I’m in Los Angeles for what will likely prove to be an interesting and perhaps bizarre weekend. I’m here for the inaugural Call of Duty XP event, a fan expo being put on by Activision for aficionados of the popular military-themed video game franchise.
There is lots in store for those attending. Aside from the video game itself—the latest installment, Modern Warfare 3, comes out Nov. 9—there will also be live-action paintball, zip-lining, showdowns between NBA stars, supermodel hosts, something called “the Pit” and, capping it all off on Saturday night, a performance by Kanye West.
About 6,000 people are expected, all of whom will be shelling out $150 each for the weekend (they do get a free copy of the game when it comes out, though). Overall, it’s looking to be similar to BlizzCon, an annual event held by Activision’s sister company Blizzard in honour of its game franchises: Warcraft, StarCraft and Diablo.
It’s a little bit weird to be attending a convention devoted to just one game—after all, I was in L.A. only two months ago for the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which showcases all games. Still, if any one game deserves special treatment, it probably is Call of Duty. Since its debut in 2003, the franchise has sold more than 100 million units and pulled in over $5 billion in revenue. That’s pretty big.
Amusingly, some are calling the event the “DudeBro Convention,” presumably because the large majority of adolescent males who play Call of Duty games have a penchant for calling each “dude” and “bro.” If the plane ride from Toronto was any indication, there will indeed be a lot of “dudes” and “bros.”
Regular readers know I’m something of a Call of Duty junkie; many has been the night where I’ve started in on the online multiplayer, only to look at the clock and realize in shock that it was 5 a.m. The first thing I do when I log on, however, is mute all the other players—I make a point of not talking to anyone when I play, thereby avoiding all the dudes and bros, not to mention all the other horrifically racist and homophobic banter that goes on.
I’ll therefore be covering the event from two perspectives: as a bemused and detached observer, but also as someone who understands how the game can insinuate itself into one’s soul. I’ll be interviewing various people involved with the series and from Activision over the next few days and will be sure to post the results. You can also follow me on Twitter for live updates from the show.
Oh, and for those who are interested, check back here at 3:30 pm Eastern today (Friday) for my take on the Modern Warfare 3 multiplayer. We’ve been ordered to shut up about it till then.