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2:00pm on Sunday, 22nd August, 2010:



So, I've just got off the phone from a live interview on the BBC World Service regarding the up-coming release of the latest version of Medal of Honour in the UK.

Actually, I finished my lunch first, so it was more like 15 minutes ago.

This release of MoH is controversial because it's set in Afghanistan. In single-player mode, you play a member of the NATO forces dealing with Taliban insurgents. In multi-player mode, well, someone has to play the insurgents. Given that this is an on-going war and real people are getting real killed in it, it's clearly in quite bad taste. The Defence Secretary, Liam Fox, was so outraged by this premise that he asked that shops ban it from their shelves.

I was in discussion with Conservative MP Patrick Mercer. It was only four minutes long, so neither of us got to make many points. The presenter spoke to me first, asking me to explain why it shouldn't be banned; I countered that he had it the wrong way round, and he should be explaining why it should be banned. My basic point was that yes, it's clearly distasteful, but there are plenty of other things that are distasteful (many people regard the war itself as distatseful, for example) and they don't get banned. Patrick Mercer was actually quite fair, I thought; he seemed disappointed that the game had been released featuring this option, but he wasn't calling for heads to roll. He mentioned that a boardgame 20 years ago about bomb disposal had been taken off the shelves for being in bad taste; I pointed out that two years ago The Hurt Locker won its director an Oscar for tackling the same subject in an ongoing conflict. I also tried to make it clear that many gamers are mature and intelligent individuals who could gain insights into the nature of conflict this way that they wouldn't have got if they only played as the Americans, although I don't think I succeeded in that regard as we ran out of time.

It was all a bit surreal, because I only received the email asking me if I could speak about an hour before they wanted me to speak. They were hoping to get me to go to the Chelmsford studio in that period, but as my wife had already started cooking lunch I wasn't going to put my life in danger by accepting.

I really ought to record these things so I can discover afterwards what exactly it was I said...

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Copyright © 2010 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).