Does Punch-Out!! Character Shout Islamic Phrase?

June 2, 2009 -

A few months back there was a minor uproar surrounding "Islam is the light," a phrase which some people thought they heard uttered by both a talking baby doll and a children's DS game.

In a video posted late last week on YouTube, a man claims that a character in Nintendo's recently-released Wii title Punch-Out!! shouts "Allah Akbar," an Arabic phrase which translates to "God is great."

RevolutionOfCG, who describes himself as a conservative pundit in his YouTube profile, posted the clip of fighter Bald Bull and equates the character's supposed utterance of the phrase with terrorism:

Allah Akbar or God Is Great. For those of you that don't understand the implications of this. Let me put it to you this way. Virtually Every Muslim Terrorist has said this before they blew themselves up or in the case of 9-11, before they slammed into buildings...

Hailing from Istanbul Turkey, if we are to understand the implications of culture, Bald Bull is more than likely a Muslim...

 

Not even 8 years after 9-11 and are we going to accept this phrase in a video game Rated E for Everyone. What do the families of these heinous crimes think of this? Someone out there has to be appalled, I'm certain of that.

The narration of the video includes 9/11 footage of the second plane striking the World Trade Center. As to the phrase Allah Akbar, its Wikipedia page lists a variety of uses other than by terrorists:

This phrase is recited by Muslims in numerous different situations. For example, when they are happy or wish to express approval, when they want to praise a speaker, during battles, and even times of extreme stress or euphoria. It is also used by bombers or suicide bombers before they detonate.

The phrase is said during each stage of both obligatory prayers, which are supposed to be performed five times a day, and supererogatory prayers, which are performed at will...

That's, of course, assuming that Bald Bull actually says Allah Akbar, which is unconfirmed at this point.

Via: VC Review

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On Eve of E3, Hindus Call For Worldwide Sony Boycott

June 1, 2009 -

Angered by Sony's failure to recall a PlayStation 2 game which they find offensive, a group of Hindu leaders have called for a worldwide boycott on Sony products. The move comes on the eve of Sony's E3 press conference here in Los Angeles on Tuesday.

As GamePolitics has reported in recent weeks, Rajan Zed (left), a Hindu leader who lives in the United States, is spearheading the protest against Hanuman: Boy Warrior. In addition to Zed, today's announcement identifies seven other Hindu leaders from Australia, India and the U.S. Zed and the others believe Hanuman is an affront to the Hindu faith and they recently threatened to call for a boycott if Sony did not pull the game from the market. Today's announcement signals that Sony has not given in to their demands.

A press release issued earlier today announced the boycott, citing what the group calls the "stiff-necked attitude of Sony officials":

Vexed by stiff-necked attitude of Sony officials, various Hindu groups have given worldwide boycott call against Sony PlayStation products...

 

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, in an earlier statement, said that in a video game set-up, the player controlled the destiny of Lord Hanuman while in reality the believers put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their deities...

 

Hindu leaders communicated their displeasure to Sony and tried to resolve the issue through discussions, but callous attitude of Sony officials frustrated their efforts, leaving them with no other alternative except the boycott call.

It is unclear what impact the call for a boycott might have. Hanuman is the first console game developed entirely by an Indian firm.

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Global Hindu Boycott of Sony? PlayStation Maker Given 7 Days to Respond to Game Protest

May 14, 2009 -

For the past several weeks some Hindu leaders have been urging Sony to withdraw Hanuman: Boy Warrior from the market.

The recently-released PlayStation 2 game, available only in the Indian market, is also the first console title to be entirely developed by an Indian firm. Some Hindus, however, are upset by the game's depiction of Lord Hanuman, one of the religion's deities.

To date, the protest - largely waged via e-mail - has been led by Rajan Zed, the Nevada-based president of Universal Society of Hinduism. In a press release issued last evening, Zed upped the ante by raising the possibility of a worldwide Hindu boycott of Sony products. Zed has given Sony until May 21st to respond:

Hindus upset over Sony’s “Hanuman: Boy Warrior” videogame and further frustrated by the callous handling by Sony officials, might give a boycott call of all Sony products world over... despite communication between Sony officials and Hindu leaders, the issue had not been resolved yet. Sony officials said that they would look into it and be back with the Hindu leaders, but they were yet to hear back from Sony...

 

If nothing was heard by Hindu leaders from Sony by May 21, then all the protesting Hindu groups and leaders would re-evaluate the protest and announce the future course, which might include calling for boycott of Sony products world over by Hindus and other likeminded people and supporters...

