Different but the Same: An Analysis of Aesthetics in the Call of Duty Franchise
First Person Shooters (FPS) is one of the most famous genres within the gaming industry. It started with titles like Doom, Counter Strike, and now Call of Duty. Nowadays, console and PC gaming is a billion dollar industry. Multiple corporate and independent developers are working day in and day out to supply the market with better, bigger games. However, there are some titles which stand out from the rest, titles that always seem to be churning out one more instalment. One of these stand-out titles is the Call of Duty Franchise.
Call of Duty is a series of games that at present, have nine main instalments, and another nine “lesser” titles to which the only difference is the console on which they are played. By “main” instalment, this means that the game was released on multiple platforms, which primarily includes PC, Playstation and the Xbox. It all started in October 29, 2003 with the release of Call of Duty. Since then, there has been a Call of Duty release every year, with Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 being the most recent adaptation, which came out November 12, 2012. The researcher will limit the discussion to the Call of Duty franchise, on the PC platform. To be specific, the four most recent games which include: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Call of Duty: Black Ops, and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. The researcher aims to answer the question: Is Call of Duty overrated as a franchise? To answer the question, the researcher will analyze each game on eight components of aesthetics which include: Sensation, Fantasy, Narrative, Challenge, Fellowship, Discovery, Expression and Submission (Hunicke, LeBlanc and Zubek). In answering the question: “Is Call of Duty overrated as a franchise”, the researcher aims to educate both himself and his reader(s) on the importance of proper video game analysis. Nowadays, it is common to see a game receive a large amount of hype, such that gamers, who expected so much from a game, get disappointed and end up feeling like they wasted their money. It happened to Diablo III, where a sequel was created for the highly successful Diablo II, twelve years after it was released. Many gamers ended up disappointed with Diablo III, where changes to the core aesthetics of the game changed the way the game was going to be played. These kinds of mistakes by the game industry, although excusable, could have been avoided. Likewise, the researcher will use Call of Duty as an example for this method for proper video game analysis. Hopefully, this will shed light on the matter, allowing both gamers and game developers to better understand the manner by which games should be measured. By analyzing on the different components of aesthetics, it would be plausible to define the franchise as “overrated” if they do not significantly improve in any one aspect and at the same time, deliver the same kind of performance in each instalment. Before going into the full “meat” of the analysis, the researcher would like to delve a little into the components of Aesthetics that will be used in the analysis later on. The researcher wishes to stress that most of the analysis on each aesthetic is based on his opinions, based on the fact that he is a dedicated gamer himself. The nature of the analysis of game design using the MDA format is that it considers both the perspectives of the game developer and the player. A key concept of MDA is that the developer and player perceive the game through opposite ends of the spectrum (Portnow). The player would first experience the aesthetics of the game, the general reason that they are playing it. The developer on the other hand, due to the nature of his work, sees the mechanics of the game, and how they influence the dynamics, and eventually the aesthetics. In understanding the definition of these mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics, it could be said that a game is overrated...
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