Second Life for Islamic World?

October 23, 2008 -

TechCrunch reports that, a Muslim social network is readying the launch of a virtual world similar to Second Life. It is expected that IP censors in some Islamic nations will allow an MMO in which avatars wear Muslim garb and worship in prayer rooms.

From TechCrunch:

Although there are well over one billion people who identify themselves as Muslim, I see this site as appealing primarily to slightly more ‘westernised’ Muslim world...


Ashar Saeed, vice-president of reckons that by setting up a Muslim virtual world they’ll be able to attract sponsorship from the likes of brands like Coca-Cola, which already advertise in other online worlds.

Via: Kotaku


Penny Arcade Has Some Fun with Little Big Planet Recall

October 23, 2008 -

Gabe and Tycho poke fun at the Little Big Planet controversy in their latest cartoon.

Catch all of the panels here...


Islamic Musician Defends Lyrics That Delayed Little Big Planet

October 22, 2008 -

The Islamic musician whose Qur'anic references in a Little Big Planet soundtrack tune caused a delay in the game's release has defended his lyrics to MTV Multiplayer. Singer Toumani Diabate (left) explains:

It is quite normal to play music and be inspired by the words of the Prophet Mohammed... in my country in Mali. You can see this on television all the time.

MTV Multiplayer also has a more in-depth explanantion of the "offending" lyrics, provided by Diabate's record label. In this context they sound entirely inoffensive:

Moussa Diabate, adapts a traditional Malian song about the death of a much-loved hippopotamus who has been shot by a white hunter. In the original song... the griots of the village sing about how difficult it is to be separated from your loved one in death.

The singer adapts this song... to lament the death of his brother Mustapha, who died very young as a child. Moussa draws on the excerpts from the Koran to console him & help him overcome his bereavement. In this way, his intention... is a good one. He is not blaspheming or taking the Koran out of context. He is trying to draw strength from the words of the Prophet.

...‘Every soul shall have the taste of death...
...All that is on earth will perish...

Meanwhile, Reuters wonders whether, in the wake of its second faith-based controversy in as many years, Sony needs to hire a religious advisor. Perhaps more to the point, Reuters asks:

Should companies simply avoid any reference to Islam at all?

GP: Is that really what the Islamic world wants, to become a zone of avoidance for pop culture?


American Muslim Group Leader Slams Little Big Planet Recall

October 21, 2008 -

Sony's unexpected decision to delay the release of Game-of-the-Year candidate Little Big Planet over the inclusion of two sentences from the Qur'an in an LBP soundtrack song stunned gamers late last week.

But the PlayStation 3 maker, burned in 2007 by a religion-based controversy involving FPS game Resistance and the Church of England, was undoubtedly being cautious. An American Islamic leader, however, says that delaying and editing LBP was the wrong move.

As reported by Edge Online, M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. (left), head of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, remarked:

Muslims cannot benefit from freedom of expression and religion and then turn around and ask that anytime their sensibilities are offended that the freedom of others be restricted... The free market allows for expression of disfavor by simply not purchasing a game that may be offensive...

[Mohammed] defended the rights of his enemies to critique him in any way even if it was offensive to his own Islamic sensibilities or respect for Koranic scripture... To demand that [the game] be withdrawn is predicated on a society which gives theocrats who wish to control speech far more value than the central principle of freedom of expression upon which the very practice and freedom of religion is based.

The fact that the music writer is a devout Muslim should highlight that at the core of this issue is not about offending ‘all Muslims,’ but only about freedom of expression and the free market...

LBP on Ebay:

Meanwhile, reports that copies of the unedited LBP are fetching as much as $249 on Ebay. Hmmm...where did I put that review copy?


SCEE Issues New Ship Date for Little Big Planet

October 20, 2008 -

In the wake of Friday's surprising news that the release of Little Big Planet would be delayed following the discovery of two verses from the Qur'an in one of the game's soundtrack songs, SCEE has issued a press release regarding the updated launch schedule for its terroritories:

Sony Computer Entertainment Europe is pleased to confirm that LittleBigPlanet will start to appear in stores no later than the week commencing Monday 3rd November in the UK, Europe, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, on a country by country basis. We appreciate all the enthusiasm surrounding this much anticipated title and we would like to thank PlayStation fans for their support and understanding.


Little Big Planet Release Delayed Over Qur'an References in Song

October 17, 2008 -

The Little Big Planet launch won't go off next week as originally scheduled.

