The British Government has distanced itself from comments made by defence secretary Liam Fox, which asked UK retailers not to stock EA’s Medal of Honor, calling the game – which is set in the ongoing Afghanistan conflict – “shocking”.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport pushed the comments into the unofficial space this morning.
“Dr Fox was expressing a personal view and we understand why some people might find the subject matter of the game offensive,” said the department in a statement to GamesIndustry.
Fox blasted the game last night, saying it shouldn’t be sold.
“It’s shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban,” said the politician.
“At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands.
“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. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product.”
The game allows you to play as the Taliban in multiplayer.
EA responded, speaking to the Sunday Times: “The format of the new Medal of Honor game merely reflects the fact that every conflict has two sides.
“We give gamers the opportunity to play both sides. Most of us have been doing this since we were seven: someone plays the cop, someone must be robber.
“In Medal of Honor multiplayer, someone’s got to be the Taliban.”
The publisher has further pushed back against the story this morning, claiming the Sunday Times’s report was incorrect in that British soldiers don’t feature in the game at all.
“Medal of Honor is an 18-rated highly authentic depiction of the soldier’s experience in Afghanistan – matching US forces against the Taliban in today’s war,” an EA spokesperson told VG247.
“Multiplayer combat is a long-standing, common and popular feature of video games. In multi-player, teams assume the identities of combatants on both sides of the conflict. Many popular videogames allow players to assume the identity of enemies including Nazis and terrorists. In the multi-player levels of Medal of Honor, teams will assume the identity of both US forces and the Taliban.
“The Sunday Times and other media stories on Medal of Honor contain inaccuracies. For one, Medal of Honor does not allow players to kill British soldiers. British troops do not feature in the game.”
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport added that systems were already in place to monitor games content in the UK.
“There is a ratings system in place which exists to categorise games appropriately, in this case the game in question is rated 18 so should only be sold to, and played by, adults.
“There is a clear choice for consumers which they can exercise when making decisions about purchasing videogames.”
Initial signs from retail indicate that, very obviously, this entire affair will be tomorrow’s chip paper.
“ShopTo fully supports and commends the bravery of the British Soldiers fighting in all conflict areas, including Afghanistan and would never condone anything that disrespected the daily sacrifices they provide to the British people,” ShopTo PR and marketing manager Phil Driver told MCV.
“As a retailer ShopTo.net follows all official government policy regarding the sale of video games. In the case of of Medal of Honor no other government decision has been made other than its PEGI classification of 18, which we have on the game. Should a ban be introduced based on a government decision we will of course stop the selling the game.
“Whilst we are aware that Defence Secretary Fox has a grievance that we understand, we have received no other similar feedback from our customers. The Medal Of Honor series is exceptionally popular amongst gamers and as stated in a response by EA, which we agree with, has always had teams of opposing forces in its content.”
“Hard little fuckers”
Hank Keirsey, a US military advisor with 24 years experience, added his tuppence, saying the media was incorrectly linking the Taliban with al-Qaeda.
“Those are hard little fuckers,” Keirsey told Eurogamer of the Taliban.
“From a soldier perspective, I gotta admire certain qualities in those guys. They’re not fighting for Al-Qaeda. Maybe one or two of them is. Most of them are fighting ‘cos they’ve always fought.
“They’ve got what someone told them is a foreigner in town. They’re gonna come down from the mountains with their little AKs and rally with other guys and try to beat the foreigner out of there.
“You gotta get into your enemy’s mind set. There’s courage on both sides.
“[The media is] making a connection that these are the guys that cut the heads off of women and kids in the night, then the next thing they do is climb into an aeroplane and fly into our buildings. That’s not necessarily the case.”
Medal of Honor, BBFC 18 rating and all, ships for PC, 360 and PS3 on October 15.