Infinity Ward Alters Modern Warfare's "Border War" Skin Following Criticism

Infinity Ward Alters Modern Warfare's "Border War" Skin Following Criticism

"Border War" is no more.

Updates are constantly being pushed for Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and its battle royale component Warzone, but more often than not they consist mainly of bug fixes, balance tweaks, and game mode changes. Today however, for the second time this month, Infinity Ward has patched a politically charged cosmetic option in Warzone and Modern Warfare: this time, a skin for operator Wayne "D-Day" Davis has had its name and description changed.

Included in the fixes for today's new patch, Infinity Ward notes, is a name and bio change for D-Day's "Border War" skin. Eurogamer has details on the extent of the changes: visually, the skin appears to be the same, leaving D-Day with a white cowboy hat, sunglasses, and an olive green police vest (other common skin variants for D-Day feature a Texas flag in place of the "police" vest patch). The name of the skin in question has been changed from "Border War" to "Home on the Range," but the bigger change is in its description blurb.

Before, the Border War description read as follows: "Show them the error of their ways and make them pay with D-Day's Border War operator skin." Now, it's a much more benign message: "Play along with the deer and the antelope with the Home on the Range D-Day operator skin."

Last week, in the wake of a Warzone and Modern Warfare patch that removed the "OK" hand gesture (now widely adopted as a hate symbol by white supremacists), many online turned their attention to the Border War skin—given the threatening tone of the blurb, it's hard to read it as anything but a reference to the strict patrolling of the U.S./Mexico border. With both the "Border War" skin change and the removal of the "OK" sign, Infinity Ward hasn't released statements on why it made the changes.

Last month, when Modern Warfare and Warzone featured an in-game message expressing support for the Black Lives Matter movement, Infinity Ward's statement called out "systemic inequalities" and "racism and injustice," but refrained from mentioning police brutality specifically. The D-Day skin itself is no different from what it was before, police vest and all, and criticism of it didn't stop at the name and description.

It was just last year that Modern Warfare's campaign was widely criticized for appearing to engage in historical revisionism regarding a real-life bombing. You could argue that evoking uncomfortable aspects of law enforcement and the military is what Call of Duty is built to do, but in light of these changes, it seems Infinity Ward does want to try and steer away from certain associations.

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Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

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