< Letters


Friday, November 20, 2009

BOB GARFIELD: This is On the Media. I'm Bob Garfield.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: And I'm Brooke Gladstone with a clarification. Back in September we spoke with David Goodman, who wrote in Mother Jones magazine about the U.S. military’s use of video games, like Halo 3, for recruitment.

BOB GARFIELD: Last week we were contacted by a representative from Microsoft, which manufactures the Xbox 360 and publishes Halo 3. Microsoft took issue with a few of Goodman’s assertions and wrote, “The military was not the primary underwriter of Halo 3. In fact, Microsoft was the primary underwriter and Bungie was the developer. The Army didn't provide any graphics in any way throughout the game. While there are Army advertisements on the Xbox 360 dashboard, there are no advertisements for the Army, no links or anything throughout the game of Halo 3 itself. And there are parental controls on Xbox 360 consoles that parents can use to prevent their kids from seeing any advertisements, including the Army-related ones from the dashboard.”

BROOKE GLADSTONE: We asked David Goodman for his response, and this is what he wrote to us, quote, “The boundaries that Microsoft claims exists between it and the Army are not perceived by players of Xbox 360 games such as Halo 3, and that is intentional. The U.S. Army invested about 1.3 million dollars to be the main partner and underwriter for the blockbuster Halo 3 franchise and the seamless integration of sponsor and product has been carefully orchestrated. The Army was the exclusive sponsor of Microsoft’s launch of Halo 3, which included the game being delivered to stores by helmeted soldiers in Humvees. The Army has also been the exclusive sponsor of Halo 3 Xbox Live tournaments online. The Army’s ad agency boasted that, quote, “The Army creative for this sponsorship was the first of its kind, seamlessly merging real Army images and videos with Halo images and videos. “As for blocking this content for underage users, perhaps some parents of teenage boys would be willing to describe how successful they've been when trying to impose these restrictions on their kids. In short, Microsoft created the Halo 3 game, then eagerly helped the Army to deploy it.”

BOB GARFIELD: Keep those corrections, criticisms and gratuitous flattery coming in. You can comment at onthemedia.org or email us at onthemedia@wnyc.org.