GP: It is unclear whether Rajan Zed and the other Hindu leaders involved in the protest to date have the clout to bring a meaningful boycott about against Sony. Also unclear is how well Hanuman is selling in India. The game has received some withering reviews.

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Sony Refuses to Pull Offensive Game, Hindu Groups Say

May 7, 2009 -

Hindu groups protesting the recent release of Hanuman: Boy Warrior for the PlayStation 2 have apparently run out of patience with Sony.

As GamePolitics reported last week, U.S.-based Hindu leader Rajan Zed said that Sony was looking into claims that the game, released only in India, is offensive to Hindus.

However a press release issued by Zed earlier this week seems to indicate that Sony will not intervene in Hanuman's distribution. Bhavna Shinde of Forum for Hindu Awakening (also based in the United States) is quoted in the release:

So now we are left with no other alternative except to intensify our protests. Lord Hanuman is a highly revered Deity for us Hindus and we cannot accept any more denigration of Him...

 

We are shocked at the stubbornness of Sony Corporation not to withdraw the PlayStation2 game 'Hanuman: Boy Warrior' despite our repeated requests. Sony Corporation is held in high esteem the world over with high ethical principles. We were expecting that Sony would not hurt the feelings of the one billion strong Hindu population for a minor product like this game.

Although Hanuman is the first console game developed completely in India, it has received very poor reviews from Indian gaming sites.

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In Defiance of Islamic Protest, Faith Fighter Rises From the Dead

May 1, 2009 -

It has been a whirlwind of a week for Italian provovateurs Molleindustria and Faith Fighter, their online game which parodies religious hatred.

On Monday Metro UK created a controversy where none previously existed. It appears that the tabloid solicited comment from several religious leaders whose level of familiarity with the game is unclear. Not surprisingly, the comments on Faith Fighter were negative.

By Tuesday, the powerful, Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference had waded into the Faith Fighter debate. Molleindustria, apparently bowing to OIC pressure, announced that it had taken the game offline, although it remained available at other portals.

On Wednesday, Molleindustria unveiled Faith Fighter 2, a non-violent version in which players must give love to various deities lest they fade away.

On Thursday, Molleindustria brought the original Faith Fighter back. There's no word yet on what actions the OIC or other groups may take.

Via: GameCulture

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A Day After Removal, Faith Fighter Resurrected as Non-violent Game

April 29, 2009 -

Yesterday, provocative Italian game site Molleindustria took its Faith Fighter parody game offline. In doing so, Molleindustria admittedly bowed to pressure, primarily from the Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference.

But less than a day later, Molleindustria has released Faith Fighter 2. The new version (screenshot at left) eschews the Mortal Kombat parody action of the original and comes complete with snarky intro:

Faith Fighter 2 is the sequel of the infamous game that outraged over 1.3 billions of muslims from 57 countries. The scandal resulted in a ban from all the internets!

 

We regretted the use of irony and violence and this time we want to offer you a positive, nonviolent educational game that teaches the universal values of tolerance and respect. This is a very simple game that can be played by children of all ages, religious leaders and even journalists!

Via: Kotaku

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Report: Sony Agrees to Look Into Hindu Complaints About PS2 Game

April 29, 2009 -

The U.S.-based Hindu leader who initiated what has turned into a multinational Hindu protest against a PlayStation 2 game sold in India claims that Sony has agreed to look into the issue.

As GamePolitics reported last week, Rajan Zed (left) criticized Hanuman: Boy Warrior for trivializing the Hindu faith. The game was developed by an Indian firm, Aurona Technologies Limited.

In a press release issued earlier today Zed writes:

Replying to the communiqué of Bhavna Shinde of Forum for Hindu Awakening, Keita Sanekata of Sony Electronics Inc wrote, “We will review this issue, and get back to you as soon as possible.”
 
Advancing the protest spearheaded by acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, Shinde earlier wrote Sanekata to “look into withdrawing this game and publishing an apology, so as to prevent further denigration of our Deity Sree Hanuman and intensifying of our protests..."

Zed is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, a group which also apparently protested the 2008 Mike Meyer film The Love Guru.

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Following Islamic Protest, It's Game Over for Faith Fighter

April 28, 2009 -

In the wake of yesterday's controversy, Italian game provacateurs Molleindustria have pulled their Faith Fighter game from public view.

