Games president Frank Gibeau: If an Afghan War film can win BAFTAs, why is an Afghan game condemned?
Publishing empire EA says it will not surrender its creative vision to the furore surrounding the upcoming Medal of Honor game.
EA Games president Frank Gibeau told Develop the game is a “creative risk”. He said he anticipated controversy, and he asked why films are immune to the denigration games routinely are subjected to.
The publisher is under fire from both MPs and the wider media for allowing players to assume the role of the Islamist political group the Taliban in the rebooted Medal Of Honor title, set for UK release October 15.
On Sunday Defence Secretary Liam Fox urged retailers to ban EA’s upcoming game, having expressed “anger and disgust” by its content.
But Gibeau tells Develop that the game will not be altered at the behest of politicians and media groups.
“We respect the media’s views,” he said, “but at the same time [these reports] don’t compromise our creative vision and what we want to do.”
EA’s long-awaited Medal Of Honor reboot is being co-developed by Swedish Studio DICE and Los Angeles-based Danger Close, and Gibeau insists the two groups are proud of what they are creating.
“The development teams care very much about what they’re building, and of course a bit of criticism from the media causes some to get demoralised, but at the end of the day we’re proud of what we’re doing. Brining Medal of Honor back was no small feat.”
Gibeau, nearly in his third year as EA Games president, was philosophical about the fast-spreading denigration of a game that handles sensitive content.
“There’s a lot of furore around games that take creative risks – like games that let you play terrorists in airports mowing down civilians,” he said in reference to Modern Warfare 2 – published by industry rival Activision.
“At EA we passionately believe games are an artform, and I don’t know why films and books set in Afghanistan don’t get flack, yet [games] do. Whether it’s Red Badge Of Courage or The Hurt Locker, the media of its time can be a platform for the people who wish to tell their stories. Games are becoming that platform.
“Games have been set in Afghanistan before. We anticipated this [controversy] when we decided on the concept of the game – this is about being a special forces solider.
“What’s really important for us is that we partnered with the US military, and the Medal of Honor Society as well. We’ve gone out of our way to produce the best story for the game.
“The fact that it’s set in Afghanistan is the context, but the game is about you and your team going through a number of missions and feeling what it was like to be in a soldier’s position.
“That’s always been a Medal of Honor concept – we put you in the boots of a solider, whether it’s in the Pacific, Europe, Afghanistan; it’s always been the story of the solider.”