Will the recent punishment of SEALs affect EA game?

November 9, 2012 8:13:15 PM PST
Members of the elite commando unit, the Navy SEALs, are in hot water after consulting on a video game for Redwood City's Electronic Arts. The Navy has disciplined them for disclosing classified information. So will this have an impact on Bay Area game makers as they up the ante for realism?

The video game "Medal Of Honor Warfighter" puts players in the role of special operations forces. And it is apparently so realistic, the seven members of an elite SEALs team have had pay docked. Future promotions may be in jeopardy. Redwood City based game maker Electronic Arts, better known as EA, isn't talking, but game industry analyst Dan Hsu is, via Skype.

"This would be a lesson for other military guys who might become consultants, whether it's for Hollywood or for the game industry. I think they're just going to be a little bit more careful about what they say," said Hsu, the editor-in-chief of Gamesbeat.

A former member of SEAL Team 8 says no SEAL would divulge tactics, techniques or procedures that would jeopardize other team members' lives. The EA game, he says, doesn't give anything away.

"There's no planning involved. Guys get killed, they respawn, and they go through the room or the doorway again. It's not telling you what tactics to use," said Christopher Mark Heben, a former Navy SEAL Team 8 commando.

EA has upped the competitive world of war games by consulting real life warriors, a point game player Trevin Baron embraces.

"What do people want next? They're always trying to find the next thing. And where else to look for it and find it, but what's going on now in real life," said Baron, a San Jose State student.

Will this flap put the chill on future games? Students in training to become game developers at Cogswell College don't think so.

"Deliver what the public wants in terms of games. So if society wants more realism, then it's our jobs to give it to them," said Marc Selwan, a game developer and student.

If not the SEALs, where will game developers turn next for help?

"They have plenty of other people they could go to. There are retired generals, retired Armed Force guys who can definitely consult on this. It happens all the time," said Hsu.

Don't expect to see "Medal of Honor Warfighter" to disappear from store shelves. EA says it will not recall the game, nor will it amend any portion of the game on which the SEALs might have consulted.


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