Medal Of Dis-Honor? Pressure Mounts On EA Over Role Of Taliban In Game, British Defense Secretary Calls For Ban

As expected, EA’s Medal of Honor is coming under fire from all sides. The game, a first-person shooter, is scheduled to be released on October 12 for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, takes place in Afghanistan, and puts you in control of U.S. soldiers on the ground there. It also, at least in the multi-player mode, lets you play as the Taliban. So, the natural line of thinking is, what kind of video game lets you shoot and kill U.S. soldiers?

As you might expect, the game hasn’t exactly flown under the radar.

A Golden Star mother appeared on Fox News last week to criticize the game, saying that “war is not a game,” and that “families who are burying their children” shouldn’t have to do so against the backdrop of people fragging each other on Xbox Live. “It’s disrespectful,” she added.

In its defense, EA said that “someone has to be the bad guy,” whether in a game of cops and robbers or in Medal of Honor.

Never mind that the average age of gamers today is 39 years old, so it’s not a case of a 10-year-old boy walking into Best Buy, buying the game with cash that grandma and grandpa gave him for his birthday, and coming home to play it into the wee hours of the morning.

EA has learnt first-hand that “don’t like it? don’t buy it!” doesn’t apply to matters involving Uncle Sam.

Even the British are upset. This, despite the fact that there are no British soldiers in the game.

The country’s defense minister, Liam Fox, has pleaded with retailers, asking them not to carry the “thoroughly un-British” game.

… part of this game allows you to play the part of the Taliban attacking ISAF troops in the area of central Helmand where British troops are operating. [It is] shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban against British soldiers. At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands. 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.

Strong words, but the UK Government distanced itself from the comments shortly after they were made.

The point remains: we’re barely two months before the game’s scheduled release and EA is already having to defend its actions left, right, and center.

And talk about bad timing: this is an election year in the U.S. Granted, it’s not a general election, which means that media coverage and general interest won’t be as high as it would otherwise be, but if you don’t think politicians looking for easy points won’t go after the game…

You can see it now: “While I have come out against this senseless solider-killing simulator, my good opponent hasn’t said anything. What does that say about his character, ladies and gentlemen?”

Video games are a pretty easy target even under the best of circumstances, but throw in the fact that you can play as the Taliban while the war is still raging, well, you can at least understand why that might be an issue for EA.