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The Military Games Politics

Amid Controversy, EA Pulls Taliban From Medal of Honor Multiplayer 495

Posted by Soulskill
from the pr-departments-do-not-develop-games dept.
Last month we discussed news that upcoming shooter Medal of Honor would allow players to take the role of Taliban forces in multiplayer games, causing no small amount of consternation among political groups and military supporters. Now, Electronic Arts and developer Danger Close have bowed to pressure and announced that the Taliban side would simply be referred to as "opposing force." Quoting executive producer Greg Goodrich: "The majority of this feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. For this, the Medal of Honor team is deeply appreciative. However, we have also received feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers who have expressed concern over the inclusion of the Taliban in the multiplayer portion of our game. This is a very important voice to the Medal of Honor team. This is a voice that has earned the right to be listened to. It is a voice that we care deeply about. ... While this change should not directly affect gamers, as it does not fundamentally alter the gameplay, we are making this change for the men and women serving in the military and for the families of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice — this franchise will never willfully disrespect, intentionally or otherwise, your memory and service."
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Amid Controversy, EA Pulls Taliban From Medal of Honor Multiplayer

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  • by mweather (1089505) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:26AM (#33759472)
    My grandfather died in WW2, could you please remove the Germans from all your future WW2 games as well? The Japanese, too.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by HaZardman27 (1521119)
      WW2 has long since ended. A major part of the controversy here is that the war is still happening; there are still soldiers in harm's way or dying. This is why AAFES chose not to stock this game, in an effort to reduce the number of reminders that bring undue stress into the lives of families waiting for their loved ones to return.
      • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:41AM (#33759736)

        in an effort to reduce the number of reminders that bring undue stress into the lives of families waiting for their loved ones to return.

        Huh? None of these whiners were going to buy this game to begin with so how are they being put under undue stress because someone else is playing a game where you can play people labeled as the Taliban? These whiners need to get over themselves. Secondly, how does this reduce the reminders when pretty much everyone who is going to play this game is going to know that this white-washed "opposing force" IS really the Taliban since all the models, weapons, etc are all the same.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ieatcookies (1490517)
          While I think this over reaction is a sad fact of our times lately I have to admit that entertainment like this can lead to desensitization of an event that is current and problematic. Yes there are plenty of other examples of this, but that doesn't make it acceptable. This is not educational or enlightening, it's pure entertainment of a situation that is extremely serious for some, serious and relevant right now. I can easily see both sides of this argument.
          • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:36PM (#33760832)

            it's pure entertainment of a situation that is extremely serious for some

            Then they can choose to avoid the game. It's no different to how if you don't like a certain TV show that instead of trying to get it banned that you just *gasp* turn the channel and ignore it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by gregrah (1605707)

              Then they can choose to avoid the game.

              Or they also have the right to protest - which is what they did. If EA really wanted to press the issue, I am sure that there is very little that anyone could have done to legally require them to alter or halt production of the game.

              In EA's own words: the voice of friends and families of fallen soldiers "is a very important voice to the Medal of Honor team". Maybe this is true, and the developers had a change of heart - something which is perfectly within their right to do. Perhaps more likely is that

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by kdemetter (965669)

                "Even if you feel that you are correct and the opposition is overreacting - sometimes it's in your own best interest to avoid upsetting other people. "

                That is how you can turn a democracy into a dictatorship.

                It's completely like that here in Europe : if you protest something the EU doesn't like , they will make it very clear you should "avoid upsetting people , aka shut up " .
                Just look at the EU constitution/Lisbon treaty : people spoke up against them , the EU basically told them to shut up , and they just

          • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:38PM (#33760860) Journal
            While true, your logic could equally be used to support removing the US troops from the game, renaming both groups Force A and Force B. Yet few seem to be clamoring for that.
        • by IICV (652597) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:35PM (#33760802)

          I like how this is almost exactly what Blizzard did early on in WOW's development. IIRC, As an anti-poopsocking measure, they would start giving you XP penalties as time went on; you'd start out earning 100% XP, but then if you played for long enough you would slowly get penalties until you were only earning 50% XP. You had to log off and wait a couple of hours to get back to earning 100% XP.

          Gamers were outraged. How dare you punish us for playing the game! etcetera.

          So what did Blizzard do? Well, whenever you started a fresh session, you'd have a 200% XP earned bonus! This would gradually wear off until you were only earning 100% XP. If you logged off and waited a few hours, you'd get the 200% XP bonus again!

