Campaign gameplay director Jacob Minkoff and studio narrative director Taylor Kurosaki told Game Informer the title is thematic rather than political, because it tells a story about real world issues without specifically featuring existing administrations, governments or events.
“The question ‘Is this a political game?’ doesn’t actually mean anything, because what does the word ‘political’ mean to you?” Minkoff began.
“Do we touch topics that bear a resemblance to the geopolitics of the world we live in today? Hell yeah, because that is the subject matter of Modern Warfare. Are we telling a story that has anything to do with the specific governments of any countries that we’re portraying? No. So if you’re asking, is Trump in the video game? No, he isn’t.”
Kurosaki said: “These are the types of questions that have been asked for the last 50 years. We do talk about concepts like colonialism and occupation, and independence and freedom. We don’t maybe say those words specifically, but that’s the realm we’re in. But you could have a game that takes place in revolutionary America talk about those exact same [things].”
Minkoff continued: “If you wanted a situation where I’d say that yes, it is a political story, I would have be telling a story about specifically the exact administrations and governments and events in our world today. We are talking about thematic things.
“We would also have to have a perspective on it. We want to present the different perspectives. We don’t want to say that one of them is correct because what we want you to do is to understand how these people feel, this is why they fight, this is the outcome of it.
“… And what we want you to come away with at the end is an understanding of why all these different groups fight, or groups like them, and to have empathy for, I think, all of them, and what puts them in this situation that they then have to engage in war.”
Announcing Modern Warfare in May, Infinity Ward co-studio head Dave Stohl said the developer was “creating an emotionally charged experience that’s inspired by the headlines in the world today, where the rules are grey and battle lines are blurred”.
Modern Warfare’s desire to show the morally ambiguous side of military conflicts was reflected in a behind closed doors E3 demo which featured a playable child soldier and the potential for players to commit civilian casualties.
Michael Condrey, who was studio head at Sledgehammer Games during the development of Call of Duty titles Modern Warfare 3, Advanced Warfighter and WWII, has questioned whether publisher Activision is pressuring Infinity Ward “to be more controversial” in a bid to drive media coverage.