Ever since it was announced that one of the playable factions in the multiplayer portion of EA's revitalized Medal of Honor franchise was going to be the Taliban, a real life insurgency group, the game has been the center of much debate.
Today, Medal of Honor executive producer, Greg Goodrich, announced the game would be taking a step to avoid further controversy by dropping the use of the name Taliban in multiplayer. Instead, the team at EA opted for the much safer, and generic, name: Opposing Force.
Here’s what Goodrich had to say:
"In the past few months, we have received feedback from all over the world regarding the multiplayer portion of Medal of Honor. We’ve received notes from gamers, active military, and friends and family of servicemen and women currently deployed overseas. 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. Because of this, and because the heartbeat of Medal of Honor has always resided in the reverence for American and Allied soldiers, we have decided to rename the opposing team in Medal of Honor multiplayer from Taliban to Opposing Force.
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."
If Goodrich’s reasoning is truly the motive behind the change, then I applaud the team for their sensitivity and understanding. The use of the Taliban name certainly hits close to home for anyone who has lost a loved one in the conflict.
While this move will certainly be controversial, and could be considered a set back in the “games are art” argument, in my opinion, we have to keep in mind that sometimes showing restraint is still necessary.
I do, however, have to point out that this move might not be completely altruistic. Remember, the game had recently been banned from sale on military bases across the U.S. because of the game’s inclusion of the Taliban. Military personnel is a huge market segment for shooters, and that's not a demographic EA would have been happy to lose. At this point, it's unclear whether or not the game’s ban will be lifted - it would be a shame if dollars, instead of decency, was the primary reason for updating the name.
Admittedly, all the controversy does beg the question: why do video games get put under closer scrutiny than other mediums that also depict true-to-life events? The fuss over Modern Warfare 2’s ‘No Russian’ level just recently died-down - not to mention, Konami yanking the rug out from under developer Atomic Games and their title Six Days in Fallujah. We’ve had countless films that depict events from the recent Middle Eastern struggles. Films such as The Hurt Locker and United 93 even garnered countless critical praise and awards.
Why aren’t games being given the same chance?
What do the Ranters think? Was the change truly made with respect to those who might have been offended or was the change made to get the game back on the military base shelves?
You’ll get to decide on those questions first-hand when Medal of Honor is released October 12th on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.
Source: MOH Blog