAGS” acronym the first time around, but the Internet certainly didn’t. Numerous Web sites and Twitterers condemned the PSA and Infinity Ward’s perceived endorsement of an anti-gay message (something that’s especially troubling in the context of the foul-mouthed gamers who comprise much of the online user base for Call of Duty).
Infinity Ward has since taken down the video, and the studio’s Community Manager, Robert Bowling, posted a couple of responses on Twitter. In reply to Philip Kollar of Game Informer, who called the PSA “stupid” and said that it “makes [him] reconsider [his] purchase [of Modern Warfare 2] more than any other controversy surrounding the game thus far,” Bowling said:
I think it was more of a social commentary joke of that stereotype than it was a fist-bump of acceptance to it.
But after freelance gaming journalist Mitchell Dyer noted that the video “was so poorly handled/executed that it looks derogatory” and “seems to enforce the [assh*le]-ry,” Bowling agreed and pulled it:
I think the core gag is great, the end is a bit too far from the intent of the joke & can appreciate the concerns.
What do you all think? Do you buy Bowling’s claim of “social commentary”? Should Infinity Ward have seen the response coming, or is the Internet overreacting to a harmless joke? Is the studio perhaps merely appealing to the people whom it hopes will buy its game, and if so, is that an acceptable explanation?