Bilson wouldn't have put Taliban in MOH
"It's emotional and it's personal."
EA's inclusion of the Taliban as a playable faction in the multiplayer portion of last year's Afghanistan shooter Medal of Honor turned enough heads to force it to scrap the idea at the 11th hour, but for THQ core games boss Danny Bilson, the Taliban should never have even been considered.
"I wouldn't have put them in in the first place," Bilson told Eurogamer in New York this week. "I wouldn't have."
THQ's soon-to-be-released shooter Homefront depicts a 'what if?' scenario in which the US is invaded by Korea.
Bilson describes the game as "speculative fiction", but following the recent escalation of the real world conflict between North Korea and South Korea, some have suggested that Homefront is bad taste.
Bilson denied the accusation, pointing out the difference between Medal of Honor and Homefront.
"In Battlefield, when you had the Mid East Alliance and the Chinese and the Americans, it was all fantasy and I didn't mind playing one side or the other.
"When you get into reality – and that's real, that's not speculative science-fiction like ours – people are dying at their hands. I take my games seriously. That's why they're fun to play, because you care about them. I don't want to play as the Taliban, particularly."
Last year DICE, the studio behind the multiplayer portion of MOH, told Eurogamer its reviews were hurt by the controversy surrounding the game's setting. Bilson, however, is confident Homefront will not suffer a similar fate.
"If we [the US] were in a shooting war with them [North Korea] and people's children were dying at their hands, you'd have to watch a bit what you do, as Medal of Honor ran into a little bit in Afghanistan.
"I'm old school. No offence, but I don't like playing as the Germans in World War II, either. That's just me. I just don't, because I take my games seriously and I have my heroes and villains in my psyche.
"Germans don't want to see the swastika, not for one second. I immerse myself in a game and care. Also, I'm older. I grew up with World War II as a big part of reality for my parents and my grandparents. For a younger generation, it's just a strategy game, like with board games or RTS. It's interesting.
"I'm not as sensitive as I was when I was younger but it's emotional and it's personal.
"I lost some relatives in World War II, so I always have that somewhere in my mind - some relatives in Poland. The next guy goes, oh, I don't relate it to that. It's a videogame.
"It's all personal. I'm not speaking for THQ. I'm just speaking for my experience and me."
Bilson, who used to work on the Medal of Honor series while at EA, added: "I had a lot of friends and family members who worked on that Medal of Honor game. They worked really hard to create an incredibly respectful experience of the American soldier. But we don't have to worry about respecting the Taliban. We don't because there are a lot of issues we have with them socially and politically.
"But I'm not sitting in Afghanistan having feelings of being... whatever they feel, in the tribal areas.
"It's very tricky stuff. When you deal with real-world stuff, you have to be sensitive to all points of view - absolutely not just an American point of view. I don't think Homefront's an American point of view at all.
"I'm not here to do politics. I'm not here to make a political statement. We're making entertainment. But we don't want to offend. We really don't, because if people are dying in the real world that becomes sensitive.
"When it's up to me, I'll make certain sensitive choices in all of these things."
Christian Donlan went hands-on with Homefront for Eurogamer last year.