Sep 8, 2010 10:29 PM by Alison Haynes
WASHINGTON (AP) - Military bases across the U.S. have banned the
sale of a new video game that lets a player pretend to be a Taliban
fighter and "shoot" U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Gamers are scoffing at the decision, saying that advanced
technology has made it commonplace in the gaming world to let
players switch sides and play the bad guy.
"Medal of Honor" by Electronic Arts, a major game developer
based in Redwood City, Calif., hits stores Oct. 12.
After public protests, including by British Defense Secretary
Liam Fox, U.S. military officials decided not to stock the game in
any of the nearly 300 base exchange shops.
The game also won't be sold at any of the 49 GameStop stores
located on various military bases. Troops will be allowed to own
copies, but they would have to buy them off-base.
"We regret any inconvenience this may cause authorized
shoppers, but are optimistic that they will understand the
sensitivity to the life-and-death scenarios this product presents
as entertainment," said Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella, who commands the
Army & Air Force Exchange Service, which oversees more than 180
base exchange shops.
Casella made the decision last week, with the Navy quickly
following suit. Kathleen Martin, a spokeswoman for the Navy
Exchange Service Command, said the game won't be sold at any of the
Navy's 104 exchange shops "out of respect for the men and women
serving and their families."
Past versions of the 11-year old "Medal of Honor" game have
been set in World War II, allowing players to act as either members
of the Allied force or the Nazi regime.
The latest version is set in modern Afghanistan, where some
140,000 U.S. and NATO troops are fighting the Taliban. The story is
told through a small group of characters known as "Tier 1"
operators, elite fighters who take their orders directly from the
president and defense secretary.
"Operating directly under the National Command Authority, a
relatively unknown entity of hand-picked warriors are called on
when the mission must not fail," according to an online
description of the video game by Electronic Arts.
The website does not advertise the fact that the multiplayer
version allows a player to role-play as a member of the Taliban.
One online promotion features video interviews with Special
Operations personnel who the company says served as consultants to
improve the authenticity of the game. The faces of the men
interviewed were blurred and their names not given.
"By me being a part of it, I at least have some say on how the
community is represented," one man says.
Britain's Fox said last month that he was "disgusted and
angry" by what was a "tasteless product." Fox called on
retailers to show their support for the troops by not selling it.
"At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and
wives have lost husbands," Fox said. "It's shocking that someone
would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban
against British soldiers."
Electronic Arts did not immediately respond to a request for
comment. Spokeswoman Amanda Taggart was quoted last month by the
Sunday Times as saying video gamers routinely play both good guys
and bad guys.
"Most of us have been doing this since we were 7: Someone plays
cop, someone must be robber," the newspaper quoted her as saying.