The lights are on
EA grabbed headlines when it was revealed that the two multiplayer factions in the upcoming Medal of Honor reboot were coalition forces and Taliban fighters. Enough people found the idea of players taking on the role of the real-world insurgents unpalatable enough that military bases decided to ban sales of the game in stores on military bases. EA Games president Frank Gibeau criticized the move, telling Develop magazine that he didn't understand why games were held to a different standard than other forms of entertainment, and that the company would stand its ground on the subject. “We respect the media’s views, but at the same time [these reports] don’t compromise our creative vision and what we want to do," he said.
Apparently that's changed. On a post on the game's official site, Greg Goodrich, Medal of Honor's executive producer, said that the fighters formerly known as the Taliban will now be known in-game as Opposing Force. Here's what Goodrich had to say:
In the past few months, we have received feedback from all over the world regarding the multiplayer portion of Medal of Honor. We’ve received notes from gamers, active military, and friends and family of servicemen and women currently deployed overseas. The majority of this feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. For this, the Medal of Honor team is deeply appreciative. However, we have also received 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. This is a very important voice to the Medal of Honor team. This is a voice that has earned the right to be listened to. It is a voice that we care deeply about. Because of this, and because the heartbeat of Medal of Honor has always resided in the reverence for American and Allied soldiers, we have decided to rename the opposing team in Medal of Honor multiplayer from Taliban to Opposing Force. While this change should not directly affect gamers, as it does not fundamentally alter the gameplay, we are making this change for the men and women serving in the military and for the families of those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice - this franchise will never willfully disrespect, intentionally or otherwise, your memory and service. To all who serve - we appreciate you, we thank you, and we do not take you for granted. And to the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines currently serving overseas, stay safe and come home soon.
While the company may be announcing the decision today, it's one that's been in the works for a while. During a multiplayer event on August 31, a week after the controversy broke, EA was already reconsidering its decision to include the Taliban by name. When asked about the Taliban, an EA representative cut off an attendee's question by interjecting that they were called "Opposing Force." A reviewer's guide issued shortly after the event also didn't mention the Taliban, instead sticking with the "Opposing Force" designation.
It's interesting that this could possibly be seen as an acceptable compromise. The game is set in Afghanistan, and you're clearly fighting the Taliban, regardless of how the game chooses to name the faction. Those enemies aren't uniformed military, and the U.S. military doesn't generally engage civilians in such large-scale battles. It might make commentators and pundits happy, but it does make us wonder why a change this superficial could possibly make anyone happy.
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