In one of the few hundred news stories from last year that refuse to die, THQ’s Head of Core Games Danny Bilson (a veteran of the earlier iterations of the game series back at his tenure with Electronic Arts) recently discussed EA’s handling of the Medal of Honor controversy in an interview with Eurogamer.
“I wouldn’t have put them in in the first place,” said Bilson, referencing the naming of the opposing multiplayer forces the Taliban, “In Battlefield, when you had the Mid East Alliance and the Chinese and the Americans, it was all fantasy and I didn’t mind playing one side or the other,” he continued, “When you get into reality – and that’s real, that’s not speculative science-fiction like ours – people are dying at their hands. I take my games seriously. That’s why they’re fun to play, because you care about them. I don’t want to play as the Taliban, particularly.”
“If we [the U.S.] were in a shooting war with them [North Korea] and people’s children were dying at their hands, you’d have to watch a bit what you do, as Medal of Honor ran into a little bit in Afghanistan,” Bilson added, “No offense, but I don’t like playing as the Germans in World War II, either. That’s just me. I just don’t, because I take my games seriously and I have my heroes and villains in my psyche. I immerse myself in a game and care. Also, I’m older. I grew up with World War II as a big part of reality for my parents and my grandparents.”
“For a younger generation, it’s just a strategy game, like with board games or RTS. I’m not as sensitive as I was when I was younger but it’s emotional and it’s personal. I lost some relatives in World War II, so I always have that somewhere in my mind – some relatives in Poland. The next guy goes, oh, I don’t relate it to that. It’s a videogame.” he elaborated, “I had a lot of friends and family members who worked on that Medal of Honor game. They worked really hard to create an incredibly respectful experience of the American soldier. But we don’t have to worry about respecting the Taliban. We don’t because there are a lot of issues we have with them socially and politically.”
Bilson rounded out the diatribe with a call for pure entertainment, rather than political statements, “I’m not here to do politics. I’m not here to make a political statement. We’re making entertainment. But we don’t want to offend. We really don’t, because if people are dying in the real world that becomes sensitive,” he closed. “When it’s up to me, I’ll make certain sensitive choices in all of these things.”
What’s the E-G opinion on this, guys? Is this the kind of mindset developers should be in when developing war games, or a kind of back-peddling from any artistic experimentation in the medium, as some commentators have said of similar sentiments? Voice your thoughts below!