'Medal of Honor' Stirs Controversy

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The new video game, "Medal of Honor" comes out today, but it's already mired in controversy. Unlike most first-player shooter war games that take place in past or fictional wars, this game is set in present-day Afghanistan. American fighters face off against a Taliban-like faction, and players can choose to be the opposing side. That side was originally called the Taliban, but the game makers relented to calls from protestors and changed it to "Opposing Force." Is this war too raw to get video game treatment?

Ben Strauss, from the site, IndustryGamers.com, believes that those complaining about the game are not the ones who will buy or play it. "Gamers who are trying to respect reality through an intensely authentic portrayal of reality make up the hardcore audience."

John Parie, a former Air Force public relations specialist, and a writer for the gaming site, Sidequesting.com, believes this version of "Medal of Honor" is getting released too soon.

Below, the trailer for "Medal of Honor."


John Parie and Ben Strauss

Produced by:

David J Fazekas

Comments [25]

John from Memphis, TN

You can check out the full story at http://www.sidequesting.com/2010/10/medal-of-honor-too-soon/ . Let me know what you think.

Oct. 15 2010 01:04 AM

It was a controversy when Mw2 had the mission where you kill civilians at a airport for the sake of the storyline.

It is a controversy that people are mad that the team was named "Taliban" (Which is what they are fighting in the present war.) and now is switched to "Opposing Force".

As John said, "It's a game, get over it."

Oct. 12 2010 08:07 PM

It's a game. Get over it.

Oct. 12 2010 07:59 PM

@David - I'm pretty sure your post was "empty-pointless and meaningless." There were a lot of words, but it didn't say much. What exactly are these dire hidden consequences of playing games that are based on modern-day conflicts? You allude to them, but state nothing of their substance in actual observable terms. What responsibility do I assume by playing a Call of Duty or Medal of Honor game? A duty to serve in the United States military? Why should the consumption of any media come with the stipulation of military enrollment?

That's like saying that by watching Gray's Anatomy my fiance should be required to enroll in Medical School.

Oct. 12 2010 04:49 PM
David L. Burhans from Detroit

I listened to the report and was NOT surprised by choices people make, in the US we are free to choose, our right a s a free society. What puzzles me is that when choices are made there is no realization of responibility, and further, there is no realization of the consquences of that choice-to which the future will bring. The rating system and policing of use is empty-pointless and meaningless. The result is the users and abusers are emboldened to then repeat-to get away with even more.

The gaming industry needs to do the following: When games are designed specifically with modern weaponry and realistic scenerios, there needs to be a legal statement that includes: upon purchase and loading this game of this nature, you are hearby agreeing to registering with the United States Military as a volunteer candidate, within 30 days of registering you will be contacted by a representative of the US armed forces . . .

Oct. 12 2010 04:33 PM

1) This game is not for children. It wasn't made for children. It isn't marketed toward children. It can't be sold to a child unless an adult purchases it for them. The onus is on the adults in an child's life to keep them from consuming media they find offensive. The music and movie industry have self-regulated ratings systems that no one has any problem with. Educate yourself and you can make informed decisions about the games your children consume. No, you can't protect them from everything you disapprove of 100% of the time. Your parents couldn't do that for you either, and you (presumably) turned out OK, right?

2) If people are asking, "Should anyone be playing this game," then the answer is, unequivocally, "yes." This is exactly the kind of speech that the First Amendment was designed to protect. Just because you don't like (read: understand) video games doesn't mean they aren't protected as commercial expression. Until the SCOTUS says otherwise (and they may during this session), video games are protected just like movies and music. Just because a certain segment of the population finds a work to be in poor taste, does not mean it should be censored.

3) EA should have kept the Taliban moniker. Now it looks like they are either a) cowards, or b) attention-whores/brilliant marketers.

4) @Charles - COUNTER TROLL! Yes, the First Amendment protects your right to spew uninformed opinions that betray your lack of understanding of the medium that represents the modern era. Do you think The Hurt Locker, which won the highest honor in American film last year, was "despicable," as well? Or does that get different treatment because it's a non-interactive medium? Also, to what end do you want the names and addresses of the people responsible for the game to be published? Because my guess is that they'll all be in the credits that roll at the end of the Single Player campaign, which, by the way, you play through as an American Special Forces Operative, killing terrorists left and right. Players only play as "terrorists" in the multi-player modes of the game. Anyway, you could collect those names and addresses from the credits, perform simple searches on the Internet to find their addresses, fly or drive to Los Angeles, and then protest outside their homes! OR, you could post an anonymous, inflammatory opinion on a message board on The Takeaway's website and leave it at that. My guess is you'll go with the latter.

Oct. 12 2010 02:10 PM

I think the First Amendment is great. It protects the "free speech" rights of people to traffic in this kind of video-violence-porn.

And, it also protects my right to say that I think that grown adults who play video games are comic losers, and that the merchants who traffic in video depictions of U.S. soldiers being killed by terrorists is despicable.

