Why Soldiers Wear Call of Duty-style Masks

Illustration for article titled Why Soldiers Wear emCall of Duty/em-style Masks

Now that Call of Duty: Ghosts is an official thing—and since the only detail we're being given is something to do with masks, I think—it's an interesting time to look back on what the famous and one-time-infamous Call of Duty skull mask even is.


You might not remember the event that tried to place infamy on the balaclava that Lieutenant Ghost (ahem, ahem) wears in Call of Duty. Luke wrote about it back in January, back before Call of Duty: Ghosts was a thing. But the interesting part here isn't the outrage that followed the erroneous assumption that real-life soldiers were wearing masks based on a video game. The interesting part is what the mask is all about.


An excerpt from Luke's piece:

...skull masks (or balaclavas, which is actually what Ghost is wearing) are incredibly common in armed forces across the world, especially the US. American soldiers have been wearing them, and have been having their pictures taken in them, for years. This isn't one guy acting alone, it's an established "fashion" amongst soldiers worldwide.

Which leads us to perhaps the more important point: the mask was not invented by Call of Duty, or its developers Infinity Ward. Indeed, its presence in the game was inspired by the mask's use by soldiers in real life, as it's been worn by US troops—who first took to it as a fashionable alternative from regular gear (it began life as a designer ski mask) at the beginning of the Iraq War—for almost a decade now, long before development ever began on the Modern Warfare series.

It was even in Hollywood movies before it was in Call of Duty, with 2005's Harsh Times (left) featuring a scene in which Christian Bale is sporting a "skull mask" almost identical to the one "Ghost"—and now this French soldier—wears.

It seems like Call of Duty: Ghosts might treat the mask as something more than a fashion statement.

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People really thought that the mask style originated in COD?