And another thing: How “un-British” is that?

Medal Of Honor

Just keep telling yourself, it's just a game

Quick post today, because I’m about to embark on a press trip and have a bag to pack. So I thought I’d start off the week with a look at how the Defence Secretary gave Medal Of Honor a massive amount of free publicity by condemning as “un-British” and calling for it to be banned.

I’m not going to speculate on why Liam Fox took it upon himself to verbally lay into a video game he probably hasn’t played.  I’m not going to go into the whys and wherefores of video game violence, punditry and the ignorance which is constantly exploited by certain high profile figures to score cheap points.  I said everything I wanted to say about the matter in an analysis piece on the Medal Of Honor controversy for the Daily Telegraph last week.

The point about this I wanted to reiterate was this; I don’t see how calling for a ban on a piece of art is in any way “British”. Oh, I know that the authorities in Britain have called for bans on other artworks before now. I also know that, in the past, games, films and books have been refused release because of their content. I just don’t see how such actions could be looked at as intrinsically “British”.

One of the joys of living in Britain is the fact that, generally speaking, it’s a pretty liberal place. Sure, it’s not Holland (then again, nowhere else is), but compared to some countries in which political leaders are both calling for (and implementing) bans on aspects of popular culture, it’s a completely free society. My view of Medal Of Honor as a gamer probably isn’t the same as that of non-gamer citizens in this country, and it’s likely that thousands of them find elements of it infuriating and offensive. But then, they don’t have to buy it.

There’s probably a discussion to be had about setting an FPS in a current, ongoing military conflict, and believe it or not, we’re about to have it. The thing is, it’s not going to take place on television or in the press. It’s going to take place at the tills of gaming retail outlets. If EA have offended people by setting Medal Of Honor in present-day Afghanistan, they’re going to find out shortly after the game is released. And in a free society, that’s just the way it should be.

Britain is a free society, last time I checked, and in that context calls for a ban seem out of step with its social framework. They seem, in fact, “un-British”.

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