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Electronic Arts nukes Taliban from upcoming Medal of Honor game

MoH screen Electronic Arts, facing criticism from some in the U.S. military, Friday morning said it will eliminate the ability for players of its upcoming Medal of Honor video game to assume the role of the Taliban.

Instead, players fighting opposite the U.S. military will simply be called opposing forces, or OpFor, for short, the Redwood City, Calif., game developer announced on its blog.

The decision comes after military bases last month banned the upcoming sale of the game from nearly 300 stores located on its bases because it would allow players to shoot U.S. troops as Taliban fighters in Afghanistan, where the war game is set. Critics said the ability to take on the role of the Taliban and kill U.S. and British troops was insensitive to the family of soldiers who had died in Afghanistan.

"It came down to our core value of honoring the soldier," said Greg Goodrich, executive producer of the game, which will be the 14th title in the 11-year-old Medal of Honor series. "We're making this change out of our deepest respect for the men and women serving in the military. The core tenet of the game has always been to honor the soldier."

Set in Afghanistan, the game follows a handful of elite soldiers through the opening months of the U.S. involvement towards the end of 2001 and into early 2002. Players in the single-player mode will get to play one of several U.S. soldiers, including an Army ranger, a Tier 1 elite special operations sniper and an Apache helicopter gunner.

The controversy came with the multi-player mode, where players go online and form two opposing teams, one comprised of coalition forces and the other being Taliban insurgents. EA on Friday began testing its multi-player option by letting a small portion of the public play the game online. The company plans to release the game on Oct. 12.

U.S. Army and Air Force spokesmen did not immediately respond to an email asking whether the military will reverse its ban of the game as a result of EA's modification.

The change affects only the name of the opposing side, leaving the game itself untouched, Goodrich said. Jointly developed by two EA studios in Los Angeles and Sweden, the latest Medal of Honor is the first game in the billion-dollar franchise to be set outside of World War II. Earlier versions allowed players to assume the role of German Nazis battling against allied forces.

Goodrich said the decision to base the game in Afghanistan came when its designers began consulting soldiers who were in the military's elite special forces known as Tier 1 units.

"These Tier 1 operators are fascinating people," Goodrich said, "and not just because of what they do operationally. When working with them, we found the backbone of our narrative."

Goodrich said the game is fictional but inspired by the historical events that occurred when the U.S. began sending soldiers into Afghanistan in late 2001.

Last year, another game company, Konami, bowed to public pressure and cancelled an ambitious game re-enacting a pivotal battle in the Iraq war, the 2004 seige of Fallujah that left 71 U.S. troops and about 1,600 insurgents dead.

The controversy surrounding Medal of Honor's ban does not seem to have affected sales. On the contrary, EA on Thursday reported a "record" number of people who have reserved copies of the game compared with prior versions of the franchise, although it did not release an actual figure.

To read Goodrich's announcement about the decision to remove the Taliban from the game, click the continue reading link below.

The following post is from the Medal of Honor blog:

In the past few months, we have received feedback from all over the world regarding the multiplayer portion of Medal of Honor. We’ve received notes from gamers, active military, and friends and family of servicemen and women currently deployed overseas. The majority of this feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. For this, the Medal of Honor team is deeply appreciative.

However, we have also received feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers who have expressed concern over the inclusion of the Taliban in the multiplayer portion of our game. This is a very important voice to the Medal of Honor team. This is a voice that has earned the right to be listened to. It is a voice that we care deeply about. Because of this, and because the heartbeat of Medal of Honor has always resided in the reverence for American and Allied soldiers, we have decided to rename the opposing team in Medal of Honor multiplayer from Taliban to Opposing Force.

While this change should not directly affect gamers, as it does not fundamentally alter the gameplay, we are making this change for the men and women serving in the military and for the families of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice - this franchise will never willfully disrespect, intentionally or otherwise, your memory and service.

To all who serve: We appreciate you, we thank you, and we do not take you for granted. And to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines currently serving overseas, stay safe and come home soon.

Greg Goodrich, Executive Producer
Medal of Honor

-- Alex Pham

Photos: Screenshots from the Medal of Honor website. Credit: Electronic Arts.








Comments () | Archives (15)

So you will be able to play as the Taliban, but you wont be called the Taliban. That's just childish. As a child I liked king crab, but not imitation crab. My mother used to get me to eat the imitation crab, because she didn't call it imitation crab, but 'queen crab'. I didn't know the difference taste-wise, but because it had a different name I accepted it.

Now, let's take Nazi soldiers out of every other Medal of Honor game. Then, we can strike every other identifiable bad guy from all video games, just so long as we don't offend a few over-sensitive retards here and there.

Well, you couldnt play as the Nazi's in earlier iterations of this game; so whats the big deal?

"Childish" would be refusing to consider any alternative. One of the defining characteristics of a child is refusing to consider any viewpoint other than their own. Clearly EA does not fall into this category in this instance.

Regardless of what decision they had reached, taking various people's interests into consideration is always a good thing. Personally it doesn't matter to me, but I can certainly understand that it would be offensive to some people--not random people, but people who are sacrificing a great deal for the sake of the nation at large.

Guess Michael Moore is right about who actually runs the country http://bit.ly/ana7Fb

First of all all these realistic first-person shoot 'um ups, Grand Theft Auto, Badge of Honor, etc, have no redeeming social value - they are just a form of pornography which lets players shoot people in the head, all blood and ultra-violence all the time.

Second, these game's only message is about American might and right to reduce any city in the world to nothing but corpses, blood and ashes. All these fanboys learn how to do is to shoot and destroy everything.

