Yesterday, EA launched a Zero Dark The Hunt map pack, which contains two maps for Medal of Honor: Warfighter based on the hunt for Bin Laden.
The ill-timing of such a move (given games’ current and largely unwarranted scrutiny regarding the tragedy in Conneticut) could either be a spark of brilliant genius bound to get people such as myself commenting on how brazen a move it is, or it could be something no one considered.
More likely it’ll be the latter, considering that it’s designed to tie in with Kathryn Bigelow’s film about the hunt in question: Zero Dark Thirty.
It’s not as though there aren’t depictions of real world locations in other multiplayer shooters, or mirrors of other real-world tragedies, real or fictitious, in games all over the place (art does imitate life, after all), but the mission in question took place in May of last year, around 18 months ago.
Which instantly brings to mind the horrific outcry which came about as a result of Atomic’s never-to-be-published ‘Six Days In Fallujah‘, vilified for glorifying a war which was too recent. It depicted six days in November of 2004, and was originally due to be released in 2009, five years later.
The developers at the time stood by their game, making it emphatically clear that the game in no way intended to make light or a mockery of the situation in Fallujah it intended to represent, and that it was designed as a harrowing look at what life must be currently like for those serving.
Regardless, the game’s concept alone was enough to have it pre-emptively booed off stage, never to resurface.
There are only a couple of factors that seem to differ between the two.
Those being that Zero Dark The Hunt is downloadable content, meaning it’s much less visible to the mainstream public for scrutiny than an entire game, and that it depicts perhaps the most righteous battle to have taken place in the last decade.
Now, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to Six Days In Fallujah. My first thought was that there was no WAY the developers could get that close to a realistic and present war environment while not being horrifically offensive to me by doing a disservice to victims on all sides of the war in question.
But I can’t help but feel that special treatment oughtn’t be afforded here. While one is purely a map pack, and while multiplayer shooters carry a fraction the weight of single player campaigns in terms of narrative and emotional impact, it does seem that both should be allowed.
Or, neither of them should. But both, to my mind.
Or perhaps it’s just that in the few years since Six Days In Fallujah was canned, we’ve grown more understanding of games and what they actually do, are and represent.
Or perhaps it’s the obvious hypocrisy anyone would face in suggesting a map pack like this wasn’t ok in the face of an Academy Award winning Director about to release a film based on the very same subject matter.