Plugged In

Meet gaming’s newest star: The Call of Duty dog

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Call of Duty: Ghosts (Credit: Activision)

The Internet might be a haven for cat lovers, but when it comes to gamers, dogs rule.

Activision has a viral hit on its hands with Call of Duty: Ghosts, but not for the reasons it likely expected. The German Shepherd seen wearing a motion-capture suit in the game’s first official trailers and screenshots has become something of an internet sensation.

Since his unexpected debut yesterday, the face of the as-yet unnamed dog has been plastered across game blogs and social media sites. A mock Twitter account (unaffiliated with Activision) using the clever name @CollarDuty has already amassed over 17,000 followers.

Whoever's running the account is having more fun than a border collie at a sheep farm, too, name-checking other famous mutts -- like Jerry Rice's dog Nitus, star of the infamous Wii game Dog Football (yes, it's real) -- and finding more pictures of dogs in combat gear than you ever thought existed.

All the while, they're throwing out some great bones to the crowds, such as "I went for a role in Zero Bark Thirty. Didn't get it. Went back to work waiting tables. One year later, I'm here. Never give up."

The real dog that was mo-capped for the game is an actual member (retired) of the Navy SEAL K9 squad, who was photographed from every angle in super high resolution, which accounts for is the in-game version’s facial scars and ear tattoo. The character even comes with its own artificial intelligence and will apparently play a notable role in the game as part of the squad, who sniffs out dangers and aids the team.

"The dog you saw in the picture has all that armor on and stuff, it's not fake," Mark Rubin, executive producer of the game, told Joystiq. "The dog actually is wearing an earpiece, and he's got a camera on his back that flips up, so the SEAL actually has a screen and he can see what the dog sees through that camera. So if the dog is moving through tall grass or in a room or a dark area somewhere, he can see it on his screen.

"He can actually give voice commands to the dog through the earpiece – go left, go right. And if they need to be silent – this is crazy – the dog's got little vibrating things on his neck, so you can vibrate right or vibrate left and the dog knows, if I feel right, I go to the right, if I vibrate left I go to the left. So he can drive the dog, in a sense, from his little device on his arm."

Sounds cool, but steering a dog doesn't beat tweeting as one. Check out man's best virtual friend in action below (starting at the 1:25 mark):

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