As reported by Joystiq, Sony is delaying LBP worldwide due to concerns about Qur'an references in a single song file. SCEE issued a statement on the situation:

During the review process prior to the release of LittleBigPlanet, it has been brought to our attention that one of the background music tracks licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Qur'an. We have taken immediate action to rectify this and we sincerely apologise for any offence that this may have caused. We will confirm the new launch date shortly.

Joystiq reports that the tune in question is Tapha Niang by Grammy winner Toumani Diabaté. From Joystiq's report:

From the brief research we've done (um ... Wikipedia), we have yet to find evidence to suggest "Tapha Niang" (or any Toumani Diabaté production for that matter) has been criticized for possible religious offenses prior to today's development. In fact, a profile published by Taipei Times describes Toumani Diabaté as "a devout Muslim, with his own prayer room next to his office."

GP: SCEE, still smarting from the Resistance / Manchester Cathedral controversy, is likely being extra-cautious here in an effort not to step on anyone's religious toes.

Thanks to: GP reader Josh Thompson for the tip!

UPDATE: Just got this e-mail with reviewer info from Sony:

Please be sure to check out the latest PlayStation blog post regarding LittleBigPlanet for the PS3.  Feel free to move forward with publishing reviews and features, but note that SCEA will begin shipping LittleBigPlanet to retail in North America the week of October 27th. 

UPDATE 2: Kotaku has a translation of the offending passages:

Every soul shall have the taste of death...  All that is on earth will perish...

UPDATE 3: Here's the official PlayStation blog announcement. Doesn't add much, although some of the commenters are outraged.


Church of England Dropping Resistance to Video Games?

October 11, 2008 -

It wasn't that long ago that the Church of England was all over the video game industry - and Sony, in particular - for depicting a Resistance: Fall of Man combat mission inside a virtual representation of Manchester Cathedral (pic at left).

But the U.K. game biz, it would seem, is trying to woo the CoE, along with other religious and charity leaders. As reported by Yet Another Review Site, lobbying group ELSPA held a Faith & Gaming event this week in London. From YARS:

Mike Royal, national director of the Lighthouse Group, which helps to educate children who have been excluded from school, discussed the use of playing computer and video games to talk about 'boundaries' with young people and what behaviour is good and acceptable, not only in gaming but other aspects of life.

He also said that gaming helps to build a dialogue with parents as well as children, especially with regard to the types of games children are playing...

While the panel agreed that computer and video games can have a positive impact, they also explained that games must be utilised in the right way to yield the best results. Parental engagement and encouragement, as well as safe and social gaming, can help children develop and protect them in an increasingly online environment.

A podcast of the event is available from ELSPA.

Via: Kotaku


Is Killing in Video Games a Sin?

September 21, 2008 -

Violent video games are not quite sinful but can involved "departures from God's will," according to the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod.

The issue was raised as a question by a reader of the Synod's website:

Q: I'm very sure that killing/suicide stealing and anything like that is not accounted as an actual sin if it's only in video games. But I'm still not very sure, when I play video games, I'm not murdering at heart because I would never try to take the life of any living thing. And whatever is a video game can't die because it's not alive in the first place, video games are a false alternate reality...

A: As normally defined, taking the life of another in video games (as in acting or in any other fantasy situation) is not a sin against God's prohibition to murder. If, however, what is done in the video game is an expression of hatred or callous disregard for human life, then the heart and motives are wrong, and then it is sin in God's eyes...


For the record, however, obsession with video games can involve other departures from God's will... Typically, this can involve a colossal misuse of valuable time and also end up diverting time and attention from more useful and valuable pursuits that better glorify God and serve our neighbor...


Muslim Massacre Creator: My Apology Was Fake

September 17, 2008 -

The man behind the Muslim Massacre controversy seems unwilling to relinquish his 15 minutes of fame. Although Eric Vaugh issued a widely-reported apology for his game, the object of which is "wipe out the Muslim race," he now claims that the apology was a scam.

We know because Super Columbine Massacre RPG creator Danny Ledonne, himself no stranger to controversy, has shared with GamePolitics an e-mail conversation with Vaughn which took place on September 15th:

Danny Ledonne: It is too bad that you pulled your game simply because some people didn't understand your political message (I for one gleaned a satirical criticism of Bush's foreign policy from "Muslim Massacre" whether you had intended it or not)... I believe by complying with demands of censorship toward the Danish cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad and games like "Muslim Massacre," we are enabling a culture of taboos that are ultimately unproductive in cross-cultural dialogue...

