Oct 25, 2010

Things that drive me crazy, Part II

I wasn't surprised at all, but it really bugs me that EA caved to perceived pressure and decided to drop the “Taliban” thing for their latest Medal of Honor game. It's just sad to see them spend a week defending the game and then have to try to do a 180 in press releases. As usual there will be much spinning of the speech such that “respecting our troops” was always their goal but to anyone with half a brain it’ll look like old fashioned ass-covering.

What makes this farce even more ridiculous is the “fix” amounted to nothing more than running a Find & Replace on the game's text (plus re-recording dialog, I suppose — can't be certain since I haven't played it myself). Wow! Such a substantial change!

Find and replace dialog box from Microsoft Word 2007 with Taliban in the find field and OPFOR in the replace field

Of course, the reality is that the game was mere weeks from release and it was too late to change anything of real significance. So their caving and “patching” really comes off as two bad things: 1) they cared more about releasing their game on time than pissing off the moms of a few dead soldiers and 2) they must think those voicing the complaints are stupid and will be satisfied with this largely symbolic act. Amazingly, I think the answer to both is yes and I'm totally cool with that.

Because they are stupid. It's a god damned game. You see, the bullets are just simulated bits and bytes. They don't actually harm anyone. And no real soldiers are killed when fourteen year-olds play the multiplayer mode. And no, it's not insulting to our brave kids overseas fightin' fer our freedoms (hallelujah!) that pasty teenagers can pretend to shoot American soldiers as turban-headed Taliban.

I've noticed that people seem to want to put up this area of sacredness around our military, as if it is an unpatriotic affront to say anything that could be in any remote way considered bad about them. Since when do they get such reverence? Oh, right; since they volunteered to die for our sins country. That makes them automatic saints. Or sadists/masochists. Or blissfully ignorant. Or suicidal. Or stupid. (Mind you, the Catholics won't officially recognize their sainthood unless it is just).

To be sure:

  • I don't specifically fault individuals for joining the military; it ain't my bag, but that's cool if you want to and for whatever reason — be it justice/patriotism or you just like shooting people.
  • I don't particularly support militaristic endeavors and certainly not many that have been perpetrated lately
  • I generally fall on the "Can we just stop all the killing, please?" side of things
  • I recognize the legitimate need for a standing military of some kind of strength and size, and that it be centrally controlled (see, I'm not that crazy); where I tend to disagree is on its use and its funding, not so much its existence (NPR, on the other hand, I disagree on its existence)
  • I don't encourage undue insult, humiliation, belittling, or cruelty to our military and those involved (keyword: undue)

What I am saying is let's stop fooling ourselves on a few things.

Yes, EA is a corporation and thus it does (and should) care more about its bottom line than a few soldiers’ moms feeling disrespected by a video game. Hey, if you don't like it, here's a thought: don't buy the damn game! Tell everyone it sucks! Of course, no kid who would actually be interested in the game will probably take your word on it (and will instead trust the people already invested in vetting games).

Yes, EA was just telling those few what they wanted to hear to appease them. The game is still set in Afghanistan and you still get to pick between allies or ragheads in multiplayer. Hmm… it's so difficult to read between those carefully encoded politically-correct lines! Man!

Yes, those few whiners are stupid and, more importantly, few. Unfortunately, it doesn't take more than one vocal idiot to get the media machine rolling and companies, who are, rightly so, deathly afraid of lawsuits and/or bad press, to start desperately searching for feet to grovel upon.

More than likely, I am being unnecessarily harsh and these “stupid whiners” are nothing more than a few moms who got a camera stuck in their face and, in pursuit of their fifteen minutes, were more than willing to get teary-eyed and speak ill of the big bad EA meanies, the careless bastards MY SON DIED SO EVERYONE MUST RESPECT ME.

The whole thing is such a charade. It's time we stopped taking it seriously.

(Except for just this once, of course, since I needed to make a point!)

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