It came as a shock to many people that the “No Russian” mission in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 allowed players to act with such extreme malicious intent. The inclusion of the mission sparked a blazing controversy amongst pundits and critics alike, with its gratuitous depiction of terrorists mowing down innocent civilians at a crowded Russian airport. It was one of the most intimately morbid moments in recent gaming history.
It doesn’t come as any shock that after all the public scrutinyModern Warfare 2 received, the soon-to-be released Medal of Honor is being met with resistance before the title even hits the front lines. After it was announced gamers will have the option to play as a Taliban terrorist at some branch of the story, which follows Tier 1 special operatives in modern day Afghanistan, the U.S. Military threw the red flag and outlawed its sale at bases across the country.
"We regret any inconvenience this may cause authorized shoppers, but are optimistic that they will understand the sensitivity to the life-and-death scenarios this product presents as entertainment," said Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella, who commands the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.
The game has already been banned at nearly 300 Army and Air Force base exchange shops. The Navy was quick to follow suit, barring it from 104 of their exchange shops, as well. The prohibition also looms over the 49 GameStops located nationally on military bases.
"At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers, and wives have lost husbands," said British Defense Secretary Liam Fox, who has led the public protest. "It's shocking that someone would think it acceptable to re-create the acts of the Taliban against British soldiers."
It’s commonplace that you can’t have the good without the evil. Where there is a hero, there is a villain, and for video game’s sake, players seemingly always have access to both the light and the dark. What fun would a story be with might and no gloom, sunshine and no shadow? Kids have matured into adults on steady diets of cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians, and as moviegoers, we’re more often than not rooting for the bad guys. This begs to ask the question: when does the line between tasteful discretion and egregious censorship get drawn in the sand far beyond its means? Ignoring both sides of a story is what realists call “propaganda”, something our military isn’t a stranger to.
Aren’t these soldiers fighting for our freedoms and sensibilities, the same ones that constitutional rights uphold and protect? My heart goes out to their valiant souls and their unnerved families, as they sit and pray for the day their loved ones will return home. Haven’t these noble enlistees earned the right to do whatever they please? At the end of the day, doesn’t impeding on one's right to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness make you no better than the terrorists you are trying to eradicate?
Will there ever be an end to the ridiculousness that is video game censorship? Is this to say that because of Japan’s bombing of Pearl Harbor, we can’t play as samurais in video games because we’re supporting terrorism? Should we still be throwing British tea in Boston Harbor? Should bratwursts and pilsner be banned from our stores because we fought Nazis in World War 2?
Saving Private Ryan had such a melancholy aura with veterans watching the film, so much so that it was reported that some threw up, passed out, or were so emotionally disturbed by the D-Day invasion at Normandy, they had to leave the theater. That’s the point here: if something affronts you, you proactively choose to avoid it, not tell others that because you’re offended by it, they will never be granted a decision for themselves as to whether or not it invokes the same feelings with them. The U.S. military is overstepping its bounds here drastically, something it tends to do best.
While this ban limits the sale of Medal of Honor, it does not prohibit its ownership. With no shortage of online stores ready to cater to the men and women gamers in the service, rest assured, you shouldn’t skip a beat when the game releases on October 12th.