While I recognize my serious/satire game "Super Columbine Massacre RPG!" merely pissed off a vocal but benevolent PTA instead of Muslim extremists... it is disheartening whenever an artist (however amateur or vulgar) raises the white flag at the first sign of social disapproval...

Eric Vaughn: The apology was actually fake. I put the site back up shortly after. Now the media is in a total bind and doesn't know what to believe.I was just f***ing with everyone the entire time and have had great success.

[GP: Indeed, the Muslim Massacre site, which had been down, is back up]

Danny Ledonne: Erg. I get it. But I don't. I mean, you have an actual message ( I presume?) and I think you could legitimately stand behind it. Please don't tell me you're just another Ryan Lambourn... doing it for "the lulz." If I were you, I would define success as the opportunity to think more critically about the elements your game addresses...

Eric Vaughn: Not exactly, basically my message was the Muslims need to suck it down and stop getting offended by everything. If they learnt to just ignore people, things would be better. It's not just a message for Muslims, it's for people in general. There are people all around the world who will do things that make you mad. If you search for them, they are easy to find. Just get on with your life.

GP: Readers may recall that Ryan Lambourn, mentioned by Ledonne, created the execrable V-Tech Rampage last year (see: V-Tech Rampage Creator Demands Payment to Remove Game).

By the way, Playing Columbine, Danny Ledonne's film detailing the controversy surrounding his game, will be screened at the AFI FEST in Los Angeles later this year. We'll have review of the film coming up on GamePolitics in the near future.


AntiSpore Creationist Site Revealed as a Rick Roll

September 11, 2008 -

Yesterday GamePolitics covered AntiSpore, an apparent Creationist site bent on attacking the evolutionary message inherent in Will Wright's best-selling Spore.

We noted that there was some suspicion that the over-the-top blog was a hoax. And so it was. In today's entry the author starts out with a lengthy diatribe on her religious views:

I think part of the problem that is going on here is that the bulk of you are ignorant as to the word of God. I don’t have these beliefs just because I want to, I have them because they are the beliefs that I was raised in. I understand that everyone didn’t have the chance to be taught these things, and learn about God as my family did so if I am going to have this kind of attention I should use it to help teach others about the words of God that helped to shape me into the woman I am today...

...and then goes on to quote biblical passages from the Book of Genesis:

...But the Bible teaches us that God was not done with man. For we were His creation and He then spoke to Noah in Genesis 8:21-27 after the flood.
“21. The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never gonna give you up.
22. “Never gonna let you down.”
23.”Never gonna run around and desert you.”
24. “Never gonna make you cry.”
25. “Never gonna say goodbye.”
26. “Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you.”
27.”Never truly believe anything you read on the Internet. There will always be cases of Poe’s Law.”

So - a very clever Rickroll, indeed!

Now, the only remaining question is: who pulled this off? To find out that AntiSpore was an EA marketing stunt would be disappointing. Otherwise, Bravo!


Creationist Site Targets Spore

September 10, 2008 -

Who knew that Spore would be so controversial?

First there was the DRM madness that has enraged so many gamers. Now an apparent creationist site refers to Will Wright's long-awaited game an "attack on Christian values."

Anti-Spore (there is some speculation that the site is a hoax) went live just a day after Spore's September 7th release. The site's opening post sums up its focus:

Yesterday I found out about a new game called Spore when my son asked me to buy it for him.  It looked innocent enough at first and has “E for Everyone” ESRB rating.  But don’t be mislead, apparently “everyone” means everyone they want to teach evolution to.


This entire game is propaganda aimed directly at our children to teach them evolution instead of creationism, or “intelligent design” ...


I decided that Electronic Arts needs to hear from concerned people such as myself that this sort of game is not acceptable, and created this blog to find support and share information and progress with anyone who feels the same as I do.

Indeed, the domain name, which is private, was registered on September 8th. The anonymous author claims to be a wife and mother and writes that she has received hate mail and death threats over her Spore views.

The site also tosses in this small bit of politics:

I got a message from the supposed mayor of McCamish, KS [a suburb of Kansas City]. Claiming that he will make sure the game is kept out of their store. I have no way to verify the info, though.



Muslim Massacre Game Sparks Outrage

September 10, 2008 -

Muslim Massacre, an amateur PC game, has drawn sharp criticism from Britain's Islamic community.

