The Potential Perils of Basing War Games on Modern Conflicts

One member of the gaming press recently attended an Electronic Arts media briefing for the next entry in the Medal of Honor series and came away with a lot of questions.

NoAddedSugar’s Mark Cullinane attended the event in London last week, which included a question and answer session with the game’s Executive Producer Greg Goodrich. As Cullinane sat watching the admittedly impressive visuals of the game, he found himself feeling uncomfortable due to, “the simple fact that one nation’s moment of misery was being turned into an entertainment experience. And there were we, eating our danishes and supping our cranberry juice, discussing the finer points of dismembering Afghanis.”

While previous MOH titles did feature “bombastic” and “morally righteous” posturing, which the author is okay with, since World War II did feature clear enemies and a cause that was “universally considered” just, “The story of the Afghanistan conflict, which began in earnest after 9/11, is still being written, and history has not yet had time to pass judgement on the ethics of the war.”

Goodrich’s mention of EA’s deep involvement with the U.S. military and a comment that the game was based in Afghanistan because that’s where the “bad guys are” added to Cullinane’s indignation.

Cullinane wrote, “Whether EA know it or not, this is a political exercise, with the possible aim of rehabilitating the US military.”

He summed up:

EA may just be sleepwalking into a massive public relations disaster here- and if our worst fears about the game’s tone and content are realised, it will be utterly deserved. When it comes to grave questions like war and peace, the one crime worse than historical revisionism is attempting to tell a story that has yet to be fully written. This game may be guilty of both.

Much more on the subject at NoAddedSugar.

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  1. 0
    Vengful_Soldier says:

    And both sides understood that. Whats better is that this universal cause, was only discovered after the Allies entered Poland and Germany. The even better part, even after World War II, most German civilians didn’t know about the camps until they ever got into an argument with a Allied soldier.

  2. 0
    Spartan says:

    To hell with the PC crowd and their FUD!

    Gaming should address social issues just like all other forums of media. If people dont like it FUCK’em they dont have to buy it.


    "The most difficult pain a man can suffer is to have knowledge of much and power over little" – Herodotus

  3. 0
    chadachada321 says:

    That part was what irked me the most. Most soldiers were just that, the common soldier, fighting for their country. There was probably huge propaganda compaigns, too, to make it seem like invading France/Poland was really an okay thing to do, and the Americans WERE the ones invading the now-enlarged German Empire…To the average soldier, they were just doing their job, whether they liked it or not.

    -Optimum est pati quod emendare non possis-It is best to endure what you cannot change-

  4. 0
    Bennett Beeny says:

    "While previous MOH titles did feature “bombastic” and “morally righteous” posturing, which the author is okay with, since World War II did feature clear enemies and a cause that was “universally considered” just…"

    Yeah, ‘cos every German and Italian soldier was a Jew-gassing Nazi, who volunteered to fight for fascism, right?

  5. 0
    TBoneTony says:


    also I seem to remember that when the Vietnam war broke out that the music industry really grew up towards being a medium that is more than just listening to music and started to really speak about the real tough issues of war.

    Even then, there were always people who did not want the music industry to make songs about the Vietnam war because they were so depressing and that, but isn’t this the same here?

    Videogame Industry of today is allot like the music industry from the late 60’s and early 70’s where it is starting to emerge to talk about serious issues of today and you always have a few people who are afraid for that medium to take that next step…but everything else has been though that, or else we would not have had movies and books based on 9/11 or even on the Afganastan war either.


  6. 0
    Neeneko says:

    I would say the even greater crime is avoiding telling the story at all, which it looks like they are willing to do.

    There is value, esp from a historical perspective, of looking at how people are seeing the narrative of a war as it is happenening.  If nothing else, it says something about how we want (in a rather fantasy sense) the war to play out.

  7. 0
    Shahab says:

    Eh, I am of middle eastern descent and nearly half of my family is Muslim, although I’m not. I don’t have any problem with them releasing this game. We have freedom of speech in this country still, as long as they don’t incite riot or harm against people of middle eastern descent then they should be allowed to release any game they want. If the public dissapproves they won’t buy it and EA won’t release such a game again.

