Meet the Call of Duty boyfriends who play until their ‘fingers fall off’

On the night of Oct. 26, the widespread streamer Jack “CouRage” Dunlop issued a public apology to his girlfriend. In a tweethe stated, “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 launches tomorrow. You won’t see me. You won’t hear from me. I might be taking part in until my fingers fall off. I’m sorry for what I’m about to do.”

The tweet spoke to his pleasure about the subsequent installment of the widespread first-person shooter sport and served as a cheeky option to let his girlfriend know that he could be absent for the days following its launch. It additionally summoned different self-described Call of Duty boyfriends who commented on the tweet in assist of Call of Duty boyfriend conduct. In the coming days, TikTok would come to be crammed with girlfriends lamenting the loss of their boyfriends to the new sport, sharing messages like, “Saying bye to my bf… he isn’t useless, the new COD simply got here out yesterday.”

Call of Duty is one of the most commercially profitable online game franchises. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 surpassed $1 billion in gross sales inside 10 days of its launch, Activision introduced, breaking the world document for gross sales beforehand held by Call of Duty: Black Ops 2. Critics have coated the political ideology of the video games and the messages about warfare they impart, however much less consideration has been paid to the real-life folks who play these video games, and the means it shapes their lives — or, possibly extra precisely, the means it takes over their lives.

Being a COD boyfriend is not actually about being a literal boyfriend. Anyone generally is a COD boyfriend if they need, regardless of gender identification or relationship standing, based on the self-identified “Call of Duty boyfriends” I spoke to. Still, the concept of ​​Call of Duty boyfriends has taken over social media, as {couples} play into — or playfully push again towards — “gamer boyfriend” gender stereotypes. But some of these boyfriends discover themselves bristling towards the label.

Image: Infinity Ward/Activision

“I could be fairly aggressive in video games so I suppose nothing is sort of as magical to me as queuing up with associates and simply collaborating collectively to get some W’s haha,” stated Maxine, who considers herself a COD boyfriend, through Twitter. They have been taking part in Call of Duty video games since 2009, they usually had deliberate to spend Modern Warfare 2‘s launch day on-line with associates, even canceling plans with a romantic curiosity so as to take action. Call of Duty and video video games have lengthy served as a means that Maxine connects with associates.

“I do not assume it is a coincidence that the greatest relationships I’ve aren’t with my fast household or actual life associates however with folks I play video games with,” they stated. “Specifically, my relationships are greatest after we each genuinely care about one another, play video games collectively, and are each too busy to need extra of the different.”

On TikTok, nevertheless, the “Call of Duty boyfriend” is commonly a automobile for {couples} to make mild of gendered stereotypes, by dunking on males who play video video games or ladies who cannot play video games. One widespread video spoofs on a girlfriend who is clueless whereas taking part in, and who picks up the sport after her boyfriend rapidly fingers her a controller; she then follows instructions from her teammates in the voice chat. Another widespread format of video factors out how disruptive late-night gaming classes could be, parodying the moments when the sound of gunshots from the sport wakes up a girlfriend. Another development teaches cuddling positions that enable for bodily contact with a “gamer bf,” however solely in a means that does not utterly intervene together with his means to proceed taking part in a sport.

There are lots of COD boyfriends who discover methods to stability their relationship with taking part in tons of the sport. “I have not actually performed the sport to the level of completely ignoring her or avoiding her,” stated Rafay, about his girlfriend. He first performed Call of Duty as a youngster on his Xbox 360, and he is stored up with the video games since. “I’ve sacrificed some sleep at occasions with a view to play and spend time along with her too.”

He advised me that apart from the odd argument right here or there, it hasn’t actually gotten in the means of their relationship. “She has discovered it violent and would not actually perceive the attraction, however I get why she thinks that means about it,” he stated. According to him, his girlfriend views it as a “typical man” sport, however she understands that he is additionally into different video games that fall outdoors what a typical gamer bro would possibly play, like Pokémon.

The violent nature and politics of the video games have led some COD boyfriends to query their love of the sequence. The ideologies portrayed in Call of Duty, along with sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits filed towards franchise writer Activision Blizzard, led Maxine to think about dropping the sequence altogether. In the finish, they returned to taking part in primarily as a result of of the associates they made there.

“What modified was that sufficient of my family and friends had been going to get the sport that I figured I ought to too, to assist keep relationships. As I’ve gotten older I’ve develop into a bit of a pessimist I suppose. If I used to be youthful possibly I might not have purchased the sport on precept however I work a bit extra and it is develop into tougher to remain related to folks.”

And then there are the COD boyfriends who have finally put down their controllers. Collin, who has performed Call of Duty since highschool, recounted his expertise of rising aside from his associates who performed it. In highschool, he skipped out mid-match whereas taking part in Call of Duty: World at War – Zombies to go see his girlfriend.

“I advised my associates that I needed to go, however I nonetheless wished the achievement!” he stated. “So, I simply AFK’d in the sport and stood in a nook, hoping that my associates might carry my useless weight and full the ultimate steps with out me. But the area was tight, the issue was scaled for 4 folks, they usually finally failed and all died.” The subject brought on a falling out in the buddy group, who stated he was “placing her over them.”

Two soldiers walk through a dimly lit room.  One has a headlamp on with a scope built in.

Image: Infinity Ward/Activision

Collin’s highschool predicament will get at a bigger dynamic that underpins the COD boyfriend. Beneath all of it, there’s this concept that doing anything takes time away from “Call of Duty and the boys.” But the COD boyfriends I talked to principally recognized with the label in no matter methods they wished — from utilizing it to spending extra time with associates, to discovering methods to have a life outdoors it, to stepping away from it utterly. Collin stated that embracing life together with his girlfriend — whom he has since married — has opened pleasure in his life, and now he lives along with her and shares the pleasure of video games along with her.

“My spouse is wonderful and understands that video games are essential to me and encourages me to find time for them and play with my associates after I can,” Collin stated. “She listens to me gush about no matter sport I’m at the moment taking part in or no matter business information is breaking that day with out understanding absolutely what I’m speaking about, however since I’m obsessed with it, she cares.”

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