I was surprised to come across the following message sent by Electronic Arts to one of it’s Irish customers who complained that the flag used on his Battlefield 1943 “Scorecard” was the Union Flag and not the National flag of Ireland.
Thank you for contacting Electronic Arts.
We sorry to inform you that we can’t edit your game profile as your country “Ireland” is not listed distinctively and is included in Great Britain. That’s why you are not seeing your country name.
Please accept *apologise for this.
After chasing the legitimacy of this message up with a number of Irish and Northern Irish EA customers it seems that if you live in Northern Ireland EA won’t allow you to identify yourself as “Irish” despite the 1998 Belfast agreement saying otherwise.
UPDATE : However in a bizarre turn I’ve since discovered that “Ben” the customer who received the above email actually lives in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, when I asked Ben what was his reaction to recieving the email he told me “I was quite literally struck dumb mid-sentence while reading through my mails and chatting with my flatmate. It’s a ridiculous mistake for a service organisation to make especially given that the information in the e-mail is quite clearly wrong and it seems as if the EA rep combined their ignorance with an active desire to avoid work to come up with a fob off.”
So it now seems from the email that EA doesn’t recognise Ireland at all: “your country “Ireland” is not listed distinctively and is included in Great Britain.”
Is this just a typo I wonder? Are EA confusing Northern Ireland with the Republic, even if thats the case Northern Irish customers are allowed dual citizenship under the 1998 Belfast agreement:
“it is the birthright of all the people of Northern Ireland to identify themselves and be accepted as Irish or British, or both, as they may so choose, and accordingly [the two governments] confirm that their right to hold both British and Irish citizenship is accepted by both Governments and would not be affected by any future change in the status of Northern Ireland.”
Feeling on the EA Battlefield 1943 forums is running high. Posting under his forum name “Lalaland” Ben writes “No I won’t accept ‘apologise’ and by God I will not accept this nonsense” another forum user told me “its common sense as Ireland is not in Great Britain, perhaps EA should go back to school and sit their exams again!” on a lighter, less serious note another user wrote “EA succeeds where years of attempted English oppression fails. way to go EA!”
In regards to their Northern Irish customers Shouldn’t EA respect their rights under the Belfast Agreement? Of course EA might argue that the flags represent geographical location rather than identity (and here I begin to swim in dangerous waters) but I assumed these flags were like the patches you see on soldiers combat clothing and if that’s the intention you could extrapolate it to some pretty ludicrous extremes: For example should a British Soldier fighting in Afghanistan wear the Afghanistan flag on his uniform because that’s his location?
For those of us on the “Mainland” we might think this is all a storm in a tea cup, but the Welsh side of me strongly disagrees with that. Besides if a game I buy wishes to publish my online accomplishments to the world then I’d want to make sure they accurately represented information about me… and there’s another thing – what if I didn’t want them to publish any information about me at all. I don’t recall being asked for permission before I purchased the game.
As for those customers in the Republic and being forced to play under the Union flag their disbelief and anger is more than understandable.
All in all it seems to me that a much more elegant solution would have been for EA to allow it’s customers to select their identity on sign up rather than forcing it upon them. But perhaps that’s too much to ask from DICE – especially when you consider the existing outstanding issues with the game.
I’ve now managed to get in touch with the customer EA sent the email to who wishes to identify himself simply as “Ben”, and to my disbelief it turns out he lives in Dublin in the Republic of Ireland, understandably he’s quite annoyed by the situation and EA’s email:
“It is damn irritating can you imagine them deciding to tell a Polish chap to put up with the German flag? Emotive example perhaps but how about a Greek guy the Turkish flag or vice versa? I live in Dublin so unlike Dungannon’s unfortunate situation (this really drives my nationalist mates nuts up North, conversely it’s the source of great amusement to my unionist mates) all of my details with EA and Sony list the Republic as my country so there isn’t even the excuse of using billing address details.”
Note: EA have been contacted for a comment, if one is forthcoming I’ll amend the article to include it… but don’t hold your breath.
*EA’s spelling not mine (for once!)