Although it was released more than a year ago, Faith Fighter was not on the mainstream media's radar until yesterday's Metro UK reported that religious leaders of various stripes were outraged by the game, which features Mortal Kombat-like matches between deities of several popular religions.

As the controversy grew, the Associated Press reported today that the influential, Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference had called for the removal of Faith Fighter from the Internet. Accoring to the AP, the OIC called the game "incendiary in its content" and "offensive to Muslims and Christians."

In a message posted on the Faith Fighter website, Molleindustri's Paolo Pedercini blames Metro UK for "manufacturing" the controversy:

Faith Fighter was meant to be a game against intolerance that used over the top irony and a cartoonish style to express the instrumental use of religions.

Faith Fighter depicted in a mildly politically incorrect way all the major religions as a response to the one-way islamophobic satire of the Danish Mohammad cartoons.

If an established organization didn't understand the irony and the message of the game and is claiming it is inciting intolerance, we simply failed.

We suspect that people at OIC never played the game and only referred to the article on Metro UK that successfully manufactured this controversy.

Molleindustria also stopped by GamePolitics to post a comment on the controversy.

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Religious Groups Outraged by Online Game

April 27, 2009 -

An online game released more than a year ago is suddenly causing a stir in religious circles.

Faith Fighter, launched in January of 2008 by the always-provacative Molleindustria, allows players to pit various deities against one another in Mortal Kombat-style action. The virtual combatants in the game include a depiction of Allah, a serious no-no in the Muslim faith.

Metro.co.uk reports that some Christians, Hindus and Buddhists are upset as well. Douglas Miller, pastor of Birmingham's Link Church, told Metro:

This game is going out of its way to upset people and I think it should be taken off the internet. Playing violent video games will ultimately affect your behaviour and this game is deeply offensive and provocative.

An unnamed representative of the Federation of Muslim Organisations added:

In the current climate, this game can only create fear about religion. Having images depicting Muhammad in this way is also very offensive to our faith.

However, a spokesperson for Molleindustria defended the work:

[The purpose of the game is] to push gamers to reflect on how sacred representations are often used to fuel or justify conflicts between people.

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Hindus Protest PS2 Game Released in India

April 17, 2009 -

Sony, which has dealt with religious controversies surrounding Resistance: Fall of Man and Little Big Planet in recent times, faces a new faith-based challenge to a game designed for the PlayStation 2.

Hanuman: Boy Warrior, the first console game developed entirely in India, has sparked a protest by some Hindus, according to Web Newswire. The homegrown PS2 title was created for the Indian market by Aurona Technologies Limited, a firm based in Hyderabad.

U.S.-based Hindu spokesman Rajan Zed (left) criticized the game for trivializing the Hindu deity:

Zed... argued that reimagining Hindu scriptures and deities for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the [religion's] devotees. Controlling and manipulating Lord Hanuman with a joystick/ button/keyboard/mouse was denigration. Lord Hanuman was not meant to be reduced to just a “character” in a video game to solidify company/products base in the growing economy of India.

Rajan Zed further said that as a PlayStation2 video game, Lord Hanuman would be in the company of America's 10 Most Wanted, Bad Boys, Barbie, Britney's Dance Beat, First Kiss Stories, Guitar Freaks, Jackass, Killer7, Looney Tunes, Mafia, Mercenaries, Midnight Club, Mister Mosquito, Nicktoons, Psychonauts, Scooby Doo, Truckers, etc...

 

Zed suggested that India and all other countries of the world should come up with national content rating organizations for video games... [and said that] Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects...

Religious considerations aside, Hanuman was tagged with an awful review by Indian site Tech2:

The game boasts of being the first ever Indian game to be released on the PlayStation 2; if Indian developers are going to develop this sort of crap for consoles, let's hope it's the last.

UPDATE: Gaming Indians doesn't appear to think much of Zed's criticism of Hanuman:

Yes, Hanuman: Boy Warrior should be withdrawn by Sony. Not for religious reasons however, but simply because the game is just so bad. Ever since this game came out, I’m sure we’ve all been waiting for some Hindu fundamentalist to show up and make video games the enemy. But it’s quite funny that no one in India has really cared... while someone in America has taken up the charge...

Posted in
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Faux Religious Site Satirizes RapeLay Controversy

March 26, 2009 -

RapeLay, an obscure Japanese hentai game, sparked controversy earlier this year when an Amazon re-seller was found to be offering the PC title in the U.S. market.