As reported by the Telegraph, the game was programmed by Eric Vaughn aka Sigvatr, an American who currently lives in Australia. The website for the game calls it "The Game of Modern Religious Genocide," and describes it as follows:

The United States of America has declared war on Islam! Take control of the American hero and wipe out the Muslim race with an arsenal of the world's most destructive weapons! Don't be a liberal pussy!

Mohammed Shafiq, head of the Ramadhan Foundation, a U.K.-based Muslim youth organization criticized the game:

Encouraging children and young people in a game to kill Muslims is unacceptable, tasteless and deeply offensive. There is an increase in violence in this country and some of it comes from video games. When kids spend six hours a day on violent games they are more likely to go outside and commit violence.


If it was the other way around, with a game featuring Muslims killing Israelis or Americans, there would be uproar and rightly so. We would urge ISPs to take action against sites like this.

For his part, Sigvatr was unapologetic in posts about his game on SomethingAwful:

I think it's pretending to be legitimate commentary and I'm sure there will be lots of people who defend it on those grounds, but ultimately it's just a game where you blow the gently caress out of arabs... Anyone is free to believe whatever they won't (sic) though, because I don't even know how to interpret it myself anymore. the bottom line is that I enjoyed making it and it's fun to play...


Guitar Hero Knockoff Features Christian Music

August 27, 2008 -

If the heathen lyrics in Guitar Hero or Rock Band are starting to warp your mind, you may want to check out a new Christian-themed guitar game.

GameDaily reports that Guitar Praise: Solid Rock will ship in late September. A blurb on the game site says:

Grab the guitar and play along with top Christian bands! Shred those riffs or blast the bass…you add a unique sound to the solid Christian rock. But watch out: if you can't keep up, the artists will take a break and stop the music. Crank it up and try again - you'll soon be rockin' with the best while praising the Lord!  Order the second guitar and jam with a friend!

Guitar Praise: Solid Rock sells for $99.95. An extra guitar for two-player games is $69.95.


Christian Gamers Guild Detailed

August 18, 2008 -

Blogger Maurice Broaddus, attending GenCon 2008, caught up to the Christian Gamers Guild, which presented a panel discussion at the show. While the group seems primarily oriented toward board game play, their issues have a great deal of relevance in the video game arena as well:

[The Christian Gamers] believe that "Christians have too long allowed non-Christians to dominate the imagined world of role-playing, which was originally inspired by Christian men like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis (not to mention Dante, John Bunyan, and John Milton). And that it’s time to be a creative force in role-playing and other forms of faming for the true author of all creativity and imagination, Almighty God Himself."


I had the chance to sit down with Rev. [Derek] White, a United Methodist Church pastor; Dave Mattingly, the president of BlackWyrm Games, the exectutive director of the Games Publishers Association, and vice president of the Christian Gamers Guild; and Andy Mathews, the art director for Hero Games...


Much as the highly-publicized 2001 death of Shawn Woolley was blamed by some on his Everquest play, Mattingly traced religious prejudice against RPGs to a much earlier suicide:

A lot of it came from the suicide of Irving Pulling in the early 80s. A woman had lost track of her son for two years and blamed gaming. It’s a long story, but to us it looks like a case of bad parenting rather than some books. He struggled with manic depression and had been off his medication, yet it wasn’t her fault, it was these “weird” games that must’ve done it...


One of the things we can do is show that evil does have consequences. The game master can say “okay, if you really want to torture your prisoner for information when there’s no real need to … you can do that but it will come back on you.”




Militant Atheists Upset Over Spore, Says Will Wright

August 14, 2008 -

Spore designer and self-described atheist Will Wright told Eurogamer that "militant atheists" are upset with certain religious aspects of the game:

[With Spore] we didn't want to go too far down that [creationism] path: we leave the whole creation of the universe question open. Obviously as the player you're coming in and playing something like a god, directing the evolution of a species, but we never really state who you the player are...


our bigger fear was that we didn't want to offend any religious people; but looking at the discussion that unfolded from this thing, what we had was a good sizeable group of players that we might call militant atheists, and the rest of the players seemed very tolerant, including all of the religious players...


But so far I've had no critical feedback at all from anybody who is religious feeling that we were misrepresenting religion or it was bad to represent religion in the game. It was really the atheists!

 As GameDaily notes:

Religion briefly makes an appearance during parts of the game's civilization phase. That said, it's never made explicitly clear if God or some other force or entity is in control of the universe.



