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Some more links on the Medal of Honor row

October 22, 2010

A few more links following up on the Medal of Honor featuring the Taliban row.  There is a long, but good article by writer and developer Ian BogostHe compares films and games and how they cover war and also brings the issue of free speech into it:

…[The documentary] Restrepo won the Grand Jury Prize for best documentary at the Sundance Film Festival. A small cultural victory, to be sure, but a poignant one too in light of the incredible pointlessness of the American occupation of the Korangal Valley. On April 14, 2010 the U.S. closed its outpost there, admitting that no military nor political progress had been made there during the four years it had been in operation.

Restrepo is hardly the most controversial of recent art about a contemporary political issue. It’s tame, in fact, compared with the long history of filmic button-pushing. Movies have mostly stirred controversy through depictions of sex and perversion (a subject about which video games haven’t gotten to first base), but war has had its share of filmic contentiousness too.

How does Electronic Arts measure up? In creating a video game about the war in Afghanistan, the company had “stood firm,” in its words, against myriad accusations of the tastelessness of allowing players to take on the roles of enemy operatives in the game, particularly the Taliban.

It should be noted that such controversy continued, with its related publicity benefits, even despite a lack of information about just what it would mean to play the Taliban in Medal of Honor.

As Restrepo showed, the pure anguish of the Afghan war may obliterate the very notion of “good guys” and “bad guys” in Afghanistan in the first place. A generous interpreter might hope for such a subtle reveal in the game, one that might send a knowing chill down the spines of its presumably sophisticated playership.

But EA’s latest move in the Medal of Honor saga seems instead to reveal that its interest in Afghanistan in general and the Taliban in particular never had anything whatsoever to do with a position on foreign war — or really on anything whatsoever.

In a statement issued October 1, Medal of Honor Executive Producer Greg Goodrich caved to “concern over the inclusion of the Taliban in the multiplayer portion of our game.” Goodrich clarified that the opposition wouldn’t be removed from the title, but instead it would simply be “renamed from Taliban to Opposing Force.”

Not sure if that means it’s a text change that happens via and update, or if it’s just in the US that the change has been made? Another interesting point of view comes form Twisted Metal and God Of War creator David Jaffe;

“Interesting. Just tried MOH multiplayer and they spawned me as Taliban and I simply could not play. I would not shoot. Wanted a surrender button. I **** you not. The power of interactive. … I’m not thinking at all; just a gut reaction to the game. I think the game should 100% exist and they SHOULD be Taliban BUT I also think that because there is an ongoing conflict RIGHT NOW and innocents on both side are dying as well as soldiers, it’s something I do not want to role play with other live people. It just felt strange to me. I assure you, I don’t over think this sort of stuff. I tend to think gaming’s claims of the power of interactivity is – in general- hyperbolic bull****. That’s why I posted – this was a unique experience for me.”

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