A new video game that lets players opt to fight alongside Taliban soldiers against the US in Afghanistan has provoked outrage in Australia and abroad.
Medal of Honor , which is due to launch in October, is a multiplayer game based on an elite group of US soldiers sent to apply their unique skill sets to a new enemy in the most unforgiving and hostile battlefield conditions of present
day Afghanistan .
But the new title from Electronic Arts has incensed the military community for using an ongoing conflict as a source of entertainment, and allowing gamers to pick which side they want to fight with.
Neil James, executive director of the Australian Defence Association, said: We think it's in very bad taste . . . Australia is at war - not just the defence force - and every citizen has an obligation to not only support the Defence Force but
to be sensitive particularly to bereaved families. It's unfortunate that people think they can make money by belittling the sacrifice of others. It's also morally dangerous because it is desensitising people to the moral and strategic issues
underlying the war.
Families of US Troops serving overseas have also condemned the new game. Karen Meredith, the mother of a US soldier who died in Iraq, told Fox News: Right now we are going into a really, really bad time in Afghanistan ... this game is going to
be released in October so families who are burying their children are going to be seeing this.
The UK defence secretary, Liam Fox, has urged shops to ban a computer game where players can act as the Taliban and kill British
Fox said he was disgusted that Medal of Honour allowed people to recreate attacks on Nato forces.
An updated version of the popular game, due to be released in October, is based on the struggle between allied special forces and the Taliban with players able to choose which side they represent.
A clip on YouTube shows a Taliban soldier fighting in southern Helmand province, where UK forces are based.
Gamers are apparently instructed to stop the coalition at all costs , and receive points for every allied soldier they kill.
It's shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban, said Fox: At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands. I am disgusted and angry. 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.
A spokeswoman for the game's developer, Electronic Arts, told the Sunday Times: The format of the new Medal of Honour game merely reflects the fact that every conflict has two sides.
We give gamers the opportunity to play both sides. Most of us have been doing this since we were seven: someone plays the cop, someone must be robber.
In Medal of Honour multiplayer, someone's got to be the Taliban.
The BBFC has said it is satisfied with Medal of Honor 's 18 rating, ruling out a ban as called for by UK defence secretary Liam Fox.
Sue Clark, head of communications for the BBFC said Medal of Honor is at the lower end of the 18-and-over classification, implying the adult content in the game is not extreme, with the PEGI online classification system covering the
multiplayer activity. She added that if Medal of Honor had included British soldiers, it would not have been exceptional. The game does not involve British troops, Clark said, but there are games both in modern and historical settings
which do involve British troops.
In a statement responding to Fox's criticism, EA pointed out that the original Sunday Times story in which the comments originated contained significant inaccuracies, including the involvement of British forces. Medal of Honor does not allow
players to kill British soldiers. British troops do not feature in the game, EA said. The EA spokesperson said that although Medal of Honor will let players take on the roles of both US forces and the Taliban in multiplayer mode, multiplayer
combat often involves players fighting on either side of a conflict. Many popular video games allow players to assume the identity of enemies including Nazis and terrorists.
Offsite: Liam Fox's call for ban on Medal Of Honor is both ill-judged and un-British
The Telegraph hasn't yet received a preview copy of Medal of Honor and as far as I am aware Fox hasn't seen the game either. In a
statement released in the wake of Fox's comments, EA pointed to factual inaccuracies in the Sunday Times article over the involvement of British troops. Medal of Honor does not allow players to kill British soldiers, said an EA spokesman.
British troops do not feature in the game.
Fox has since defended his position; according to the BBC, he said the fact that players can assume the role of Taliban soldiers in the multiplayer mode is the main issue. But this sort of thing isn't unheard of in FPS multiplayers. If Medal Of
Honor is unfit for public consumption on these grounds, then what are we to make of last year's Modern Warfare 2 where the multiplayer mode cast players as South American terrorists and militia members from the army of Ira sorry, from an un-named
Middle Eastern nation. Why has nearly every WWII game with a multiplayer, in which one side of players are Nazi soldiers, been allowed to pass classification from the BBFC without comment? In light of some of these past examples, Fox's call for a
ban looks more than a little extreme.
We at Gamers' Voice, the consumer group representing the players of video games in the UK, feel you should reconsider
your statement calling for the banning of the upcoming Medal of Honor title, or at the very least properly research the issue before passing judgement on it.
Firstly, Medal of Honor is only a game. The people who play it who if retailers adhere to proper regulations and BBFC rating will only be adults aren't going to be playing as the Taliban for any ideological reason.
The fact is in the multiplayer mode of the game, someone is going to have to play the bad guy. Children have been doing it for years with games like Cops & Robbers, and Cowboys and Indians, should these be branded disgusting too?
They said it couldn't be done. But in Liam Fox have we finally found the defence secretary to make Geoff Hoon resemble Churchill? A
walking Daily Express leader column, Dr Fox appears to have surpassed even his own exacting standards of idiocy this week, by calling for a forthcoming video game set in Afghanistan to be banned.
Though the latest Medal of Honor is essentially a first-person shooter following US troops as they seek to crush the Taliban, players can take the role of the enemy in its multiplayer mode. It's shocking that someone would think it acceptable
to recreate the acts of the Taliban, Fox fumed showily. I am disgusted and angry. It's hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game.
The response from the game's manufacturer is pityingly understated. Most of us have been doing this since we were seven, it runs. Someone plays the cop, someone must be the robber. In Medal of Honor multiplayer, someone must be the
It's vaguely troubling, isn't it, that the press officer for a games company has an infinitely more rational take on the Afghan war than the secretary of state for defence.
U.S. military base exchanges have decided to not carry the controversial Medal of Honor video game.
I'm thrilled, said Karen Meredith, whose son, Lt. Ken Ballard, perished in 2004. She has set off a storm of protest against Redwood City-based Electronic Arts and its first-person shooter game, which allows players to pretend they're
Taliban fighters killing American soldiers in Afghanistan. She applauded Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella, commander of the Army and Air Force Exchange Service for the decision to keep the game out of its stores worldwide.
I've heard from people all over the world, many of them upset about this game, so at least this has started a conversation, she said. And this country needs to have a conversation about the place of violent video games in our society,
especially a game based on an ongoing war.
Due out Oct. 12, Medal of Honor has drawn accolades from gamers and has been defended even by some U.S. soldiers.
Games producer EA has decided to drop the Taliban name from Medal of Honor in the face of political pressure and requests from the friends and families of fallen soldiers.
The in-game enemy previously known as Taliban will now be called the Opposing Force.
Executive producer Greg Goodrich said:
In the past few months, we have received feedback from all over the world regarding the multiplayer portion of Medal of Honor
The majority of this feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. 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.
The video game Medal of Honor (MoH) has gone on sale despite calls by the UK defence secretary to ban it.
The game follows the exploits of Special Forces troops battling insurgents in Afghanistan in 2002.
In August, Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox called for the game to be banned after it emerged that users could fight as The Taliban.
Its developer EA said the game was meant to be realistic, but eventually renamed The Taliban The Opposition .
Fox described the game as un-British and said it was shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban against British soldiers .
The Canadian and Danish Defence Ministers also criticised the game.
EA weathered the storm for a few weeks, but in early October the firm bowed to pressure and took the term Taliban out of the multiplayer option. Despite the change, the game is still banned from sale on military bases, although troops can
purchase it elsewhere and play it on station.
The game itself has received mostly positive reviews, scoring an average of 75% according to the review aggregator site Metacritic. Computer and Video Games Magazine described it as an accomplished, confident online shooter .