Another day, another hack spreading false news of death. But where LulzSec's defacing of the Sun's website was, for the most part, harmless, the news making the rounds today could hold actual life-or-death ramifications. When Taliban members logged into their Internet-connected devices in Afghanistan on Wednesday, they found messages and news reports claiming that the group's spiritual leader was dead. Which, um, he wasn't. While the story may bring a smile to the face of a deployed GI, the Taliban didn't get the lulz.
I wish I could say this was unexpected, but, well, let’s be honest here: My reaction to EA’s last-minute act of self-censorship was less of a “WHAT” moment and more of a dejected sigh followed by the shocking realization that, holy moly, the sky is blue today. And the grass! It’s green! When did that happen? The pieces were in place, after all. There was a controversy, subsequent knee-jerk reactions on all sides, and an unfortunate precedent left festering on the shelf for years. Sad to say, it was only a matter of time before this happened:
“We have also received feedback from friends and families of fallen soldiers who have expressed concern over the inclusion of the Taliban in the multiplayer portion of our game,” said EA producer Greg Goodrich. “This is a very important voice to the Medal of Honor team. This is a voice that has earned the right to be listened to. It is a voice that we care deeply about. Because of this, and because the heartbeat of Medal of Honor has always resided in the reverence for American and Allied soldiers, we have decided to rename the opposing team in Medal of Honor multiplayer from Taliban to Opposing Force.”
GameStop’s military base locations – which formerly refused to sell the game -- are now engaged in a “thorough review to fully understand the extent of the modifications."
Which means everything’s peachy, right? Well, no. Not at all, actually.
If you've somehow managed to avoid the avalanche of controversy pouring down on Medal of Honor, here's the gist: you can play as Taliban in the game's multiplayer. Not “the insurgents.” Not “the guys who look suspiciously like Taliban but totally aren't, no really.” Nope. This time around, Medal of Honor's ripping its inspiration straight from the headlines. That, however, didn't fly with GameStop's stores in military bases.
According to a memo received by Kotaku, the decision to pull the game was made “out of respect for our past and present men and women in uniform.”
“As such, GameStop agreed to have all marketing material pulled by noon today and to stop taking reservations. Customers who enter our AAFES stores and wish to reserve Medal of Honor can and should be directed to the nearest GameStop location off base,” it read.
“GameStop fully supports AAFES in this endeavor and is sensitive to the fact that in multiplayer mode one side will assume the role of Taliban fighter.”
Usually, this is where we make some kind of opinionated and – we like to think – well-informed comment. However, seeing as we haven't served, we'd like to ask the following question: Men and women in the military, what are your thoughts on this? Is it as touchy of a subject as GameStop makes it out to be? Or is this just another example of political correctness gone too far?