John Riccitiello, who is the Chief Executive Officer of publisher Electronic Arts, has defended the company's upcoming release Medal of Honor, which has created a bit of a media storm when a mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan claimed that the game was disrespectful for allowing gamers to take on the role of the Taliban militia and attack NATO and United States forces.The CEO told the audience at the 2010 Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference that, “I think it says more about the newspaper industry than the game industry”.
He added, “We've had deep involvement with the military from the beginning, including active military from Afghanistan. They and we feel it's a game that any player would be proud to play.”
Riccitiello acknowledged the fact that it's hard to get a message across to the general public when journalists that are only seeking strong reactions and outrage are the main vectors of communication.
The CEO understands the situation, saying “It tends to incite a bit of angst.”
Electronic Arts took a gamble when it decided to create a video game experience which draws on a real life conflict, like the war in Afghanistan, which is still ongoing and is still generating casualties among American forces.
Th single player of the new Medal of Honor follows so called Tier 1 Operators, the best Special Force units have to offer, as they perform the toughest and the most secretive missions of the conflict.
The media debate about Medal of Honor and the Taliban involvement might help the game, giving it more exposure which translates into more sales, but it could also have downsides, especially if groups organize boycotts when it launches or picked game stores.
Specialist retailer GameStop has already announced that Medal of Honor will not be sold at the stores that it maintains on or near military bases.