Third, most middle and high school kids love these games and play them over other kinds of games. The mature video games are aimed squarely at 9-18 year old boys. And this is why the US military makes their own video games as well - to get kids interested in killing innocent people in the head. Killing people is what passes for "art", senseless indiscriminate mass murder is the fun, cheerful activity- the only activity of many of these kids. Remember, kids spend more time with media including videogames and the internet then than do in school every day.

That is the end and be-all of American computing skills: teach people to shoot and kill others. How ironic then that their biggest fans, the military, don't like it when the other side can play and win.

What a pathetic headline.

EA has made one single change eliminating the word Taliban. That's it. Playing the insurgent side still is all about killing US soldiers in Afghanistan today. They still look the same, sound the same but the menu text now no longer reads "Taliban". Instead of really examining the issue we're hung up on token language. If it shoots like a duck, IEDs like a duck it's a duck.

I respect EAs right to build and release the game but the press should do their jobs and present the issue instead of recycling a press release effort aimed at defusing public outrage that might endanger sales. Alex Pham just toss out a hack headline and leads with the impression that something has really changed here.

Use your head, EA...

EA could care less about the US military save for bothering them with details and input for a new game. You mean to tell me a bunch of leftist computer geeks who were brought up with a hatred for America are really going to "honor" the military forces of freedom.
Oh please, I ain't buying it. But I will buy the game, hack it and rename Opfor as TALIBAN or Al Qaida and post it on youtube as I blast the stupid allied soldiers to smithereens to highlight how badass EA's game really is. Hopefully I will be able to slow-mo the loaded APC explosions to highlight flying body parts. Perhaps sounds of joy when I shoot down a loaded helo. Maybe they'll have every muslim's favorite expression: allah akbar. I can use it for every American killed. (Can you score virgins as the terrorist side when you kill Americans?)

Completely rational decision. EA is here to make money, not problems. And why to risk a major project? However, it is strange, because this world let player to choose Nazis, Bolsheviks or just 'simple' muss murderers, but not Taliban

And of course shooting US and British soldiers as OpFor will be more sensitive. Wow, real people are dieing and the US Military is P o'd over computer code. Now it all makes sense.

Cant blame them for avoiding controversy, since military folks make a substantial part of their demographic market.

Not sure why the decision would upset anyone...it's not like a savage bunch of cutthroats like the Taliban have even a shred of honor to begin with.

Even if they did include them, to keep it realistic they would have to include parts about the Taliban beheading fellow Muslims & stoning to death Muslim women caught in adultery.

So why even give those sleazy snakes the honor of even being named in the video game? Good move EA...showing respect for those willing to put their lives on the line for our country, even if you are doing it for marketing reasons.

That this is a game is repulsive.

Killing is wrong.

The simplest things that we ether see, say, or do can have the hugest impacts on our enter actions in every day life. True its just the name "Taliban" vs "Insurgent" that is changing, just the text on the HUD and in the GUI, but it really does make a difference. I believe that EA really does care but at the same time they are obviously making this game both for fun(designers)and to make money(Executives). You can't get some thing from nothing and if you do then you don't deserve it =P. This controversy is just getting annoying and as with all hot topics its getting played out to fast and way to furious! Opinions are not tangible they just are options that are given out for those who wish to use them. We all need to think about both sides to every situation weather its in important one or not. All this hype aside I just wish that EA had omitted both the US, British and Middle Eastern references from the multi-player part all together.

It would of been cool if they had made a list of customizable player avatars for gamers to choose from. Like being able to choose your race, faction and clothing styles. A US soldier doesn't all ways wear US BDU's so it would make sense. Following this idea, every non-fictional aspect would be/should of been renamed. All the multi-player payable factions, cloths and gear, aside from modern day armaments, being a signed a generic or funny fictional name for example the name Al-Paca instead of Al-Qaeda. Only slight color references and insignia being as close to but not as exact as possible like a black flag with a yellow head of a Lama in the middle for the Al-Qaeda flag. That way it would of been just a bunch of fictional men on a fictional battle field killing each other fictionally(thank god they didn't add the female soldiers other wise the up roar would of been twice as bad.)

Any ways, I think if you don't like the game, or any and all games, then don't buy it. And if you have kids then don't buy it for them ether. We all have the right to be heard but none of us have the right to make each other listen. This is some thing that most people don't usually see especially when in an heated argument. What I mean is, weather or not you are trying to have the final say on the products features or if you are wanting this game title to be removed from every shelf of every store is no different from any tyrant or evil dictator trying to control the freedom of he's countries people.

Cause, while you may find the game distaste full, your long time and for the most part good neighborly neighbor might really be into these kinds of entertainment. So by taking away this game you have unintentionally taken away the freedom of your neighbor to choose to wanna play this game for them selves. And that is what a tyrant is an selfish A-hole basically. So, we all have the right to be heard but we must also use our right(s) to understand that we do not get to tell others what they can or cannot do with their own rights(Of course I'm referring to "rights" as in both the righteous sense and in the rights of any citizens. Not to the ideals of people who are really extreme i,e; Schizophrenics, Racialists, etc...)

But since I love both war games and the EA company I myself will be buying this game. So, yes I am in favor of brutal senseless C.G.I.(Computer Generated Images)killing but I am however NOT in favor of the public being able to play as "Taliban" warriors or any one single man/women or a group there of that supports the suffering and or senseless taking of innocent lives. I'm sorry but the world is to far fetched at the moment and ultimately way to immature, the USA especially, right now for these kinds of controversy's to not be controversial. I think all of these "Hot Coffee" topics just need to be ether left out, circumvented via creative disguises or incorporated slowly one at a time so that we all can take the time to understand what possible pros and cons such a decision could have on our communities, our families, and on the whole world as well.

"It is impossible for man to achieve complete greatness for he in himself is an never ending, ever expanding infinity of an almost improbable possibility." - Unknown quote and just a bit of food for thought as well =)


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