Early into Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II, the latest entry in the long-running first-person-shooter video game franchise, the player is whisked away from the character whose perspective they've occupied, a British operative working undercover in Amsterdam. Suddenly, you're playing instead as Rodolfo "Rudy" Parra, a member of the Mexican Special Forces. Parra, along with sandpaper-throated superior Alejandro Vargas, is working with the CIA to stop the smuggling of an Iranian terrorist over the U.S./Mexico border and into a fictional Texas town. Before long, Parra and Vargas have killed a dozen people, terrorized roughly the same number of civilians, and lost track of their target amid the roaring flames of a cartel safehouse set afire.
This scene, set within a level called "Borderline," is a loaded one. As described in an article by Steven Santana, its imagery strikes horrific real-world parallels with the brutal treatment of Latin American migrants, playing into rhetoric that demonizes those seeking refuge in the United States by quite literally showing a fictional terrorist slipping past insufficient border patrols to enter the country. Cartel members are depicted as indistinguishable from Mexican Americans. Aggressive, armed policing is shown as a necessary method for avoiding outright violence.