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The Great Debate: Taliban or no Taliban?

Hello and welcome to the new Xbox 360 feature (derived from the mind of Josh Margolis) called The Great Debate. This feature will be a recurring feature that will happen whenever we think a good news topic has popped up that we would all like to discuss a bit. During the great debate, I (Jay Malone) will type out the people that are discussing the current topic at hand’s opinions and what they say and then put it in front of your eyes to read.

This week it is more of a great agreement as myself, Josh Margolis, and Tristan Wong cuddle around a fire, sip hot chocolate, and talk about the Taliban. In it, Josh makes racist Taliban noises, I don’t say much, and Tristan is not a fan of Men of Valor. Join us as we discuss, agree, and debate about the Taliban and the reasons the Armed Forces are against it.

T= Tristan Wong
Jo-=Josh Margolis
Ja= Jay Malone

Opening Question: So are you for or against the Taliban name change?

Jo: First off, I honestly think it is the dumbest thing, taking something like that out of a game, especially because I bet most of the people going against this don’t even play games. They’re more than likely pencil pushers in the military that are just trying to do good PR and this is obviously not going to help with that.

And besides that, I completely understand the argument they’re making but it’s a really bad one.

T: I’m just trying to grasp what you’re saying. So, you’re saying that it’s more of a PR/Propaganda thing for the Taliban’s part at least? So that they won’t show videos saying “Oh look at how many soldiers we shot in this game. Look how awesome we are.”

Jo: Well you know what, that’s already happening in Call of Duty. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been on the OpFor and had them running at me making [insert semi-racist noise]. I mean, I play on Xbox Live so you hear everything. Actually, I think you’d hear worse on Xbox Live than if you just include the Taliban. That’s my stance right there. If they’re worried about offensive content they should just not have it on Xbox Live.

T: The thing about Medal of Honor was that they actually brought on US officers, not sure if you saw the videos, their face was obscured and what not. Why would they help out with the game if they knew that the Taliban was in it? I’m damn skippy sure that no one didn’t go up and ask “Who are those guys over there?” “Oh those are hooded junkies in Afghanistan trying to make do with cocaine and selling all these drugs.” I highly doubt they’d believe that. So why would all these highly prestigious US Officers help out with a game that would tarnish the US Army’s image?

Jo: I hear you. I’ve actually got an article here about a soldier and I think he makes some really good points. He’s described as an avid gamer and he seems very oppose the name changing. Which is very strong of him to do as when you’re in the Army, you’re kind of forced to keep your opinions mainly to yourself. He’s quoted as saying “In Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 you can play as several different countries’ forces and often you’re playing against and killing Marines or our allies,” Hostutler noted. “I don’t understand how ‘Medal of Honor’ is any different.”

Ja: Yea, it really makes no sense what they’re doing. Because, it’s been stated repeatedly, that they’ve (the Taliban) been in other games and just changing the name to “Opposing Force” doesn’t change the fact that they’re still the Taliban. It’s stupid and pointless and shows a lack of drive to be as realistic as they’ve been touting for a year.

T: I actually think that the US Army are only attacking EA because they’re a big company and if a smaller company such as THQ took it on I bet you that the US Army would back off a bit. I think they may just be attacking it because of the PR.

Ja: Well, you say they’re just doing it because it’s a big company. Six Days in Fallujah, a game that was being made not too long ago was going to be published by Konami but since there was so much uproar about it, Konami quit on the project and said they wouldn’t publish it. The developers, Atomic Games, say that the game is still happening but I doubt it’ll be coming out any time soon. I don’t think it is for PR, I think it’s because they’re seeing so much advertising of Medal of Honor and just now thinking “Hey this is wrong.” Though I don’t think it is right for them to boycott it. They should just get over it, it’s a video game.

Jo: Let me just make one point. If we’ve learned anything from Grand Theft Auto, it’s that no publicity is bad publicity. Look at Jack Thompson, he was a large part in selling Grand Theft Auto.

T: Yea, I agree. You guys heard of Men of Valor, correct? I’m curious, when that game came out, how come no one said anything about it? It still depicted an intense brutal war that the US Army lost and on top of that, many US war veterans nowadays were traumatized by the Vietnam war. You saw Full Metal Jacket, etc, right? Alright, I’m sure that someone out there wanted to speak out against the game but no one else would do it with them. The war may be long gone by now but it was still a brutal war. If Medal of Honor should be handicapped, why not Men of Valor or Battlefield: Vietnam?

Jo: I still stand with my PR argument. I mean, not many people are happy with this right now. The last thing they (the military) need is something like this that shows tons of people are dying out there. Because this game takes place around 5 years back. And to repeatedly show that this is what they’re doing, people are dying left and right. That kind of situation is really going to hurt people joining the armed forces and is going to make their job a lot harder.

T: How so? All games kind of show how brutal the war is. Men of Valor showed the gruesomeness of Vietnam at the time and Call of Duty kind of touches on it but in a fictional universe. If anything, it seems we’re all in agreement here that we don’t like the situation in any way.


Jo: Yea, but I really don’t blame the armed forces for whining about it, my main blame lies with EA more than anything. Because they wouldn’t stand up and say “No. We’re a multi-million dollar publisher and we want to do this for the gamers, we don’t care about you. We’re doing this because we know the realism will sell the game.”

Ja: Well I don’t want them to say they don’t care about the armed forces, I just want them to stand their ground.

Jo: But to the argument that the armed forces are giving, that they wanted it to be changed to respect the people that have died. It is a pretty weak argument and I want EA to stand their ground and say “Sorry but it’s out game and it’s purely business.”

T: Well I wouldn’t say it’s “purely” business. It’s mainly because they want to make a good game.

Jo: And they know if it’s a good game, it’ll sell well with all those features. And a weak argument shouldn’t stand up to it. To compare this to something outside of video games, it’s kind of like removing the name Muhammad from an episode of South Park.

Ja: Another thing is that the singleplayer is still saying Taliban.

Jo: Well, you’re the one killing them so I guess that’s OK in their mind. It’s OK if you call them Taliban as long as you’re killing them. Maybe we should interview Osama Bin Laden and see what he thinks.

T: It’s them changing the name in general that pisses me off.

Ja: Yea, and it’s just the name. If you’re going to kill off the name, you should delay the game a few months and kill off that character design altogether. Which again, would kill realism. But they’re killing off realism anyways by backing off of something you’ve been standing behind for months and months.

T: And it’s also frustrating that they’re just now doing something about it. Where were they to defend all the hurt war vets when Call of Duty 2 or Men of Valor was being made?

Ja: No matter what, I think we’re all in agreement that it’s kind of childish. It’s a video game, folks.

You can expect Josh Margolis’ review of Medal of Honor in the coming week.

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