Although there would seem to almost limitless room to criticize the thoroughly disgusting RapeLay, parody site Christwire added a satirical touch yesterday with some over-the-top commentary:

My friends the Japanese are at it again, this time as they prepare to rape your child’s mind and ethics with a horrifying new video game named Rapelay...

I cannot find the words to express my outrage, disgust and disbelief with this anime pornography game, especially the liberals who are trying to market it in America.

Last year studies revealed that 98% of games being marketed to teens contain violence, and after playing a violent video games teens may become 3 times more likely to commit acts of murder, drug violence and date rape...

 

America is a land that is being overrun with video game violence. Last year California banned the banning of violent video game sales and Barack Obama allows a Wii in the White House while not pushing for a universal anti-violent video game law.

How many more of these games are we going to allow to exist anywhere on Earth? ...

My friends, the gaming liberals and their atheistic Japanese allies are without morals when it comes to video game violence...

GP: Some around the web seem confused as to whether Christwire is a parody. But gay-oriented news site The Advocate reports that Christwire is an affiliate of The Onion.

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Conservative Christian Site Slams Same-Sex Couple Option in Game of Life

March 13, 2009 -

The Christian conservative website WorldNetDaily has got its undies in a twist over an option that permits same-sex couples in Hasbro's The Game of Life.

The downloadable PC title is an update of the classic board game of the same name. WND writes:

The online version of a popular board game from many Americans' childhood includes an option for players to choose homosexual marriage and child-rearing as a way of life... even children can download and play a free trial version of The Game of Life, the first game ever created by Mr. Milton Bradley in 1860.

The player's first option in the online version is to choose a persona based on pictures that clearly depict men and women. Shortly thereafter, the game invites players to choose a spouse, regardless of the potential spouse's sex...

But, as WND notes, the modern version of the board game, created in 1960, allowed for gay unions as well:

The board game did not prevent players in any way from placing two pink or two blue pegs in the front seat [of the playing piece representing the family car], thus depicting a homosexual couple.

GP: Got this tip from none other than Jack Thompson during the course of seeking comment on last night's passage of the Utah video game bill.

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Can Muslim Superheroes Turn Islamic Youth Away from Radicalism?

February 16, 2009 -

With an increasing emphasis on fantasy entertainment provided by mobile phone games, comic books and TV, there is some hope that radicalism will become a less attractive path for Islamic youth.

Wael El-Zanaty, an exec with the Egyptian firm behind cell phone game Bab el-Hara, told the Associated Press:

The best thing about this game is that this is something that Arabs can relate to. It’s about part of [Arab] history — the resistance to the French occupation [of Syria]... We wanted something that reflected our culture... developed with an Arab perspective.

The AP explains:

The Arab world’s private sector is leading a push to provide Muslim and Arab youth with homegrown heroes, as a bulwark against the trend toward radical Islam throughout the Middle East.

Clearly, superheroes won’t offset all the problems that stoke radicalism — anger at corrupt Arab regimes and at Israel over its treatment of Palestinians — but El-Zanaty said he hoped these pop culture characters could give young people a positive image of themselves as Arabs.

Meanwhile, Naif al-Mutawa, publisher of The 99 comic book superhero series, offered his view on how media can help deliver positive role models for Arab youth:

Our [Islamic] story has become [more] about what not to do, than about what to do. I wanted to … go back to the same sources others have pulled out a lot of negative ideas from, and pull out positive, tolerant, multicultural, accepting ideas.

I’m not trying to sell religion here. I’m trying to sell the idea that at the values level, we’re all the same...’  I really think that we [Arabs] limit ourselves with this catastrophic thinking that the world is controlled by others and there is nothing we can do. I think this is rubbish.

Mobile phone apps may be the ideal platform upon which to deliver the message, said Ayman Shoukry of the Good News Group:

[In Egypt alone] there are 40 million mobiles. We don’t have 40 million [other types of] devices anywhere in Egypt."

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Kuwaiti Imam Urges Creation of Games to "Slaughter Jews"

February 2, 2009 -

In a 2006 interview with Kuwait TV, an Islamic religious leader issued a call for computer games which require players to "slaughter Jews."

We don't have the exact air date of the video at left, although a Washington Post article from September of 2006 references the video.

We're presenting it now because this is the first time that GP has located the actual footage. Among Imam Nabil Al Awadi's remarks:

As their games corrupt our morals, now they are making games with their current wars.

