Does Medal of Honor deserve to be banned by the U.S. military? *UPDATED*

So the U.S. military has officially banned sales of the newest Medal of Honor game on military bases globally. Even Britain’s Defense Secretary requested that UK game retailers ban the game. Why, you may ask? Well, the game allows players to take on the role of the Taliban, but only during multiplayer. It’s not like the “No Russian” level from Modern Warfare 2, where you’re gunning down civilians in an airport. I would definitely understand if you play as the Taliban in single player and are killing U.S. and Coalition forces, but in this case, you’re not.

I ask this: “What is the real reason why people are angered over having the Taliban as a playable option?” As history shows, there have been many games allowing players to take on the roles of some not so popular factions. I believe a major cause of the controversy is from it being time-sensitive related. What I mean by that is that there hasn’t been time for the dust to settle on the constant war against the Taliban. With that said, is it more acceptable to play as a German in a World War II game than as a Taliban in a modern combat game because the war is still ongoing?

People who have unfortunately had a friend/relative/loved one fall in battle, would have a higher sensitivity towards a situation like this. It doesn’t surprise me that a large support for the ban comes from mothers of fallen soldiers. They are claiming that EA has taken a “thoughtless and insensitive” route by including the option to play as Taliban forces.

I think a lot of people are making a big fuss over something small. Another reason could be just in the name “Taliban” itself. There is a lot of negativity geared towards that name and a lot of people associate it as violence towards U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Then again, “Nazi” carries a large negative connotation to it as well, but there haven’t really been any complaints in regards to it.

You play as a Taliban character, nothing more, during a multiplayer match. There’s no identity to it, no in-depth character analysis and you’re not anyone important, just a member of the Taliban in a multiplayer match trying to match wits with the opposition who just happens to be Coalition forces. The situation is practically the same as choosing between black and red in checkers. So what is the big deal?

Let’s take a look further back at older Call of Duty and Battlefield games for referencing purposes. In previous Call of Duty titles that were in a World War 2 setting, you played as the Nazi-era Germans, who as I can recall, killed thousands of U.S. and Allied forces. The same goes for prior Battlefield titles in that same setting as well. Even the Battlefield 1942 expansion (well kinda-sorta expansion) Desert Combat allowed you to play as Middle Eastern terrorists against U.S. forces.

In Modern Warfare, you can play as Middle Eastern terrorists going up against U.S. Marines. No one made a fuss over that. Even in Modern Warfare 2, you can again also play as Middle Eastern terrorists (Op-For) versus U.S. Army Rangers. Now mind you, in both of these cases, it all takes place in multiplayer. I do know that Russia banned Modern Warfare 2 sales because of the sensitivity of the “No Russian” single-player campaign level, which in my opinion was understandable.

In any event, this new Battlefield title does not differ, in terms of content, to any other modern-based combat games. I think EA Games President Frank Gibeau says it best:

“At EA we passionately believe games are an artform, and I don’t know why films and books set in Afghanistan don’t get flak, yet [games] do. 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. What’s really important for us is that we partnered with the U.S. military, and the Medal of Honor Society as well. We’ve gone out of our way to produce the best story for the game.”

This screenshot is from a movie called Kandagar. It’s based on the Taliban capture of a freight aircraft in 1995.

This also now raises the question of , “Is there a double standard in the media that allows films and books to portray or depict current controversial and violent events/settings and not video games?” Check out the gameplay below and tell us what you think.


I had the honor of speaking with a Marine that is currently serving in the military in regards to the ban. What he had to say, was something that no media outlet has reported on. His insight gave a different standpoint to the issue. Check it out:

“They can’t sell/condone a game that portrays soldiers getting killed by taliban, while we are at war with them. The fact that it is happening right now, it has the potential to sway people’s minds on the war. Though it is not based on fact or in-depth, the idea behind something can sway a nation, plus we have thousands of marines and soldiers today still suffering from PTSD. The realism of this game is not just hurtful to the people who have lost loved ones, but the people who where there. The ban is also to protect our own; I’ve met marines who can not even stand the sound of a gun firing. There are marines out there that have lost everyone that has gotten them through. One thing I’ve learned is that you grow up through the marine cops with these guys and they become your family, they become everything to you….and there is marines that lose them all… one week…..imagine loosing 5 family members in a week? To see a game like this, it makes some of these marines feel like that its not important whether we live or die, makes them or us, feel like we are expendable….its more about how it effects the marines loosing friends then it is about family’s losing sons, do not get me wrong….there is another side to it, where it is just a game an it does not bother us, but we also respect the ones it does bother.”


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