          Gamers were pacified, because apparently the ones who really cared about this couldn't do math. Blizzard didn't actually make any changes, they just started calling the first part a 200% XP gain bonus, instead of calling the last part a 50% XP gain penalty.

          It's funny how stupid people are. It's still the Taliban, you're still only earning half XP after a few hours of play - they're just calling it something else so you'll stop bitching.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            As an anti-poopsocking measure

            I feel this term needs some clarification... and no, I won't google that.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by amicusNYCL (1538833)

            It's funny how stupid people are. It's still the Taliban, you're still only earning half XP after a few hours of play - they're just calling it something else so you'll stop bitching.

            That's the thing, the models in the game with their movements and voice acting etc are no more "Taliban" than the other side is actually the US Army. They are just little models, with some texturing applied, with a voice track selected, controlled by AI (or not). There's no reason to get angry about whatever they decide to name each side.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        So instead of "think of the children!" we get "think of the soldiers' wives!".

        If they don't want to play the game they don't have to. Meanwhile, the rest of us [should be able to] make the decision for ourselves, like grownups.

        • Agreed. As I've said before, EA is, like a "grownup," making the decision to avoid offending people.
      • by mweather (1089505) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:42AM (#33759754)
        So your position is that getting shot at in a video game by a bunch of guys in turbans isn't going to remind them of Afghanistan or cause stress unless they're named "Taliban"?
        • It's not my position. It's the position of EA and AAFES.
        • by couchslug (175151) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:24PM (#33760578)

          Knowing G.I.s, they'd likely take turns playing Taliban while on actual deployment, since a shitload of G.I.s are avid gamers and have been since PCs were first available.

          I suspect (lacking polling data) that given the typical military mind-set, most G.I.s would see the censorship reflecting complete pussification.

          As for AAFES, they are at the mercy of every sensitive cunt who wants to turn their stores into a walled garden. Back in The Day, we could buy fap fodder like Penthouse on base. With the rise of Bible Thumpers and PC housecunts in the new corporate military, that went away.

          The hassle of dealing with frothers makes it easier to just cave to them on non-mission-related issues, and G.I.s don't need AAFES for anything but food and booze.

          I miss the days of the more isolated military when civilians left us the fuck alone, and our fun was our business. Booze and whores ARE fun when you are deployed to some foreign shithole, and none of that mattered outside the military for about two hundred years. Change is not always progress.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Then you would think, in a free society, that would be enough; not stocking it at the military version of Walmart. But, no, that's not enough. In an actual free society we would have been given the choice to either purchase the game or not, then play as the Taliban or not. The choice, the free choice, is now taken from us by whiny douchebags. Period.

        BREAKING NEWS: George Lucas has now decided to recall all Lucas Arts Star Wars themed games to patch them so you cannot play as the Empire.

        Same thing. If y

        • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:49AM (#33759876)
          Nobody is forcing EA to take this out; they are simply choosing not to offend the people who have expressed their concerns.
          • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:51AM (#33759930)

            Nobody is forcing EA to take this out;

            You mean except for how that general was going to get the game banned from all EA game stores on military bases? Saying that is not trying to force them into taking out the name is like saying that being held up at knife point isn't forcing someone to do something they don't want.

            they are simply choosing not to offend the people who have expressed their concerns.

            You mean people who were never the target audience of the game and weren't going to be buying or playing it? Yes, it's great that they are bowing to a bunch of whiners at the expense of the actual customers.

            • You mean except for how that general was going to get the game banned from all EA game stores on military bases?

              No, the commander of AAFES said it would not be sold at AAFES locations. This means you can go off base (usually there's a GameStop within a few miles) and buy the game, and bring it on base and play it to your heart's content.

        • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:53AM (#33759958) Homepage

          In other news, the teams in counter strike will no longer be known as the terrorists and the counter-terrorists. Instead, the weapons have been removed and replaced with paint ball guns, and the teams will be known as "accounting department" and "marketing department".

          Animations of soldiers dieing and hitting the ground will be replaced with characters raising their marker and walking off the field.

          -Steve

      • by digitalPhant0m (1424687) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:43AM (#33759762)

        Isn't the Freedom to put 'whatever characters you want in a video game' exactly what the 'soldiers in harms' way are trying to defend?

        Think about it. However infuriating it may be to the soldiers, families, friends and pundits to include Taliban in the game, like it or not, that's freedom.

        • by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:48AM (#33759840)
          I agree with you completely, I'm simply pointing out the reasoning behind this. EA is not dismissing their freedom to put what they want in this game; there has been no government interference here. They are simply choosing to avoid offending people, which is also their right.
          • by mweather (1089505)

            there has been no government interference here.

