Ah, Call of Duty. A video game that was a far more successful recruitment tool for the Army than the Army’s actual recruitment video game America’s Army.
It’s understandable that the game would plant a good seed in the heads of many teens who play the game. They get a consequence-free taste of the badassery from the safety of their couch. Later they’ll keep the military in the back of their mind and one day they’ll enlist.
If it fills the seats of recruitment offices — it’s fantastic. The only down side is that it kind of paints the military in an unrealistically awesome light. That’s not to say that life isn’t awesome in the military — just not that awesome.
You’ll think it’s a cool achievement when you finish but everyone else has it unlocked already.
(Photo by Scott Prater)
The tutorial is over nine weeks long
In the video game, you can just skip any training if you’ve already got an idea of how things work. You don’t get that kind of luxury in the real military. Even if you have a good idea how to pick up food with a fork or make a bed, you’ll learn you’ve been doing it wrong your entire life.
Then comes the cool training like rifle marksmanship. You’ll blink and then it’s back to learning that eating and showering should be done in 30 seconds.
You’re kinda on your own getting “Slight of Hand Pro.”
(DoD photo by Sgt. Tierney P. Nowland)
You can’t really modify your loadout
You can earn cool points in Call of Duty with the people you’re playing with by unlocking all the attachments and skins for your weapons. Hate to burst your bubble but it’s generally frowned upon to spray-paint your M4 bright pink and go on a patrol.
There is a silver lining to this one though. You don’t have to be a Colonel before you can get your hands on an M240-B.
But it is kinda real with other people running to go steal YOUR package. Still a bit sour about that one.
(U.S. Navy photo by Public Affairs Specialist Joel Diller)
Care packages don’t include attack dogs
Care packages are fun in Call of Duty! If you rack up a high enough score, you can get lucky and find some pretty useful stuff in them, like controllers to drone strikes or a radio to call in an attack helicopter.
Actual care packages usually just include things like socks, hotel soaps, and a chocolate bar that melted on its way to the deserts of Iraq.
You missed a spot.
(U.S Air Force photo by Tech Sgt. Matt Hecht)
Prestiging isn’t as fun
Prestiging in Call of Duty is a way for players to start their career all over again. When they reach the rank of General of the Army, they can say “f*ck it” and go back to being a private for the fun of it so they can unlock everything all over again — this time with a way to let other players know how cool they are.
In the actual military, going back down to private usually involves a reduction in pay and a lot more menial labor.
That’s not to imply that we don’t talk smack over the radios. No one really cares as long as you use “over” and “out.”
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Austin Mealy)
The chain of command discourages screaming obsenities over comms
It’s kind of a given that, when given a headset, kids will scream curse words that would have gotten us all slapped by our parents if they ever heard us use them. It doesn’t affect their gameplay, which is all that matters to them, so they’ll keep smack-talking you.
Even just the simplest of improper radio etiquette gets you a stern talking to by the operations sergeant major. Any mentions of doing unspeakable things to someone’s mother will be a near-instant way to “prestige” in rank.
“Here take a profile. That’ll cure everything!” said every doc ever.
(U.S. Army photo by Spc. Anthony Zendejas IV)
Healing involves more than hiding for four seconds
Being shot in the face in a video game is really easy to recover from. You just hide behind a rock until your screen stops being red and you’re good to go. Get back in there.
Real life medics and corpsmen like to think they have this ability when they prescribe you a Motrin and a change of socks — but they don’t. That also includes taking a knee and drinking water.
In either world, do not lose your own dog tags.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jordan A. Talley)
Collecting enemy dogtags isn’t a thing
A fun game mode in Call of Duty is Kill Confirmed, where after players kill the enemy, they have to run over their corpse and collect their dog tags to get points for the kill.
If that was how operations were conducted in the real world, it would make being an artilleryman so much more difficult. And taking war trophies off dead bodies is actually frowned upon by the Geneva Convention.
Freakin’ campers, man.
(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Joshua C. Allmaras)
Stabbing people in the foot doesn’t instantly kill them
According to the game’s logic, it takes several bullets to the chest to drop somebody, shotguns only work if you’re within three feet of someone, and sniper rifles are great for clearing rooms with. If you manage to find the dude hiding in the corner with a sub-machine gun though, you can stab them to instantly kill them.
No. That is not how any of this works. The grenade launcher thing is pretty close though.
What kind of military doesn’t allow its troops to single-handedly use a nuclear warhead at their own discretion? Oh? Literally every military? Nevermind.
(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Dengrier Baez)
No one will let you drop a nuke just because you killed 25 people
The ultimate prize for any Call of Duty is to get a 25-kill streak going without dying. If you can manage this, you can get a tactical nuke that you can drop to instantly win the match.
In reality, killing 25 people just gives you a drinking problem and night terrors.