Military Exchanges Refuse to Stock New 'Medal of Honor' Video Game

Military leaders concerned over game's choice to assume role of Taliban fighter.

September 3, 2010, 2:17 PM

Sept. 3, 2010— -- Many service members looking forward to the October release of the new "Medal of Honor" video game will have to buy it off-base after most military branches decided not to stock the controversial game, which includes depictions of violence toward U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

The Army & Air Force Exchange Service -- joined by the Coast Guard Community Services Command -- was the first to announce this week that it would not allow sales of the game, produced by video game giant Entertainment Arts, or EA, on any of its 181 exchanges in the United States and abroad, or its online site.

A statement issued by Army & Air Force Exchange Service Commander Maj. Gen. Bruce Casella said the decision was made "out of respect to those we serve."

"We regret any inconvenience this may cause authorized shoppers, but are optimistic that they will understand the sensitivity to the life and death scenarios this product presents as entertainment," the statement read. "As a military command with a retail mission, we serve a very unique customer base that has, or possibly will, witness combat in real life."

But service members are free to buy the games elsewhere.

Due out Oct. 12, this latest edition in the "Medal of Honor" series has already earned its fair share of controversy. Military families and world leaders alike have denounced the game for its reported realistic violence. Players, many tech sites have reported, are allowed to take on the role of a Taliban fighter and kill U.S. soldiers.

Game Stop, which operates 49 stores on domestic bases, has also agreed to pull the game from its merchandise roster and transfer pre-orders to Game Stops off-base. A company spokeswoman referred all questions to the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.

Service spokesman Judd Anstey said "Medal of Honor" was one of many products the command has decided not to stock over the years.

"We don't really consider this to be a ban in any way," he said. "It's just one title we have passed on."

"This year's game, set in Afghanistan, pays homage to today's soldier," said EA spokesman Jeff Brown in an emailed statement, which noted that several veterans participated as consultants for the game.

"Many popular videogames allow players to assume the identity of enemies including Nazis and terrorists," the statement continued. "We feel a deep sympathy and respect for the soldiers and people with family members killed or wounded in Afghanistan."

"Someone is the bad guy," he told the Times. "When the robbers won, it didn't mean those kids wanted to kill the police."We feel a deep sympathy and respect for the soldiers and people with family members killed or wounded in Afghanistan."

Coast Guard Also Drops 'Medal of Honor,' Marine Corps Considering Ban

The Coast Guard Community Services Command and the Navy Exchange Services Command told that they also will not be stocking "Medal of Honor" in its exchanges

A spokesman for the Coast Guard declined to comment further, but Navy Exchange Services Command spokeswoman Kathleen Martin said the Navy's reasoning was identical to that of the AAFES.

"We have done this out of respect for our men and women who serve," Martin said.

Bryan Driver, public affairs officer for the Marine Corps Exchange, headquartered at Quantico, Va., said its command hadn't yet reached a decision about the game. The Marine Corps operates 16 main exchanges in the United States and Japan.

"Right now we're still reviewing what we're going to do," he said.

British Defense Secretary Liam Fox blasted the game last month, calling it a "tasteless product" and demanding retailers ban the game. EA told the BBC that the game does not allow the Taliban to kill British soldiers.

"Medal of Honor" is only the latest in a long line of video games to court controversy as products that offer depiction of sex and violence grow in popularity and realism.

There have been previous attempts to bring the war on terrorism to a video game console with varying success. Scotland-based T-Enterprise dropped plans last year to release "Rendition: Guantanamo," after protests over the game's mission to help wrongly accused detainees escape the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.

Another game, "Six Days in Fallujah," was also scrapped by Japanese-based Konami Corp. after protestors complained that a real Iraqi battle shouldn't become a virtual experience for gamers.

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events