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'Modern Warfare' trailer: Does Washington burning go too far?

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(Read caption) In a scene from the trailer for "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2/Infamy," Washington D.C. is shown under attack.

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The scenes are familiar enough to even the casual gamer: tanks rumble by, choppers pass overhead, exchanging gunfire with troops on the ground; explosions erupt left and right, revealing the grimacing faces of soldiers fighting a faceless enemy.

But in the upcoming "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" one thing stands out: the gallant mansion reduced to rubble doesn't belong to some crazed separatist dictator hellbent on all kinds of nefarious acts. Instead, it's the White House. The scenes of post-apocalyptic scenes of carnage play out not in some fictional town in eastern Europe, but in Washington D.C. itself.

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The game's trailer, which debuted to a national audience tuned into Sunday night's Steelers-Chargers NFL game, has racked up close to 200,000 views since its posting on YouTube Sunday, and reports have it that more than a million have pre-ordered the game.

Does the game go too far? Is it offensive?

Many on game forums are quick to point out that this is not the first time the US capital has been destroyed on-screen (remember 1997's "Independence Day?" Little green men made kindling of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue). And with what's coming out of the gaming industry these days (Grand Theft Auto IV, anyone?) is this any worse? Maybe not. But this is one of the first times such striking imagery has surfaced since 9/11, when the idea of widespread destruction on US soil was suddenly thrust into reality.

As Innovation blogger Amy Farnsworth wrote this summer, games based on current events are seeing something of a surge. But something tells this writer there's something of a difference between a cartoonish Flash game where the object is to try to hit George W. Bush with a shoe, and one in which the destruction of a major US city – in near photo-realistic detail – plays a central role.

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What's your take? Does the Modern Warfare 2 trailer go too far? Leave a comment, and be sure to catch up with us on Twitter. We're @CSMHorizonsBlog.


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