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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 Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:10PM (#33268206) Homepage

    Movies, books, children's (non-computer playing-in-the-yard) games even. We don't like (and thus the kids don't have) toy weapons in our family, and guess what? The pine cones are BOMBS! now...

    Games are no different. Tasteful? No. But war never is.

  • Too Soon, I Suppose (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BigSes ( 1623417 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:11PM (#33268224)
    I don't see it much differently than being the Germans, Russians, Japanese, or any other opponent of the US in a conflict. I appreciate the realism of a theatre of war when depicted in entertainment, I guess its too soon for those involved to handle.
  • HTFU (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Smoke2Joints ( 915787 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:12PM (#33268234) Homepage

    I dont want to hate on Americans, but seriously, you have no problems with a game where Russians are the enemy, despite the fact that Russian gamers might be interested in the latest new FPS. The same could be said about any number of WW2 games, where Germany is the enemy. I know that it was based on a different era, political climate etc, but get over it - there are two sides of the story, as EA says, and you need to accept that. Dont like it? Dont play the game. Or dont play that part of the game. And in the process, stick to your beliefs that America is always right and only evil people have opinions contrary to yours.

    Newsflash: life isnt fair, neither is war.

  • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:15PM (#33268274) Journal

    I did a deployment to Iraq in 07-08. My sister was killed in the line of duty (Army). My parents have a triangular box with flag to 'commemorate' that. These games are fine. The woman complaining is an ass. Unless they started naming people and having you kill real people, the issue is moot. We all know there are enemies out there and they shoot to kill. Simulating it isn't a problem.

  • by markov_chain ( 202465 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:18PM (#33268308) Homepage

    Unfortunately the GP didn't exercise his freedom to express himself with certain punctuation. [wikipedia.org]

  • Re:HTFU (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kitkoan ( 1719118 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:19PM (#33268342)
    Its not just limited to war games. The GTA series lets you kill cops and that really does happen in RL. As mentioned in another post, you could be a terrorist in Counter Strike. There are 2 sides to everything and some people just don't want you to see any side but theirs. Its how the US has slowly becoming a Nanny state because someone didn't like something they saw/heard/ect and felt that if they didn't like it, no one should see/hear/ect it.
  • by Herkum01 ( 592704 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:26PM (#33268450)

    For those who feel that playing the Taliban is offensive, I order you off the property because I am releasing the Dickwolves [penny-arcade.com] and you better hope you are not caught.

    If this offended you, please read Gabe and Tycho's response [penny-arcade.com] while you are being herding to the mines.

  • by easterberry ( 1826250 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:33PM (#33268534)
    You can't sell a game with Nazis in it in Germany. It's illegal.
  • by cbelt3 ( 741637 ) <cbelt@@@yahoo...com> on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:33PM (#33268540) Journal

    I'm sure some people will be offended, but gosh darn it.. any trained soldier will tell you that training to 'think like the enemy' is a good thing. It lets you anticipate him and kill him before he kills you. If the soldier's mom is offended, I'm sorry to hear about it, but it is distinctly possible that some of her son's squad may find their lives saved at a future date by playing simulations like this one.

    I hope that someone takes her aside and explains that to her.

  • by flitty ( 981864 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:44PM (#33268664)
    Reminds me from this post from Penny Arcade, when Gabe interviewed his grandfather about WWII Games

    Q. What do you think about gamers playing video games based on World War II?

    A. I haven't really paid enough attention to the games themselves to be able to tell you truthfully, but I would think, if it's just people shooting one another, I don't think it's a proper thing for young people to do. I think it sets a bad example for them, because they get into the mood of doing that, and that begins their lifestyle. And that's not the lifestyle you want.

    Q. When groups of gamers are playing these games together it is common for some of them to play as the enemy. They might play as Germans defending the beach at Normandy for example. What's your opinion of that?

    A. Well, it ties back in to what I already said. I don't think it's an appropriate game. I think they can make games that will interest kids, that don't have to include war. We don't need to be killing each other in games. There's other ways of strategizing and using the kind of skills that make those games popular.

    Full thing here [penny-arcade.com]

  • Re:Counter Strike (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Narksos ( 1111317 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:47PM (#33268710)

    When I used to play America's Army, which was created by the US Army as a recruiting tool, they had all of the multi-player game types written from both sides. I dug up an IGN article [ign.com] describing how this worked:

    The terrorists are holding a UN envoy hostage and you, as the Army team, must infiltrate the area and confront and defeat the terrorists. But the other team doesn't think they're terrorists. Instead, they get an Army briefing indicating that they've been asked to defend the envoy from possible abduction by an infiltrating terrorist force.

    That way everyone could play for the "good guys". Everyone could fight for the cause they thought was right, which is usually how war works anyway. There wasn't any controversy about you shooting at people who thought they were playing as "America", because while you played they looked like "terrorists".