            The AAFES refusing to stock it is kind of government interference.

        • by somersault (912633) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:50AM (#33759908) Homepage Journal

          They're also free to complain, and EA are free to take action if this negative PR is causing shops not to stock their latest game.

          Think about it. However infuriating it may be to you that you can't authentically pretend to be terrorists who hate your country, EA wants to make money.

          • However infuriating it may be to you that you can't authentically pretend to be terrorists who hate your country

            How does this white-washing of the name stop anyone from still doing this? Everyone who is going to buy and play this game are still going to know that if they play the "opposing force" that it's really the Taliban. It's not as if by changing this name that no one is still going to know who those characters really are which is why this change is so asinine.

        • by Voulnet (1630793) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:55AM (#33760004)
          The soldiers are fighting for your freedoms? That's funny; those who are trying to take your freedom live in the US, not Afghanistan.
        • Yep, and if the government had stepped forward and tried to remove the Taliban from the game you might have a point. Freedom of expression means that the government can't send you to jail if it doesn't like what you're saying, it doesn't mean that other people can't dislike what you have to say and it sure as hell does mean that those people have the right to state their opinion on the matter in public. How you respond to their opinion is of course your choice.

      • by jd (1658)

        Perhaps those wanting to reduce the reminders should also remove the "Support Our Troops" bumper stickers and every other reminder they voluntarily put up. In fact, aren't the families of those soldiers currently at war responsible for 99% of the reminders that exist? If they started there, they could eliminate almost all of the problem without ever having to go near the game.

      • by tsj5j (1159013) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:50AM (#33759906)

        You know what will get those soldiers out of harm's way? QUITTING THE WAR!

        Seriously, instead of pressuring EA to remove Taliban, these groups should divert their efforts to lobbying for a withdrawal.
        They're doing nothing but deceiving themselves by hiding/masking the truth...

      • by memojuez (910304)
        On that same token, let's disable death by friendly fire. Wouldn't want to cause undue stress of Military Families who lost their loved ones that way or remind football fans of Pat Tillman of that great travisty either. At this rate, we should rewrite all war games to make opposing sides throw soft, fluffy snowballs at each other then finish the game with both sides drinking hot chocolate and singing "We Are the World" together.
      • by Nadaka (224565)

        I find throwing away the liberties our soldiers have fought and died for to be far more offensive than having a side called "taliban".

    • by travdaddy (527149) <travo@NospaM.linuxmail.org> on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:44AM (#33759792)
      My grandfather died in WW2, could you please remove the Germans from all your future WW2 games as well? The Japanese, too.

      I think we should keep the Germans in the WW2 games, and my grandfather died in a concentration camp! He fell out of a guard tower.
    • This is very much a "Too Soon" situation. In another 30 years(assuming the conflicts end soon) it'll probably be fine. Even in another 10 years. Time does heal all wounds, even if some wounds never fully heal.

      For a lot of people however this is much much too soon. There are people still burying dead from these conflicts. Out of respect for those people, I agree with this decision.

      On another note, personally, I don't really have a problem with the Taliban being left in, and a lot of younger folks, and a lot

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mweather (1089505)

        There are people still burying dead from these conflicts.

        There are people buring dead on both sides, and innocents as well, yet they didn't feel the need to remove the Americans.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        For a lot of people however this is much much too soon.

        Then they neither have to buy or play the game. Why should the actual consumers of this product have to suffer through some stupid censorship because of a bunch of oversensitive babies? It is absolutely hilarious that people will use the military service of their dead love ones as a way to impose censorship on people.

      • by hedwards (940851) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:52AM (#33759936)
        It's a bullshit argument to begin with. PTSD is nasty because it's not the expected triggers that cause trouble, it's the non-obvious ones that do. And in cases like this it's largely pointless. Pretty much the entire game is one big trigger.

        Bullshit controversies like this just do more to make things tough for returning veterans as it carries the wrong message about the hardships coming back. It's not a two bit computer game that results in the suicides, it's everything, the lack of connection, the feelings about what one was involved in, both good and bad, and the difficulty of reintegrating.

        One video game is hardly going to be a make it or break it case for many vets. Perhaps if the people claiming to care about veterans affairs would actually put their energy into something useful, all that might change.
    • by sunking2 (521698)

      If you can generate enough support around the cause I'm sure they will. Not really sure why people are so upset about this. It's the free market. Obviously EA decided it would cost them more money in potential loss of sales (either in sales of this game, or people boycotting the company in general) than they would make with it. Nobody held a gun to there head to remove it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by DarthVain (724186)

      They did. Its called "Enemy Territory: Quake Wars".

