It was a pleasant surprise to see a Nigerian city being featured on the new version of a mainstream video game like Call of Duty. Lagos, the commercial hub of Nigeria has gained popularity as an international city, almost the first name that comes to the mind of anyone looking for opportunities to take a massive business venture into Africa with the highest odds for success. Lagos is home to over 17.5 million people in just ~386 sq. miles and the seventh fastest growing city in the world. It is also known to scale some of the most significant cultural artifacts of Nigeria, and some of its most gnarly vices too.
In one of the screenshots, you can see a sign on one of the buildings that says “This House Is Not For Sale, Beware Of 419”. This refers to one of the more challenging aspects of living in Lagos; the realities around a mass of people living in abject poverty and always in survival mode. If not careful, there is the possibility of being sold something, including real estate, that is not owned by the actual person who sold it to you. That’s the origin of the statement “This House Is Not For Sale, Beware Of 419” being painted on to buildings and other types of real estate in Lagos.
Call of Duty was first released on October 29, 2003. It is developed by Infinity Ward and published by Activision. The game simulates the infantry and combined arms warfare of World War II. It follows the American paratroopers, British paratroopers and the Red army.
In this latest version, the game’s main character is seen making his way through Lagos on a new mission called “Traffic”. There is a character called Cpt. Ajani, who the main character is meant to accompany and take control of a drone. The objective of this mission in the game is to rescue the Nigerian Prime Minister from the KVA, a global terrorist organization. More details about the Traffic mission can be seen on IGN’s website.
He is seen passing by roads that look strikingly similar to the city, and there are signs that read “Surulere” and “Keep Lagos Clean.” We also get to see the trooper standing on a bridge overlooking a busy road that looks like Maryland, with vehicles zooming past, including a yellow Lagos bus (popularly called Danfo). The guys at Call of Duty appear to have done pretty decent research into the realities in Nigeria, as an easter egg in one of the multiplayer maps released as a teaser before the title was released has a movie poster that goes “Zombies in Lagos – A film by Yetunde Ajanaku” A video of it can be seen on the Youtube video embedded at the bottom of this post.
What does this mean for Nigeria? Visibility. With the sheer mass of Generation Xers and Yers across the entire world that play this game, it is fair to say that going through this mission gives them a more intimate perspective to a city of Lagos far away in Nigeria. For the more curious ones, an opportunity to get on Google and explore the facts. And for those who are not as curious, a point of reference that is likely to register when they see or hear more about Lagos in their daily endeavors. Good exposure or neutral exposure, we will take it. Nigeria Rising!
One of the photos has a sign that says “Speed Limit enforced by Drone/Aircraft”. That left me wondering what the future holds for law enforcement in places like Nigeria, and even the rest of the world as technology gets sophisticated enough to enforce the rule of law. Food for thought.