Article Says ISIS is Using Call of Duty Imagery for Recruitment

by on 09/20/2014

ISIS is an evil terrorist organization responsible for innumerable despicable crimes against humanity. Call of Duty is a fun video game that only involves shooting virtual people. But that hasn’t stopped the ISIS from trying to tie the two, according to media reports.
A recent New Yorker article makes the point that one of ISIS’s latest propaganda videos seems to intentionally ape the style of Call of Duty.
According to the article, in the video “a man sits in a plastic chair on a porch, a rifle stuck between his knees. The camera, at this point, is only a voyeur; the man in the chair seems bored, unremarkable. A bullet hits the cement wall behind his head, kicking up a puff of dust. He gets to his feet and stumbles forward, confused and disoriented. The view changes: an overlay effect makes it look as if the man is being watched through a sniper’s scope. A red dot zeroes in on the man’s midsection. There is a gunshot; the man recoils. As he grimaces in pain, the footage grinds down to render, in slow motion, every expression of his face, his flailing arms.”
The article says the video also shows a car being shot up, again with a slowdown for a “confirmed kill.”
“The mechanics of all this should be familiar to anyone who has played a first-person-shooter video game, or F.P.S., in the past ten years. In Halo, Call of Duty, Gears of War, and pretty much every other F.P.S. sold today, when your first shot misses, the scope button will help you to hone in on your target. The edges of the screen blur to black, the red dot jumps to simulate the shooter’s heartbeat, and, when you hit the trigger button, the reaction—the gush of blood, the facial contortions, and the man’s slow exit from view—is registered, frame by frame. The sequence is so familiar that, while watching the ISIS video, I, who only play such games on occasion, could feel the rhythm of the controller’s commands. Right trigger (missed shot), hold down left trigger to bring up scope, orient the crosshairs, right trigger again, watch your handiwork as it falls out of the frame.”
Okay, that description of how video game killings play out might be more than a little wonky, but it’s clear that ISIS is a master of propaganda, and they are using imagery that’s popular with youth to spread their horrible message. The article has other examples, like this ISIS propaganda image that leaves no ambiguity about the connection. Jannah is an Arabic word for paradise.
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The article worries that such imagery will make ISIS more effective in recruiting young people, but I think there’s a simple solution to the problem. If you find yourself being impressed by what looks like video game imagery, ask yourself, “Am I watching a terrorist recruitment video?” If so, turn it off, do some serious soul-searching about what you’re doing with your life, and then go play some actual Call of Duty because it’s better than anything ISIS can offer.

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