The Games We Play: Through the Eyes of a Soldier

Seeing COD:BO2 through the eyes of a man that has been through the real thing.

Gamers come in all shapes and sizes. From the casual to hardcore. From a child playing a Wii, to a college student taking a break from studying to play a little Xbox. I not only write for, but also an active duty service member in the United States Army. I have served for 12 years and have just recently reenlisted to stay in as a careerist. When thinking about friends to interview, the first that always pop into mind are my fellow brothers in arms. Joshua Ray Burch is such a man. Until recently SGT Burch served as an air traffic controller with the 101st Airborne Division, and has been to  Afghanistan on more than one occasion in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The 101st is an unit that has been used in many of SGT Burch's favorite game series, Call of Duty. I took the time to interview him this week to see why a person that has lived through an actually war, comes home and relives the chaos on a TV screen.

ER: Before we start talking about your favorite game, how were you first introduced to gaming?

JB:  My first system was the original NES. I remember playing Super Mario Bros and Duck Hunt. I used to put my gun up to the TV screen to make sure I hit the ducks.

ER: What was your favorite experience with gaming?

JB: I know I still get excited when I know a new system is coming out. I love the feeling of opening the console from the box and plugging it in for the first time. It's amazing how much graphics have changed throughout the years.

ER: And now your favorite game is?

JB: I have always loved the Call of Duty series. I try to play Black Ops II a few hours a day. I try to play through the campaign but multiplayer is usually what I stick to. I have gone through prestige 4 times, and before you ask, no I don't like zombie mode. (laughing)

ER: Is there anything you would change to multiplayer?

JB: I miss being able to ricochet to get kills. I think they got rid of it. That was my favorite part of Modern Warfare 3.

ER: Are you getting excited for the release of COD: Ghosts? 

JB: Of course I am! What kind of question is that? I don't know how I feel about the whole dog thing, but I don't think that is really going to be a part of multiplayer.

ER: Final question: How do you feel about playing a 1st person shooter now that you have experienced actual warfare? 

JB: I played before I was in the service. I  ran around aimlessly and just enjoyed it. Now I feel that I play the game with more strategy and definitely know that cover is my best friend. I played while I was downrange and it helped relieve the stress of a long day and brought my battle buddies and me closer. I am not saying it is for everyone and sometimes emotional trauma can take a huge toll on someone after they get back. I am grateful that I am able to see the game as fantasy and not think about the bad things that happen while your away. I know there are some that come back and cannot play the game without reliving what happened to them, and I think that's heartbreaking.

After this interview Josh and I had a beer and sat down in silence for a minute. Sometimes it's best to enjoy the peace around you and know how lucky you are to be home with your loved ones and friends. I cannot speak for Josh as this is something most soldiers don't talk about, but I know the pain that comes with losing someone to war. If you have made it this far, please take a moment after reading this, and honor those we have lost throughout our history to the horrors of war. Play your death matches, fight your zombies, but know these games would not have as much impact to this society if we did not have actual heroes sacrificing for us in reality.

Published Jul. 14th 2013

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