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Censorship The Military United States Games Your Rights Online

Controversy Arises Over Taliban Option In Medal of Honor 671

eldavojohn writes "CVG is covering the controversy surrounding players' ability to play as a member of the Taliban in EA's Medal of Honor multiplayer. Fox News hopped on the wagon, interviewing a Gold Star mom whose son died in Iraq. She said, 'My son didn't get to start over when he was killed. His life was over and I had to deal with that every day. There's 1200 families from Afghanistan that have to live with this every day. And we live it — it's not a game... EA is very cavalier about it: "Well, it's just a game." But it isn't a game to the people who are suffering from the loss of the children and loved ones.' EA's response to this criticism of giving players the objective to 'gun down American troops' was this: 'Medal Of Honor is set in today's war, putting players in the boots of today's soldier... We give gamers the opportunity to play both sides. Most of us have been doing this since we were seven. If someone's the cop, someone's got to be the robber, someone's got to be the pirate, somebody's got to be the alien. In Medal Of Honor multiplayer, someone has to be the Taliban.' Of course the story recalls Six Days in Fallujah, which was dropped by Konami following similar controversy. It's clear at least a few people take issue with games surrounding modern conflicts."
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Controversy Arises Over Taliban Option In Medal of Honor

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  • by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:33PM (#33268538) Journal

    A nuke the usa game where you can play as north korea or Iran?

    You mean, like Civilization 4?

    You wouldn't believe it, too - not only that game lets you nuke New York with impunity, but you can actually spread Islam (Islam!!!) in American cities, leading them to revolt and secede! And then demolish Christian temples in them, and build mosques!

    You wouldn't believe the unspeakable lows some people are willing to get to in their burning hatred of America!

  • Um, no (Score:5, Informative)

    by jalefkowit ( 101585 ) <`jason' `at' `jasonlefkowitz.com'> on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:34PM (#33268546) Homepage

    If someone's the cop, someone's got to be the robber, someone's got to be the pirate, somebody's got to be the alien. In Medal Of Honor multiplayer, someone has to be the Taliban.

    Not true. America's Army [wikipedia.org] solved this problem rather elegantly: there were two teams in any given match, and no matter which team you were on, your teammates were always displayed to you as Americans and the players on the other team displayed as Bad Furrin Terrorists ("OPFOR"). So nobody had to play as a Bad Furrin Terrorist; the BFTs were always the other guys, not you. Given how effectively this approach removes the issue of "playing as the Taliban" I'm a bit amazed EA's developers didn't use it.

  • by Ironhandx ( 1762146 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:38PM (#33268596)

    This is the reaction I get from everyone I've talked to that does a stint overseas. There was one that I know that might have a few issues, but even then he wouldn't complain about them or stop anyone from playing a game(except maybe directly around him) and just avoid the stuff himself.

    I have a number of family members in the military and multiple family members that have done a stint in Afghanistan, the only consistent response I get from them and others I know through them is "We don't know why the fuck we're there. The majority of the people don't want us there and it would be easier to evacuate those civilians that want to leave than change the mind set of the majority."

    The sad part is several media outlets have attempted to report on this and have quickly been bombarded by public(read:political) outcry against it, and its quickly squashed. Interviews with soldiers that actually make it to being widespread throughout are generally of the sort where it is very easy to pick up that the soldier is basically reading from a script except for maybe a few heart wrenching moments where they recall actual experiences. Almost nothing I've seen in the media coincides with what I've heard from the people on the ground.

  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:39PM (#33268602) Journal

    That does not explain why the game should be banned/censored, which, if i remember correctly, is the point of this discussion.

    I don't think you remember correctly. None of the articles have mentioned the word "Ban" or "Censor" anywhere, and I haven't watched the video but I don't think the Mother did either.

    In essence this is just a mother expressing her negative opinion towards games about modern warfare. I don't think anyone has taken any actions to try and get it to actually change though. It's not like EA is going to do a recall or anything.

  • by Dahamma ( 304068 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:43PM (#33268650)

    ...he'd be playing war games (not necessarily on a computer) where he played the side of the Taliban.

    (citation needed)

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/10/25/AR2009102502633.html [washingtonpost.com]

  • by AffidavitDonda ( 1736752 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:47PM (#33268700)
    not exactly. only certain symbols (the swastika, the ss runes) are illegal. game companies simply replace or remove them.
  • by gront ( 594175 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:53PM (#33268792)
    Vampires, Pirates and Aliens is apparently an ABC (Australia) cartoon based on a series of books. Dunno how many *boom* Headshots! there are per episode, but probably not that many. http://www.abc.net.au/abckids/shows/prog176.htm [abc.net.au]
  • by NiceGeek ( 126629 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @06:10PM (#33268994)

    "with his takeover of the health care system" I'm sorry, when exactly did that happen?

  • by Nukky Cisbu ( 1738668 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @06:16PM (#33269056)

    ...Where if you ever begin to get the upper hand in any fight, your opponent calls in a helicopter that you have no defense against, or even hope to have a defense against. .

    Odd. I didn't see an option that you could play "Reuters Photographer."

