in Gaming

MW 2: Amsterdam Hotel unhappy with ‘unwanted involvement’ in game

The Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam has voiced dissatisfaction with its “unwanted involvement” in the latest installment of the Call of Duty franchise, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The game features a map containing the Breenbergh Hotel, based on the Conservatorium Hotel.

Conservatorium Hotel manager Roy Tomassen contacted the Dutch news outlet de Volkskrant after discovering the hotel in a game full of shooting and violence. He said they did not appreciate having the hotel’s unique building to be a place of gun fights. The hotel has yet to decide which step to take next, with legal action under their consideration.

“We have taken note of the fact that the Conservatorium Hotel is undesirably the scene of the new Call of Duty,” Tomassen said. “More generally, we don’t support games that seem to encourage the use of violence. The game in no way reflects our core values and we regret our apparent and unwanted involvement.”

Players can compare the in-game hotel model to its real-life counterpart and immediately see the similarities. The five-star luxury hotel is a repurposed 19th-century bank. Designed by an Italian architect, it features a unique glass-and-steel aesthetic. Guests can rent a room for $1,000 a night. With such a high reputation to uphold, it is no wonder the hotel is not happy with its portrayal in the game.

It is possible to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement because architecture is under protection by European and American laws. Activision was under fire for a similar issue in 2017. Heavy vehicle manufacturer AM General sued Activision for featuring Humvee in the Call of Duty series.

AM General asserted that Activision had “reaped billions of dollars in revenues from their wrongful acts and … irreparably harmed AM General by causing significant confusion.” The court sided with Activision, saying that the company has a First Amendment right to feature Humvee in games.

Games vs. real-world violence

According to Kotaku’s Ethan Gach, the hotel’s belief that the COD series encourages “the use of violence” stems from the old myth that video games correlate with real-world violence.

There was one instance where this belief came to reality. Norway mass shooter Anders Behring Breivik bought Call of Duty: Modern Warfare before he went on a murder spree in 2011. He used the game as a training simulation in his 1,500-page manifesto.

“Simulation by playing Call of Duty, Modern Warfare is a good alternative as well but you should try to get some practise with a real assault rifle (with red point optic) if possible,” Breivik wrote.

Breivik also mentioned other games in his manifesto, saying that he used social taboos as a distraction to prevent suspicion. He was amazed at how easy it was to remain “undetected” if he blamed his strange activities on games.

“F[or] example, tell them that you have started to play World of Warcraft or any other online MMO game and that you wish to focus on this for the next months/year,” Breivik wrote.

“This “new project” can justify isolation and people will understand somewhat why you are not answering your phone over long periods. Tell them that you are completely hooked on the game (raiding dungeons etc).”

However, research published by the American Psychological Association found that there was “no single risk factor” to blame regarding aggression caused by video games.

In addition, Middlesex University associate professor of psychology Dr. Mark Coulson reiterated the APA study in his letter to BBC back in 2015.

“I fully acknowledge that exposure to repeated violence may have short-term effects – you would be a fool to deny that – but the long-term consequences of crime and actual violent behaviour, there is just no evidence linking violent video games with that,” Dr. Coulson wrote.

“If you play three hours of Call of Duty you might feel a little bit pumped, but you are not going to go out and mug someone.”