    The system was clever, and probably appropriate for this application (I don't think the US Army wants to encourage people to shoot at them), but as we have games based around modern conflicts, people have to play both sides. It is "just a game". Cops and robbers would be pretty boring with no robbers. Should we not watch heist movies because it encourages people to steal money? Modern Warfare 2's No Russian mission (in which the player is undercover as a terrorist and has the option to massacre civilians with no penalty) created controversy in the US, but the overriding opinion was that it right to include it in the game. How is this any different?

    Oh right, this time we're shooting Americans.

  • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @05:48PM (#33268718) Journal

    Hearing what people say on the ground doesn't sell newspapers/ad views. The truth is that anything the government does at a macro level is disorganized and spotty on the ground. In some places, the US presence did good and we got stuff done. In some places, it was not well received. The variable was generally the people involved. Quality officers/government employees got good results, the mediocre and uninterested got nothing done or made enemies for us.

    My experience was that Iraqis wanted life to be peaceful, orderly and to have control of their own destiny. We might not like their choices, but they are theirs to make.

    Soldiers never really understand 'what they are supposed to be doing' or 'why they are there' on anything but a slogan level (Fight Communism! Fight Terrorism! End Fascism!). I go all over the world and hear the same thing from soldiers everywhere. Their officers know better, but it seems to me that the officers often give a very serious briefing to their people (once) and assume that the mission brief means the same thing to the common soldier that it does to them. They are immersed in planning for said mission. It's their life. It's just some droning speech to the soldiers. If you read back to WWII or even before that, this is a common feature of military life, then and now.

    Afghanistan is a losing game and we all know it. Just waiting for the clock to tick now towards the ultimate withdrawal.

  • Re:If you win (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mfulk ( 39978 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @06:07PM (#33268962)

    No, but you get to drive a remote controlled UAV and drop bombs on a bunch of kids in afghanistan, all from the comfort of your desk.

  • by ShakaUVM ( 157947 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @06:09PM (#33268982) Homepage Journal

    >>I do question the wisdom in choosing a real and current conflict as a game setting.

    So it's okay to play as a Japanese guy dive bombing Pearl Harbor, but not a VC slashing the throat of an American sentry?

    There's been so much media and gaming surrounding WWII, I'm astonished that people realize at all that the people in it were just as real (many of whom are still alive today) and died just as painfully. My American grandparents greatly disdained all the WWII video games for that reason (my paternal grandfather was pretty technologically adept). My German relatives, one of who had his jaw blown off in the Battle of the Bulge, probably have similar sentiments, though I've never gathered the courage to ask him.

  • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @06:17PM (#33269072) Journal
    It's also a really stupid law. I went on a German exchange at school. All of the children I met had played Wolfenstein 3D, but because it was not allowed to be sold in Germany they'd all pirated it. It didn't stop anyone playing the game, it just stopped Id Software getting any money.
  • by ooshna ( 1654125 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @06:20PM (#33269100)
    I guess you didn't hear about the Patriot Act or even lesser what happened when South Park showed Mohammad this year? I think its funny how They showed him in the Super Best Friends episode and no one cared but now not only is he shown as a big black box but they bleep his name as well.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2010 @06:54PM (#33269424)

    "These days", huh? Well, if you could go back to whatever previous "days" you imagine as the time when freedom of expression wasn't a myth, you'd find that it too was chock full of people like you smugly declaring that "freedom of expression is pretty much a myth these days". They were as wrong then as you are now.

    Actually, they were as right then as he is now.

    In the olden days people did have the advantage that it was harder for government to keep track of what everyone was saying, so most people got away with it. On a grand scale, freedom of expression is and has always been a myth. A myth we should continually work to make into a reality.

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Monday August 16, 2010 @06:58PM (#33269460) Journal

    I do question the wisdom in choosing a real and current conflict as a game setting.

    Especially when it's done just to get your game in the news. Medal of Honor saw how much press Modern Warfare 2 got with their airport terrorist scene, and they want in on some of the fun.

    I don't have high expectation that this scene is being put in the game to advance the story, or to make a serious point, but rather to cause a controversy. I hope I'm wrong, but if that's the case, EA is just trolling for free advertising.

    Worse, it sets back the possibility that games could be used to meaningfully examine contemporary issues.

  • by Monkeedude1212 ( 1560403 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @07:09PM (#33269536) Journal

    point is is there a line where one side in a war is so evil that it is plain wrong to be able to play as that side in a game?

    Not in my opinion. Like they said, cops and robbers is a prime example. Someone has to be a robber, despite theft being against the basis of laws in just about any society today, and is a core rule of many religions.

    I know you can play as Germans in many WWII games but that was a long time ago while this war is still going on.

    So? Many WW2 vets lost a lot of friends in that war - And many people had fathers who went off to war and died. So where is the outcry from them?

    But okay, I'll humour you: Why does it make a difference if it is "Terrorists" or "Taliban"? I mean Call of Duty Modern Warfare had Russian Terrorists - does that make ALL the difference?

