EA stands by Medal of Honor Taliban feature

The upcoming Medal of Honor title from EA will allow gamers to play as Taliban fighters. And some critics are unhappy about it.

Don Reisinger
Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
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Electronic Arts isn't wavering in its support of game developer DICE's decision to let gamers play as Taliban members in the upcoming Medal of Honor.

"At EA we passionately believe games are an artform, and I don't know why films and books set in Afghanistan don't get flack, yet [games] do," EA Games President Frank Gibeau told game developer publication Develop Online this week. "Whether it's 'Red Badge of Courage' or 'The Hurt Locker,' the media of its time can be a platform for the people who wish to tell their stories. Games are becoming that platform."


Gibeau acknowledged that allowing gamers to play as a Taliban solider is a "creative risk," but he won't allow media outcry to "compromise our creative vision and what we want to do."

That outcry has been gaining steam as of late. Earlier this week, U.K. Defense Secretary Liam Fox took aim at the new Medal of Honor title in an interview with the U.K.'s Sunday Times. He said that retailers should "show their support for the armed forces" and not sell the title. He went on to say that "it's shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban."

EA, which is publishing Medal of Honor, isn't breaking new ground with its desire to push the envelope of war gameplay. Last year, Konami found itself embroiled in a similar debate over Six Days in Fallujah. The company opted against publishing the game after critics took issue with the title being based on such a recent event--the infamous 2004 battle in Iraq. Critics have the same issue with Medal of Honor.

But to some extent, EA believes those critics should understand the franchise they're taking aim at. As Gibeau pointed out in his interview with Develop Online, the Medal of Honor franchise has always been set in war zones.

"That's always been a Medal of Honor concept--we put you in the boots of a solider, whether it's in the Pacific, Europe, Afghanistan; it's always been the story of the solider," he told Develop Online.

Medal of Honor is scheduled to launch on October 12 for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.