Medal Of Honor's Executive Producer Tangles With Critic Over Realism And Militainment

Give Tom McShea credit. At E3, the GameStop writer penned an 800-word editorial ripping the tone of Medal of Honor: Warfighter's multiplayer, saying features like regenerating health and respawning teammates trivialise the sacrifice that the game professes to honour.

In the tradition of a columnist showing up in the locker room after a particularly tough piece, he then went to Electronic Arts' upstairs suite to hash things out with executive producer Greg Goodrich over 22 squirm-worthy minutes.

McShea made a reasonable point in his editorial, and it's something a lot of people have found discomforting: an intense combat experience being presented in an entertainment product. Goodrich points out Medal of Honor: Warfighter makes no "realistic" claim — it is simply "authentic" in terms of the tools, weapons, uniforms, dialogue and other supporting features depicted. "There is nothing real about a video game. Absolutely nothing," Goodrich says. "Combat is combat. Games are games. And we are an entertainment product."

McShea is holding Goodrich to a high artistic standard, saying that there are war video games out there that are compelling but not necessarily fun. Goodrich acknowledges the heft and substance of games like Operation Flashpoint and ArmA, but reminds us that "no one pays $60 to go to a funeral".

"A movie is an experience, you go there to hear a story and be introduced to a subject that may touch you as a human being and for a moment, think about that sacrifice," Goodrich says. "We take that same tone. Our intent is to say thank you, and our intent is to put somebody in these boots so they can experience that."

Goodrich says that Medal of Honor: Warfighter will also have a "hardcore" mode that strips out the regenerating health that bothered McShea so much. "We have not talked about it, so you just got an exclusive," Goodrich says. McShea asked why "hardcore" isn't then the default mode.

"We're at E3," Goodrich says. "Regenerating health and the modes we're showing ... this environment is very loud and to really punch through and get noticed from the GameSpots or the IGNs or the G4s, you gotta have those bullets and bombs for the dudebros. This is a very entertainment-focused piece of art that we're doing."

McShea argues that when Goodrich says "It's a video game", it's a diminishing term or a lower standard, and that's a fair point. But, Goodrich says, "that's the business we're in ... it's the medium of our time. We try to do the best we can with Medal of Honor: Warfighter, with those core tenets and give an experience to our audience and understand what these guys may be going through and living through.

"They're having fun, they're experiencing it," Goodrich says. "They're taking that journey. They're in those boots. And while they're in those boots, I can tell them a story of a human being."

I think I see where Goodrich is coming from. I had a professor who resented the "toy department" label that sports writing got, and believed that the sports section in fact has a special obligation to readers. That subject may be the only thing that a person chooses to read all day, and it may be the only context in which you could get them to think about issues of race, gender, social differences and problems, even economics. Goodrich's product — which, yes, is a game that captures the attention of the dudebros — may be the only venue in which they're willing to think more deeply about a soldier's job and his life.

To McShea's point, yes, if someone plays only the multiplayer, I don't believe it would be that thought-provoking. But to Goodrich's, if the appeal of multiplayer action leads that kind of person to a considerate singleplayer experience, and Warfighter sounds as though it will seriously offer one, then the game can make an honorable claim of fostering respect for duty.

A Matter of Authenticity [GameSpot]


Comments

    Man that "critic" is complete idiot. He's obviously one of those guys who thinks he's smarter than everyone around him. What a silly argument to have with a game developer. Probably wanted some attention.

      if you have seen entourage, he reminds me of the guy from the comic con episode.
      Also he is going really head strong against this game, but when the developer asks him points on the game Tom says he hasn't had a chance to play that part. Maybe they didn't give him enough access so he just had a rant to get their attention.

      And he is going really hard at him, when the problems he has are seen over the whole war FPS genre (aka COD, BF)

    Yay hardcore

      It might not be too bad if it's reminiscent of GRAW (the first one) rather than Arma, still enjoyable and more challenging than usual, but accessible for those who don't want an extreme challenge

    "video games are a weak story telling medium right now", I am sorry but Tom is hopefully talking about maybe games of today because i find the complete opposite to this statement. Games allow you to integrate through the story with controlling the main character.

    Squirm-worthy? Naah lol Was just a dev trying to explain to a journo that their game is meant to be fun and not try and punish people... and the journo just not understanding that. I think he stated his position well, authenticity doesnt have to mean realism (true)... they want to make their game fun and for some reason the journo is having a mild breakdown over that. Hmmm.

    seems like the dev's got caught promoting their game as being meaningful when really it's just another modern warfare/battlefield clone. Does anyone have a link to a video showing the presentation they are referring to in the interview? i'd like to actually see exactly what the dev's said.

    as it stands now the reporter seems to be on the right track but can't seem to verbalise it properly.

    I didn't read the article in question, but from what has been outlined here it he seems to make sense. People buy low-brow, lowest common denominator because that's what's offered today. I don't think the dev understands its his choice to put things in the game. But MOH is EA so the whole game was probably designed by accountants anyway. I also agree that MOH more than any other shooter sets its tone as realistic while being careful not out outright say it, despite being pretty much indistinguishable from COD/BF.

    The critic is a massive douche. 'You're pushing this as an entertainment product. ABout war. War isnt fun. War is hell.'
    Dude. All shooting games that portray war aim to be fun. Hell Look at paintball. This guy pisses me off. This game is not aimed at recreating war down to the last detail. Its entertainment. Its a game. Get over your self. Dont act like you've never induldged in playing CoD and enjoyed it.

    And why wont he get over the health regenerating mechanism. Alot of games do that. Its Medal of Honor.

