PITTSFIELD, MA—As World War II entered its sixth grueling week within the video game Call Of Duty 2, battle-hardened soldier-player Martin Avers admitted Tuesday that his commitment to the struggle to free electronic Europe from the virtual Third Reich is wavering.
"After weeks of fighting for every pixel of ground and seeing 180 degrees of carnage in every direction, you start to wonder if it's really worth it," said 23-year-old Avers, who has been decorated 1,327 times since 1995, when he began fighting on his Sega Genesis. "I've already given my life several dozen times in this endless, senseless war game."
Avers added: "Some nights, it's all I can do to 'continue.'"
Pausing the horrors of war on his PlayStation 2, the bleary-eyed Avers spoke about his fallen comrades.
"I mean, watching Bloomfield die on-screen was tough, especially because I was the one who pushed the buttons that sent him to his death," Avers said. "But seeing it nine times in a row was more than tough—it was boring."
"I hear his weird scream over and over," he added.
Although Avers' long, gloomy tour of duty is frequently highlighted by the arrival of much-needed supplies from his roommate—such as Hershey bars and cartons of cigarettes—Avers says such things can't replace home-cooked meals and the touch of a woman.
"When I'm crouching in a trench, I think back to a time when all I did was play baseball with my buddies," said Avers, who is a rental-car sales representative in his civilian life. "That's what we'd do all Sunday, play MLB 2005. Seems like somebody else's life now."
As Avers flushed a German sniper out of a bombed-out church, he spoke about the price he pays for his ongoing commitment.
"The fighting's getting pretty intense, and the Germans started using this Panzerschreck thing that can take out four guys at once," Avers said. "Sure, I'd like a swift end to this war so I can get back to my civilian life, but I'm not shelling out 10 bucks for the manual of tips and tricks."
Avers said he dreams of the day when it will all end and he can sell the game to GameStop.
"I think I could still get 20 bucks for it, which is pretty good," he said.
Avers expressed anguish over the grief of his far-off, fictional mother, who has 28 gold-star banners in her window. He also said he is frustrated with the powers that be, who keep sending young men into the shooting-game fray. However, Avers said his sense of duty outweighs his anger and doubt.
"I've been on the front lines since the day this came out, and sure, I could put in for a transfer to some cushy desktop assignment and play solitaire all day," Avers said. "But I can't abandon the boys."
Avers said his biggest reason for staying with his interactive platoon is personal.
"My father devoted a large part of his youth to fighting nameless, faceless enemies in Battlezone," Avers said. "Today, we know that war game was unwinnable, even stupid. But Dad believed in what he was doing. He believed he could eventually reach that volcano in the background if he fought hard enough. I have a real chance to win WWII. If I go AWOL, I'll have let down not only Dad but all the brave men and women I've met on the gamefaqs.com forum that have come before me."