I studied history in undergrad and grad school for six years, but I’ve never worked a day as a historian or a teacher. I have defended my college degree as being an influence and resource on my writing as well as a good way to learn how to think. Also, I can recognize the first 15 Roman Emperors by coins or busts, which is amazingly useful. But now I have an all new benefit to crow about: I get a lot more interest out of Call of Duty: Black Ops because I know something about the historical events that form the game’s backdrop.
These are subtle, fleeting pleasures to be sure, but I really do appreciate the ways that Black Ops works on multiple levels, depending on your familiarity with the era. It can be played like any other Call of Duty game, in which flashing images and maps scroll by at high speed while a serious sounding man expresses concern and ruthless resolve in the face of the enemy. Like those other games, I often went into missions with no clear idea why I was there or what I needed to do. Because Black Ops is spread out across many years and continents and moves forward and backwards in time, this can all be even more confusing than is maybe necessary.