Column: Publishers or Arms Dealers – When did we start bridging the gap?

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After reading a very good article by Associate Editor, Laura Parker of Gamespot I find myself incredibly conflicted with how things are going in the video games industry. Parker writes about publisher Electronic Arts endorsing and promoting real-world weapons in partnership with upcoming title Medal of Honor: Warfighter.

Parker points out in her article that EA had linked to real-world weapon sites on the Medal of Honor website, meaning any one that goes to the site could browse through these external sites where legally permitted weapons could be purchased that are the same as those featured in the game. It has also been noted that Medal of Honor executive producer Greg Goodrich had written accompanying blog posts for each of the companies enthusiastically endorsing their products.

The reason for these partnerships is apparently to contribute to the “authenticity” of the game. Now this just makes absolutely no sense. Even though in a different world it would be cool to be able to jam a game and also directly linked to where you can buy the weapons you like most in the game, it certainly raises a big concern in the world we currently live in.

There’s been more than one occasion recently where the media has blamed or insinuated that video games were the root or cause of psychopaths killing many innocent people, the last thing we need now is having publishers link these things so obviously and publicly for no good reason at all. As if the world hasn’t blamed video games for all the evil things in it enough?

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Whether you are pro-arms or against it, it doesn’t seem very rational to link our games to controversial subjects like arms (legal or not). The next time some sicko goes around shooting people claiming he did it with his favourite weapons played with in Medal of Honor and that he could easily find them through the game site, guess what? The media is going to have a field day with this and tear us all a new one. Great stuff to promote our industry with eh? Well played.

When did we start bridging the gap of our fantasy videogame world with the real world just to make something “more authentic”? It’s like linking gamers to sites where they can buy prostitutes or drugs. “Hey buy some coke here <insert link> because this scum bag in the game sniffs it. It’ll make our game way more authentic.”

Somehow I just don’t see it being a good move to go in that kind of direction. Since the Gamespot article was published, EA had deleted their partnership site and Greg Goodrich post links from the Warfighter page. EA also deleted Goodrich’s post about the Voodoo Hawk tomahawk.

I’m not saying that should some one commit a crime derivative of this situation that it would be EA’s fault nor would I like to jump on the blame train or express that guns are bad or whatever. My concern is for our industry, because we all know, sooner or later video games get blamed, why give the media more ammo to shoot us down with? (seewhatididthar :D?) The actions of others are their own responsibility and it is always the responsibility of a parent to monitor what sites their children visit or what games they play. The least we can do though is keep our hands clean.

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Last Updated: August 16, 2012

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