Taliban controversy taking toll on Medal of Honor team's morale

The mainstream media has a nasty habit of seeking controversy from videogames. But then, developers have a nasty habit of handing them ammunition on a silver platter. Case in point: Medal of Honor's inclusion of playable Taliban characters in its upcoming reboot; a design choice that certainly fits within the context with the game, but has otherwise (and unsurprisingly) made Danger Close the target of some fairly harsh criticisms.

"I don't understand why it came when it did but it came and it hurt. It was a morale hit and everything," said executive producer Greg Goderich in an interview with CVG. "Our intentions have never been anything but honorable and this Medal of Honor game is no different than any Medal of Honor game that has come before it, in that regard, in our intent and our tone."

Defending his team, Goderich insisted that the addition of Taliban avatars is being handled with the utmost care and respect for the men and women who have lost their lives opposing them. Moreover, Goderich is confident that once gamers are privy to the entire experience, that the decision will make sense within the framework of the game's story and themes.

No doubt, the backlash has affected the studio hard, but it's the sudden appearance of the controversy that has EA brass perplexed. "We knew it had the potential for people to raise an eyebrow, but the timing was really odd,” said EA CEO, John Riccitello, adding, “I mean, we talked about the story, the modes and we talked about who the enemy was and this and that. And then the beta came out and people played it and then the beta ended and it just erupted. It was odd."

All said, this isn't about free speech in gaming or letting adults make their own choices (well, it is a bit), but more about game developers making obviously controversial decisions and acting wounded when said decisions come back to bite them in the ass. Good intentions or not, the MoH devs made a bold move, so to hope that the media wouldn't catch wind of it suggests serious lack of foresight or grenade sized cajones.

Sep 28, 2010

[Source: CVG]

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  • ScrEAMaPiLLar - September 30, 2010 5:19 a.m.

    Well don't worry, the media will run the story into the ground and then no one will care eventually.
  • SAUGAPRIME - September 29, 2010 6:15 p.m.

    I bet some taliban will try to play this game on his pc and I think that's a great way in finding out where he lives and all you have to do is go there and shoot him.
  • oryandymackie - September 29, 2010 3:20 p.m.

    I can't believe the idiocy of the people who criticise this bold move. The Taliban can't be ignored - they're out there killing UK and US soldiers every day. We depict them as confused, unskilled, skinny little men with wildly-aimed AK47s and towels around their heads. Just because Medal of Honour is giving players the chance to shoot down animated British soldiers does not mean a public vendetta should be venged against the game; this is a bold manouevre, and deserves recognition as such.
  • Lionzest7 - September 29, 2010 9:29 a.m.

    This stuff is fun, like the media has any real say in what others play. Which apparently they do since the devs are letting them. Guess freedom of expression and speech through games are always limited by a bunch of these people seeking a story.
  • JakeyBaby - September 29, 2010 7:54 a.m.

    I mean to be fair: A game takes a few years to make, and politicians lie. So case in point "We will withdraw from the war next year". "Oh, well we best get started on our game to get hold of the market early"... "Oh, you're not withdrawing yet? Well, it's kind of too late to stop this..."
  • shadowreaper72 - September 29, 2010 6:19 a.m.

    WTF? The media will target anything in hopes of gaining attention. And then anyone complain when you could kill American soldiers as Nazis in COD WAW? Did they? It just proves that the media is fucking retarded and we need people in the newstations who tell the unbiased truth, not the fucking hyprocrites that are in charge now.
  • NorthGuard - September 29, 2010 5:27 a.m.

    People just have to be pissed about something these days. I wouldn't care what anyone said if I was a dev on this project. The Us Army made a game about current conflicts for the sole purpose of recruiting young people to fight in real wars. MOH does not aim to do the same thing, it's just a game. By the way this game has been done before in a HL2 MOD, It's called Insurgency. If you don't like the game, don't buy it. People who are whining about this are so insecure that they can't get shot at in a game unless it's Germans or Russians. Then people have the nerve to complain that WW2 games are all that get done. Pitiful.
  • Cwf2008 - September 29, 2010 5 a.m.

    They should just tell the media to go fuck themselves and continue working on it. They shouldnt feel bad about it or anything
  • gunslingerbil - September 29, 2010 1:51 a.m.

    hey hey hey is US sending priests to fight in afghanistan? last time i checked there were rapists in the squad one ever complained about that before :P
  • Slayer11496 - September 29, 2010 1:40 a.m.

    Don't let this bullshit "controversy" get you down. Especially you EA,DICE the game will be great and that's what matters.
  • Lolspamm0r - September 29, 2010 12:38 a.m.

    i mean COD5, my bad
  • Lolspamm0r - September 29, 2010 12:37 a.m.

    but being a Nazi isn't as bad in COD6?
  • RebornKusabi - September 28, 2010 11:42 p.m.

    In all honesty, if the developers knew they were going to "go there" by having the Taliban as playable characters of any caliber, then they should have been ready for all of the backlash and fully be prepared to either change the game to be "less offending" or stick to their guns and deal with the press the best way they can... Respond to opposition of this games content by giving logical, rational and well-thought out counter-arguments and watch as the news media's faces explode from the idea of "logical, rational and well-thought out counter-arguments". Besides, just like Hot Coffee, Rapelay, Doom, rap music, rock music, comic books, movies, books and free thought... just like all of those, this'll all blow over once the mainstream news media finds another form of entertainment to demonize.
  • Persona - September 28, 2010 11:39 p.m.

    Fox News already exhausted Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton and every single celebrity out there, those dogs just hungry for more fuel. Shiz we need Sean Connery for this situation D:
  • eudaimo - September 28, 2010 11:34 p.m.

    A few notes. First, what are they talking about? Maybe I'm missing something, but I remember a brief half-hearted Fox News debate about it (in which even Fox defended it) and a very soft-handed decision not to sell MoH *on* army bases. Even that didn't come with an out-and-out condemnation. Again, maybe I'm missing something, but that hardly sounds like morale-crushing "controversy" to me. Second, "THORSTEINTHESTAFFSTRUCK" those are all very nice quotes, but they also happen to be pretty irrelevant. The game is coming out. It's not being censored and there has been no movement to. That hardly implicates the taking away of rights. Third, I find it odd that so many of you see no difference between a game in which act out a current conflict in which actual American soldiers die every day to WW2 shooters and hypothetical shooters like Modern Warfare. I preordered MoH. I will play it. But I certainly see how someone might feel the current conflict is a a bit too present for a "Deathmatch mode."
  • SumthingStupid - September 28, 2010 11 p.m.

    what about against nazis it is a story of these soldiers, it will be in movies books and games in the future they are just doing it now
  • Tygerclaws - September 28, 2010 10:25 p.m.

    *ring* *ring* *pick up* "Hello, media central hotline." "Yes, this is Call of Duty, and I have a complaint." "Ohh? What's bothering you, Mr. Duty?" "Well, you see, ma'am, every single one of my games has been about an historical conflict or another. Sometimes we veil them up, albeit poorly, and yet never once have WE received any backlash. What gives?" "Oh...Err...*ring* *ring* Excuse me, please hold. Hello?" "This is Brothers in Arms here, and I got a bone to pick with you." "What's troubling you, Mr. Arms?" "Yeah, yous guys fuggin' suck! I'm da most historically accurate depiction of WWII to date, where's mah controvarsy?" "Uhhh...*ring* *ring* Please hold. Hello..?" "'Eeeey! Yo, mamma jamma! This is Wolfenstein commin' atcha from '92! Where my free publicity???" *ring* *ring* "Excuse me, hold please! Yes?" "WTF IS THIS SHIT? HISTORICAL ACCURACY IN MY TEN YEAR OLD'S VIDJAGAMES??" Seriously, if anyone has a problem with this, you need your head examined. Even those who've known people who died in the Middle East. That in no way excuses you from playing other FPS's set in WWII, or any other historic wartime, because they existed no less than the current one. You can't condemn one and not all of them. That's called hypocrisy.
  • JohnnyMaverik - September 28, 2010 9:54 p.m.

    Why can't everybody just chill the fk out -_-
  • ventanger - September 28, 2010 9:50 p.m.

    You can't really use Counter-Strike as a counter-argument (hyuck hyuck), in that game the terrorists were just "terrorists", non specific, and multi-national. In this case it's Taliban, modeled after real encounters. It's the difference between Communists and Khmer Rouge, the difference between Shintoists and Kamikaze. I support the use of Taliban in games, including this one. On the other hand I worry less about the tastelessness of the developers, and more about the tastelessness of players on PSN and XBL. Every racist slur ever conceived will be thrown around, and new ones will be made just for the occasion.
  • JADENkOTOR - September 28, 2010 9:28 p.m.

    Holy Shit this is a joke. I served two tours in Iraq and lost a lot of friends over there. Trust me when I say this, we don't care. Its a video game. If anything this is good cause it may depict what some of the conflict was like. I just wish it could show what patrol was like and how kind the Iraqi people were to us troops... The first thing I will do when I pick this up, is play as the Taliban and see if I can fair better than they did in real life.

Showing 1-20 of 34 comments

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