Side-Scrolling Mod Said to Be Terrorist Propaganda Tool

August 11, 2008 -

A site which tracks developments in the Middle East reports that a radical Islamist website has posted a video game encouraging players to battle Americans, Israelis and Shi'ite Muslims.

Of the game, which appears to be a crude adaptation of a side-scroller, MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute, writes:

On July 21, 2008 a member of the Islamist forum Al-Ikhlas posted a video game designed to encourage children to fight against "the forces of tyranny". The game enables the player to shoot at planes marked "Shi'ite", "Jewish" or "American".


Throughout the game, inciting speeches by Osama Bin Laden are heard, accompanied by the sounds of explosions and gunfire. The player is exposed to images of bin Laden, Zarqawi and other prominent Al-Qaeda members.

Although we don't know much about MEMRI, the site has in the past been given high praise by David Kaplan, chief investigative reporter for U.S. News & World Report:

MEMRI... does translations of media from the Muslim world, focused on jihadist propaganda and efforts by reformists. The group's new MEMRI Blog serves up news stories, videos, and postings from 60 leading Islamist websites. Hey, where else can you get headlines like "Mega-Evil Zionist Queen Stars in Iranian Sci-Fi Movie"?

GP: Big thanks to reader enbob for the tip!


Officially Banned, But God of War 2 Available on Saudi Black Market

August 10, 2008 -

Kotaku reports that PlayStation 2 favorite God of War 2, officially banned by Saudi authorities, is available for purchase on the black market.

In fact, a Saudi reader even describes the process to Kotaku in great detail. It seems that a local mall peddles GoW2 discs concealed inside shrinkwrapped boxes for other games. In the instance described, GoW2 was covered up by box art showing Winning Eleven 7, a several years-old soccer sim. (see pic)

GP: It's nice to see that Saudi gamers aren't totally limited in their choices. And we hope that the store clerk still has possession of his thumbs now that this info is public.



Christian Publication Goes Negative on Games

August 6, 2008 -

The Christian Examiner Online expresses concerns over video games from a religious angle in what a press release claims is an "in-depth" report.

However, the piece, written by Steve Rabey (left) seems far too brief to be "in depth," is very much of a bashing, and ignores a number of positive areas where religion and games intersect, such as:

  • Games based on religion or religious themes: not mentioned
  • Use of games to attract teens to youth ministries: not mentioned
  • How Christian gamers relate game experience to their faith: not mentioned
  • How serious games teach important social and cultural lessons: not mentioned

Instead, Rabey has cobbled together a string of negative quotes. In fact, there's not a single pro-game quote in the entire article. Pastor Kody Kirchoff of Omaha's Calvary Lutheran Church:

Aside from the violence, obscenity and negative themes, the larger and greater problem lies in the fact that video games control many people’s hearts and minds, creating a monotonous, zoned-out new reality... God, family and friends do not exist in many games. Activities like camping, playing catch with Dad, swimming, or just being a kid have vanished.

Al Menconi of Al Menconi Ministries:

[Video game addiction is] a very big epidemic . Withdrawal is very similar to drug withdrawal.

Paul Asay of Focus on the Family:

There are virtual worlds for children, such as Club Penguin and, that charge kids or their parents for virtual doodads with which they can decorate their virtual pads. In other words, they’re shelling out real cash for imaginary products.

Carey Casey of the National Center for Fathering:

Games are a way of life, devouring our children’s time, energy and brainpower... Parents should place limits on children’s media use, including when, where, and how much they can participate. And we should be ready to address common myths that are often portrayed in the media: such as the myths that to be worthwhile you have to be beautiful, that money buys happiness, that sex is merely recreation and has no consequences, and that violence solves problems.

Alabama grandmom Margie Tanner:

While shopping for a new video game recently with my 13-year-old grandson, I previewed several of the latest releases. Most were filled with intense violence, involving killing and torture. Others involved witches and wizards.

Not witches and wizards! What's next, a Harry Potter book burning? And which commercial games feature torture?

Certainly, there are millions of Christians who are gamers and thousands who are in the game business. Couldn't Rabey find one person to say something positive about games from a Christian perspective?


Jack Thompson Plays it For Laughs on Jace Hall Show

July 24, 2008 -

The much-anticipated Jace Hall Show segment with game-hatin' Florida attorney Jack Thompson is now live...

Clearly, as Thompson has suggested, the episode was scripted for laughs.


Islamophobia? Video Game Study Suggests "Turban Effect"

July 1, 2008 -

Do turban-wearers provoke subconscious prejudice against Muslims?

