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EA under fire over MoH multi-player

Mother of Afghanistan casualty brands publisher as "disrespectful" for focusing on current war

Electronic Arts has come under fire over its decision to use the current war in Afghanistan as the location for its forthcoming Medal of Honor title, in particular the multi-player elements that allow gamers to play the part of the Taliban.

One commentator on Fox News over the weekend, the mother of a soldier killed in the conflict, explained that she felt the move was "disrespectful," while some game critics have already voiced their unease at the move.

"We've just come off of the worst month of casualties in the whole war, and this game is going to be released in October - so families who are burying their children are going to be seeing this, and playing this game," said Karen Meredith.

"I just don't see that a videogame based on a current war makes any sense at all, it's disrespectful."

The Fox News anchor acknowledged that the average age of the person expected to buy the game was 39, and EA's statement in response to the controversy was clear about the reasoning for the option.

"Medal of Honor is set in today's war putting players in the boots of today's soldier... we give gamers the opportunity to play both sides. Most of us having (sic) been doing this since we were seven - if someone's the cop, someone's gotta be the robber, someone's gotta be the pirate and someone's gotta be the alien," read a statement.

"In Medal of Honor multi-player, someone's gotta be the Taliban."

But while mainstream news channels address the subject of controversial content in videogames with some regularity - often holding the element of interactivity up as the key difference between games and other forms of portrayal - the gaming community itself has already begun to question the content, with DICE producer Patrick Liu admitting that people had a "fair point".

"Watching virtual Coalition troops gunned down by insurgents in the ruins of Kabul, I felt more than a little weird, especially since a friend lost his brother in Afghanistan only a few weeks ago," wrote Dan Whitehead in his preview of the game on

"This is a real war that is happening right now, real blood is being shed, and simulating that for fragfest fun while being rewarded for kill streaks... Well, there's just something a bit icky about that. In single-player, there can be a story that adds context and meaning to the carnage. In multi-player, it's all just for fun. At least the World War II games have the distance of history, and the fact that their conflict has been absorbed into popular entertainment for over 60 years."

"I think it is a fair point," said producer Patrick Liu when asked whether statements saying that gamers will feel uneasy playing as Taliban soldiers are fair, in the latest issue of PSM3 magazine.

"We do stir up some feelings, although it's not about the war, it's about the soldiers. We can't get away from what the setting is and who the factions are, but in the end, it's a game, so we're not pushing or provoking too hard."

Last year Konami canceled plans to release the Atomic Games title Six Days in Fallujah following a public outcry, based on similar objections.

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