Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Game Controversy: Or Maybe Not

Game Politics reports Faith Fighter a game released over a year ago in 2008 has recently been noticed by 'religious groups' that are now calling for its removal off the internet. Gamer blogs like Kotaku note the extremely long period of time in which religious groups took to even notice that game. A quick glance of the actual Faith Fighter website shows the following response:

On Monday April 27 a misleading article titled "Calls to ban online game of Holy hatred" was posted on the tabloid newspaper Metro UK.

As often happens on the Internet and in our nowadays lightspeed mediasphere, the news got re-posted and further distorted by several other sources.

We feel compelled to give some clarifications:

- The game has been around for more than a year, it got international news coverage, it has been played by millions of player on the Internet and it has been exhibited in several artistic venues around the world.

- So far we received a couple of letters of complaints from individual catholic players but NO communications from any religious organization.

- The whole article on Metro UK is misleading, we assume the anonymous journalist pointed the game to the 3 individuals in order to get statements and give the impression that some kind of huge controversy was happening. At the present moment NO official statements from actual organizations related to the game can be found.

- The "censored" version was part of the game since the beginning, it is in NO WAY a response to protests from religious organizations.

- The anonymous journalist from Metro UK never contacted us, the sentences "The makers of the game ... have shrugged off criticism" and "the spokesman of Italian-based molleindustria said..." is simply a fantasy of the amateur journalist looking to spice up a blunt article.

Said that the game was obviously meant to be provocative but it was more meant to be a response/complement to the one-way western satire of the infamous Danish Mohammed cartoons.

So what we have here is an almost artificial controversy generated by the Metro UK.

At the same time we have another report by Game Politics that the controversial game Six days in Fallujah has been dropped by Konami with all the bad press it has been receiving. As with any other media, controversial topics such as this in the US tend to become less controversial as time goes on.

If we remember, Francis Ford Copolla's Apocalypse Now, now regarded as a masterpiece of film, was surrounded by controversey as the Vietname war was a sensitive topic at the time. Today however, we have games like Battlefield Vietnam and Shellshock: Nam which seem to have flown completely under the conservative radar. We also have modern games like Full Spectrum Warrior which was developed with the assistance of the US army which takes place in a fictional middle eastern country close to Iraq and Afghanistan. In some ways this controversy shows a double standard and a jarring one at that. Time does heal wounds and I suspect games like Six days will eventually be made. But not in today's political climate.

I think these demonstrate the failure of a democratic society to uphold the concept of 'freedom of speech'. Freedom of speech isn't about allowing you to say something 30 years after its occurred when nobody cares anymore, it's about the freedom to debate about the topics while they are still 'hot' so you can influence society or provide a commentary on it. If film makers or game makers want to make a documentary we should support their right to do so.

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