As reported by the Victoria Times-Colonist, a study conducted at the University of New South Wales in Australia suggests that Muslim-style turban are perceived as menacing. Researchers there are calling this the "turban effect". The results of the study will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. From the Times-Colonist article:

Research volunteers played a computer game that showed apartment balconies on which different figures appeared, some wearing Muslim-style turbans or hijabs and others bare-headed. They were told to shoot at the targets carrying guns and spare those who were unarmed, with points awarded accordingly.


People were much more likely to shoot Muslim-looking characters - men or women - even if they were carrying an innocent item instead of a weapon, the researchers found

At this point, it's unknown what game software was used for the study. Mohamed Elmasry, head of the Canadian Islamic Congress, commented on the results:

I'm hoping that Canadian Muslims one day become invisible. As such, Canadians will treat them like any others... [The research] does confirm our biggest fear that there is discrimination and prejudice within our society, and unfortunately people don't recognize it or don't admit it. Sometimes they really don't know that it does exist.

Via: Discrimination and National Security Initiative Blog


Author Salman Rushdie Mentions Games on Colbert Report

June 11, 2008 -

Author Salman Rushdie, who has been dodging a fatwa ever since outraging the Islamic community with his 1988 book The Satanic Verses, mentioned video games during a recent appearance on The Colbert Report.

RUSHDIE: ...I think the only good sign is that a lot of the younger generation in Muslim countries really wants that change. So maybe they will bring it.


COLBERT: What can we do to help? Can we send them video games?


RUSHDIE: I think video games, YouTube, you know, these are the things that will change the world. Because when people see what garbage everybody else is consuming, they want it too.

A bit of a backhanded compliment, no? But still...

Via: Kotaku


Game Burning: It's the New Book Burning

June 9, 2008 -

While many churches are embracing video game nights as a means of reaching out to youth, a pastor in Newport News, Virginia would like to see violent video games and rap music go up in smoke.

As reported by the Daily Press, Rev. Richard Patrick, 42, blames violent entertainment for the crime which he says has affected 90% of his congregation in one way or another:

We are considering having something similar to a rally where parents and children can bring CDs and video games that they consider are destructive to the mind set of our youth and have a burning...

 Young people are being influenced by what they see and what they hear. They are being influenced by television ... television and videos are telling young people a vision but something that's not reality...


[Violent media] has a tremendous influence on young people and violence. That's basically all they see. Most of them try to emulate what they see, when in reality, the people they see don't even live in those communities. Some of the rappers they see on TV portraying crime don't live in the urban areas — they live in the suburbs somewhere. It's all a facade.



Music Video: When Jack Thompson Talks to God

June 7, 2008 -

This video uses the music from Bright Eyes' When The President Talks to God to parody anti-game activist Jack Thompson.

The new lyrics were penned by Super Columbine Massacre RPG creator Danny Ledonne and singer/guitarist Cory Antiel, who performs the song.


Atheist Creates Game for Fun and Prophets

June 3, 2008 -

A University of Virginia graduate student has created a game to "give voice to the atheist community" according to a sketchy report by Roanoke's WSLS-10.

The game designer, who declined to give his name over fears for his safety, told the TV news:

Atheists have never really had anything to speak for them like this.  It’s the general atheist premise that the world might be a better place without some of those religions... It’s the idea of being able to go back in time and sort of nipping the problem in the bud.

According to the report:

The object of the game is to stop the spread of Christianity and Islam by murdering Abraham and the authors of the Bible, before beheading Muhammad.

GP: We know nothing of this unnamed - and apparently amateur - game beyond the WSLS-10 reports. However, given that Islamic tradition disapproves of depictions of Muhammad, it can be expected to cause a much wider controversy should it be released.

Beyond that, it's unclear how depicting the killing of Abraham and Muhammad would "give atheists a voice."


E3 Keynote Speaker Backed Controversial Pastor's Claim that non-Christians Condemned to Hell

June 3, 2008 -

When the Entertainment Software Association announced on May 19th that Texas Governor Rick Perry would deliver the keynote address at E3 2008, GamePolitics was one of the few news outlets to publicly question the ESA's decision.

We expect more raised eyebrows over Perry's selection given yesterday's reports on Wired and The Escapist that in November, 2006 Perry affirmed the comments of controversial minister John Hagee that non-Christians are condemned to Hell.

In the photo at left, Perry is seen covering his face while Hagee preaches.

Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, recently rejected Hagee's endorsement over, as CNN reported, "Hagee's comments that Adolf Hitler had been fulfilling God's will by hastening the desire of Jews to return to Israel in accordance with biblical prophecy."

As the Dallas Morning News reported on November 6, 2006:

Gov. Rick Perry, after a God and country sermon attended by dozens of political candidates Sunday, said that he agreed with the minister that non-Christians will be condemned to hell.


"In my faith, that's what it says, and I'm a believer of that," the governor said.


...Asked afterward at a political rally whether he agreed with Mr. Hagee, the governor said he didn't hear anything that he would take exception to. He said that he believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and that those who don't accept Jesus as their savior will go to hell.
GP: While there are surely many Christians among E3 attendess, there are just as surely many who aren't. Aside from the fact that Perry was a bizarre keynote choice from the get-go, his divisive comments indicate that the ESA should rescind the offer.
We have to ask again: why is E3 2008 being politicized? The answer, we suspect, has much to do with embattled ESA boss Michael Gallagher.
UPDATE: The ESA went ballistic over this story and called GP's objectivity into question, given the ECA's ownership of the site. Here's part of what the ESA had to say:
If the ESA posted a blog and called it a news site, journalists would rightfully balk and it wouldn't pass a smell test. Remarkably, GamePolitics doesn't face the same scrutiny even though it's funded by the ECA and tainted with anti-ESA vitriol. At the end of the day, calling GamePolitics a news site is as laughable as saying there's a Cuban free press.


Despite the ESA's reaction, I stand by what I wrote regarding the appropriateness - or lack thereof - of having Gov. Perry deliver the E3 keynote. However, I am making one edit to the headline. While Gov. Perry agreed with Rev. Hagee's contention that non-Christians would be condemned to Hell, it does not appear to be a direct quote. That error has been fixed.


Political Game: A Kick in the Balls

April 11, 2008 -

It seems that American politics is not alone in its use of silly fighting games to attract eyeballs.

British political blog Three Line Whip has a bit of a rant today over A Kick in the Balls.

The web-based game pits Justice Secretary Jack Straw (last seen on GamePolitics bashing Sony over the Resistance & Manchester Cathedral flap) against Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families Ed Balls. Of the game, Three Line Whip blogger Iain Martin writes:

How juvenile. The Tories have made a computer game... in which Justice Secretary Jack Straw can be manipulated to assault Ed Balls. So much for David Cameron's talk of a responsible society and his plea for an end to the violence of the video-game culture. This is an outrage, why can't politicians focus on the issues?

Manchester Cathedral Forgives Sony's "Resistance" Sin

October 24, 2007 -

Go and sin no more...

That's pretty much what the Church of England is saying to Sony this morning. And while the PlayStation 3 manufacturer is unrepentant over its depiction of Manchester Cathedral in Resistance: Fall of Man, the CoE's forgiveness seemingly brings the episode to a close.

Unless there's a Resistance sequel...

As the BBC reports, Resistance failed to win the BAFTA award for which it was nominated at last evening's ceremony (full list of winners). That apparently was the go sign for the Very Reverend Rogers Govender to issue absolution to Sony (We suppose that if Resistance had won it would have generated a new round of complaints from the CoE).

Said Very Rev. Govender:

I think some important lessons have been learnt. So we do forgive Sony for what they have done, even though they still believe they have done nothing wrong.

He followed up with this baffling comment:

In an industry that is breaking new frontiers, it is important that long held traditions of film and television are maintained. These traditions include having courtesy, respecting the dignity of your subject, and admitting when mistakes have been made.

GP: The Rev and I must be watching different channels on TV... He continues:

In so many ways Sony have failed to live up to these standards by disrespecting people of faith and the victims of gun crime here in Manchester.

And there's a silver lining for the Cathedral, perhaps literally. Very Rev. Govender told the BBC that visits from young people and tourists had spiked since the Resistance controversy broke. That could translate to new converts and fuller collection boxes.

GP: Big thanks to longtime GP reader E. Zachary Knight for the heads-up!


Resistance Redux: Cathedral Officials Angry about Award Nomination

October 8, 2007 -

GamePolitics readers will no doubt recall the summertime controversy over the depiction of Manchester Cathedral in Resistance: Fall of Man, a PS3 shooter.

Church of England officials certainly haven't forgotten, nor do they seem inclined to forgive.

