[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; adapted from a post at my blog]
Okay, I am really going to earn by geek card today, by talking about video games. But these days video games are getting to be big business, and a bastion of straight-forwardly patriotic entertainment when Hollywood is incapable of producing very many movies that portray our current wars in a positive light. One huge success has been Activison’s Call of Duty: Modern Warfare series.
So EA games decided they wanted to try to match that success by rebooting their Medal of Honor series. Here’s their official box art:
And after months of anticipation, and controversy, the game has arrived, to thoroughly mixed reviews. But Marc Ambinder discusses some of the expert consultation in the game. It’s good to know they are investigating something over there other than Sarah Palin’s womb, and joking aside it’s an interesting piece.
The controversy, meanwhile, was over the fact that you could play in multiplayer as either the U.S. forces, or the Taliban. Yeah, that’s right, you can pretend to be our enemies, shooting our soldiers. I mean of course we have had that for years in other games, but I don’t believe it had ever been done in a war we were currently fighting. They have since renamed the Taliban in multiplayer as the “opposing force.”
But I also have to suspect that the controversy was manufactured. I remember a few years ago the Army made a game called “America’s Army” which was exclusively multiplayer, American soldiers v. terrorists. But this being from the U.S. Government, it was unacceptable to allow players to pretend to shoot our soldiers. So the army came up with an eloquent solution. If you were on team A, you were told you were in the army, and your teammates would look like United States soldiers, while everyone on team B looked like terrorists. But if you were on team B, you were also told you were in the army, all your teammates would look like soldiers, while everyone one team A looked like terrorists. So both sides believed they were the U.S. Army, killing terrorists, at the same time.
Now these America’s Army games were a pretty big success. Are you telling me no one at EA knew about it, and how it might be used here? Color me skeptical.
Of course the other controversial thing about it is that they are turning a real live shooting war into entertainment. That is obviously a questionable concept.
[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]