CoD 4 - The Most Important Game in My Life
When I sat down as a thirteen year old to play Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare for the first time, I had no idea what was in store. After picking it up because of stories a friend joyfully recounted of his time with the game, I was excited to find out what a 360 no scope was, but with no Xbox Live at the time I was forced to play the campaign.
I distinctly remember spending about 20 minutes on the tutorial, as this was my first ever first person shooter, and learning how to aim, move and shoot - which wasn't as straightforward as I had expected for someone who was used to the platformers of the Wii. I knifed the watermelon after about 10 attempts and eventually made it out of the cargo ship mockup with an atrocious time. I certainly wasn't sold.
After just about making it through Crew Expendable, which was difficult due to me messing up the brightness settings so I could barely see anything, I was ready to put it down, but I stuck it out for The Coup and that's where it hooked me.
Taking control away from me allowed me to look at the environments, the people and the world, and that's when I realised that this was by far the best looking game I had ever seen. Coming from the Wii, the Xbox 360 graphics were always impressive, but this was a step above the likes of WWE, which had taken up most of my time. I was amazed, fully engrossed in what was going on in the world around me despite not really doing anything.
Then out of nowhere I was dragged out of the car and within a matter of seconds a gun was in my face. As a thirteen year old who had never played a shooter before this was a shock, and I remember distinctly feeling uncomfortable as the shot rang out and the screen went black. As someone who had almost exclusively played sports games, movie tie ins and platformers, this was the first time a game made me feel anything other than joy or frustration, and to be honest it confused me, but I knew from that moment I needed to stick it out to see how else this game could make me feel.
I was surprised to find that when I started up the excellent remaster of Call of Duty 4, and played through The Coup once again, I felt that same feeling of discomfort when faced with Al-Asad’s gun. Nowadays I am a full time games journalist, and have been for a few years, meaning I have seen and done much worse and more disgusting things in games and only a handful have made me feel this way. But once that flash went off, those feelings that I experienced almost ten years ago came flooding back.
It was this moment that made me realise how much of an impact Call of Duty 4 had on my life. Without CoD 4 I simply wouldn’t be here today, writing this, for a number of reasons.
The most obvious is that CoD 4 made me think about games in a different way. No longer did I see them as something that was there to waste some time and enjoy. They became something that could emotionally affect you, make you consider things in a different way and educate you on the wider world. I suddenly wanted to tell my friends about what I thought of the game, from a more critical angle than “OMG I SHOT THAT GUY IN THE FACE SO HARD,” and that sowed the seeds about writing about video games.
But perhaps more importantly, and unknown to myself at the time, CoD 4 got me to create content. Within months of playing me and some friends picked up a Dazzle DVC 100 and started to create montages. Now this was back in the early days of YouTube, before you could make it your job, so we were just messing about, having fun and creating videos.
As time went on we became part of the early YouTube community, and even if I do say so myself, we became quite good. I’m not going to name drop, but some of the people who we spoke to, played with regularly and even collaborated with at time, went on to become some of the biggest YouTubers in the world, and there is barely a day that goes by where I don’t regret sticking with it.
But while it didn’t make me a multimillionaire it did teach me that to get anywhere in the world of video games you have to go out and do something. Whenever you hear a professional journalist or YouTuber answer questions on how to get started in the industry their answer will almost always be “go and start a blog / channel and go do it”. But taking that first step is incredibly hard. Unless of course you did it at 13 when you were messing around with your friends and this new thing called YouTube. This removed that anxiety of starting up when I came to write about games a few years later.
Within a few months I had gone from a nobody, to a name that a few people knew and people were looking at my work. I wasn't massive but a few videos broke the 1,000 views mark. I loved it. I do like to be the centre of attention and I like to know that people are looking at my work, so when I broke that 1,000 view mark I felt ecstatic, and knew that I wanted to get that feeling and get paid to do it for the rest of my life. That buzz from knowing a lot of people are reading or watching your work is still something I get today.
Without CoD 4, and the thousands of hours I put into it, I wouldn't be a games journalist. I wouldn't have my dream job and I wouldn’t be writing for the likes of Gfinity. It made me think about games in a different way, it got me to create content, and more importantly it took me away from movie tie ins and platformers (which can be great) and took me more into the the AAA space, where I finally expanded my gaming horizons beyond Mario and Harry Potter Quidditch World Cup (which was a great game BTW).
Sure I may have made it to where I am now without CoD 4, but I sure as hell wouldn't have done it so quickly, and chances are I wouldn't have made it at all. There are other factors that were involved on my journey, but it was CoD 4 that started it all off for me, and now I’m living the dream.
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