White Phosphorus Call of Duty: Killstreak Provokes Controversy

White phosphorus Call of Duty controversy continues
White phosphorus Call of Duty controversy continues /

White phosphorus Call of Duty killstreak has caused controversy online, as critics have vocally questioned the use of such a vicious weapon in so flippant a way. Here's what you need to know about the controversy.

White Phosphorus Call of Duty: Kill Streak Provokes Controversy

In the upcoming Call of Duty Modern Warfare, players can earn white phosphorus attacks as a reward for killing a certain number of enemies without dying. In-game, these areas of white phosphorus occlude vision and deal damage to players who step inside.

In real life combat, white phosphorus is used to produce smoke for cover and signaling. Its use as a weapon is controversial in and of itself because of its horrific affects. Particles from white phosphorus munitions can stick to the skin and catch fire, becoming very difficult to put out. They can also be absorbed into the victims blood and severely damage liver and kidney activity, leading to organ failure. Even the smoke produced by white phosphorus can be deadly.

White phosphorus use against or near civilian areas is prohibited by Geneva Convention provisions, and its use against military combatants is considered a war crime by some.

All of this has led some fans and writers to decry its appearance as a kill streak reward. Fans were particularly incensed by Modern Warfare's marketing itself as a more realistic treatment of war, creating dissonance between its image and its treatment of the controversial weaponry.

Developer Infinity Ward has stated it views the multiplayer side of Modern Warfare as separate from its gritty campaign, insulating it from the need for a realistic depiction of white phosphorus and from grappling with its implications.

Call of Duty Modern Warfare is scheduled to ship Oct. 25.

Photo courtesy of Infinity Ward/Activision