With Oliver North as a consultant, it’s easy to think that Activision may be trying to make some kind of a political statement with Black Ops 2. And perhaps they are, but maybe not about communism or the Iran-Contra affair. Activision has already made statements that they are unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of their advisor’s historical actions—but perhaps they do have some concerns about the evolution of technology and the possible consequences that could have on a society which hasn’t evolved all that much at all.
As the first Call of Duty game to take place in the near future, Black Ops 2 is set in the year 2025. In the opening scene of the reveal trailer, we see remote-controlled drones which have been turned against the United States and sent to decimate the population. While these drones belonged to the US military, all it took was antagonist Raul Menendez to seize control of them to turn them into US population’s worst enemies.
Militaries in real life have been working on developing unmanned aerial vehicles and assorted attack drones for years now. The attack drones in Black Ops 2 are based on prototypes for real-life weapons. The philosophy behind creating these drones in real life is of course to try and keep soldiers off the front lines and conduct more targeted missions. While these plans may stem from honorable motives in the sense that they could feasibly save some lives, the Activision team sees possible ways in which the technology could be hijacked. After all, it’s much easier to hijack a robotic drone than a human being.
Just as Activision states that they have no political agenda in employing Oliver North as a consultant, they also insist that they aren’t “going after any sort of political stance.” Nonetheless, “We do follow current events as part of our research,” said Mark Lamia, Treyarch studio boss. “What we’re trying to do is look at a situation that there’s a prolific rise in the use of drones, and it’s not science fiction, it’s actual reality. We’ll oftentimes look at a piece of history, and there are consequences to certain actions. We’re trying to also realistically and practically create a plausible fiction for the future.”
So perhaps Activision isn’t trying to make a political statement—after all, it’s not as though these drones aren’t being developed by militaries around the world—not just one party or one nation. But Activision may be making a social statement by telling a cautionary tale. While remote control drones could feasibly stem bloodshed in a conflict, they are also evolving rapidly while the people making them remain very human. A remote-controlled attack drone could feasibly be hacked remotely, just like any other computer system. If a hacker hijacks your home PC however, you’re not going to die as a result. If a hacker hijacks a remote-controlled drone, the power of life and death has changed hands. If there’s any sort of statement here, it’s probably that we should consider taking more cautious steps into the future. Our weapons may be moving forward much faster than we are.