I am very much hoping that the First Amendment will "protect" the publicatation of the names and home addresses of the video game designers, producers and merchants who bear responsibility for this "game."

I love the First Amendment.

Oct. 12 2010 11:56 AM
Lara from Detroit

My husband and his friends are gamers and frequently play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 (COD MW2) online (release Nov 9, 2009). In the online version of this game, you are split into two teams and are either the U.S. forces or the insurgents (you don't get to choose). The insurgent characters speak Arabic in the background, but when giving commands they speak English with Arabic accents. This game is HUGELY popular and didn't have this same kind of comdemnation when it came out, likely because this was part of the online gameplay and not the single player game itself. However when the game starts, you are on a base in the Middle East for "training" while you get the basic controls of the game down. In the background are troops playing basketball, eating, showering; and you have a 360' view and can clearly see you're not in Kansas.

To single out the new Medal of Honor is silly. While I can understand that families who have experienced loss would be upset, this kind of platform already exists, and people are already playing this style of modern combat games. The new Medal of Honor will likely not be anymore bloody or horrific than existing war games. So instead of calling them "insurgents" they are called Taliban. Isn't that who we are fighting? Should we call them Al-Queda instead? As far as a training tool on either side, I agree with another post that states it would be ridiculous. While my husband is former military and likes to work on winning strategies, he agrees that it's just fun to play in an online format where you're playing other thinking people and not the computer, but its far from an adequate training tool.

These games are a part of our culture and capture what is happening now in our world. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are playing these games for...entertainment! From what I understand, they are able to play online with Americans back home and have expressed a feeling of normalcy being able to do so (G4's show 'Attack of the Show' streamed live footage with troops from a base in Iraq and the hosts played with them online).

War is horrible no matter how you look at it. Until we change our basic human nature, it will continue to be a part of our world and there will always be some medium that will capture its impact on our culture.

My husband has reserved the new Medal of Honor from our local video store and will be playing it later today. He wasn't as excited about this release as he is for Call of Duty Black Ops that comes out next month (already pre-ordered). I can't wait to see what kind of ridiculous protests await that release.

Oct. 12 2010 10:46 AM
Gregory Ness from Staten Island

Do we want to train a whole generation of young people how to kill, bomb, maim and murder? "Medal of Honor" is indicative of a very deep cultural sickness in out country, where War = Fun and it's all for sale. There is no fair comparison to "cowboys and Indians" play, because those "bad guys" are generic, and these "bad guys" are actual enemies of the United States.There is no significant difference between "Medal of Honor" and military training exercises.
The authors of our Constitution would have been outraged at the abuse of free speech rights that these contemporary "games" exemplify. They would have probably considered it a form of treason against the republic. That moral priority should be taken up today in a class action lawsuit against these companies.

Oct. 12 2010 10:27 AM
ClearView from Summerville, SC

Think Terminator 2: "...We're not gonna make it, are we?" I'm older, a successful parent, well educated and an honorably discharged US veteran who sees a plethora of violence in our daily walk of life. It is on the news, on our TV and in the video games. When will we learn that violence, as a way of life, must stop? We inculcate our youth that fighting & war is part of our life, which is wrong on all fronts (private & corporate). The answer to the first question above is, I think not unless we stop the violence.

Oct. 12 2010 10:18 AM
ClearView from Summerville, SC

Think Terminator 2: "...We're not gonna make it, are we?" I'm older, a successful parent, well educated and an honorably discharged US veteran who sees a plethora of violence in our daily walk of life. It is on the news, on our TV and in the video games. When will we learn that violence, as a way of life, must stop? We inculcate our youth that fighting & war is part of our life, which is wrong on all fronts (private & corporate). The answer to the first question above is, I think not unless we stop the violence.

Oct. 12 2010 10:17 AM
hannah from nh

Why is it that the only issue with this game is that you can play as a member of the Taliban? I find it equaly disturbing that nobody seems to have a problem with playing as an American fighting in a simulated version of a war that is going on right this second. War games have always been a source of entertainment but there is a big difference between toy soldiers and realistic politics, blood and guts. I think we are being desensitized to war and that scares me.

Oct. 12 2010 10:09 AM
kana from Kent, WA

The difference between kids playing with civil war toy soldiers and this video game of a current conflict is that this is an ongoing horrible war that is taking the lives of our citizens daily. Past wars are detached from our collective consciousness, but we have a thousands of grieving families who have lost their sons and daughters in this very real nightmare of a war. Imagine being a soldier coming back wounded or disabled facing integration into a population that is actively role playing the parts of their enemies! How insulting to them and to the families of those who lost loved ones to the Taliban forces. We should be more sensitive to the grieving families and veterans who are trying to heal both physically and emotionally.

Oct. 12 2010 10:06 AM
Sydney from Detroit

Also, video games have a rating system for a reason. The Medal of Honor games are all rated M for Mature; they are not aimed at children at all, and stores will not sell these games to kids unless an adult is with them and gives consent.

Can we please leave the "think of the children" straw man alone for a while? The poor thing is so misused that his stuffing is coming out.

