Editor's note: The following editorial appeared Thursday in the San Jose Mercury News.
Callous realism is a trademark of video games, so maybe we should all be desensitized to the kind of gore and mayhem portrayed in Electronic Arts' new version of "Medal of Honor." But for families of men and women fighting and dying even now in the very real war against the Taliban, it's pretty tough seeing Taliban soldiers slaughtering American troops as fun and games. Call us old-fashioned, but we say this one crosses a line.
The updated "Medal of Honor," scheduled for release Oct. 12, lets players take the role of Taliban soldiers in Afghanistan hunting down and slaying Americans. No wonder parents like Mountain View, Calif.'s Karen Meredith, whose son Ken Ballard died in Iraq, see the game as a personal insult. It's an affront to the more than 1,000 Americans killed in the Afghanistan conflict since it began in October 2001, nine years before the game's release.
Electronic Arts seems unmoved. Its president recently told Develop magazine: "We respect the media's views, but at the same time, [these reports] don't compromise our creative vision and what we want to do."
Indeed, no law or criticism should impede anyone's creative vision. Yet Americans have the power to influence matters like this. It's in their wallets.
If sales of "Medal of Honor" go off the charts this holiday season, it will validate the commercial, if not creative, judgment of EA. If gamers and their families instead favor other games that employ realism and bloodshed without adding to the pain of loved ones grieving for American soldiers, so much the better.