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Modern Warfare 2 teaches players the worst way to ‘de-escalate’ a risky situation

Civilians upset? Point your weapon at ’em!

In a screen taken from Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2, the player character raises their weapon at a civilian, who is standing on a mobile home’s porch, backlit by the porchlight Image: Infinity Ward/Activision via Twitter
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

New from Call of Duty, the franchise that gave you the F key to pay respects, now comes a novel way to “de-escalate” tensions with civilians: aim your weapon at them.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 launches Thursday, but its campaign is playable right now for anyone who pre-ordered it; and it’s getting dragged pretty bad on social media for this awwwwwwkward quick-timer event in an early level. Apparently Task Force 141 is raiding a trailer park, and NPC Cletus comes out to tell the soldiers the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 is respected in this household. The player is then instructed to aim down sights at the civilian, who gets the hell back inside. See for yourself:

...and another look:

We searched online for actual training documents and/or tactics that police (or any armed paramilitary service) use to de-escalate a volatile situation with civilians, whether they are suspects of a crime or not. It didn’t take very long to find several such documents, and none told police professionals to do what Sgt. Maj. Rodolfo Parra does in those clips.

In the Journal of Police Crisis Negotiations, October 2010, two officers from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said active listening and an ability to maintain emotional distance from the developing crisis, are core skills to de-escalating behavior with the potential to become disruptive or violent. But we’re betting that “press F to use ‘minimal encouragers,’” to let the guy know you’re listening, wasn’t such a dynamic gameplay moment.

At any rate, nowhere in this document does it say that raising one’s loaded weapon and aiming it at someone is a great way to chill them the fuck out. “The officer de-escalating the crisis should also avoid speaking too loudly, which may cause further anxiety and agitation,” the GBI trainers wrote. At least Modern Warfare 2 got that part right, as Rodolfo lowers his voice when he tells the civvie to get back inside.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 launches Oct. 27 for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Windows PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X.