An EA spokesman doesn't think the decision to rename Medal of Honor's Taliban multiplayer faction is that big of a deal.
When it was revealed that EA decided to include the Taliban as a playable faction in the upcoming Medal of Honor reboot's multiplayer mode, people were upset. It's not surprising that Jack Thompson jumped to bash the game for this feature, but even military bases banned the game from being sold on their property. The resulting controversy caused EA to rename the Taliban to "Opposing Force," much to the ire of those believing in free speech, but EA defends the recent change by pointing out that it's incredibly minor.
Starting on October 4, EA will be holding an open beta just so that everyone can see that Medal of Honor's gameplay hasn't changed one bit. EA spokesman Jeff Brown told Kotaku: "The reason we're posting the multiplayer demo next week is so people can judge for themselves. Does changing one word in the menu screen have any impact on the actual play of the game that takes place in Afghanistan?"
"The only thing that has changed is one seven-letter word in the menu screen," he added. "There is not a single pixel or frame that is changed."
However, Brown is confounded over the controversy. He continues: "If you could place a fiction in Afghanistan in a book or in a movie or in a TV show or other contemporary work , then why draw an artificial distinction of 'but not in a video game?'" Despite the name change, he says it's "pretty clear who is fighting who" due to the game's location.
It seems like Medal of Honor developer Danger Close just can't win. Including the Taliban led to a huge controversy. Removing the Taliban led to another controversy. The studio created a game with a story about a realistic modern conflict, but also wanted to include a multiplayer feature that has made titles like Modern Warfare 2 so popular, so what were they to do, feature a multiplayer mode with only American soldiers killing each other? Would that have been okay with those upset over players being able to play as soldiers labeled "Taliban?"
I've got to admit, to make such a recent conflict into the "fun" of a multiplayer game does feel a little weird, but just because it's modern I'm not sure it should be off limits to game developers. After all, it's not an American soldier murder simulator, it's a game based on a real, ongoing conflict. It's immature to say that any piece of media can't explore both human sides of a war.
Medal of Honor will be released on October 12 for the Xbox 360, Playstation 3, and PC.