Medal of Honor game released today despite Taliban furore

 

The latest release in the long-running Medal of Honor series
One of the "Opposing Force" soldiers that caused controversy

 

By Euan Black

Medal of Honor is available in stores today despite a wave of controversy surrounding its release.

The game, which is set in modern-day Afghanistan, has attracted anger because of the decision to name one of the teams in the multiplayer mode as “the Taliban”.

Under pressure from the armed forces, politicians and tabloid newspapers, Electronic Arts (EA) decided at the last-minute to change the Taliban to “Opposing Force”.

Despite anger at the move, it does not seem to be affecting sales of the game. The manager of a local GAME store in Edinburgh has said:

“Medal of Honor is the only thing we’ve sold this morning. Everyone who has come in has bought that. I think the Taliban thing isn’t much of an issue. No-one has mentioned it when buying the game.”

However, Ken Fee, a lecturer in Computer Games Education at Abertay University in Dundee, has warned that issues like this are becoming more prevalent for videogame developers.

He said: “In general, controversy should probably best be avoided as now that the costs and profile of games are so much higher. If the wrong folk are offended or misdirected through apparent or real controversy, the economic – and personal – effects can be devastating.”

When EA released the demo of the game this summer, the fact that one side has to play as the Taliban angered politicians, the armed forces, servicemen’s families and tabloid newspapers.

Liam Fox MP issued a statement saying: “It’s shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban.

“I am disgusted and angry. It’s hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game.”

EA retaliated, claiming: “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.”

Despite the government distancing themselves from Mr Fox’s comments, it seemed to sting EA, who claimed the development team were upset at the furore and changed the name to Opposing Force out of respect for the servicemen currently in Afghanistan and their families.

Mr Fee feels that the decision to change the name wasn’t a clear-cut one. He explained: “Censorship or editing rarely if ever reflects categorical right or wrongs – just subjective interpretations based on personal, political or economic judgements.

“There is no sliding scale of value that can result in determining ‘how’ right such a decision may be.

“It is for the viewer or buyer to determine whether they find the content offensive and make any purchasing based on that.”

EA’s latest Medal of Honor, which currently has a Metacritic rating of 75, is a franchise reboot, their attempt to answer the massive success of Call of Duty, one of the best-selling video game of 2009. That particular series hasn’t been without controversy itself: Modern Warfare 2 has a level where you play as terrorists attacking an airport, and this also caused outrage when it was first released.