Call of Duty, call of Duty Modern Warfare
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare released on October 25 and gamers with a keen eye have noticed a remarkable rewrite of history. | Source: Activision/Call of Duty
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s single-player campaign is stroking controversy for perceived historical re-imagining.
  • Atrocities of the Persian Gulf War Highway of Death incident is attributed to Russia instead of the US-led coalition.
  •  Controversy may explain why Sony refuses to sell the game on the PlayStation Store in Russia.

Activision’s hyper-realistic shooter, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, is once again in the firing line for the perceived historical inaccuracies of its single-player campaign. The outcry centers on a controversial re-imagining of the Highway of Death incident from the Persian Gulf War.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s Highway of Death

In February 1991, a coalition of US, American, British, Canadian, and French forces attacked a convoy of Iraqi military and vehicles fleeing Kuwait on Highway 80. The event spawned some of the most iconic war imagery of modern times depicting miles of destroyed military hardware sparking the unofficial Highway of Death name. Reports estimate that 800-1000 Iraqi soldiers lost their lives.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Slated for Re-Writing History
The infamous ‘Highway of Death’. Source: Air Force Magazine/TECH. SGT. JOE COLEMAN [Public domain]

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s makes overt reference to the highway, although transported to fictional Middle Eastern country of Urzikstan. Instead of Western coalition forces committing the atrocity, it is attributed to Russian military forces – the game’s main enemy.

Lead character Farah says, speaking of the Highway of Death;

The Russians bombed it during the invasion, killing the people trying to escape.

Many onlookers have taken to social media to voice their opinion on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s liberal re-imagining of the event. Some call the move ‘war crime denial,’ while others appear to sidestep the issue by reminding that ‘it is just a game.’

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Slated for Re-Writing History
Source: Twitter
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Slated for Re-Writing History
Source: Twitter
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Slated for Re-Writing History
Source: Twitter

Sony Refuses to Release The Game In Russia

Last week, Activision announced that Sony refused to sell the game on the PlayStation Store in Russia. Intervention by Russian authorities was bandied about as the reason for the decision.

In light of the game’s fictional rewrite of history, the reasoning takes on a more tangible form. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare attributing the events of the Highway of Death to Russia may have contributed. This, compounded, of course, by the game framing Russia as the villain, alongside numerous unflattering accolades scattered throughout the campaign.

This article was edited by Samburaj Das.

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