I’ve learned something over the past few days, soaking up comments from various sites that have posted Tom McShea’s interview with Medal of Honor: Warfighter‘s executive producer Greg Goodrich. McShea wrote a rather heated editorial dissecting the marketing team -and thus Goodrich’s- concept that Warfighter is authentic.
McShea based his argument on regenerating health. Soldiers, the same ones Warfighter claims to pay tribute to, don’t regenerate on the field. Goodrich claims authenticity and realism are two different things. McShea did what he was supposed to do in a follow-up video interview, and people didn’t like it.
I’m not sure why. I guess most people are accustomed to retooled PR speak. Anyone working within this industry is guilty of it. It’s unfortunately part of the job. Every once a while, someone will kick it up a notch and call a producer/marketer on their BS. I’m recalling Dan Hsu’s dissection of then Microsoft talking head Peter Moore, an interview that drew such heat, it even became immortalized at Penny Arcade.
I’m not going to dissect McShea’s methodology, get into who is right or wrong, or debate the core issues of modern military entertainment. Those are different thoughts for a different day, and I certainly have my own. What people are missing is that someone stood up to the PR speak. It’s beginning to break down a few barriers. McShea is doing exactly what he is supposed to do. It’s a change, if comments are to be believed, that some people don’t enjoy.
I’ve rallied on the topic before (and even linked to the same Penny Arcade comic in hopes it would inspire someone), rather baffled as to how we reached a point where a single screen shot became newsworthy. McShea could have sat down in the bustle of E3, whipped up 400 words on how realistic Warfighter was purported to be based on the marketing given to him, and moved on. In the midst of E3 chaos, no one would have blamed him.
But he didn’t. He took a second to think, put digital words to screen, and then went toe-to-toe against a developer. Awesome. The point isn’t that McShea was challenging the game in the way he did so much as he did it in the first place. That rut that is the traditional lead-up to a product release (announcement, hype, review) suddenly has an additional level: challenge. It sets a tone that it’s okay to push and not let prepared statements rule, or let development types walk away unscathed. The game makers should be respected, but also disallowed from just roaming free. Otherwise, it’s no different than a politically-based journalist letting a Senator walk out a room without questioning the affair recently exposed in the media because it might offend said Senator.