As reported by the BBC, the Resistance controversy has flared up following word that the game has been nominated for a British Academy Video Games Award. The awards program is sponsored by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

According to the BBC report, The Very Rev Rogers Govender, Dean of Manchester Cathedral, said:

It is a disgrace that Resistance: Fall of Man has been shortlisted... BAFTA should not be seen condoning such behaviour unless they are saying it is acceptable for producers to walk into historic buildings and film interiors - ignoring contracts, rights and liability.

However, BAFTA spokesperson Anne-Marie Flynn countered:

Resistance: Fall Of Man has been nominated for the PC World Gamers' Award - the only publicly-voted award in this year's ceremony. The shortlist for the Gamers' Award was effectively selected by the public, in that it comprised the top-selling games on each platform...

Bogost Defends Use of Manchester Cathedral in Resistance: Fall of Man

September 11, 2007 -

Readers of GamePolitics won't soon forget the controversy over the use of Manchester Cathedral in PS3 launch hit, Resistance: Fall of Man.

Over at Gamasutra, Georgia Tech prof and Persuasive Games CEO Ian Bogost pens a spirited defense of the famed structure's depiction in the game:

46 comments | Read more

Saudi Arabia Launches Campaign Against Violent Video Games

July 23, 2007 -

We've not got much detail on this one, but The MEMRI Blog, a site which publishes translated political news from the Arab world, reports that:

Government elements in Saudi Arabia have launched a campaign against violent video games, some of which depict war between U.S. forces and Al-Qaeda.


This move is part of Saudi Arabia's struggle against sources of violence, in the framework of which security and media elements are warning against the spread of such games.

GP: By the way, MEMRI = Middle East Media Research Institute, and the site is given high praise by David Kaplan, chief investigative reporter for U.S. News & World Report.

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InfophilePredictions: 1) People will be mad and criticize her without even watching the video. 2) People will be upset that she criticizes things they like without thinking about whether the criticism has merit08/31/2015 - 1:29pm
E. Zachary KnightYay! New Tropes Vs Women in Games video. - 11:33am
E. Zachary KnightPHX, I love the comic. Also, I love the story of shear paranoia on the part of the MPAA.08/31/2015 - 9:41am
PHX Corp MPAA Demands Extraordinary Measures To Prevent Piracy08/31/2015 - 7:52am
PHX Corp although it's a little late, a comic strip on neogaf about the "release it now, patch it later" culture08/30/2015 - 7:37am
Papa MidnightBack to when, RedMade? A week ago? (seriously, though...)08/30/2015 - 1:55am
RedMageOh hey, a news station is trying to scapegoat gaming. That takes me back. - 1:40pm
Big PermA link to TB twitter with Matt Lees in the replies - - 12:16pm
Brad GlasgowWhy would he say the company lies about getting abuse? Oh, because people don't abuse GG?08/29/2015 - 10:38am
Big PermBrad - Matt Lees was also quick to say the company "Gamers Gate" lies about getting abusive messages thinking they were an official GG channel08/29/2015 - 9:11am
Goth_SkunkMGSV: The Phantom Integrity - A Rant by RazörFist. (NSFW on account of language). RazörFist discusses the latest batch of unethical journalist conduct, with a caveat. - - 7:10am
Goth_Skunk@Brad: I can.08/29/2015 - 6:13am
Goth_SkunkI assume "Stacy" is a pseudonym. After reading what she went through, I would not be one bit surprised if it is.08/29/2015 - 6:13am
Goth_SkunkA Year of #GamerGate: From Neutral To Anti To Neutral To Pro by "Stacy" - - 6:12am
Brad GlasgowI can't believe Matt Lees deleted his positive review of Ethan Carter because Chmielarz is sympathetic to GG.08/29/2015 - 5:30am
Goth_SkunkA GameDev's Year With #GG: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly by Adrian Chmielarz - - 5:18am
Goth_SkunkDespite not being a fan of fighting games I had to check out that R Mika trailer. Loved it. Still won't buy the game though, on account of Isuckatstreetfighteritis.08/29/2015 - 2:42am
MechaCrashI use a Dynex DX-840 headset, but it's discontinued. :( I wanted a mono headset so I could keep the other ear free for my speakers, but it has the bonus of being very light and comfortable, so you don't notice it.08/29/2015 - 12:41am
Big PermSora - I was just having a slow day at work earlier. Now I'm home with vidya!08/28/2015 - 7:54pm
ZippyDSMleeSora-Chan: Blender is easy compared to 3Dmax :P08/28/2015 - 6:51pm

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