Quora Question: What Do Military Veterans Think of 'Call of Duty?'

Attendees walk past a billboard promoting "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" at the Activision booth during the 2014 Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3, in Los Angeles on June 10, 2014. Kevork Djansezian/Reuters

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Answer from Jon Davis, Marine, honorably discharged in 2008. Veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Disclaimer: I've played Modern Warfare 2 and 3. That's it. I looked into others, but decided they weren't worth my time.

The weapons were well done. It felt real with the sounds and even realistic paint scratches. Besides this, I became very jaded from there. The games aren't realistic at all. Let's consider this, according to Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman's military masterpiece On Killing, only about 20% of people who take part in combat, real face to face combat, even attempt to fire upon the enemy. The most lethal of battlefield participants may kill five combatants ever. Second, the United States's most lethal sniper in history achieved around 160 confirmed kills and as many as 255 probable ones. This was over the course of an entire special forces career and multiple combat deployments.

So it drives me insane that a person, a single character, can achieve twice this in the course of a single mission. I hate that and I wish they would try to make it more realistic with more emphasis on squad combat and fire support. All that matters in these games is an epic FPS experience where it doesn't really matter if you can fight, because you just keep coming back over and over with no consequences at all.

Second is the Advanced and Future warfare series. I've done a lot of work into studying this for my book based on Jon Davis's answer to, "What is the future of war?" Frankly, it's insane how much they got wrong just to make it cool and be applicable to an FPS battlefield. It's like they did great research into answering the question, "What types of technology are they going to have in the future?" and then said, "Ok, screw all that. How can we Rambo it, and then make it completely ludicrous?" Did I mention the multibillion-dollar suicide bomb drone leviathan swarm?

Yes, hide behind the door. That will solve this problem you're in. So yeah, the whole thing is kind of ludicrous.

Lastly, though, is my current job. I work with middle and high school kids. Every week one of them will ask what I think of these games. They are sixth graders. They've played all these games. Besides the fact that I hate that kids that young are playing games this violent, it gives them an idea of war that is just so far fetched that they all look at me, their teacher, as somewhere between psychopathic murderer or impossible killbot. Truth be known, in a year of being in one of the world's most deadly war zones, I was never required to fire my weapon and never came close to the enemy. That doesn't really matter because the next question is always, "Mr. Davis, did you ever kill anybody?"

And that really bothers me. It bothers me that kids are so passive about death that it doesn't bother them to ask me such a personal and, if it had happened, traumatizing question, because to them, that makes me cool. To them, death and killing is not an act which one needs to be entered into with absolute respect for your enemy. It isn't the loss of a human being willing to give their life for their cause, and that this person, for that reason, has a certain nobility that is always a loss to humanity when snuffed out by another. It is that suffering warriors inflict upon each other that echoes throughout themselves for as long as the survivor of such an engagement lives. Kids don't get this. No one gets this except those who have done it or those who have put massive amounts of study into the warfare. My kids, though, are already experts at killing. Where I was a master of what enemies Yoshi could and could not swallow, at the same age they know the sound of a PKM, what a sunken chest wound looks like. They've seen thousands of people killed in the story mode and online matches. Boom! Headshot. There is no medal for "headshots" by the way, in the real military. There is no medal even given for the act of killing, in case you were wondering.

Games like Call of Duty do desensitize them to basic human decency and the rituals of killing that have evolved over centuries of warrior practices to preserve the humanity of the survivor. They don't learn these rituals; they only learn to enjoy the act of killing, simulated as it may be, with its convenient point system and badge awards. They are experts in killing just as a virgin who studies sex with only porn to serve as their reference. They have a faked and hollow experience and from that perversion of truth, they believe they understand the human connection involved.

Basically, I don't understand Call of Duty. It doesn't replicate war, it only replicates a formula which sells to people who are curious about war. They try for realism, but really only want to sell video games to kids. It isn't real and it isn't even morally justifiable. I'd rather play Halo, Skyrim, or Final Fantasy.

Read more from Jon Davis on Newsweek.

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