The UK games industry faced a textbook media storm in a teacup on Monday when for all of about four minutes it looked like the Government wanted to ban the new Medal of Honor.
It doesn’t, of course. Angry comments published overnight about the game’s Taliban content by Defence Secretary Liam Fox were pushed to arms’ length by the Culture Department mid-morning, with EA fighting its corner at lunchtime, and retailers having shrugged it all off by mid-afternoon. Mainstream broadcasters had already gone off the skew-whiff story at that point.
When Tiga had published its statement after 6pm you knew the topic was already yesterday’s news.
And that was all accompanied by a lengthy bout of beard stroking on Twitter that could’ve been printed off and published as GCSE Media Studies Coursework.
Not that it isn’t an interesting debate, mind.
I don’t think anyone is naive enough to think EA was unaware that its Afghan game would irk some – like Rockstar Games, it knows what it’s doing, if it isn’t explicitly courting the controversy it’s getting.
But the discussion about violence and the culpability of a player taking part in a digital phoney war, and whether that disrespects or dulls the detail of what is something gravely serious… well the industry just can’t handle that yet.
The games media itself isn’t even set up for it yet – reporting meaningless stories about who said what with reckless click-grabbing abandon was the priority here – so we can’t expect the world outside of ours to be any better prepared.
Which means, right now, there’s really only one thing to take from MOH-gate: this isn’t the first time an MP has thrown stones at video games – and it won’t be the last.