  • by gknoy ( 899301 ) <gknoy AT anasazisystems DOT com> on Monday August 16, 2010 @06:32PM (#33269224)

    Both sides do not stone teenage girls to death...

    So how you get from "torturing people in Gitmo" .... And to put torturing a terrorist for information that will protect an innocent life on par in the ethical scale with burying people alive because "God" told you to? That's just wrong.

    Torture does not yield reliable information. It yields statements which the victim thinks you want to hear, even if they're entirely false. Torturing people is always bad, it is never ethically sound.

    Okay, back to the real topic: playing virtual terrorists or Really Bad People in a multiplayer video game. People are not playing these games to stone virtual children or mass-murder civilians. Yes, as far back as Counter-Strike there's been sides that are planting bombs, or kidnapping hostages -- but the "crimes" of Team A are merely a plot hook, a vector for the competetive gameplay that the players want.

    Hostages are "easily killable assets which require extraction". Bombs are, well, bombs, but the target could be a weapons cache, a school, or a harbor, and gamers wouldn't really notice or care. They care much more that it's a bomb placed behind that building, or through this choke point, than what the fictional target is. The goal of the game, when playing as the OpFor, is to achieve tactical success.

    Frankly, I feel that America's Army did it best, as someone noted above: each side sees themselves as being on the "good guys" team, with objectives explained appropriately. However, we've been playing Counter-Strike, Global Operations, Call of Duty, and Enemy Territory for over a decade, and this is not very different. The only difference is that the Bad Guys are a group we are currently fighting against. Pretty much any gamer won't care - the reasons to choose Team A vs Team B are either aesthetic ("I don't want a mask") or logistical ("Team B has better guns"). Most servers will even auto-assign a team to preserve team balance. Very rarely does any ideological ("I want to be a bad guy") viewpoint have any bearing on team choice, because both sides swap roles (attacker vs defender) after rounds in most such games.

    The name, nationality, or character models used for Team A and Team B are completely orthogonal to the gameplay in just about any game. Counter-Strike is the only exception I can think of, where each team has a different stable of guns to choose from. Many players preferred to play with the M4+silencer, whereas many other players were die-hard fans of the AK-47, even going so far as to use captured guns when they were forced to be on the team that could not buy them. In nearly every newer game I can think of (OK, not Battlefield 2) all characters can choose from the same guns, so the teams are effectively Team A and Team B.

  • by ooshna ( 1654125 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @07:18PM (#33269614)

    The producers of South Park made their own choices.

    Umm apparently you don't know that Matt Stone and Trey Parker (Creators, Executive Producers, Head Writers, and for Trey Parker Director) released the episode uncensored online before Comedy Central forced its takedown and censorship.

  • by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @07:38PM (#33269800)
    It's always had one. I can walk into a medical center and get the best healthcare available in the world for me or my family. I'm unclear what your point is. That I have to pay for it?
  • by rolfwind ( 528248 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @08:54PM (#33270560)

    Just so you know, if torture doesn't yield reliable information, you're doing it wrong.

    Of course you're doing it wrong, you're torturing.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/05/AR2007100502492.html [washingtonpost.com]

    For six decades, they held their silence.

    The group of World War II veterans kept a military code and the decorum of their generation, telling virtually no one of their top-secret work interrogating Nazi prisoners of war at Fort Hunt.

    When about two dozen veterans got together yesterday for the first time since the 1940s, many of the proud men lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects.

    Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners' cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them.

    "We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @09:35PM (#33270966)

    "It yields statements which the victim thinks you want to hear, even if they're entirely false"

    Not necessarily. There is no logical reason that professional interrogation combined with torture cannot achieve useful results.

    Given that it is proven possible to break highly trained and committed people (such as US flyers in the Hanoi Hilton), torture coupled with sufficiently specific questioning and used in conjunction with other intel sources could extract useful info which could then be verified using non-tortuous means.

    If one is willing to contemplate professional, clinical, non-sadistic torture instead of stereotypical torture, it becomes a reasonable tactic. (Especially so when used against Communists, Jihadists, and others not worthy of preservation.)

    Paul Aussaresses used torture to good effect in Algeria. (Had De Gaulle not sold out the loyal Algerians and French colonists, Algeria could well have remained French.) He also had the balls to document it in his autobiography, usefully adding to literature on the subject.

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak.yahoo@com> on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @11:14AM (#33276090) Homepage Journal

    Ah, well, if we're going to quote, there's this link [cbsnews.com]:

    Esmin Green, 49, had been waiting in the emergency room for nearly 24 hours when she toppled from her seat at 5:32 a.m. on June 19, falling face down on the floor.

    She was dead by 6:35, when someone on the medical staff, flagged down by a person in the waiting room, finally approached, nudged Green with her foot, and gently prodded her shoulder, as if to wake her. The staffer then left and returned with someone wearing a white lab coat who examined her and summoned help.

    Or this link [cbsnews.com]:

    Relatives said Rodriguez was vomiting blood and writhing in pain for 45 minutes while she was at a hospital waiting area. Experts have said she could have survived had she been treated early enough.

    To quote those Wise And Twisted Sisters, "If that's your best, your best won't do."

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern