Patterico's Pontifications


Some Interesting Background on Medal of Honor (the Game)

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:37 pm

[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.]

13 Responses to “Some Interesting Background on Medal of Honor (the Game)”

  1. We’ve always produced “entertainment” in the midst of wars. After all, what else is “Casablanca” ?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  2. The problem is unlike say German or even Russian troops, we don’t consider the Taliban as honorable
    soldiers, more like terrorists

    ian cormac (6709ab)

  3. Of course the other controversial thing about it is that they are turning a real live shooting war into entertainment.

    Weren’t there movies about WWII released during WWII?

    Fritz (3036f6)

  4. Manufactured outrage.

    Counter-Strike, Rainbow6, Battlefield 2 have been out since 2000 and a bit later, using various terror factions for when you play the bad guys. Some bad guys you play are commies, some are obviously Islamic. “Tango Down!”

    Much ado over nothing.

    SGT Ted (fa9b46)

  5. This commenter says gamers could be Nazis or Russians, too, so it’s part of the tradition? As you say, though, we still have soldiers at war, so perhaps they should have thought of this but are now trying to rectify the situation.

    Patricia (9b018a)

  6. Any simulation of a historic clash between good guys and bad guys has this problem: somebody has to take the bad guy side.

    American Civil War: somebody has to be the Confederates.

    American Revolution: somebody has to be the British.

    World War II: somebody has to be the Axis.

    Cops and robbers: somebody has to be the robbers.

    Rich Rostrom (f7aeae)

  7. (grin)

    Or …

    American evolution: somebody has to be the Revolting Americans.

    (Disclaimer: Yes, I am Scots)

    Alasdair (205079)

  8. (SIGH)

    “American Revolution” !

    Alasdair (205079)

  9. As someone who regularly plays wargames, the physical kind with chits as well as the board and video game kind, I was baffled by the amount of controversy this caused.

    Wargames have a long tradition of presenting multiple sides for use in analyzing and experiencing particular military engagements.

    Looking at MoH, one might initially be offended that players can play Taliban forces during multiplayer because these players are playing our enemy. That’s one way to look at it.

    Another way to look at it, and this is especially true if the area maps simulate the environment at all, is that our current serving service members have a useful tool where through rigorous pvp play, they can test the tactics of our enemy in realistic environments with realistic results.

    We shouldn’t shy away from these things.

    Christian (c92ec1)

  10. Alasdair, on a thread about a GOP Congressional candidate in NY who has been (in the past) photographed wearing a Wehrmacht/Nazi uniform from some WW-2 re-enactment, I mentioned that in every game of “Cowboys and Indians”, someone has to play the “Indian”; where, I think, the primary qualification is to be a good “die’er”.

    AD-RtR/OS! (0b4928)

  11. During 20 years in the Navy, the opposition forces were always Orange, like it was fooling anybody.

    Should of named the opposing force the DNC.

    Gerald A (3e2219)

  12. Interesting, thanks for those of us that don’t game. It does seem like playing the terrorist angle could be a little weird. The guy on the box art looks a ZZ Top escapee.

    My yoot’ had very cheesy games. Chutes & Ladders, Mystery Date, Operation. etch-a-sketch was uptown.

    Vermont Neighbor (ffe6ea)

  13. If I recall correctly, America’s Army was unique in Multi-player shooters in that you always played an American and your opponent was always an op-for, taliban, iraqi, or whatever.

    No matter which team you were on you always saw yourself and your teammates as American soldiers and your opponent as taliban (or whatever). Personally, I loved that since I was never wild about playing the taliban (in Modern Warfare 2) and shooting at American Marines or Soldiers. It nagged the back of my mind more than shooting Aussies, Brits, Ruskies, and Yanks in the WWII Shooters.


    Kalroy (62528b)

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