New America Media/The kNOw, Commentary, Luis Pacheco, Posted: Nov 23, 2011
Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3, released Nov. 8 and one of the most popular games of the year, is encouraging gamers to buy junk food by offering “Double XP” codes on chips and soda packaging.
Pepsi products like Doritos & Mountain Dew have the code, and gamers buy these products so they can use the codes to “level up” quickly. But putting these promo codes on junk food isn’t helping gamers at all. Instead, promoters are hurting gamers by pushing not just a game, but an unhealthy lifestyle.
I myself am a huge Call of Duty (CoD) gamer, so I bought myself some bottles of 12-ounce Mountain Dew, which gave me 15 minutes of Double XP time for each bottle. That means for every enemy I kill in CoD Modern Warfare 3, I get 100 points instead of the usual 50 points per kill.
Double XP codes are on variety products, and the codes range from 15 to 90 minutes of Double XP time.
I have a history with junk food addiction. In 2010, I drank over 112 Monster energy drinks, in addition to downing mounds of other unhealthy snacks. This year, I cut junk food out of my diet and I feel much better. But in November, I made some sacrifices. Though I didn’t want to buy junk food, I did in order to get Double XP.
Naturally, gamers will take any opportunity to help their player level up faster. Double XP is a huge deal to most gamers, because getting their hands on these codes gives them an advantage over other players. Enticing gamers with both a fast track to leveling up and with junk food — which can be addicting in its own right — is hard to resist.
So how many minutes can you receive for buying Mountain Dew and Doritos?
15 minutes for any 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottle
45 minutes for a 12-pack of Mountain Dew
90 minutes for a 20-Pack of Mountain Dew
15 minutes for any 2- and 3- ounce bag of Doritos
45 minutes for an 11-ounce bag
90 minutes for a 17-ounce bag
Not all of these products are available at liquor stores, but you can find the 20-ounce Mountain Dew bottles and 2- and 3-ounce Dorito bags at liquor or convenience stores, which are common in areas that lack supermarkets (also known as “food deserts”). Eleven-ounce Dorito bags are only available at Target while 17-ounce Dorito bags are only available at Wal-Mart. These stores benefit from the junk food promotion and the exploitation of gamers. As for the Mountain Dew packs, the 20-pack Mountain Dew is only available at Wal-Mart.
To throw the soda down the drain would be better than consuming it, but if you do that, you’re just putting your money in the trash.
Sadly, the campaign shows that the game’s promoter doesn’t really care about gamers’ health. Activision (CoD’s publisher) and Pepsi are trying to make money off of us, even though it hurts our health. They know we can’t resist and we’ll buy the junk food because we love the game.
Gaming is not a physical activity. It doesn’t involve exercise, but encourages long hours of sitting. Adding junk food to playing CoD is a recipe for disaster.
These companies could have put the Double XP codes on healthy food. Putting the codes on water, 100% juices, fruit packs, carrot sticks or whole grain bread would have been great for gamers, because they would be eating healthy while playing. It might have even helped change the eating habits for some of these gamers.
Let’s think about who is playing CoD and buying junk food for the Double XP codes. Even though the game is rated “M” for mature content, and supposed to be played only by people over the age of 18, many CoD players are young, and these kids are the most likely to buy junk food to get codes for the game. They are the ones that need healthy food the most. They are most attracted to junk food advertising, like the Mountain Dew bottle with the label claiming to be “game fuel.”
Activision and Pepsi should consider the impact this promotion is having on all gamers, especially on youth.
Luis is a graduate of Edison High School and joined The kNOw in 2009. He is the author of “Women Deserve More Respect” in Issue 5. His hobbies are making YouTube videos and playing Call of Duty once in a while.