Published on August 17th, 2010 | by Bryant Kazmerzak, Contributor
Fox News reports on Medal Of Honor's Taliban inclusion
When we heard back in March that EA was releasing a new Medal Of Honor set in modern-day Afghanistan, both myself and Deejay said that this game was going to change how we play war games. When the trailer was released, and it promised gameplay as The Hammer (ground troops, similar to the opening US Rangers missions in Modern Warfare 2) and The Scalpel (Tier One Operators, similar to the Soap and Roach opening mission), I exhibited all the symptoms of a Chuck Norris bite: Tightness in the jeans, male-patterned beardness, and an urge to kick something.
When Deejay went to the EA Showcase and got to get his hands on MOH, and asked the developers questions, I died. I died, went to heaven, saw Jesus, but told him that I’d be back. I then activated my Reincarnation spell (A 30 minute cooldown without the proper glyph), sat down to regain some health and mana, and played the MOH Multiplayer Beta.
The Beta consisted of 2 simple levels with US forces versus Taliban forces. One level was a simple death match, while another was a king of the hill variant with several pushbacks. Each side had the same 3 classes, with soldier, sniper, and spec ops. Snipers started out with basic rifles, soldiers with M-16s and AK-47s, and spec-ops with silenced M-14s and AK-74Us. The only real differences were cosmetics, as both sides had the same killstreak rewards (Mortar strikes) and class customization features. I did notice, however, that the alt weapon that sniper classes carry, a remote detonated bomb on the Taliban side featured a cell phone with a contact labeled “BOOM” highlighted, thumb hovering over the call button.
I see no quarry with this, but then again Im not a soldier. I used to be a sailor, but it still doesnt count.
Kotaku’s Owen Good reports: “I must be inside the bubble, because the idea of playing as the Taliban in Medal of Honor multiplayer didn’t hit me as particularly controversial. Fox News noticed. Though it did treat the subject reasonably, the woman they interviewed doesn’t. This segment aired on Fox & Friends yesterday and, despite the network’s poor rep with gamers thanks to past treatments, its handling does come in pretty fair and balanced. They didn’t have to pick this subject, of course, and it may not be news to us, but I’ll allow that it is to the general public.”
So instead of pulling in some “expert” like they did with their infamous Mass Effect report, they got a gold-star mom named Karen Meredith. Meredith, who lost her son in Iraq in 2004, goes on to say that, “… war is not a game period, and the fact that they’ve already done games about WWII, that’s far removed from our current history and people arent dying in WWII anymore…” and that “… it’s not based on real people“. She then goes on to say that since the game is coming out in October, and “… we’re just getting off the worst month in casualties in the whole war… So families who are burying their children are going to be seeing and playing this game“.
I went and pulled the numbers, and the June-July numbers for fatalities in Afghanistan, while they’re not pretty, and are certainly higher than previous years on a per-month basis, arent nearly as bad as Iraq’s numbers have been. I personally feel that a single fatality in the field of combat is a tragedy, and I feel for the families and friends of such, but I also like to believe that after something as difficult and tragic as burying your son or daughter, or brother or sister, or aunt or uncle, I dont think that you’re going to and buy the game and relive the whole thing over again. As Owen Good said in his Kotaku article, “I seriously doubt anyone in the throes of grief will choose to pay $60 to be hurt by this war again.” [source]
Im not going to say anything snarky about Ms. Meredith, as the woman has been through enough and that would be plain distasteful. But I will say this: The woman knows what she is talking about, not like that smug-faced “expert” that was pulled in to face off against Geoff Keighley in 2008.
An EA rep by the name of Amanda Taggart wrote a response saying, “Most of us have been doing this since we were seven. If someone’s the cop, someone’s gotta be the robber, someone’s gotta be the pirate, and someone’s gotta be the alien. In ‘Medal of Honor’ multiplayer, someone’s gotta be the Taliban.”
And she’s right. The non-gaming public out there doesnt understand that even in videogames there are 2 sides to the story. But Medal Of Honor isn’t going to let you play as the Taliban in the campaign, they are only available as the yang to the US forces yin for the multiplayer mode.
Last year, there was outcry about another popular wartime shooter, Modern Warfare 2, in which players could opt to do a mission detailing an undercover CIA operative assisting a terrorist in an attack on Moscow International Airport. Titled “No Russian”, you played as a deep cover agent trying to earn the trust of an international terrorist by shooting up an airport full of civillians with the intention of bringing him to justice, only to be shot in the head in the end by the terrorist because he knew you were a CIA agent. Knowing that this level would spark public outcry, they made the level optional, and didnt include any hidden easter eggs or collectible enemy intel laptops; it was only there as a means to explain the motivation for the Russians fictitiously invading American soil. Still, the game sold record numbers of copies in it’s first week alone, with sales reaching $1 billion as of January. [source]
So what does all of this mean? Will America be up in arms because players get to wear a turban and fight against US troops in multiplayer? Or will they do what they did with MW2 and be upset with it, but
still buy and play the game? Only time will tell.
Personally, I live by the fundamental notion that “it’s just a game“. Just like “it’s just a movie” and “it’s just a song” and “it’s just a little airborne, it’s still good” helped me feel better before, “it’s just a game” will do the same.
Live free, and game hard.
Em: Shaddz [at] GAMINGtruth [dot] com