Monday, 27 April 2009

Deliberate attempt to manufacture controversy pays off yet again...

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Stories like this are just so predictable – an Italian game designer has made a beat 'em up video game in which various pixelated figures from the major world religions (yes, one of them is Muhammad) slug it out to the death and, guess what, the aforementioned video game designer has managed to cause a handy little non-controversy that will drive loads of extra traffic his way.

So, the designer deliberately makes a game featuring Muhammad, Jesus et al, and a few papers, like the Metro, get on the phone to some religious "representatives" who are all to happy to explain just how offended they are by it all. And what are we left with - a perfectly designed controversy in which everybody involved is a winner. The games designer gets his publicity, as do the religious groups invited to comment, and the newspaper's story spreads around the web, helped in no small part by bloggers like me who want to hold forth on the stupidity of it all.

Pretty tiresome, I'm sure you'll agree. Although some credit has to go to the designer for his brazen attempt to claim that a) he isn't just doing it to piss people off, and b) that behind the game there is some sort of profound lesson to be learned:
This game is not intended to be offensive towards any religion in particular. Its aim is to push the gamers to reflect on how the religions and sacred representations are often instrumentally used to fuel or justify conflicts between nations and people.

The game contains a depiction of the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him. If you feel that such a depiction would be offensive, we ask that you play the censored version of the game in which the character's face has been removed. Or better yet, don't play the game at all.


Tom Morris said...

That's standard art-bollocks for you. I love some of the justificatory art-boloocks that people come up with. It's like when people take a bunch of photographs or do some paintings and then say they are "exploring our concepts of space" or they produce a portrait and then claim they are "exploring our concept of identity". Cobblers!

And what exactly would be wrong with producing a video game with the explicit purpose of being intentionally offensive to religion?

foolfodder said...

I seem to remember playing this game quite a while ago. So I guess the controversy must have taken a while to manufacture. Also, how is this much different to faith trumps?

Christina Martin said...

Had a go on this over lunch.
Wouldn't recommend playing as Jesus, he's rubbish.
Not the real Jesus obviously.
I bet he could take anyone.

ColonelFazackerley said...

I have to disagree with Paul's take on this. Religions are silly. Children benefit from seeing how there are lots of different religions. Clever children will wonder which is correct, and then may well disregard them all.

Like foolfodder intends to say. How is this different to God Trumps?

Tom Rees said...

It's a great idea for a game - and the fact that some rent-a-quote religious types can be found to promote it is even better.

You know, I think there is even something to be said for the designers claim. It's a blunt metaphor for religious conflict, but it gets the point across.

Christina Martin said...

And it's gone:

ColonelFazackerley said...

And it is replaced, with something wittier.

in FF2, you must click on all the religious characters to show how much you respect them. Unfortunately you can't respect them all enough, and the world is destroyed.