A sure sign that video games have matured into key players in the entertainment industry is that some of the most elusive, mysterious and bad-ass people in the world are now leaking information to developers to make their games even more awesome.
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Seven members of the Navy SEAL Team 6 have been fined and reprimanded, and four others are under investigation, for giving secret information to the maker of Medal of Honor: Warfighter.
One of those SEALs was directly involved in the mission that ended with the death of Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
He (or she) has got stories to tell.
This announcement is quite a boon for the gaming industry. Usually, the authors of tell-all biographies or consultants on semi-fictional movies are the ones reprimanded for sharing secrets in the name of entertainment.
Under the pseudonym Mark Owen, Matt Bissonnette, a now-retired SEAL who participated in the raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan, enraged the Pentagon by releasing a firsthand account of the bin Laden raid.
According to the Associated Press, one commander said SEALs who reveal secrets about their training and missions are putting the country and their own families in jeopardy.
Naval Special Warfare Command, Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli issued a statement about the punishment over the leak for the video game, saying the release of classified information is unacceptable.
We do not tolerate deviations from the policies that govern who we are and what we do as Sailors in the United States Navy. The non-judicial punishment decisions made today send a clear message throughout our Force that we are and will be held to a high standard of accountability.
Medal of Honor: Warfighter is a realistic third-person shooter video game with missions based in present-day Pakistan, Somalia and Bosnia. Its makers say the game is realistic, but not based on real events.
But Electronic Arts, the makers of the Medal of Honour series, certainly celebrated its link to real-life conflicts ahead of the game's Oct. 23 release.
"Written by actual U.S. Tier 1 Operators while deployed overseas, Medal of Honor Warfighter features a dotted line to real world events and provides players a view into globally recognized threats and situations letting them experience the action as it might have unfolded," read a press release.
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How real is too real? In 2009, the makers of Six Days in Falluja were criticized for trying to turn the 2003 invasion of Iraq into a video game. The company set to release the game eventually bowed to criticism.
In the case of Medal of Honor: Warfighter, the SEALs were employed for two days of consultation, long enough to show developers how they hold their guns or breach a compound. But probably not long enough to tell them where to find bin Laden's body.
Jay Bahadur, a journalist who writes about Somali pirates, was an outside advisor for Medal of Honor: Warfighter. He says video games, like movies, can shine a light on true events through their fictional retelling.
He told Digital Spy:
It is interesting that the same criticism that is often levelled against games is not applied to movies. If a movie featured deaths caused by Somali pirates, it would not get the same attention as a game depicting the violence. I don't think that is right.