Modern Warfare 2 scriptwriter Jesse Stern has said that the goal of the game's controversial airport level was "to put you as close as possible to atrocity". (Beware, spoilers ahead.)
"We've been catching a lot of criticism for that and a lot of praise as well," Stern told GamePro (thanks Kotaku). "People have really strong reactions to the airport scene and it's been fascinating because we all wanted to make it something that would be upsetting, disturbing, but also something people relate to.
"There's something instantly identifiable about it when it happens, when you're in that situation and the level begins."
Stern went on to say that there were periods during Modern Warfare 2's development when the team had to take a step back because the events they were trying to incorporate into the game were coming to life in the real world: terrorists running amok with machineguns in urban areas, Russian tanks rumbling into Georgia...
But they stuck with the airport level, called "No Russian", regardless. "People want to know," Stern explained. "As terrifying as it is, you want to know. And there's a part of you that wants to know what it's like to be there because this is a human experience.
"These are human beings who perpetrate these acts, so you don't really want to turn a blind eye to it. You want to take it apart and figure out how that happened and what, if anything, can be done to prevent it. Ultimately, our intention was to put you as close as possible to atrocity.
Also interesting is Stern's recollections of people testing the game. While reactions were obviously polarised, one thing does stick out: "Every single person in testing opened fire on the crowd, which is human nature."