Ok, my last blog post was over a week ago and going back over it I may have written it before I had time to properly sit down and think about it. I was angry at the time of writing and my judgement was clouded and this made for a very biased and, in the end, pretty poor blog…So, I apologise.
The reason I started this update off with the paragraph above is because something else made me very angry this week, comments from Liam Fox (Defence Secretary) calling for a soon to be released video game to be banned. The video game in question is Medal of Honor.
A bit of background on the Medal of Honor game for you (because not everyone is into gaming). The game is set in modern day Afghanistan and follows a group of elite US armed forces as they are in behind enemy lines in a battle with the Taliban. The Single player portion of the game will skip between different members of the elite unit so you gather their perspectives on what is happening. You will make your way through the game taking down Taliban insurgents and probably saving Afghanistan or, at least, a province or two from the Taliban Regime. A big part of all modern FPS (First Person Shooters) is the multiplayer. This involves people playing against other gamers all over the world in different match types, for example, team deathmatch (TD). In a Team Deathmatch you are playing a game with between 12-24 other players, you are split into two teams and then whoever kills the opposition team the most in a certain timeframe wins. Very simple.
Now, this is where Mr Fox’s comments come in. In a TD you will be automatically put onto a team, as this is game will be set in Afghanistan one team will be the Elite US forces and the other team will play the part of the Taliban. So after someone telling Mr Fox that you can “shoot British forces as the Taliban” in the game Mr Fox has called for the game to be banned and to not be sold in the UK and also said
“It is shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban against British soldiers. At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands. It’s hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product.”
I read the comments on Monday and after the last blog I have taken a couple of days to think about it and then write about my thoughts on Mr Fox’s comments…and here are my thoughts.
This is another classic example of someone commenting on something that they have no understanding of. In multiplayer games you are put on a side, I cannot imagine any gamer sitting in front of their screen waiting for their multiplayer session to load saying “you know what, I want to shoot an allied soldier today as a Taliban insurgent”. The team you are on in a multiplayer game such as Medal of Honor is completely irrelevant; it is merely a skin for the person to run around in. A spokesmen for Electronic Arts (who are publishing the game) has confirmed that British troops do not even feature in Medal of Honour, so that is something else he has been misinformed about.
Creating entertainment based around a current event, especially something as controversial as Afghanistan that has affected so many families across the world is always going to garner the attention of politicians. The problem is they are so misinformed and have a complete lack of understanding on the subject that they are commenting on that they come across to people like me as complete imbeciles. I wouldn’t expect a gamer to comment on the nation’s security policy so why did Mr Fox feel the need to make comments about a product that I would bet my (parents) house on that he hasn’t even seen.
Do I think that Medal of Honor will turn people into Taliban sympathisers who will get on the next plane to the area in question and train to be an insurgent to attack allied forces? In 99.9% of cases I do not. And the .1% of people that will were probably already likely to anyway.
Video games are there for people to relax to, a form of escapism just like going to the cinema…I can’t remember the last time I read something about a politician criticising a film about Afghanistan, can you?
One more thing, Mr Fox, please feel free to come and sit with me when Medal of Honour is released and come and have a game. Then you can make a statement about something you have had first hand experience with.
Let me know if you agree or disagree with my thoughts. I’m not here to say “I’m right” because I may not be so throw any thoughts you have into the mix.