‘Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’ Features The Rock’s Cousin

‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3’ was released in November 2023, featuring a new operator voiced by the cousin of WWE legend and actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. His cousin Ben is an actual military veteran—a 16-year Navy Seal and the recipient of multiple Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart. His appearance in the game comes as part of the Call of Duty Endowment (CODE) Warrior Pack that features his Koa King operator skin and incorporates his military service and Samoan heritage, as well as other weapon blueprints and vehicle skins. Another notable aspect of the CODE Warrior Pack DLC is that every purchase contributes directly toward the placement of unemployed and underemployed veterans in the United States and United Kingdom into high-quality jobs, as employment is a struggle for many veterans after retiring from service.

Playing CoD to help veterans

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While Call of Duty (CoD) soldiers and events are largely fictional or inspired by real-life people like Ben, it’s also a representation of authentic military culture and struggles. Koa King may be an operator in the game, but his inspiration comes from a real-life veteran who’s also bringing veterans to the forefront. This isn’t often an aspect highlighted in warfare games like CoD, and his inclusion extends beyond representation and is tied to a bigger impact.

As mentioned, earnings from purchasing the Koa King Skin as part of the CODE Warrior Pack go directly to helping veterans by supporting the Call of Duty Endowment non-profit. The organization was co-founded by Activision Blizzard's CEO, Bobby Kotick, who wanted to play a part in helping out veterans meaningfully. The combined underemployment and unemployment rate for veterans is more than 60%, and women veterans also receive the brunt of the struggle. The CODE organization is aiming to bring down these numbers by engaging the CoD community

and utilizing the warfare setting and military aesthetics to bring more attention to the plight of veterans. Playing CoD may seem inconsequential, but those who bought the CODE Warrior Pack have helped fund the CODE’s endeavors to get veterans employed in stable jobs, helping them get back on their feet after retiring from service.

The history of CoD

The CoD video game franchise is centered around the military and warfare, with the first game of the series set in World War II and other sequels, reboots, and spin-offs in a modern warfare setting. The franchise’s history begins as far back as 2003, when Infinity Ward developed the first game. Other studios like Treyarch and Sledgehammer Games have also developed other CoD installments. Though the games are all published by Activision Blizzard, various developers have made their own entries for the series.

The CODE Warrior Pack featuring Koa King was released alongside the launch of the latest one: Modern Warfare 3, of which Sledgehammer Games was the lead developer. It’s a reboot of the initial sub-series of the same name, released in 2011. Apart from new content, the new version of Modern Warfare 3 delivers fan-favorite signature missions from previous CoD games but mixes linear and open-world missions in an open-combat format. It also harks back to other CoD games, like the original ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’ which was released in 2009, by featuring 16 remastered maps from the game. By pursuing constant improvements and novelty while still accommodating players’ favorite aspects, CoD has managed to maintain its success and garner a huge fanbase eager for more.

CoD and the wrestling scene

Ben’s inclusion in the latest installment makes sense and ties into the game’s themes and combat, but it also deepens the link between the game and the wrestling industry. Though he’s not a wrestler, his relationship with The Rock is another instance of WWE making its way into the game. The CoD franchise also previously used a wrestler’s likeness in one of the games, with retried wrestler and commentator Booker T’s character G.I. Bro being used in the CoD comic books.

Similarities can also be tied to the CoD video games and the wrestling scene. Both have become massive viewing phenomena and have garnered fans willing to bet on different wrestlers or players. WWE matches have drummed up excitement with flashy wrestler personas and thrilling matches flaunting impressive displays of strength and drama. Though matches are pre-determined, there’s still an element of suspense as viewers and betters must predict the outcome carefully. CoD has become hugely popular in the esports world. This CoD betting guide notes that viewership in CoD tournaments topped 430,000 in 2022. There have also been more than 200 tournaments and prize pools totaling over $33.6 million, and there’s more growth in store.

Both the WWE and CoD have also become symbolic of modern masculinity. The spectacle of professional wrestling in the WWE brings an exhilarating sense of drama, watching wrestlers go at each other with more elaborate and over-the-top moves than the next. CoD has also become a representation of the military’s role in shaping masculinity, from the first-person shooter mechanics and gamer culture to the character design and warfare aesthetics that have become aligned and ingrained with men’s ideal image of manhood. Even video games itself have long been associated with masculinity. Though tides are evolving, both in the wrestling and gaming world, both have played a role in cultivating ideas of masculinity.

Celebrity features

While Ben may not be a huge celebrity like his cousin, his inclusion in the game is the latest in CoD’s history of featuring or being associated with major stars outside the video gaming world. Over the years, the franchise has featured celebrities in various entries, even as early as the first game that featured actor Jason Statham, who hadn’t yet earned household name status. Some notable names appearing in the CoD franchise include actors Jeff Goldblum, Idris Elba, Keifer Sutherland, Helena Bonham-Carter, and many more. Even musicians have achieved the honor of becoming playable characters; rapper Nicki Minaj was included in the reboot of ‘Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2’ and became the first-ever non-fictional woman to be an operator in the game.

With CoD still retaining the massive success it has gained over the years of its existence, it's likely that more installments featuring famous figures will continue, both to drum up hype and keep things interesting. But more than just the prestige of having a Hollywood or music industry star represented in the game features like Ben can create a more significant and lasting impact beyond the game. Bringing more visibility and support to real-life veterans can make a huge difference in the real world, and if the future CoD games can have just as meaningful representations in the game, they can help make a major change in the lives of many.

The influence of Call of Duty has extended past the video game realm, branching out into the burgeoning field of esports and making its way into real-life issues and societal norms. Honoring people like Ben, who represent a disadvantaged group of people, can shed light on their plight and allow for meaningful change to be made. By capitalizing on players’ interests, the CoD team

and the CODE organization can benefit from the sales from buying the DLC, making for a strategic and impactful move

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