|Birth of an Online Nation|
Perhaps calling it "Black Ops" was Infinity Ward's subtle nod to their racist fan base, because that fan base responded by buying north of five million copies of their new shooter on Tuesday (at sixty bucks a pop so you do the math). By midnight rednecks everywhere were gleefully killing each other and speculating which players sound like Mexicans (bad), which players sound like niggers (worse), and which players sound like faggots (worst). If you do log on be prepared for the following standard question: "Are you a faggot? You sound like a faggot." There's a pretty rigidly established ziggurat of hatred on Xbox Live, and they care enough to degrade you accurately. It's not a new phenomenon; it's been going on for years: new violent shooter comes out, and Xbox Live headsets once again ring with racist and homophobic slurs.
Fortunately, companies like Infinity Ward and Xbox Live hide behind the following legalese: Online Interactions Not Rated by the ESRB. Which basically translates as: we don't care if the hillbilly's from Deliverance playing online are racist fucks, they have broadband connections and pay the subscription fee. So consider yourself warned ye of faint heart. Theoretically, Xbox Live offers a system for reporting abusive behavior but since they never follow up and there's any diminution in the quantity of racist chatter it feels useless to file complaints. So either you quit playing, or feel like you need a chemical shower for being silently complicit in a cyber Klan rally.
So if you feel at all optimistic about race relations, gender politics or gay rights then an hour online will set you straight. It's a good time. There's nothing like a twelve year old spewing racist insults in a thick Kentucky drawl while looming over your digital corpse to make you want to put your head in an oven.