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After going for quite some time with little media scrutiny, violent video games have once again come under attack by the media, the National Rifle Association and the government in the wake of the Newtown Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 26 dead.
Electronic Arts has removed links from its latest Medal of Honor Warfighter game’s Website, which allowed players to browse and buy real weapons featured in its first-person shooter game. The list of gun manufacturers remains. The only links on the site now are for Sony Pictures’ Kathryn Bigelow-directed Zero Dark Thirty film, which EA has partnered with for exclusive multiplayer maps that feature locales from the action film.
A spokesman for Electronic Arts told the BBC and others, “We felt it was inappropriate and took the links down.”
Michael Pachter, video game analyst, Wedbush Securities, told THR that having those links in the first plays was a bad idea.
“There is really no constructive purpose served by making it easy for gamers to learn more about real weapons; those who choose to do so can perform a simple Internet search,” said Pachter.
Electronic Arts has not taken down a promotional video on the official Medal of Honor Warfighter Youtube page for Colorado-based arms designer/manufacturer Magpu, which you can see on this page.
This is the second national controversy surrounding this game. In November, seven members of the elite SEAL Team Six were reprimanded for divulging classified information to EA-owned Medal of Honor Warfighter developer Danger Close Games. Each of the seven soldiers received a punitive letter of reprimand and a partial forfeiture of pay for two months. In the military, these actions can impact future promotions.
The game industry will be under increased pressure in 2013 as Vice President Joe Biden is heading up a special panel to investigate ways to curb gun violence across all media, including video games.
“I think that Vice President Biden’s panel will conclude that games are free speech (consistent with the Supreme Court decision in Brown v. EMA), and that they will result in little or no change in government oversight of games,” said Pachter.
Senator Jay Rockefeller has asked for a new study to explore potential links between violent games and children.
“I agree that distasteful games such as Kindergarten Killers should be vilified, but their lack of commercial success is punishment enough,” said Pachter. “I don’t think that Call of Duty encourages anyone to go on a killing rampage, any more than actual military training causes people to commit random acts of violence.”
Looking ahead to 2013, big games like Take Two Interactive’s Grand Theft Auto V, which launches March 26 from Rockstar Games, will likely receive more negative mainstream media attention.
“GTA V will be scrutinized more than most other games because the protagonists are bad people,” said Pachter. “In most other games, the protagonists are good guys. I expect a lot of news outlets to make a big deal out of GTA V’s violence, but don’t think it will impact sales much at all.”
Violence hasn’t impact sales of Activision and developer Treyarch’s Call of Duty: Black Ops II, which crossed the $1 billion mark in a record 15 days at retail following a $500 million opening day launch.
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