UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox has stated that stores should refuse to stock the forthcoming Medal of Honor (PC, PS3, Xbox 360) because the game allows players to kill British troops as the Taliban.
The first-person shooter is out in October, but has already caught the attention of the media for its inclusion of the Taliban as playable characters. Fox is the first truly big political name (in the UK, at least) to wade in. Here’s what he had to say:
“It’s shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban. At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands. I am disgusted and angry. It’s hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product.”
Even though I find the Taliban to be reprehensible in many ways, I find Fox’s views utterly bizarre and blinkered. Here is a man who believes a simple videogame has some tangible link with real life, as though by shooting a polygonal figure on a screen people are somehow indoctrinated with the Taliban’s own warped ideology, or are making a statement about their allegiances in a real war.
Furthermore, isn’t it terribly strange that Fox is resorting to censorship, a popular tactic of – yes! – the Taliban? Perhaps that kind of arrogance comes easily to a man who thinks he can tell everybody else what it is to be “un-British”.
I don’t think Medal of Honor‘s nose is completely clean – perhaps there’s something to be said about publisher EA’s decision to exploit an existing war for profit – but Fox’s assertions are from Bizarroland.
For what it’s worth, EA offered the following response, and it’s one I can only applaud:
“The format of the new Medal of Honor game merely reflects the fact that every conflict has two sides. We give gamers the opportunity to play both sides. Most of us have been doing this since we were seven: someone plays the cop, someone must be robber. In Medal of Honor multiplayer, someone’s got to be the Taliban.”