After removing the use of the word ‘Taliban’ from its multiplayer components, citing “concern for the servicemen and women and their families”, Electronic Arts and the new Metal of Honor have seen widely varying reactions from both in and outside the gamer community. The United States Army, having long supported the single player campaign with consultants and media footage like photographs and gunfire audio, only learned of the multiplayer’s ‘Taliban’ inclusion once the initial media frenzy began. Since, the Army has reacted less favorable towards the game.
“We immediately contacted Electronic Arts and asked them to give us a demonstration of the game’s capabilities,” detailed Kenneth Hawes, director of the Army’s Public Affairs Western Region, “You have to understand I’m not a gamer. We provide support on major motion pictures, television and video games, but I didn’t grow up with video games. So personally I was a little disappointed they included that scenario.”
Hawes continued, speaking on the possiblity for the Army withdrawing support, “That did come up, withdrawing support…We never did send a formal letter to Electronic Arts pulling support, that would have been a meaningless document…We learn from every experience…We are pleased they changed it from the Taliban, only time will tell if they went far enough.”
On the other side of the aisle, as part of a feature by Gamasutra, game writer and designer Ian Bogost still looked upon EA negatively, but for a different reason. Bogost claimed that the last minute name change from ‘Taliban’ to ‘Opposing Forces’ was “commercial political convenience, precisely the sort of hedge that undermines free speech protections by distancing them from earnest contributions to public ideas.”
Looking upon the controversy in the light of the impending Supreme Court case determining the industry’s regulatory nature, Bogost claimed that “Yet as Medal of Honor demonstrates, the wealthy corporations like Electronic Arts that fund the ESA to lobby on their behalf are typically not the ones to take up such a charge in earnest.”
“Will commercial video games ever care enough about the world they share with war and sex and crime and brutality to want to speak about those issues in earnest, in public, in spite of the negative reactions or even in order to elicit those negative reactions?” Bogost asks, “Or will they merely want to sell bits and plastic at $60 a go, any one just as good as the last — so long as its Metacritic scores hold up?”