UK defence secretary Liam Fox has called for a ban on a forthcoming release of first-person shooter game Medal of Honor.
The Conservative minister launched a scathing attack on the game after hearing reports that the title, set amid the war in Afghanistan, included a multiplayer option that enables gamers to play as Taliban insurgents, carrying out attacks on British forces.
A Press Association report describes a YouTube clip from the game showing Taliban fighters in Southern Helmand, where British forces are deployed. The report goes on to say that players are instructed to stop coalition forces "at all costs", and receive points for killing allied troops.
Arabic news site al-Jazeera posted in-game footage of a Taliban fighter using a mobile phone to detonate an explosive device.
Fox told reporters: "It's shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban. At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands.
"I am disgusted and angry. It's hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product."
A spokesperson for Electronic Arts, the developer behind the game, explained the game's multiplayer features in an interview with yesterday's Sunday Times newspaper:
"The format of the new Medal of Honor game merely reflects the fact that every conflict has two sides. We give gamers the opportunity to play both sides. Most of us have been doing this since we were seven: someone plays the cop, someone must be robber. In Medal of Honor multiplayer, someone's got to be the Taliban."
Responding to Liam Fox's comments on British games website Eurogamer, EA defended the title, saying it was part of a long-standing tradition of such games - the only difference being its contemporary setting. The company also complained that the earlier report had contained material inaccuracies.
"In the multiplayer levels of Medal of Honor, teams will assume the identity of both US forces and the Taliban. The Sunday Times story on Medal of Honor contains inaccuracies. For one, Medal of Honor does not allow players to kill British soldiers. British troops do not feature in the game."
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has distanced itself from Fox's comments, describing them as "a personal view".
EA plans to release a full statement in response to Fox's criticisms.