Modern Warfare 2 benefits from NCIS writer

One of the writers behind TV’s top series, NCIS, is also part of the creative team responsible for what’s expected to be the year’s biggest video game.

When NCIS writer and executive producer Jesse Stern first met with the studio’s creative crew nearly three years ago, they impressed him with an animation of a nuclear explosion that became a major plot twist in Modern Warfare, then under development and Stern’s first foray into games.

“That was the first thing that really grabbed my attention. OK, this is the scale we are working with,” says Stern, who helped fine-tune the near-future tale of international combat and political intrigue. “A lot of the contribution I think they expect from me, and I hope to give to the game, is making those moments have an emotional punch to them.”

More jaw-dropping developments are on the way in Modern Warfare 2. The game drew flak in the media for allowing player participation in a terrorist attack on civilians, an element of the secretive plot revealed in a video clip leaked last week.

That footage doesn’t provide full context for the scene, Stern says. “It is upsetting and disturbing, but it’s not what you think it is. You are meant to bear as close a witness as possible to a pretty revolting atrocity. That is the intent of the level, to put you in a situation like that. … It is the shape of modern warfare these days, violence against citizens.”