      I enjoy COD, and have done for many years, but the tone of COD's marketing is one of over the top action movie badassery- entertainment. MOH likes to paint the picture that it's a serious game tackling a serious issue, whereas it treats war exactly the same as every other game. It's not the fact that it treats combat lightly, but the fact that it claims not to.

      I enjoy COD, and have done for many years, but the tone of COD's marketing is one of over the top action movie badassery - pure entertainment. MOH likes to paint the picture that it's a serious game tackling a serious issue, whereas it treats war exactly the same as every other game. It's not the fact that it treats combat lightly, but the fact that it claims not to. Authentic/Realistic is just semantics in the case of marketing, they carry the same connotations. When you see, for example, 'authentic war game' you don't think "oh this means its got authentic gear, but plays like an arcade" you think its an authentic war game.

    Do people really expect anything more from gamespot? The site's "writers" are just a bunch of pseudo- intellectuals who are basically the Foxnews of the gaming world. They suck the dicks of publishers every time a cookie cutter game is released and attempt to con people into thinking it's the next revolution in gaming. Then once they've got their cheque for writing a paid review they turn around and start bad mouthing publishers in an effort to look like men of the people.

    They're just hapless drones to whichever publisher pays them the most.

    The original piece is better than the video. He calls out some of the original developers claims about how realistic the game is. If they're going to sell a war game on how realistic it is, it really shouldn't be described as 'fun'. In the video he just comes across as obstinate.

    Using his logic, we shouldn't be able to play the game anymore once we've died in the game. Second playthrough? No way, that's time travelling.

    I could only watch eight minutes of it. That critic is a wanker! If I was the developer Id punch him in his smug little face. Wipe that constant smirk off his face.
    First minute:
    "You said it would be realistic."
    "No we didnt. We said authentic. Never said 'realistic'."
    That critic has put a face to all the loudmouth, know it all, internet trolls.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMkzQ35YuT0

    The problem is that games journalists deconstruct art from a position of safety, while someone slaves away at their passion they arrive when it's completed and potentially shit on the fruits of someone else's labour.

    This critic has bashed MOH because of baggage he has personally placed on the game. He's holding the game to standards set by himself alone and not the developer. How extremely unfair of him to trash the game on such standards.

    In the words of Anton Ego from Rattatoullie:

    "In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face is that, in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. "

    I have to agree the critic comes off as insufferably elitist, then again so does the Producer. The "we need to be stupid for the Dudebros" argument is both incalculably condescending towards the mass market as well as demonstrably false; BioShock may have been a shooter but it was a relatively complex game and dealt with some deep issues, and it sold very well.

    That said, whilst I am no fan of "militainment," what is wrong with an entertainment product just being shameless entertainment?

    Even the article itself went on about how the sports section could make people think about "race, gender, social differences and problems, even economics." But, and here's the critical question: why does an entertainment product need to JUSTIFY itself by dealing with social issues in the first place?

    Isn't entertainment a good thing? Or does it need to be accompanied with some heavy-handed aesop about The Important Social Issue Of The Week in order to be a good thing?

    Many people play these games to GET AWAY from Important Social Issues Of The Week. People have a limited supply of compassion, a limited supply of empathy, and a limited tolerance for angst over the Plight Of The X's. Basically, we can't take an infinite amount of angst!

    We need catharsis. Dumb silly unrealistic poorly-written 'dudebro' military shooters provide people with catharsis. Catharsis is important to the maintenance of emotional stability and without it, we'd probably go crazy.

    Why, oh why, do some people seem intent on taking mindless catharsis away and replacing it with heavy-handed guilt-trip lectures about the Important Social Issue Of The Week?

    I'm all for deep philosophical contemplation of Big Important Pressing Issues. But, and speaking as someone with both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the social sciences who also studied plenty of philosophy, even I have my limits. On occasion, I NEED an Intellectual Decompression Chamber. I NEED to blow off steam. I can't spend all my life contemplating about The Endless Unending Perpetual Infinite Sufferring Of Groups A, B and C.

    Ironically, those that would LIKE more attention to be drawn to Big Important Social Issues are only damaging their own case; people don't like having their catharsis taken away and they'll quickly associate attempts at "raising concern and awareness" with attempts to destroy their mindless relaxing fun.

    But apparently, video game critics are enjoying playing the part of artistic elitist (even if they give CoD games 9/10 across the board every damn year). They seem to think that the tastes of the Plebians are indicative of moral degeneracy and thus the Plebians need the enlightened guidance of Properly Informed Socially Aware Critics (tm) to "educate" them.

    For the record, I don't like CoD or MoH (or Gears Of War, or racing games or fighting games). My video game tastes run towards RPG/FPS hybrids, non-fantasy Action RPGs, and Survival Horror games (I'm an active member of the Silent Hill fanbase so I know pretentious 'artistic' elitism when I see it!). But I'm not going to pretend that my artistic tastes should be shared by everyone and I'm not going to begrudge anyone's own preferences.

    Will I complain about CoD, Gears, certain stereotypes/ideas/themes in various games that I find annoying? I will! And I'll do so for hours! But I'm not going to be a smug, elitist, arrogant, condescending douche to some other person just because that other person's taste in games run closer to the mainstream than my own.

    Ugh. I got to 8 minutes and I just couldn't keep listening to this unbearable idiot. He hasn't played the game and he's constantly trying to find a reason to discredit it.

    His argments were so moronic it was hurting my brain.

      I got to 8 minutes and had to stop.
      Then an hour later I forced myself to watch the rest. . . he gets worse. . . much worse.

    this guy is an idiot

    The interviewer is an idiot. Complete waste of interview

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