Medal of Honor’s executive producer Greg Goodrich has said making sure the game was a respectful representation of the military stationed in Afghanistan made him lose some sleep at night.
Speaking in an interview with Gamasutra, before today’s news of the Taliban being axed from the game in name only, Goodrich said the development team spent a lot of time making sure it “didn’t do anything stupid” and that the tone of the game was respectful to the men and women serving in Afghanistan.
“You know, it keeps me awake at night,” said Goodrich. “This is historical fiction, so it’s much in the vein of a movie like Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. These are fictional characters in a historical event. We’re focusing on those individuals. We’re focusing on the characters. We’re focusing on the individual soldier and telling their story from that point of view, and the war is a backdrop.
“Obviously, it’s a current war, and although it’s a backdrop, it’s still something that’s really going on. We’re focusing on the first part of that conflict, the initial push. Medal of Honor has always been rooted in authenticity and respect for the soldier, but it’s also always been devoid of politics or political discussion or debate.
“For this game, I don’t care why they’re there. It’s a matter of, ‘They’re there. Let’s support them. Let’s get behind them, let’s get them home.’ So, like I said, we focus on those guys. We focus on the men and women of the armed services who are there doing the work — keeping everything else out of it.
I’ve not said this yet to anybody, and there’s not a PR person here telling me not to say it, but I do think about it a lot. I do lose sleep. Other people are always looking for something to say about it. I truly believe that our intent is to honor that community, to honor those individuals. Truly, I think if people play our game, if they play it from beginning to end and they see what we’ve done, the character arc and what goes on and how they’re dealing with it to the very end, I think people will get it and understand and say, ‘Oh, yeah. Okay. I see now.’
“It’s really hard for me to sit and just try to explain it, but it’s just we’ve spent a lot of time with these guys. When you work with the U.S. military, when you work with these Tier 1 operators, you realize they have given up so much, and it’s so contradictory to their nature to even speak to anybody in any form of media. They shy away from the camera. They’re quiet professionals. They would just assume you’d leave them the fuck alone. But since they have given so much, the burden is on us to make sure we do it right, to honor that community.
“So we’ve spent a heck of a lot of time making sure we don’t do anything stupid, and that we do it with the right tone.”
Right tone or not, EA has changed the name of the Taliban in the multiplayer portion of the game to “opposing forces”, so as not to disrespect anyone associated with the military or soldiers currently fighting America’s war on terrorism.
GameStop stores on military bases stopped taking pre-orders for the game last month, and decided not to sell it once it hit shelves. That same month, CEO John Riccitiello stated that the controversy surrounding the playable Taliban in Medal of Honor “caught him by surprise”.
Medal of Honor releases on October 12 in the US, and October 15 in the UK for PC, PS3, and Xbox 360.