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The Meaning Of Medal Of Honor

October 1, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

On that note, Medal of Honor itself deals with a real-world current conflict.

GG: Yeah. Absolutely.

When you look at what's going on in Afghanistan right now, it's just a complete mire. It's a terrible situation. How do you deal with making this a game that's enjoyable to play, but also respectful and not exploitative?

GG: Oh, yeah. Yeah. You know, it keeps me awake at night. This is historical fiction, so it's much in the vein of a movie like Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers. These are fictional characters in a historical event.

We're focusing on those individuals. We're focusing on the characters. We're focusing on the individual soldier and telling their story from that point of view, and the war is a backdrop.

Obviously, it's a current war, and although it's a backdrop, it's still something that's really going on. We're focusing on the first part of that conflict, the initial push.

Medal of Honor has always been rooted in authenticity and respect for the soldier, but it's also always been devoid of politics or political discussion or debate.

For this game, I don't care why they're there. It's a matter of, “They're there. Let's support them. Let's get behind them, let's get them home.” So, like I said, we focus on those guys. We focus on the men and women of the armed services who are there doing the work -- keeping everything else out of it.

I've not said this yet to anybody, and there's not a PR person here telling me not to say it, but I do think about it a lot. I do lose sleep. Other people are always looking for something to say about it.

I truly believe that our intent is to honor that community, to honor those individuals. Truly, I think if people play our game, if they play it from beginning to end and they see what we've done, the character arc and what goes on and how they're dealing with it to the very end, I think people will get it and understand and say, "Oh, yeah. Okay. I see now."

It's really hard for me to sit and just try to explain it, but it's just we've spent a lot of time with these guys. When you work with the U.S. military, when you work with these Tier 1 operators, you realize they have given up so much, and it's so contradictory to their nature to even speak to anybody in any form of media. They shy away from the camera. They're quiet professionals. They would just assume you'd leave them the fuck alone. But since they have given so much, the burden is on us to make sure we do it right, to honor that community.

So we've spent a heck of a lot of time making sure we don't do anything stupid, and that we do it with the right tone.

I'm sure you paid close attention to the fallout over projects like Six Days in Fallujah.

GG: Yeah. Absolutely.

Did you take anything from that?

GG: Well, I think we've always approached it in the sense that it's not about the war itself. We've not approached as a game about Afghanistan, or a game about Al Qaeda. This is not a game about the Taliban. This is not a game about local tribal militias or warlords. It's a game about a group of individuals who are in this place, doing their job, and we want to tell their story from that viewpoint.

I think it really struck home early on when I was in a discussion with one of the operators, and someone kept asking him about Al Qaeda, about the enemy, and about all these things, and he said, "Hey, look. This has absolutely nothing to do with that. What I do has absolutely nothing to do with a hate for the enemy in front of me. It has everything to do with the love of the brother I have behind me."

That really became our marching orders -- to focus on that relationship. Focus on that community. Tell that story. I think it served us really well. I mean, I'm a little biased.

When you've decided to tell a story outside of broader political or military implications, have you found it challenging to give the player a cohesive storyline that gives a context for the smaller-scale narrative being told?

GG: Yeah. Absolutely. But we have the two sides of the coin. We have the sledgehammer, and we have the scalpel -- that's the Rangers and the big military, and the Tier 1 operators.

But there's an event that is occurring [in the game's plot]. Everyone in our narrative is focused on one common goal and one event that has taken place. We're not hopping around from place to place. Everyone is focused on a common goal. It's like a relay race. One character hands off the baton to the next one, and they carry it for a bit, and they hand it off to the next one.

Quite honestly and frankly, during the time at which we are focusing on this conflict -- the very first part of the Afghanistan conflict -- it was a much clearer mission. There were bad guys there, and these guys went in to find those guys. But things change.

They say no plan survives first contact with the enemy, and we show that. We show it from multiple viewpoints in our game. We show it from the players' actions you experience as the player. We show it through the eyes of the NPCs, the guys in your unit. And then we show it once removed, from the command and control structure.

We found that one's viewpoint on how a war is unfolding or how a conflict is developing is pretty directly related to how that person is to having lead slung at them. We show that, and we show the guys on the ground versus the command and control. I think it's pretty interesting. Only time will tell. Your readers will certainly let us know, for sure.

When you refer to this central event, is it a historical event or a fictional event?

