Shooting the Baby

So there was a new Call of Duty game. I hope that was not a surprise. They crank them out like Funko Pops, and when you crank something out like Funko Pops, you probably need some means of making your latest Funko Pop stand out from all the other Funko Pops, otherwise it’ll just blend into the walls of other Funko Pops perched precariously on top of each other at your local comic store. One way of doing this is to make your Funko Pop really really controversial. You know, for the clickbait headlines. Maybe your Funko Pop is Hitler, or it has its dangly bits dangling out or something.

Anyway, the latest Call of Duty game has a bit in there in which you can shoot a baby.

Oh boy.

(Or girl. It could be either.)

So here’s the scene. You’re making your way through a suburban house in the dead of night, silently clearing room after room of bad dudes. In one room there is a woman. She goes to grab her baby, to comfort them. You can, if you so choose, aim at the baby and shoot them.

You might say, well this is fine. It’s a shooting game. Obviously, you would be able to aim your penis firearm and shoot it.

Well yeah, except Call of Duty isn’t just a shooting game. It’s also a rollercoaster. Its twists and turns are fixed and you’re just here for the ride. So, for instance, you can’t shoot your friends. You can aim at them, but the game will not let you fire. No matter how hard you click your mouse button, your character will not pull the trigger. After all, who would want to kill our good boi Captain Price?

All of which is to say, we could call the baby our friend and we would not be able to shoot it, right?

Well, no, because this game wants to *say things*, so the developers expended extra effort to let you kill the baby so they could say a thing. If you kill the baby, you are given a game over. Bad player. Baby-killing bad.

But Call of Duty KNOWS you. You’re playing a Call of Duty game. You are a GamerBro™. You’re going to shoot the baby. You’re going to do it repeatedly. So, if you do exactly that, the game gives you a *different* Game Over. The screen asks you, ‘are you serious?’, and boots you to the main menu.

Ostensibly, this is a way for the game to say, you’re not just a bad boy, you’re a very very bad boy. It’s an extra special punishment for an extra special level of malice.

But, of course, that’s not how you see it though. You’ve seen the news articles on it. You went ahead and decided to shoot the baby repeatedly because you *wanted* the special game over, because the developers made a mistake. A punishment is only a punishment if the player chooses to see it that way. If they don’t, then your special punishment becomes a special reward, because it’s *different*. If it’s not a punishment, then a thing that is different by default becomes a reward. Human beings like seeing new things, and if the new thing does not hurt us (or if we choose to not let it hurt us), then the new thing is a good thing.

In Call of Duty, shooting the baby becomes a good thing.