Their wars, that are not Islamic, in Islamic countries have turned into a computer games. When the child plays, he adopts a character that is not Islamic, that kills Muslims.

Why, gentlemen, should it not be the opposite? Why can't we produce a few games like these? Why can't we make games that instead of teaching children how to slaughter the Muslims, they can teach them how to free the Al-Aqsa mosque. The child will play and slaughter Jews and others.

Not only children, but adults too, will kill heretics and free the Al Aqsa mosque. There are games with pit battles, it's nice!

Along with Al Awadi's comments, a narrator shows clips and explains Islamic-themed battle games.

GP: While the clip is somewhat dated, it shows the extent to which video games are seen by some as a vehicle to politicize - and militarize - youth.

Via: Jumpcut

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Author Salman Rushdie Gamed While Dodging Decade-long Fatwa

January 5, 2009 -

There's no word on what he played, but Sir Salman Rushdie told UK newspaper The Times that he indulged in some computer games while dodging a fatwa issued by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini from 1988 until 1998.

Khomeini lodged the death sentence against Rushdie following the publication of his 1988 novel, The Satanic Verses. The book was regarded as blasphemous by some segments of the global Islamic community.

GameCulture notes, however, that Rushdie was rather dismissive of games in a 2008 interview with Stephen Colbert:

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.

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Thompson: God is Behind Take-Two Stock Slide

December 30, 2008 -

Is God behind the recent plunge of Take-Two Interactive's stock price?

When it comes to business, should one's religious beliefs even matter?

For the controversial, disbarred attorney Jack Thompson, the answer to these questions would seem to be yes.

On Friday, GamePolitics reported on Thompson's claim that he planned to lead a stockholder revolt aimed at ousting Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick.

While Thompson says that he wants to hold Zelnick accountable for T2's tumbling share price, his comments must be weighed in light of the disbarred attorney's oft-expressed distaste for Take-Two and its chairman.

As to the would-be shareholder revolt, it brought to mind a recent e-mail exchange between GP and  Thompson which may shed some light on the anti-game activist's apparent belief that divine retribution of the Christian deity is behind Take-Two's depressed stock price. Those e-mails follow:

--------------------------

From: Jack Thompson
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 6:44 AM
To: Dennis McCauley
Subject: Spin this, Strauss...


GOD STRIKES TAKE-TWO DOWN

Take-Two dropped $2.35 to $9.72 in extended trading after the announcement and fell as low as $9.60. The shares... have declined 35 percent this year. The results contrast with comments Zelnick made in an interview on Nov. 3, when he said sales of the company’s video games hadn’t been hurt by the recession...

-------------------------

From: Dennis McCauley
To: 'Jack Thompson'
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 6:52 AM
Subject: RE: Spin this, Strauss...


So, if T2’s business reverse was God’s vengeance, does that mean that God struck you down too when you were disbarred?...

--------------------------

From: Jack Thompson
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 9:10 AM
To: Dennis McCauley
Subject: Re: Spin this, Strauss...


...If you had any understanding of the Bible and of God you would understand that persecution comes Christians' way, and we are blessed by it.  There is no blessing for Zelnick, who is not a Christian, when he gets what he deserves...

---------------------------

From: Dennis McCauley
To: 'Jack Thompson'
Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 6:54 AM
Subject: in relation to your Take-Two shareholder revolt...


...Are you saying that problems for Christians are blessings, while problems for non-Christians are vengeance from the Almighty? Also, how do you know what Zelnick’s religion is?

---------------------------

From: Jack Thompson
Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 7:11 AM
To: Dennis McCauley
Subject: Re: in relation to your Take-Two shareholder revolt...


Here's another passage of Scripture that you don't understand and never read:  "All things work to the good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose."  That group would include me and not Zelnick.  Zelnick is not a believer in the Gospel.  How do I know?  Because the man who got us together [secretly, in Manhattan in 2007] is a Christian, with a massive ministry in Hollywood and the rest of the entertainment industry.  It was because of the spiritual aspect of this struggle that he got the two of us together, and Zelnick failed the test. 

If you knew anything about the Gospel, you would understand further that Paul, whose writings are considered part of the canon, tells Christians, not unbelievers, that we are to "count it all joy" when trials and tribulations come our way. 

I have been persecuted for my faith, not because I did anything wrong, by those committed to evil.  Glad to clear it up for you.  And as it now stands, Mr. Zelnick's problems at Take-Two are minuscule [sic] compared to the eternity of punishment that is coming his way unless he repents and accepts Christ as I did 32 years ago this month.  You might do well to read the Gospel of John yourself.  Come to think of it, I'll write Strauss about all this and send you a copy...