    By the way if you mean to equate the water boarding of a few terrorists in order to get information with what Taliban did to the people of Afghanistan then you have a lot of reading to do.

    And if water boarding is no big deal to you, why don't you try it out, you know, voluntarily, cause its nothing to a strapping guy like you. And if you think water boarding is the only torture thats been going on or that it's only been a few terrorists, boy do YOU have a lot of reading to do.

    Honestly, just go watch the Collateral murder video on Wikileaks again, because thats the hot topic right now. Now tell me that the military has been open and honest about everything it's done, and every bit of its actions are for the sole protection of the people of the United States.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2010 @07:32PM (#33269740)
    Eh, each his own. I did 15 years in the prison system and saw all kinds of things that would make normal folks vomit or kill themselves. I can watch movies or TV shows or play games with prisons in them without any problems, other than screaming about it is unrealistic or BS. Now stepping back into a prison, that is another story. Been over ten years, and it was just the last time I went back in to speak at a 12 step meeting that I did not get ill, as in throwing up ill, before going and once I got there. Every time before the last, I would be sick before and after I went back in. While inside, it wasn't a problem, the old prison mentality of never show weakness slipped back on like a comfortable pair of shoes.
  • by ooshna ( 1654125 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @09:11PM (#33270734)
    No but if you happened to be talking to a relative that is out of the usa what are the chances that your being monitored? Or how about this little unknown video. [thepiratebay.org] And before you respond watch the video and explain to me how convicting a girl for purgery and sentencing her to 9-25 years for testifying against the people that used her and one of them getting less time for stealing 40mil is ok. Actually watch the video don't just dick around and say its bullshit without watching it.
  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @10:27PM (#33271496)

    "it could conceivably be the better choice of two horrific choices."

    It needn't be considered horrific. The inability to make judgement calls is a new custom that is being drilled into the public by advocates of Political Correctness.

    I could as easily make the call to use torture on an appropriate enemy as I could disinfect a toilet seat. There is no need to treat some enemies as other than objects to be manipulated as necessary. "Torture" could be made more practical by being made less dramatic and more clinical.

    It need not involve beating or obviously injuring the subject.

    Just as the death penalty is made acceptable by lethal injection, appropriate technology could assist information extraction with less stress on the people doing the interrogating.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:18PM (#33271928)

    I do question the wisdom in choosing a real and current conflict as a game setting. An even slightly fictionalized setting, would do much to reduce this negative association.

    This isn't the forum for it but it's doing a tremendous detriment to our country the way this war is being fought. It's all volunteers and they did volunteer and they do get paid for their service but the volunteers don't come from every demographic uniformly. Rich white families in the suburbs? Their kids play these games and the don't join the armed forces. Rural kids? Much more common. I don't know the numbers but I'm lead to believe that minorities are more likely to join than whites in more urban areas. Stupid things like games (and I too question the wisdom of it, but EA will sell them in Canada and Europe and Japan too.. without hurting nearly as many feelings, I can't count how many games there have been where you killed Japanese or Germans and it was just part of the game.) become much more political issues. It just continues to create a divide, and as it seems to me: you can argue and disagree with someone on abortion or even gay marriage or how you pay for or fund social programs and you can have heated exchanges but still be civil and even remain friends but when you children are being sacrificed to a war and your ideological opponents are playing games about it it's probably hard to be friendly with those people.

    There should probably be a mandatory draft in the US if the US goes to war or the war lasts longer than 6 months. There needs to be some sort of inverse pressure and cost, if everybody was sacrificing together we' either not be there or we'd be as nasty as we have to to get it done, the people that fund the campaigns aren't burying their kids and damn few of the politicians are either.

  • by JohnFluxx ( 413620 ) on Monday August 16, 2010 @11:39PM (#33272060)

    I'm married to a Japanese woman and my grandmother in law lost friends during the war. Her house was bombed and she lost all her material possessions.

  • by Matje ( 183300 ) on Tuesday August 17, 2010 @02:17AM (#33272852)

    (mods, why was the parent modded informative? the post does not contain information, only conjecture).

    get the best healthcare available in the world

    Would you like to backup that statement with facts? This is what wikipedia has to say about the subject:

    At least 15.3% of the population is completely uninsured,[1][2][3] and a substantial additional portion of the population (35%) is "underinsured", or not able to cover the costs of their medical needs

    So about 1 in 2 people in the US cannot get 'the best healthcare' in the world.

    Despite the fact that not all citizens are covered, the United States has the third highest public healthcare expenditure per capita.

    yet still you pay an extraordinary amount to provide that healthcare. And what quality does it provide?

    in 2000, ranked the U.S. health care system as the highest in cost, first in responsiveness, 37th in overall performance, and 72nd by overall level of health (among 191 member nations included in the study).


    The Commonwealth Fund ranked the United States last in the quality of health care among similar countries,[20] and notes U.S. care costs the most by far

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_in_the_United_States [wikipedia.org]

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle