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.
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