My knowledge of video games begins and ends in the Atari era of "Pitfall" and "Asteroids," two non-violent, mamby-pamby games that I'm sure would get me laughed out of most gamer conventions today. Uck. I can't stand the modern games, especially the gory shooter war games that my son begs me to let him play every time we're at the rink for my daughter's skating lessons. Do I relent? Yeah, I have. Do I feel good about it? No, sometimes I don't.
And I'm pretty sure I'd like even less the new "Medal of Honor" game coming out in October from Electronic Arts. This war game is set in modern-day Afghanistan, and it will allow users to play as the Taliban, according to AOL News. In other words, your son or daughter would be able to blast members of the Allied troops to smithereens while your TV or radio broadcasts news of yet another kidnapping, car bomb, or "deadliest month" wrap-up.
This is one of the big problems I have with this game. This is not World War II or Vietnam or even Desert Storm, any war that time has put some distance between. This war is happening right NOW.
And what I mean by that is some kid's dad, LOTS of kids' dads, are over there fighting for his life and the lives of his countrymen right NOW. A game is just a game but the psychological implications of putting a young kid who knows someone fighting for the Allies in this fake scenario is troubling at best.
That is one of my issues with this game, but here is another, and it relates to something a spokesperson for a video game association told AOL in response to the Taliban game: That part of the function of art in times of war is to get people to have empathy for the enemy, to see things from their point of view. Since when? Am I the only one who did not realize this?
I know I'm stripping this issue down to its most basic level, but I always thought war was war. One side is right and the other side is wrong, and that's why you're in a war in the first place. I think it's pretty well established that everything the Taliban says, does, or believes is lunatic or evil. You can still believe war sucks in general, but the minute you develop empathy for this particular "other side," you might as well just quit the war and turn yourself over to the State Department, if you don't blow yourself up with a bomb first.
And now ... the number one reason why I think a Taliban game is a bad idea ..... who'd want to win? Okay, some people wouldn't think twice about assuming the persona of that horrid group of humans, but I would, even though I agree with Electronic Arts' PR manager Amanda Taggart:
"Most of us having been doing this since we were 7 -- if someone's the cop, someone's gotta be the robber, someone's gotta be the pirate and someone's gotta be the alien. In 'Medal of Honor' multiplayer, someone's gotta be the Taliban."
But they don't have to like it. Frankly, I'd lose on purpose. So if you're looking for a really good game, best not ask me to play with you.
Would you enjoy playing the Taliban in a video game?
Image via somegeekintn/Flickr