      Killing virtual Nazi's and Taliban are bad apparently but its OK to gib innocent aliens and monsters...

      Personally (as a Canadian) I loved the fact that in Counter Strike you could play the FLQ terrorist. I mean I don't care about the FLQ, but simply the fact that Canada is mentioned at all in a video game, and you can play that side, and the map is supposed to be in Canada, I thought was pretty cool.

      Otherwise I will be waiting for the video game of canoeing

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by jeffmeden (135043)

      "Freedom" is now amended to mean "Anything you want to do except marry someone of the same sex, have a different skin color than the majority and expect to not be harassed, or play a video game that might be offensive to someone if they are both easily offended and a member/relative of the military."

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Americano (920576)

        Your passionate proposal for protecting the freedoms and rights of homosexuals and racial minorities is laudable.

        Thought exercise: You realize that people in the service & their families are the overwhelming *minority* in the population, too, right? What makes it okay to say "Shut up whiners," to them, when we're routinely told that we can't use certain words and phrases because they'd offend other minorities on account of certain language being "hate speech"? Seems like you should extend your concer

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Draek (916851)

          Everyone is part of some minority or another. People who went to the same school you did are a tiny minority in the sea of the US educational system, people who like the same flavor of ice cream are a minority among the greater universe of ice-cream lovers, and so on. Your ideology ultimately boils down to "do not offend anyone, ever". The problem being, of course, when your own attempts at being politically correct ends up offending others, as this thread shows.

          The reason society has determined 'hate speec

    • by Rude Turnip (49495) <valuation@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:53AM (#33759972)

      My grandfather killed six Germans at Normandy. Unfortunately, this happened in 1967.

    • by British (51765)

      It's done to some extent at the toy store. German WW2 planes have the swastika removed. Lego Indiana Jones have characters just called as "enemies". They still do the goose-step though.

  • by Pojut (1027544)

    Ok, look...I understand why there was public and military outcry (similar to the "no russian" level in MW2), but I wonder if there would have been as much controversy had it been for a war that was no longer going on. Beyond that, they are still in the game...they just aren't called 'Taliban'...what's in a name? This makes me think back to the GLA in C&C Generals...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

      What gets me is that there's more public outcry over the name of a team in a game than there is over an actual war. If these people their voices heard by the President and their representatives instead of a video game maker, they might actually save some lives.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by morari (1080535)

      Thanks EA, for letting the terrorists have win. :(

  • by Gordonjcp (186804) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:28AM (#33759522) Homepage

    ... and for extra realism you get to shoot at British, Canadian, Danish and other "allied" troops. Ultra-realistic!

    • Americans sure love their friendly fire! (A bunch of Canadians in Afghanistan were bombed by Americans by mistake)

  • !Surprising (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@EEEgmail.com minus threevowels> on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:29AM (#33759530)
    There have been worse things in video-games. Postal 2 anyone?

    If EA had statistical evidence that they would've lost revenue through lawsuits, civil cases, and bad word-of-mouth by releasing the game with "Taliban", then perhaps this was a smart business decision. But if they are simply "bowing" if you will, well, that is lame.

    I am not for the Taliban at all, I am just saying bowing to the complainers only reinforces their behavior.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Normally I'd agree with your position but here I think it is a bit tricky. By putting them in the game you are giving the Taliban legitimacy which a large amount of the US population would not approve of. You could also cause problems with the fanatical Muslim population because of the link the Taliban has with Islam. And lets face it the radical Muslims don't fuck around when showing their displeasure. All and all I think it was a good business strategy on EA's part to avoid that whole kettle of fish

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jd (1658)

        The large amount of US population has been happy to accept the aid of insurgent groups (the various resistance groups in Occupied Europe, for example) when it has been convenient. Indeed, the US was largely liberated from British rule by an insurgency. Unofficial groups that do not operate under the command of a State have existed throughout history and have been utilized by every nation on Earth. Until the Iraqi "Awakening Councils" were accepted by the government there, they too were unofficial militia op

  • by Punto (100573) <<puntob> <at> <gmail.com>> on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:30AM (#33759556) Homepage

    I'm sick of people pretending the war has only one side. Where are the families of the dead Taliban soldiers, who are logically just as offended by the ability to play as a US soldier? don't they have a "voice" too? or it it ok to disrespect people as long as you're on the right side?

