Politics, meet Videogames. Everybody Loses.

This is an pretty old post from my blog, which has been preserved in case its content is of any interest. You might want to go back to the homepage to see some more recent stuff.

On Sunday, Britain’s Defence Secretary Liam Fox called for the upcoming Medal of Honor game to be banned by retailers (BBC). Apparently he finds it “hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game”, which shows quite a remarkable lack of understanding of the people he is supposed to represent. And since when has there been an expectation that American games should be “British” anyway?

Apparently it is “shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban against British soldiers”. Well, in real life, maybe. But this is a game, and an 18-rated one at that, so it is played by adults that are fully capable of distinguishing between fiction and reality.

And yes, you can play as the Taliban. It’s called multiplayer. Would Mr Fox prefer that the multiplayer was Americans shooting Americans? Because that’s just as morally dubious, and also kind of dumb. No, one team plays the good guys, one team plays the bad guys. That’s the way these things work. I don’t recall politicians losing their shit about Counterstrike because zomg half the players are being terrorists! How many games have there been where you can play as a Nazi soldier in multiplayer?

I wonder if the Defence Secretary ever got the chance to play Cops and Robbers as a kid, because, you know it’s no different. One team plays the good guys, one team plays the bad guys, that’s how it works. Cops and Robbers doesn’t glorify violent crime, just as Medal of Honor doesn’t glorify the Afghan insurgency.

So Mr Fox, it would be appreciated if you could please go back to getting our real soldiers some MRAPs and some more helicopters and guns that work, and leave the rest of us to enjoy our videogames. Thank you!


Chantelle Smith 25 August 2010

Ian wrote="Would Mr Fox prefer that the multiplayer was Americans shooting Americans?"

Ahem 'Friendly' fire coughcough

Mr. Fox does realise that he represents a nation that used military force to hold sway over a quarter of the world just over a century ago, doesn't he?

I think my favorite soundbite from Mr Fox was the incredibly blinkered "At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands..." Remove the word 'Taliban', and replace it with 'British' - see what happens?

I can see why he might be worried, though. Anything which puts young members of the public in the position of Afghan fighters stands a dangerous chance of increasing empathy and/or tolerance for non-British ways of life. Then how're you supposed to persuade said young people that to go out and shoot Johnny Foreigner on command is somehow noble?

Scott Mence 25 August 2010

Politicians collaborating to enforce their ignorance on a public that doesn't even think there's a problem is the underlying flaw that reveals democracy as just the best of the bunch and not the guiding light of civilisation that some seem to be brainwashed into believing. I expect people like this to work on behalf of the people, not just arbitrarily recreate their own misguided moral compass, otherwise we're just one step closer to the next political cataclysm.Besides which, aren't the British supposed to have the least national identity in Europe (possibly the world)? I can't imagine the great sloth that is England actually caring how they are portrayed in foreign films and games, I mean, the English accent is virtually international code for evil genius right?Thanks Grand Moff Tarkin xx

Kieran Martin 25 August 2010

I'm gonna be writing about this when I get round to this, but I dissent slightly. While Liam Fox is a reactionary idiot, this is in poor taste. If MOH was making an artistic point on the war then it'd be fine, but just as an action film (ala stallone) set there would be tacky, so would a video game. Obviously banning it is wrong, but basing a game on a conflict that is still going on isn't a nice move for a major publisher in my eyes.

Frankie Dysart 25 August 2010

You also have this turnabou:t "Sun security adviser and ex-SAS hero Andy McNab called it "insensitive". He said: "The Afghanistan campaign isn't a game - it's happening."" but for a similar game last year it was "But at least one former member of the military has expressed support for the game. Andy McNab, an ex-Special Air Service commando and author of Bravo Two Zero, said the cultural attitude toward videogames in the U.S. is considerably different than in the U.K., adding that in the U.S., "Everybody has been watching it on the news for the last seven years."He also pointed out that other forms of entertainment have been used to tell stories about the war almost since it began, without suffering this kind of backlash. "In America a 90 year old and a 12 year old will know what happened at Fallujah," he said. "It's on the TV, there are books about it... so the game is a natural extension to that... it is folklore. The only difference being that it is presented in a different medium."" "

Mark Pickering 25 August 2010

i agree with mostly with what kieran said but while it is still going on you have to bare in mind the game is covering the "main conflict" (atlest that is my understanding) which is now some time ago rather than the curent incirgency aspect. but on the point about a game being reliced while a war is going on the have been one or tow in the past which have not caused this fuss true thay have all been flops but thats thats develipers issuethis is almost cirtenly due to the higtened discution due to Call of Duty with games being complained about is infact only working in the games favor becues alot of pepal will now whant to see what the fuss was about. I rember whebn i was playing CoD MW2 and found the contraveral misson (being wand of it 3 times) i was disapointed that was all games have gone alot ferver in the past i point at GTA and Saints row. but meny, who where in 2 mindes about it got it to see the contravercy its an age old patton seen with all mediasorry for the rant

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