Liam Fox defends call for ban of Medal of Honor game

  • Published

Britain's Defence Secretary Liam Fox has defended his comments calling on retailers to ban the forthcoming Medal of Honor video game from their stores.

On Sunday, Mr Fox said he was "disgusted" by the game, which allows players to adopt the role of the Taliban in the Afghan war.

The game's publishers Electronic Arts said the minister had portrayed parts of the game inaccurately.

The government said Dr Fox was expressing a "personal view".

A spokesperson for Dr Fox said he "stood by" his comments.

"The point remains that part of this game allows you to play the part of the Taliban attacking ISAF troops in the area of central Helmand where British troops are operating."

On Sunday, Dr Fox said that it was "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," he said.

"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."

An Electronic Arts spokesman said the game "does not allow players to kill British soldiers".

"No British troops feature in the game," he said.

The Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) has distanced itself from the minister's comments.

"Dr Fox was expressing a personal view and we understand why some people might find the subject matter of the game offensive.

"There is a ratings system in place which exists to categorise games appropriately. In this case, the game in question is rated 18 so should only be sold to, and played by, adults.

"There is a clear choice for consumers which they can exercise when making decisions about purchasing video games."

Time shift

Earlier this year, Frank Gibeau, the president of Electronic Arts game label, told BBC News he was aware that the game could cause controversy and had taken steps to minimise this.

"That was the big risk with this project," he said.

"It was one that we took a thoughtful approach to, in that a lot of current soldiers are advising us on the game to ensure it is authentic and realistic."

The game, set for release in October 2010, is the latest in a long-running series by Electronic Arts.

It is the first time the game has dispensed with its World War II theme, instead opting to recreate combat in the ongoing war in Afghanistan.

Image caption,
It is not the first time a game has provoked controversy

The revamped title follows a number of soldiers serving under the National Command Authority in Afghanistan during the 2001 war. Later missions allow players to adopt the role of US Army rangers.

It is the multi-player version of the game - in which players can play as Taliban insurgents - that has sparked controversy in the UK and the US.

A spokesman for EA said: "Medal of Honor is a highly authentic depiction of the soldier's experience in Afghanistan - matching US forces against the Taliban in today's war.

"In multi-player, teams assume the identities of combatants on both sides of the conflict.

"Many popular video games allow players to assume the identity of enemies, including Nazis and terrorists. In the multi-player levels of Medal of Honor, teams will assume the identity of both US forces and the Taliban."

It is not the first time a game has provoked controversy.

In 2009, MP Keith Vaz called for a ban on a blockbuster video game, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, because of the portrayal of violence.

He was particularly incensed by a scene in which undercover soldiers posed as terrorists and were asked to help shoot civilians.

The game went on to become the biggest selling video game in the UK.

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