Gamestop, the leading retailer of video games in the United States, announced this past Thursday that it will not sell Danger Close Games and DICE’s Medal of Honor at any of its military base-locations. The move comes from an agreement with military retailers, who claim the move to be “out of respect for the men and women serving and their families”. This restriction will effect approximately 300 base exchange shops and 49 Gamestop locations (although servicemen are allowed to still own and use copies.) The ban comes after several heated reactions to the title by many high ranking military officers.
“GameStop has agreed out of respect for our past and present men and women in uniform we will not carry Medal of Honor in any of our [Army and Air Force Exchange Service]-based stores,” according to an email reportedly sent to GameStop employees. “As such, GameStop agreed to have all marketing material pulled by noon today and to stop taking reservations. Customers who enter our AAFES stores and wish to reserve Medal of Honor can and should be directed to the nearest GameStop location off base…GameStop fully supports AAFES in this endeavor and is sensitive to the fact that in multiplayer mode one side will assume the role of Taliban fighter.”
“We regret any inconvenience this may cause authorized shoppers, but are optimistic that they will understand the sensitivity to the life-and-death scenarios this product presents as entertainment,” said Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella, commanding officer of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.
“At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands,” said British Defense Secretary Liam Fox. “It’s shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban against British soldiers.”
The ban did meet with some criticism from a military perspective. Lucas Siegel, Site Editor for Newsarama.com and veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, wrote a reply to the ban to Kotaku.
“AAFES made a request, GameStop followed through politely and apparently with no fight,” wrote Siegel, “My problem, however, lies with AAFES making the request in the first place. The idea that a gameplay mode in a game people choose to or not to play could be so inherently damaging is simply silly. Giving things this kind of weight and power is the problem, not that they exist in and of themselves. It’s something I had to learn myself. For about 3 years after I returned from Iraq, I found it impossible to play any realistic shooters, or to enjoy fireworks. There were little things within those experiences that set off powerful sense memories. Eventually, it took sitting down and trying to remember what was enjoyable about these things to me in the past to make them enjoyable again. Releasing that self-imposed power made me remember, hey, this is a video game, and I like video games.”
“That’s the point here that the officials at AAFES are overlooking in favor of being cautious,” Siegel continued. “This isn’t a tool to convert American Soldiers into Taliban. It is a game, and in the game you play one of two roles. In the Army, you sometimes have field exercises in which you are placed on the side of ‘Opposing Forces.’ In that, you are role-playing as modern enemies in order to improve your knowledge and your fellow soldiers’ knowledge of how to combat them. Games don’t come with an inherent evil, an inherent power, or even, most of the time, any specific political message. In the campaign of Medal of Honor, it will be no doubt clear that the Taliban are the enemies. In multiplayer, sometimes, people will be ‘Opposing Forces.’ That’s not offensive to me as a soldier. The offensive thing to me as a soldier is AAFES thinking I can’t protect myself from a product I deem harmful. If it feels potentially damaging to an individual, then the individual doesn’t play it and that’s all that needs to happen…It’s a video game, and I like video games. It’s a shame that soldiers who like video games and want to play this one won’t be able to simply pick it up at their local shop.”
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