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To ban or not to ban: the Medal of Honor controversy

This bearded soldier has sparked controversy across the world.
This bearded soldier has sparked controversy across the world.
Image courtesy of EA Games

First off, I'd like to say that none of this is meant to offend.  I'm not saying that the war is unimportant or that the Taliban are good guys by any means.  I understand the feelings of the military and by no means do I intend to offend or anger any of you who might be reading this.

Video games have long had controversial elements to them.  Medal of Honor isn't something special in that regard, but it does hit home for a lot of us, being that it's set in the current military operation in the Middle East.  It comes as no surprise that someone is upset at the game when you learn that fact.  America is more united on this war than we have been any war since World War II.

What does come as a surprise is that the violent nature of the game isn't in question, it's that you can play as the Taliban in multiplayer mode.

Now let's take a step back from the world for just a second and take a look at this from a different perspective.  Yes, the Taliban is a real force and yes, they are trying to kill American soldiers on the battlefield.  I'm not denying that.  But this is a video game.  It is purely fiction.  The war is coincidental to the game's setting and cast of characters.  EA has stated that the game is set in Afghanistan in order to make it more relatable to the consumers of the day.  If this game had been made back in the 40's (were that even possible) it would have been set in Europe during World War 2 and the Axis Powers would have been fighting against the Allies, much to the same effect but with a different set of avatar skins.

If you ask me, the people clamoring for a ban on this game are over reacting.  Hitler's novel Mein Kampf was full of racism and called for exactly what he was doing and preaching during WW2, yet it did not get banned in Allied countries even during the war.  Medal of Honor isn't calling for players to join the Taliban side because they believe in their ideals and desire to kill Americans.  It is simply that the Americans are on one side and there has to be another side to oppose them for the game to work as it should.  That the choice was the Taliban might be an unfortunate decision on EA's part, but it remains that way.  It's important to remember that the opposing force in this game is the Taliban in name only.

It speaks volumes that the main players in the argument are government and military officials.  When games like Grand Theft Auto 4 can get kids in the U.K. mugged or cab drivers in Thailand shot without our government looking twice at the matter, I have a hard time taking these people seriously when their argument is solely for their own ideals and purposes.  When I get up in arms about the violence inherent in games like Grand Theft Auto and Mafia nobody listens but all of a sudden someone names a pixel after the Taliban and now every government official is blowing their whistles and saying, "shame on you for doing that!"

In truth, that's all it is: pixels on a screen.  These are not even virtual representations of real Taliban faces killing virtual representations of real American soldiers, these are made up avatars based on generic human features (or in some cases, modeled after the developers of the game).  As I stated above, this is fiction and should be taken as such.  Especially in the military, people should be able to differentiate between fiction and reality.  A player of Medal of Honor should be able to realize that what happens in the game isn't reality and never will be.

Unfortunately, the above mentioned news stories are proving that theory wrong as well.  Maybe it's realism in movies and games, or maybe it's just how the kids were raised, but whatever the cause, people are starting to lose their grips on reality.  Crimes these days are much more creative and gruesome than they were 20 years ago thanks to popular media.  Just the other day I heard of a man who threw acid in some woman's face simply because he thought she was beautiful.  Television and movies are creating a glorified version of the criminal that make them seem too human and more likely for people to emulate.  In defense of Medal of Honor, the avatars aren't human, they are machines.  Even as another player they have a single purpose, and that single, one-dimensional purpose makes them unrelatable.

It has been proven time and again that just because something is banned doesn't mean people aren't going to get their hands on it. In fact, banning a product probably causes it to become more popular than it was before because people have the burning desire to experience it if for no better reason than to find out why it was banned in the first place.

The bottom line is this: Medal of Honor is a consumer product and it is up to the consumer to decide to buy it.  And if you're one of those people who is making a big deal over this, I've got some bad news for you: your boisterous voice is just bringing the game into the light even more. If you truly want this game to go away then just stop talking about it.  The Call of Duty franchise is much bigger right now than Medal of Honor and with Call of Duty: Black Ops set to release soon, Medal of Honor will likely fade off into nothing before long as long as the games are left to their own marketing.  Bringing this controversy to light  is causing people like me to perpetuate the conversation by having to defend EA's right to produce a game how they want.  And that only brings it to the attention of more potential consumers.

Get your gaming fix by visiting any of these stores around Anoka County for all the latest releases.


  • Anonymous 4 years ago

    I don't think anything should be banned just because it offends someone. I said "offense" can easily be avoided then it's retarded to ban it(i.e. people offended by the game don't have to play it and arent strapped to chair and forced to watch someone play it) . As for the Good Guy Bad Guy statement I think that is oversimplified, you must remember the Taliban was supported by Pakistan and the US to keep Afghanistan stable and with the recent wikileaks release of troops hunting Afghan Citzens and collecting their fingers as trophies blurs the lines even more, but having said all that it's just a game and anyone 'offended' isn't being forced to play or watch.

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