U.K. leaders from Islam, Christianity and Judaism all claim that the violence in Modern Warfare 2 went too far.
Several religious leaders discussed the implications of the violence in Modern Warfare 2 on a panel on BBC One's talk show, "The Big Questions." The panel consisted of Alex Goldberg, CEO of the London Jewish Forum, Fazan Mohammed of the British Muslim Forum, and the Rt. Reverend Stephen Lowe, former Bishop of Hulme. The three leaders took umbrage [SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT!] with the now notorious airport scene, pitting the player as an undercover CIA posing as a terrorist. [END SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT!]
"When I was young, [society was] worried about horror comics - because they were going to pollute the minds of young people and make them violent," said Reverend Stephen Lowe, an admitted World of Warcraft fan. "This [game] is very different from that; this is [ANOTHER SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT!]taking on the role of a terrorist in a way that relates to the news - what we actually see on our [TV] screens. That is fundamentally different. It somehow says: 'Maybe this is all right.' It isn't."
Fazan Mohammed had this to add:
"You can't equate it with watching TV or a movie or reading a book. This is a much more intimate experience. You're mentally playing out the effects of violence. A lot of people make the excuse that this is sport - that it's just entertainment. But Joseph Goebbels - the propaganda minister of Nazi Germany - said his entertainment did more for the German people, in terms of creating the psyche for war and hostility towards others, than the speeches of Adolf Hitler. The idea this is entertainment is not justification whatsoever."
The biggest head-scratching quote was from Alex Goldberg, from the London Jewish Forum. He said, "In the Holy scriptures, when Cain kills Abel, God asks him one question: Are you your brother's keeper? The rest of the bible is an answer to that - and it's a big yes. When I play this game I don't get that answer - I get upset."
I'm not sure that the bible I read specfically stated that I was my brother's keeper, but I won't get too much into religious debates here.
Finally, the spokesperson for the gaming community on this panel actually had a decent rebuttal, contrary to the Fox news segment from last week. Future Publishing's James Binns said, "You need to see it in the same way you'd see a movie, TV show or book. There are movies, books and TV shows for kids, and there are those for adults. This is an adult piece of entertainment. We can make all entertainment for children, or we can take proper steps to try and protect children from adult entertainment."
To me, that is the argument that is never sufficiently discussed here in the U.S. It is culturally ok that there are pieces of art, theater and cinema that are made specifically for adults and pieces of the same media that are made for children. Videogames are just a different form of entertainment media and must be treated the same way.