The newest reboot of the game, set in current day Afghanistan, allows a player to take the role of the Taliban and shoot US soldiers in the multi-player part of the game. No problem, says EA's Amanda Taggart "Medal of Honor is set in today's war, putting players in the boots of today's solder. We give gamers the opportunity to play both sides. Most of having been doing this since we were seven. If someone's the cop, someone gotta be the robber, someone's gotta be the pirate and someone's gotta be the alien. In Medal of Honor multiplayer, someone's gotta be the Taliban." The game is a problem to me; my only child, 1Lt Ken Ballard was killed in combat in Iraq in 2004..
Last week, when I heard about the details of this game and the ability to be the Taliban and shoot US soldiers, I was shocked at the insensitivity to releasing this game as our members of the military fight and die in Iraq and Afghanistan. This game trivializes the training and the service of members of the military. Not surprisingly, a quick review of the executives at EA reveals none have served in the military. Most important, the release of the newest version of Medal of Honor at this time shows how far removed EA and the other 99% of our country is from the 1%, the military and their families who carry the heavy burdens of these wars. We, who have been affected by the war think about the war every day versus those who never (have to) give the war a thought.
Although I am not advocating for a ban of this game, First Amendment and all, I would be satisfied if MOH is pulled. This is not without precedence. In 2004, Sony pulled a game called "Shock and Awe", apologizing and calling it "an exercise of regrettable bad judgment." In 2009, Konami Games pulled their support of a game being developed by Atomic Games, called "Six Days in Fallujah", based on the one of the bloodiest battles in Iraq for both Americans and Iraqi civilians. If my speaking out causes people to think about the war, I'm okay with that. If my speaking out causes people to question the intentions of these type of games or to question their values in playing such games, I'm okay with that, too.
Gamers are a surly lot when they feel threatened about their choice of video games. They feel entitled to graphically and vocally express their opinion, although my opposing opinion has frequently been called ignorant, just talking crazy, stupid, and disgusting and worse; the testosterone is palpable. I have also been instructed to "shoot myself in the head over and over", "Kill myself" and "If she doesn't like the game she should not play it". To be fair there are a few enlightened and empathetic voices, but they are the minority. It makes you wonder who plays these first person shooter games.
The hate and nasty name calling that has been directed at me is interesting and disturbing at the same time. I might remind the gamers that I have already had the worst day of my life, so these sticks and stones cannot and do not hurt me. It just validates the level of and lack of maturity.
Let's lay out some facts, so that if anyone feels inclined to dismiss my opinion, they won't need to use these as their argument.
- My son, 1Lt Ken Ballard did volunteer to serve his country in the Army and did so with honor
- I will never get over his death
- My son was killed in Iraq, not Afghanistan
- I do not play video games, especially those that involve killing- anyone.
- I will not be buying or playing Medal of Honor or any game that involves killing- anyone.
- I believe in the First Amendment, the Freedom of Speech
- I do not want Medal of Honor banned
- I have watched the trailer for MOH
My message to the executives of Electronic Arts is not a request to ban the game. It is a request to understand and acknowledge the controversy and hurt they have caused to the many families of the fallen. The cavalier responses from their PR staff are patronizing and arrogant, not in line with their stated values of "Think of Consumers First" and listening and responding. The values page on Electronics Arts website also asks “What must we do to be our best?” If Medal of Honor is EA’s best, then they have failed. EPIC fail!
I have respectfully requested a meeting with Electronic Arts. Although I am not hopeful for a response, just in case, I'll let you know.