Have you ever been obsessed with anything? Once, when I was a young teenager still in free education with far too much time on my hands, I was. I was obsessed with a video game: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Whenever I finally got home from a gruelling day of basic mathematics, being forced to play rugby and failing to hold down friends in multiple social groups, the first thing I’d do is flick off my shoes without untying the laces, hastily change, leaving my uniform in an unfolded heap, then immediately settle in for another multiple hour session.
My fingers had itched all day, pulling phantom triggers, and then I’d finally get the controller in hand, headset on in order to talk to the people I’d just spent the entire day with at school. I’d play for hours hardly blinking, let alone actually moving out of my chair. I’d laugh at the ineptitude of opponents, swear at the ineptitude of teammates and cheer when the eventual victory was earned. On to the next game, only the briefest moments of rest in between, when I’d frantically refine my loadout with the latest shiny weapon. When each game began I was in the zone, popping heads left and right. And then I’d hear it—the dreaded call:
“Kids! Dinner’s ready!”
I’d sigh deeply. “Just two minutes mum!” I’d reply, knowing full well it would be at least another eight until the match is actually completed. I’d finally trudge downstairs after multiple shouts from mother, louder and more violent with every ear-piercing shriek. My tea of fish fingers, potato smiles and green peas went cold and I lost the game (because mum was putting me off, obviously.)
I’d shovel the food down at a seriously unhealthy rate, rush to the sink and just as I’m about to make my great escape back to the sacred chair, she’s there, leaning in the doorway.
“Go and finish your peas. Now.”
My sigh even deeper this time, with sagged shoulders I’d stomp back to the table. I’d drown the remaining peas in ketchup just to keep the little green bastards down. Plate now clear, apart from the dollop of wasted ketchup, I’d see my break, running for it so I could be gone before she even suggested washing up, almost slipping on the stairs as I went.
I’d made it. Now I’m back in the chair, my nirvana, my center of the universe, and there I will remain until my eyeballs start to itch and my father comes in and tells me it’s “time for lights off.” Repeat day in and day out. I was addicted.
THE GLORY DAYS
This may sound quite familiar to you, no matter what your obsession was. For me it was Modern Warfare 2, and with it being over six years since its release I’ve found myself reminiscing over those glory days. Call of Duty gets a bad rap within the gaming community these days. It’s forever being scoffed at and disregarded as simple trash that brings down the quality and respect of the entire medium.
I’ve never really understood that viewpoint, as the franchise revolutionised the whole genre. Virtually shooting things had never felt so good before Call of Duty changed the game. For me, however, it’s more than that—Modern Warfare 2 created so many memories for me, and it did so for all of my friends with whom I played. So much so that every now and then we’ll have a misty eyed discussion about it in our “Squad” inbox.
Those memories, however banal they may appear to others, have stuck with me—and more than likely always will—and are a big reason as to why I’m now sitting here writing about a game that came out more than six years ago. With all the lights dimmed and attention solely on the screen, it was easy for one to get engulfed in the frantic carnage of Modern Warfare 2, so much so that I used to add people who revived me in the heat of battle as friends (Hi xXxInCoGnItOxXx).
As much as me and my mates would make the most of a popped football in our high school courtyard, the enjoyment of those real life games didn’t come close to the ones we invented in the holy playground that was the “Rust” map in Modern Warfare 2. “Mike Myers” was a particular favorite—one player was a serial killer who had to find everyone else and stab them to death.
I fondly recall the often besmirched “360 no-scope” fights (also on Rust, of course) in which you had to try to shoot people without looking through your gun’s scope. And you know what? The no-scope may be an aspect of Call of Duty that’s become a massive nerd in-joke and meme, but man they were hard to pull off. Playing those matches was probably the pinnacle of my gaming ability, which has been on a steady decline ever since.
One could easily cheat in Modern Warfare 2; all you needed was a willing partner in crime, a hidden, remote part of a map and “tactical insertions” which, when planted, would mark the point where you would reappear again after being killed. Then you could just easily keep killing your partner until you got 25 kills in a row and “earned” the game ending Nuke. Those pesky schemes were as tense as it got. On one occasion, I was in a match on “Underpass” when I realised that two of my friends were up to this. So I stormed around the map and managed to kill the one attempting the streak. He was on 24 kills, and he was not best pleased.
But there is one thing that I remember from Modern Warfare 2 most of all, and that is the clans. Yeah, me and my wonderful high school friends were in an actual, real life, proper Call of Duty clan. A team of us who all fought under one name and one banner. That name was “DOGZ”. Don’t ask me—the person who chose the name knows who he is and has to live with his shame.
We were a team and actually played the game together, tactically, collaboratively. And we were genuinely not bad—so much so that we even had a rival clan, bitter enemies who we would often fight and thankfully beat. The clan in question was called SSK and belonged to my friend’s cousin. To this day I have no idea why our rivalry was as vicious as it was (think your very stereotypical Call of Duty name calling), but it was.
That was just my life as a 13-year old. Rushing home from school to get online and play far too much video games with my pals. That was the life. It was easy and simple back then, and knowing that things will never be like that again is actually a sobering thought.
Now my troubles with people actually have to be solved in conversation, rather than just a 1v1 on Rust.
Dan Murphy is a freelance games and football (soccer) writer who spends far too much of his spare time podcasting, surveying Netflix and playing guitar. He juggles all that with studying journalism at university. You can follow him on Twitter so you’ll never miss another one of his depressing rants at Bolton Wanderers.
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