In writing about the "controversy" surrounding Medal of Honor
's multiplayer and the subsequent name change
of one faction from "Taliban" to "Opposing Force," we've heard from two sides, primarily -- EA corporate and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. But we've never heard directly from the folks developing MOH
-- Danger Close Games. Earlier this week at an EA event in New York City, we talked with Danger Close marketing director Craig Owens. Owens spoke to why he believes the name change occurred, what it will accomplish, and how internal reactions have been at Danger Close.
In his eyes, it wasn't a result of AAFES-based GameStop stores not carrying Medal of Honor
-- as he points out, the change hasn't affected
the AAFES' sale embargo of MOH
. "The objection was, kind of from an older generation that doesn't understand games, that the soundbyte was 'Play as the Taliban and kill US soldiers,'" though he admitted "There still is, it seems, a group that's still a little bit leery of a game taking place around an active conflict."
Owens further clarified, adding that "Really the big thing was playing as a Taliban killing US troops. So we basically just changed it to 'Opfor' -- which is a term they [the US Armed Forces] use, some of our competitors use -- more out of respect." The AAFES, he contends, didn't factor into the decision whatsoever. He also pointed out that during the beta earlier this year, there were "about 500,000 people playing it, as the Taliban, killing US troops," without a single complaint. He further lamented the nefarious "soundbyte" that lead to the seemingly inevitable controversy, adding "Later that soundbyte kinda caught wind and got taken out of context, really."
Like us, Owens looks toward a future where these kinds of "issues" aren't really "issues" at all. "It's just a misunderstanding. I think eventually, as guys like us -- I'm 42 years old, right? -- so as I get older and stuff, we're becoming a world of gamers that are gonna be at all levels and I think that'll go away." Right now, however, he sees the climate as transitional. "It's just one of those transition points, where people who don't play games still think they're just for 12-year-olds and they're just all fun and games and they could never really tell a story like a movie does."
In closing out our conversation, Owens urged people to give his studio's game a shot before judging it, adding once more that it's "always been about the respect for the troops," that "It's not about Afghanistan. It's not about the enemy. It's about the brother beside you." He also reiterated that the change only affects MOH
's multiplayer component, and in that respect, "We didn't change any pixels in the game at all except for the name, and it only appeared a couple times in multiplayer."