Maybe it’s the competition.
Maybe it’s the requirement for quick-twitch reflexes.
Whatever the reason, this much is sure—professional athletes love Call of Duty. For years, many elite athletes have dedicated much of the time when they aren’t playing or training to the first-person shooter video game series. One such gamer? Otto Porter Jr.
Porter, a 24-year-old forward for the Washington Wizards, is coming off the best campaign of his young career. He was one of only eight NBA players to average at least 13 points, 6 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game last season, putting him in the company of stars like Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo. The foundation of Porter’s success was built in his younger days, where he spent thousands of hours honing his versatile game. Any hours leftover after ball, sleep and schoolwork were largely occupied with Call of Duty.
Porter was first introduced to the series when he was in middle school. “I remember to this day the first time I played Call of Duty. I was in seventh or eighth grade, and I was at my grandma’s house. One of my cousins was playing this game. I was like, ‘what type of game is this?’ He said ‘it’s an army game with a first-person view,’” Porter recalls. “The more I watched him play, the more I wanted to play it. It was Call of Duty 2. Just that aspect of being in the army and fighting in World War II and seeing the graphics and the different maps, it was amazing. Ever since then, I got hooked. I think I bought it the next day.”
Porter’s favorite entry in the series is the groundbreaking Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Not only is the title hailed as one of the greatest games ever made, but it was Porter’s first introduction to competitive online multiplayer. “That’s when I first started getting into the online gaming and the multiplayer gaming. That’s when I spent the most hours (on the game),” Porter said. “That was the first time I could play with multiple people. Different guns, different maps, different tactics. That game was the first one I really spent a lot of time playing.”
Porter says his playing style in Call of Duty is similar to his basketball game. He’s constantly hustling in an effort to keep the opponent off guard. “I’m very versatile. I never stay in one spot. I’m always moving. I’m one of those guys that’s never in the same spot, you’ll never know where I’m coming from,” Porter said.
With Call of Duty: WWII set to drop on Nov. 3, Porter’s excited to see the series return to its historical roots. Not only was he president of the history club at Scott County Central High (St. Louis, Missouri), but he recently visited the Museum of the Second World War in Gdańsk, Poland. “I’m very excited. One of my teammates, Marcin Gortat, is from Poland. So this summer, I went with him to the World War II museum. I was able to see all the real things—all the tanks, the guns, the clothing. Then to see Call of Duty was going back to that, I was like ‘wow’. They’re taking it back to that time where I have a sense of what went on,” Porter said.