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Where are the families of the dead Taliban soldiers

      They're in Afghanistan, probably not playing video games.

  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by alexo (9335) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:30AM (#33759564) Journal

    The popular children's game has now been renamed to "cops and opposing forces"

    • by DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:39AM (#33759698) Homepage

      This PC shit is fer the birds.

      Back in my day, if you offended someone, you tell them it wasn't personal and move on. Now we have both extremes.... People going out of their way to personally offend others, and people who are offended by simple shapes.

      Know this...

      It will never end.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I find that generalization offensive.

  • They're just 'future proofing [wikipedia.org]' the game for when we invade China and Gliese 581g [slashdot.org]. It will even work for our upcoming 'Civil War II: More Civil' planned by Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert.
  • Power of a word? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dotren (1449427) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:34AM (#33759618)

    It seems to me too many people give too much power to a simple word. Essentially that's what we're doing here right? Gameplay remains unchanged, we're just changing the name of the other team. So is it because we fear the Taliban? Should we start calling them "The opposing force that must not be named"?

  • Wow (Score:2, Interesting)

    What a bunch of weak-minded idiots. If a few people who can't handle a video game with content that they don't like that they don't even have to buy complain about said content, they remove it. Those people have just ruined it for anyone who actually wanted that content, as it was originally planned to be in the game. But, no, people who wouldn't buy the game anyway get their way. Absolutely pathetic. I'm sick and tired of this blatant censorship (even if it wasn't technically forced on them). I already had

  • sed s/Taliban/GenericTerrorists/g
    So all these politically correct people will be appeased, but nothing of substance will have changed.
  • Battlefield has the Middle Eastern Coalition and maps based on battles in Iraq. Never heard any complaint about that...
  • by jd (1658) <imipak@yaCOLAhoo.com minus caffeine> on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:41AM (#33759750) Homepage Journal
    • In real wars, people die. It is expected. All who go into a warzone do so in the knowledge that they may not return. How do you sacrifice that which you have already surrendered for King/Queen/President/Fanatic (delete according to nation) and Country?
    • Should the Americans get their name removed? There will be friends and family of the Taliban too. If this were truly about honoring the fallen, why be selective?
    • Should they retroactively delete the names of nations for World War 2 games? All of those nations had people die too, and friends and family of those fallen are still alive today.

    Of course they shouldn't. The reality is that wargames depict a historical context and history doesn't change to suit the likes of one group or another. There is only one history, the events that took place.

    Further, we learn from history that it is dangerous to make an enemy faceless. Doing so is the number one cause of wartime atrocities. What these pressure groups have basically said is that it is more important to hide the reality of the situation than it is to keep Americans aware that they are fighting against people with lives and beliefs of their own. This is a dangerous attitude to have.

    I cannot blame a company for eventually caving under pressure, especially one as small as this. But frankly this whitewashing of history is disturbing and historically the consequences of such acts have never been good. This is extremely bad juju.

  • And with that, the terrorists have truly won. Luckily the next round starts in 30... 29... 28...
  • EA = pussies. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Trip6 (1184883) on Friday October 01, 2010 @11:49AM (#33759888)

    'nuff said.

  • by dave562 (969951) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:25PM (#33760604) Journal

    I've seen a lot of comments on here that are derogatory towards EA and the families of soliders who have voiced their opposition to EA's decision. I agree that EA made a bad call by white washing the reality of the conflict. One of the fundamental cornerstones of our society seems to be freedom of choice. As Americans, we want the ability to do whatever we feel like doing, no matter how insensitive or offensive to others it might be. As others have said many times before, freedom is not free. That leads me to my question... how badly do all of you people whining about not being able to play the Taliban, want to play the Taliban?

    Will you gather signatures and go on the record saying that you want to do it? Will you lobby and protest and make your voices heard? Are you so strong in your convictions that EA has made a bad decision that you will NOT buy the game in order to voice your dissatisfaction?

    If there is one thing I've learned about being American it is that those who are willing to make the biggest stink about something usually get their way. So how strong are your convictions? Are you going to do anything about it, or are you just going to whine on Slashdot?

  • arrogance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spleen_blender (949762) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:33PM (#33761962)
    "earned the right to be listened to"

    Excuse me? Fuck you, sir. I'm a retired Marine but I'm so goddamn sick of people hoisting up military service as if it makes you a super-citizen or gives you any superior insight.

    They treat you with utter respect, these flag waving suit wearing pricks, until it comes down to them having to keep their word on medical care and other promised benefits.

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