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    Don't Worry, There Is No Torture in the Zero Dark Thirty Video Game

    Written by

    Alex Pasternack

    Founding Editor

    If you've been following the Zero Dark Thirty controversy, making a documentary-like movie about a history that remains secret and that includes scenes of "immoral violence" is one challenge, to say the least. But turning it into a video game may be another thing altogether.

    I'll save you from a digression about depictions of torture and violence and video games now, but consider the bizarre new promotion for the film in Medal of Honor: Warfighter. For their game, Electronic Arts has released downloadable maps for two Pakistani locations used in the film, including the Darra gun market (see a video from a visit there by Vice's Suroosh Alvi) and a compound in the Chitral region in the far north where bin Laden was thought to be hiding. There are no torture scenes, as far as I can tell, but there's plenty of bringing that CIA guy, to quote from the film and the game trailers below, "people to kill." 

    This kind of downloadable promotional tie-in (which the LA Times calls a new idea) has a generous side: for each Zero Dark Thirty-themed map pack sold (it goes for about $10, unless you have the deluxe version, in which case it's free), EA will donate $1 to nonprofit organizations that support veterans, "part of a larger commitment by the company to give at least $1 million to such causes." I haven't played it yet, but I am curious to know if the filmmakers have, and what they think about this bit of marketing.

    Gamers are liking it, it seems. One comment on the first YouTube trailer apparently came from an actual serviceman, praising its accuracy:

    As a real U.S Army Soldier, I think the weapons are perfect - The missions are well designed, and those of you complaining about little nit-picky shit are just a bunch of bitchy little girls with nothing better to do.

    GROW UP, want weapon's enlist.

    The maps have an official FAQ, which ends with this question, perhaps inspired by the infamous "No Russian" level in 2009's Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2:

    Does this content allow playing as Osama bin Laden or terrorist forces?

    No. It allows you to play as Tier1 operators in the places where they hunted for Osama bin Laden.

    It starts to feel like something ripped out of William Gibson. But no no--it's "inspired by true events."

    So is this disturbing opening scene I found in 2009's Call of Duty: World at War, in which you're an American being tortured inside a Japanese POW camp

    After the war the United States prosecuted Japanese military officials for these practices. In 2002, they would be resurrected as methods of "enhanced interrogation techniques" by Bush Administration lawyers, and of course come to feature, some say too prominently, in Zero Dark Thirty--the movie, not the downloadable maps pack.