Oct. 12 2010 09:51 AM
Sydney from Detroit

I really wish that members of the media would actually play a video game before they attempt to discuss it. "Could the Taliban use this game in their training to learn about US tactics?" Not unless the US strategy actually relies on a single Rambo who runs headlong into danger, backed up by a bunch of interchangeable morons who tend to run out into the line of fire far more often than they help, because for them to do too much would ruin the sense of heroism for the player.

That said, I think this is simply a case of "too soon." World War II games have offered the same ability to play as either side -- and therefore shoot Americans -- for years, and nobody has cared up until now. This is just too close to home right now, which makes it in poor taste.

Oct. 12 2010 09:45 AM
Jack from Queens from Corona, Queens NY

As a child of WWII we used play American vs German and American vs Japanese. As a German soldier we would do thumb the nose "Heil Hitler" and go into battle. Or as a Japanese soldier we would squint up or eyes, bend down to get small and go into battle yelling "Bonzia". One time in 5th grade as a German solder I fell over after getting 'shot' my sharp wooden went right through my hand - wounded in battle!.

Oct. 12 2010 09:44 AM
randall konsker from Florida via NYC

My father fought in Korea...as a child (I am 45 and my brothers are 48 and 51 now), we were not allowed to have toy guns in the house. We could play army, or cops and robbers, but he had a rule that no "toy guns" were allowed. His philosophy was that he saw enough damage with real guns, that he didn't want to replicate that violence or trauma in his home. We were bummed, and complained...but we (even as small boys) understood...and we respected his decision. So when we played Army with the kids on the block, we used sticks or some other contraption.

I believe it falls on the responsibility of the parents. I have two small boys, we control what comes into our home. If we do not approve of something, we discuss it and we make a rule about it. If a parent does not agree with Medal of Honor...don't let in the home.

Oct. 12 2010 09:43 AM
Philippe Guiol from Miami, FL

There is a stark difference between playing with toy soldiers and playing video games. When playing with toy soldiers and/or playing cops and robbers, the children set the rules of the game beforehand. They know the variables, what the crime was, how they'll catch each other, why there was a burglary, etc. When playing with toy soldiers, the children are God.

With video games, children are more fully immersed in a scenario that they do not control at all. This is not specific to this video game, but many first person shooters are the same.

Then, it's the responsibility of the parents to explain the differences between virtual reality and reality, as well as the complexities of the real world that are not in these.

That being said, it is about time to ask parents to claim their responsibilities, and to stop blaming video games, musics, literature for their offsprings' behavior.

Oct. 12 2010 09:37 AM
Aaron from Miami

My objection to the game doesn't have to do with the politics of war, but the psychology of violence. This game and many other popular video games desensitize children and young adults to death, killing, and the use of guns. These games romanticize violence and conflate heroism with killing.

Oct. 12 2010 09:37 AM
Jay Miller from New England

Yes, I played with toy soldiers when a child in the fifties. Yes, I played "cowboys and Indians" as a child. But, the fact that, as children, we did certain cultural things does not mean that play time was "right."

After all, the games played by children reflect the larger culture in which the children live. And, now decades past the fifties when we played with toy soldiers and shooting each other as cowboys, how are we doing as a society - a culture - a world? Not so well.

Perhaps, we should re-think how children play. Perhaps, what we play, we become. Perhaps, if we wish for a different kind of world - one of peace and justice and compassion-we should teach our children a different kind of play time.

P.S. Human beings have not been playing with lead soldiers for centuries as told by your host. A more precise memory of history might serve your hosts better.

Oct. 12 2010 09:35 AM
John from Brattleboro Vermont

Just because people have been playing games about war for years and years does not make it ok today. War begets war. Can we just not "study war" anymore?

It is possible to leave the outdated notion that violence will change things for the better. Don't buy it. Don't allow it in your house. Don't let your kids play it.

Oct. 12 2010 09:30 AM
Steve from New Jersy

Surely, the military uses game-playing with some soldiers playing the role of Taliban fighters, in order to better understand the tactics of the Taliban.

It is appropriate in military studies to consider battles from the enemy's point of view.
This can be disconcerting to some but it is still an instructive exercise. I would not be surprised if this computer game were used in military training, to help improve the tactics and safety of the soldiers.

That the game may be used by the Taliban, too, is the more disconcerting thought.

Oct. 12 2010 07:41 AM
mrtommyjay from philadelphia, PA

This is so dump. People are just looking for an excuse to stir something up. NONE of this protesters will see this game, let alone play it so its stupid for them to protest. Some of my best friends are/ were us marines, and even they don't care! Its a story telling tactic, same with mw2's airport mission. So far this game looks severely accurate and i believe the Taliban should have stayed.

Oct. 12 2010 07:26 AM
ben from us

Most of the "protesters" just want attention. Taliban sounds a lot better than opposing force.

Oct. 12 2010 01:03 AM
billy bob joe

i think they should of kept the Taliban

Oct. 12 2010 12:38 AM

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