Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Living Out the Soldier in All of Us

Kobe Bryant appeared in a controversial promotional video titled “There’s A Soldier in All of Us” for the latest war video game Call of Duty 4: Black Ops. Together with personalities like talk show host Jimmy Kimmel and T.V. actress B.K. Cannon, Kobe was seen pulling the trigger of a grenade launcher in a setting full of explosions and warlike conflagrations. This first-person war game sequel was an instant hit and posted a record in video game store purchases[1], thanks to its ingenious marketing. I myself am a fan: I was once addicted to its almost-real combat scenarios. Actually, an earlier release of Call of Duty occupied my evenings last summer!

Now, there is a furor coming from some ESPN commentators about Kobe advertising for an American culture of gun violence. Also, the NBA is striving to take care of its wholesome image (remember how NBA Commissioner David Stern "sternly" dealt with Allen Iverson’s rap lyrics with explicit content, and Gilbert Arenas’s episode of gun wielding). In turn, should Stern reprimand Kobe for such appearance?

I recall quite the same issue when I joined the 2010 Jean-Pictet Moot Court Competition on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) last March. The question was whether IHL, or simply the law of armed conflict, must be integrated into war video games so that gamers and the public will be informed and educated in the rules of war. The principle is to prevent people committing acts with impunity; thus, everyone (especially children, which are considered as highly impressionable) must be trained--even if virtually--with the rules of engaging in actual combat.

Personally, I believe there is a great divide between gaming and real behavior. So long as video game media regulators properly rate and label the game with the minimum age group who can purchase the video (which by the way, is M or mature, for Black Ops), I don’t think we should make a fuss out of this. This is a time when the oft-romanticized Law must take a backseat, and just let us enjoy the game as we, like Kobe, live out that soldier in all of us.

Richmund Sta. Lucia, Post # 2

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