  8. 0
    TBoneTony says:

    We see things in the world that we are uncomfortable with…

    and yet we accept them as reality…

    We see things in a videogame that resemble what we are uncomfortable in reality…

    and yet we try to hide that reality by trying to talk down the creative credit of the game…

    From the horrors of war, to the scares of rape and abuse…

    and yet nothing we can do will never erase what has been done in reality…

    You can ban games, ban movies, ban books and even music that delves into those sorts of realities…

    But all you are really trying to do by banning things is trying to pretend that those realities don’t exist in your mind…

    Like a child…trying to pretend that the world is a happy place will only bring horror in the world when that reality is being foced onto yourself…

    And yet, we can’t face those true realities because we don’t try to grow up and understand that they do exist…

    One way of growing up is to accept that these realities do exist…

    and to play them within a game is to aknowlage and prepare for those realities in the name of fun and enjoyable entertainment…

    Even when it is not fun and enjoyable, it could instead be thought provoking and moving either on a blissful level or even on a distrubing level…

    But to deny the game for trying to delve into a tough issue that disturbs you also denys all the creative process of what this game tries to be…

    In the end, we need to say to ourselves…

    We enjoy games for what they are, no matter how disturbing they might be…

    And when we get to that stage where we are disturbed, we can bring ourselves back by saying that it is only a game…

    Because a game is fantasy that you can chose to turn off…but reality is what these people have to live with and to understand that makes us more human than someone who tries to shut off all disturbing things in the world from themselves…

    We can accept that these things do happen, and that we can’t do anything about them, but what we can do is that we can play though the games and feel like we can make a difference or at least understand what it is really like to be in that situration whether we play on the side of good or evil.


    ok, I am just ranting here, did anyone make any sense of this?


  9. 0
    Avalongod says:

    With all due respect, all of these individuals (involved in the murder of an Iraqi girl) have been convicted or pleaded guilty in the *US* system.

    The murderous, wrongful and illegal actions of these soldiers is certainly deplorable.  However, this their actions were not part of an organized strategy on the part of the US military (I know, cue the conspiracy theories).

    This, weighed against an organized strategy of terrorist bombings targetted by civilians, *endorsed* by the leadership and Al Qaeda.  I’m sorry, there’s just no equivalence there.  I think we all know that in every war, some soldiers are going to commit attrocities on all sides (even American soldiers in WWII did).  What makes one side the "bad guys" is when the organization itself not plans, leads, finances and subsequently brags about those attrocities.   

  10. 0
    Afirejar says:

    "When it comes to grave questions like war and peace, the one crime worse than historical revisionism is attempting to tell a story that has yet to be fully written."

    Pretty ironic complaint to make in an opinion piece about a game that won’t be out for another five months.

  11. 0
    Avalongod says:

    I get what the author is saying…but…didn’t a fellow inspired by the Pakistani Taliban just try to blow up civilians in New York?

    Weren’t the 9/11 terrorists supplied, trained and funded by the Al Qaeda organization sheltered in Taliban Afghanistan…the same Taliban fighters I would imagine are the "bad guys" in the CoD game?

    Aren’t these the guys who regularly oppress their own women and girls, torture and kill their own civilians and plan terrorists strikes against civilian targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and elsewhere?

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for cultural sensitivity, and I’m certainly not saying the vast majority of Afghanis are bad….but what exactly do the Taliban have to do before we can safely label them the "bad guys?"


  12. 0
    Roh02 says:

    heaven forbid someone actually chimes in on a subject while its still relevant we should all just wait until nothing matters and our opinions mean nothing and certainly wont shape our own future that would be terrible.

    urghh the news reports this stuff while it happens what are we supposed to do? keep our mouths firmly shut and never let anyone (big company or one person) ever express themselves (good or bad right or wrong its beside the point).

    your offended GOOD your actually feeling something about this you dont like the war? say so you do like it? say that then! but dont bitch about it when some else does it too.

    you dont like that this particular expression has an audience? so do alot of people including the guy damning this game.

    could the feel/ideology of the game be wholely wrong? yup it certainly could be but thats part an parcel of personal opinions and giving voice to them before the full picture is revealed people WILL look back on this if you want them to see the full picture you have to let them see how it all unfolded the lies the truthes the wrongs the rights etc etc.

    in short … your "opinion" is duly noted now piss off. 

  13. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ya like the lastest war films are so much better? How about instead of focusing on "dismembering Afghanis" or violence thats the core of action media…. why not focus on the ambiance of begin a soldier or the story? Sure you can rip it for being crap media but the moment you diss it as a game you are being needlessly retarded.

    Random dant

    Context bitches CONTEXT, the use of the word  retarded,gay,bitch or even ni**er is not mandatoryerly racists,sexist or "ist" aginst whatever group who gets their panties in a wad over every damn small and little thing…….god damnit people….grow the fuck up….

    Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! CP/IP laws should not effect the daily life of common people!

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