GG: It's a fictional event inspired by a historical event. When the guys came in, they told us a lot of stories and showed us a lot of pictures. We sat down a lot to listen to them and what they went through, and then we crafted a narrative around it. It's an amalgam of a bunch of different things that has happened, but there is one event that is taking place. That's the story.

Article Start Previous Page 3 of 3

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Excellent read. Was a big fan of it back in the day, and loved it at E3.

Andrew Grapsas
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W00t! Totally deserved shout out right away to Kevin. He's the man with the plan. That guy is amazing.

Rob Allegretti
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Way to go, caving in to political pressure.

Removing the 'Play As Taliban' feature is like acknowledging censorship. Like saying "We don't want to offend anyone with this game where you slaughter hundreds of people in a single sitting, so we'd better only let you play as a good ol' red-blooded 'Merican!"

Nazis are fine, but no Taliban, no siree!

Not cool, EA.

Ran Gat
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EA has already lost hundreds of military stores and was heavily criticized.

Some people get offended and some are just looking to slander EA.

I think if one of my family members were involved or god know injured or killed it would make me uncomfortable.

This decision is quite understandable.

Rob Allegretti
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It's not understandable. That was a key component of the game (as with most shooters).

How many multi-player shooters have you ever played where you weren't able to participate as both the 'good guys' and the 'bad guys'? Is the new MOH now going to be co-op only? Or will it be Americans vs Americans?

How are Nazis (who killed 6 million+ people because of their beliefs) less offensive than a third-world country's police force (which supposedly harbors a man who killed 5,000 or so)?

There's no logic behind it, it's just bad politics.

Andrew Hsu
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I agree with Rob, EA isn't doing this out of respect, EA is doing this in fear of potential lost profit...

I find it disrespectful, for EA to cave into to pressure and censor the game, why even bother with the whole Afghanistan current day setting anymore if, like Rob said, a key component is just going to be white-washed into some vague sinister bogeyman rather than what it really is?

I think this is a major step back for video games to become a serious medium of expression, rather than just entertaining time wasters...

Ran Gat
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theres much to lose than to gain for EA.

first, its all right for EA to be concerned how it will affect the profits, they invested a lot in the game in various areas such as research and two studios developing the game and they are trying to rebuild a franchise that has a very strong competition.

Second, I don't think its step back for video games. The industry is already suffering from self-righteous people who are trying to gain attention (or worse political attention) by attacking the industry that has a lot of challenges. why give those people more reasons to go public and influence parents or those who are already intimidated by video games?

And last, I do think EA are empathic (even if little) for the families that find it offensive.

For me its only a highly polished FPS that tries to give a new but familiar single player campaign as a tier 1 soldier and a solid multi player experience. I don't care who I fight as long as the story is engaging and I don't care in what country or region the fighting takes place. As long as the game is good I will buy it.

Theres a lot of pros and cons but I really believe EA did the right thing. I just hope this game will be damn good.


Ran Gat
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BTW - the only disappointment I have with EA that they did not foresee the criticism. EA should have the skills and experience to prevent this controversies from happening.

They maybe should had brand the game as a tier 1 experience in different war settings instead of fighting the Taliban. But of course everybody is smart in retrospect.

But maybe they did it on purpose, what can they lose, in the worst case they are gaining some media attention...... who knows.

Lance Burkett
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Why should the game be toned down for people who aren't even going to play the game?

david paradis
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Did you actually read the article about the "Taliban" change? or did you just look at the title, and immediately come up with a reponse that will gain a reaction??

Because it was pretty clear, in this article at least:

in the very first paragraph: “feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers who have expressed concern over the inclusion of the Taliban in the multiplayer portion of our game”, all references to the Islamist terrorist group have been removed from the game’s multiplayer modes. All references will be replaced by “Opposing Force”.

Nothing is being removed from the game, the gameplay and story are exactly the same, the single player game isnt even removing "Taliban". The only change is when you are looking at the exact same character, with the exact same weapons and the exact same gameplay, it will say "opposing force".

It's not that big of a deal.

This actually makes a lot of sense, because even in the Army, when we do training, even at the huge military training centers, we do not refer to the guys playing the enemy as "Taliban"....we coincidently call them......OPFOR (short for Opposing Forces)

Having your facts straight will give your statements a lot more credibility. Without the facts, your comments are seen as overeacting and attentions grabbing.

Timothy Ford
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Kevin FTW!

D2M :(