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Military Stores Ban  Medal of Honor  Despite Removal Of Taliban Name
Military Stores Ban Medal of Honor Despite Removal Of Taliban Name
October 6, 2010 | By Simon Parkin

October 6, 2010 | By Simon Parkin
More: Console/PC

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service has stated its renewed intention to prohibit the sale of EA's forthcoming Medal of Honor from military stores.

The game, which focuses on the current conflict in the Middle East allowing players to assume the role of both U.S. Forces and their opponents, attracted controversy in recent weeks following accusations that its subject matter is disrespectful to American soldiers in active service.

As a result EA made the decision to replace the word "Taliban" as a side in the multiplayer mode of the game with "Opposing Force", a decision executive producer Greg Goodrich said was driven by "feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers."

Following these changes, the AAFES announced that it was "engaged in a thorough review to fully understand the extent of the modifications." However, last night it became clear the changes to the game do not go far enough to address the group's concerns.

“Out of respect to those touched by the ongoing, real-life events presented as a game, Exchanges will not be carrying this product,” AAFES Commander Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella said in a statement.

“While we regret any inconvenience this may cause, our position is consistent with the direction stated a month ago. I expect the military families who are authorized to shop the Exchange are aware, and understanding, of the decision not to carry this particular offering.”

EA Senior Public Relations Manager Amanda Taggart said, in response to the decision: "We respect AEFES' authority to decide what's best for their customers. EA has not asked for, and does not expect, a change in the Defense Department's decision to restrict the availability of Medal of Honor on bases."

Nevertheless, the news will come as a disappointment to the developer. Goodrich told Gamasutra last week that ensuring the game was respectful "keeps me up at night".

"I truly believe that our intent is to honor that community, to honor those individuals [soldiers]," Goodrich said. "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. 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."

However, it seems as though EA's changes will appease nobody. While the AAFES remains unconvinced that the modifications made to the game make it respectful, the publisher has endured stinging attacks from some within the industry, who claim the decision to backtrack on the use of the word 'Taliban' reveals the immaturity of the medium in comparison to cinema, which routinely tackles difficult subject matter from similar angles.

Game designer and writer Ian Bogost is among the most vocal opponents of the decision and, in a column for Gamasutra titled "Free Speech Is Not A Marketing Plan", described the publisher's dismissal of the importance of the Taliban's inclusion in the first-person shooter as one made out of "commercial political convenience, precisely the sort of hedge that undermines free speech protections by distancing them from earnest contributions to public ideas."

"Will commercial video games ever care enough about the world they share with war and sex and crime and brutality to want to speak about those issues in earnest, in public, in spite of the negative reactions or even in order to elicit those negative reactions?" the game designer asked.

"Or will they merely want to sell bits and plastic at $60 a go, any one just as good as the last -- so long as its Metacritic scores hold up?"

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Andrzej Rylski
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Well, the publisher may now freely put Talibans back. To hell with the political correctness.

Alan Rimkeit
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True that, the military commanders just did a d*ck move. They all claim to be fighting for Freedom of Speech but then when it comes to protecting it, well, it is not so much in practice. Because protecting Freedom of Speech means protecting the most odious of us all. O.o

Tomiko Gun
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Put the Taliban back EA!

My brother is serving in Afghanistan right now in the front lines and he doesn't care about their inclusion, he will still buy this game. Those are the people affected by this, the only opinions that matter, and not the stupid generals managing their crap arse stores.

Mark Venturelli
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Jasper W
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How inapropriate... My brother is facing real Shoryuken right now.

Matt Marquez
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Did your brother already defeat Sheng Long?

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This just made my day.

Tim Carter
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A touch of cognitive dissonance there.

You need to respect your enemy, even if they are your enemy. That means looking at the fight through their eyes.

Ujn Hunter
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Do people who shoot people in real life really want to play a game that involves shooting people in the first place?

Stephen Strull
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I worked for in an AAFES facility for 2 years on a military base in Germany.

I would never change anything on account of AAFES, they like to blow things out of proportion.

And as far as the Taliban, calling the Taliban what they are is NOT disrespecting them. It's calling them what they are. Bottom line.

AAFES needs to spend their time taking care of more important matters, such as making sure their employees get there entitled pay raise(i.e. I have 2 family members that worked for AAFES and they never got there every 6th month raise after years and neither did I). Plus they need to drop their ridiculous prices in their exchange stores.

Aaron Casillas
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I wonder if they're really upset because they weren't consulted? hmmmm

Lo Pan
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The cynical side of my thought this 180 degree decision was financially motivated by EA. It is a ironic that their mela culpa failed and the game is still banned. Someone at EA needs to be looking for a new job...

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Not EA's fault, though they still should've left the name alone. They simply tried to appease people who were "hurt" by the word Taliban, which is btw dumb.

Todd Boyd
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Well, did changing some text on the screen REALLY affect the game's overall message? I think not. If it was banned before "Taliban" was removed, I'm not surprised it's banned afterward.

John Corey
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I fear this controversy will be blamed as the cause of the game's poor sales. From reading what people who have played the multiplayer (on Steam recently), it's just not that fun of a game.

Gregory Kinneman
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I shudder to think that last year's Oscar award for best picture went to The Hurt Locker, a very grim movie about the war in Iraq. I wonder if they prohibited those DVDs at the Army & Air Force Exchange Service as well.