Reaction to news that the newest Medal of Honor first person military shooter video game includes the Taliban as a playable faction for multiplayer matches ranges from acceptance of a realistic ripped from the headlines feature, anger over such insensitivity to soldiers fighting the real war, or-in the case of EA Boss John Riccitiello-surprise over the big hubbub.
“The controversy… kind of caught me by surprise,” John states as other sites report. It seems the public did not really notice the presence of the Taliban in the game until some journalist waved the box in front of a mother who lost her son in Afghanistan in order to generate controversy. Debates over modern warfare realism in a game versus good taste for the general public and the ethics of the news media trying to make a mountain out of a molehill for a sensationalist story to boost ratings can go hang. Instead, let us talk about the people who make up our in-game target practice.
Earlier in gaming history, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 created its own controversy with the “No Russian” mission where players played as terrorists executing Russian civilians during a casual stroll. The controversy was enough to make headlines and stir up buzz for the video game. But it managed to keep the level from being too immoral by casting the player as CIA operative infiltrating the terrorist cell to gain their trust to take them down later, the player has the option not to fire on unarmed civilians, and the violent act was no worse than playing as a sociopath beating up hookers for cash in the Grand Theft Auto games. In the end, Modern Warfare 2 sold many copies and I have not heard anyone join a terrorist cell after playing the “No Russian” level.
I cannot agree that playing as the Taliban is allegedly distasteful. Every first person shooting game requires an opposing faction as well as the option to play said opposing faction so that players can get some good multiplayer competition action. Pitting US soldiers against US soldiers would get confusing due to everyone sharing the same equipment and would it really be in better taste to pit the US military against its allies like the British SAS? Speaking of the British, how do British families feel about the players who play as Nazis and shooting the British during WWII first person shooter games? I have been playing on the Nazi side because they have better weapons in my opinion but never felt like joining the Reich.
I simply want to see a realistic video game world where people of all races, religions, and sexes can all be on equal grounds with no political correctness issues or prejudices against each other. And then I want to see them kill each other because this is just a video game and I get tired of fighting space aliens.