---------------------------

Thompson did not respond to GP's request to name the man who supposedly brokered the 2007 meeting with Zelnick. The letter to Zelnick which Thompson mentions can be viewed here.

GP: Serious consideration was given as to whether to publish this story as I realize that some will  find Thompson's comments about non-Christians offensive. Ultimately, in deciding to publish, the opportunity to provide an insight into Thompson's mindset outweighed the other issues.

Virtual World for Muslims Launches Beta

December 10, 2008 -

A virtual world aimed at Muslims living in the West is now in beta testing, reports the BBC.

Much like Second Life and, perhaps, PlayStation Home, Muxlim Pal allows users to create and evolve an online avatar.

Mohamed El-Fatatry, founder of Muxlim.com, described the project:

We are not a religious site, we are a site that is focused on the lifestyle. This is for anyone who is remotely interested in the Muslim culture and the Muslim lifestyle.

 

From what we have seen from our market research is that most Muslims have a lifestyle that is not so different from everybody else. They all share the core values which are from Islam then beyond that they actually have made identities, they have many interests...

 

This [stage] is nowhere near the vision of where [Muxlim Pal] will be someday... It is very important to put things out and listen to how people interact with it. What feedback they give us and then that will play a big role in which direction we take the product in.

Muxlim Pal offers users 26 categories of content; only one is based on religion. The browser-based virtual world has a beach bar, arena and shopping.
 

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"Morally Responsible" Investment Firm Goes Gay Bashing in Games

December 2, 2008 -

The Timothy Plan, a Florida investment firm which bills itself as "conservative Christian," is warning holiday-shopping parents away from what it calls the 30 "most offensive" video games.

While the usual suspects (GTA IV, Saints Row 2, Blitz the League II) make the list, there are some surprises as well, including the T-rated Bully: Scholarship Edition and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.

In its game rankings, the organization displays an obvious anti-gay bias. While it evaluates titles for sex and nudity, a gay/lesbian rating is also included, meaning that a game with a gay sexual encounter might get a double whammy when compared to a game where the sex is of the straight variety. This effect, for instance, pushes Fable II onto the group's most offensive list. Along that line a report prepared by the Timothy Plan contains this rather bizarre comment:

Army of Two: Homosexual Encounters: ...Somewhat homo-erotic undertones between the two main characters are present.

WoW made it onto the dirty thirty, thanks to a high "addiction" rating as well as a high rating for alcohol use (curse you, Noggenfogger elixir!).

How the group determined the addiction rank is really quite unfathomable. WoW received a 3, for example, the worst possible rating, while Lord of the Rings Online got a 1 and Age of Conan a 2. In fact, all of the MMOs were tagged for addiction as well as some multiplayer games like Halo 3. A few games (The Darkness, Devil May Cry 4) were punished for "demonic" references.

Timothy Plan president Art Ally (left) comments:

Many, if not most, parents who buy their kids video games really don't know the extent of sex and violence imbedded in them. From drug use, prostitution, murder and mayhem to vulgar profanity and blasphemy these games have become a powerfully negative influence on our kids...

 

I believe, if parents would take a moment to look at the report we've created, their game selections would be quite different.

The group maintains a corporate "hall of shame" which includes game publishers EA, Take-Two and Microsoft. The Timothy Plan also offers to screen your portfolio to see if any of your mutual funds have investments in shameful companies.

So helpful!

Document Dump: Get the Timothy Plan's game score card here. The group's press release with holiday shopping warnings is here.

Korean MMO Gets Middle-east Make Over

November 30, 2008 -

Rappelz, a free-to-play MMO developed in South Korea, is getting a face lift to bring it into line with the Middle-east's Islamic sensibilities, according to website TechRadar.

[Dubai publisher] Game Power 7... has made a few adjustments to Gala's role-player Rappelz to make it supposedly more appealing to customers in Islamic countries...

 

As well as changing the background music, the noises monsters make (really?) and taking out non-Muslim religious symbols, such as crosses, Game Power 7 has given some characters a little more to wear. We're told that female players will be properly covered up so that they're no longer showing too many flesh-coloured pixels. Arms and legs get special attention, with chainmail and long stockings pasted on.

The new version of Rappelz is online now and aimed at 19 countries that include Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

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Taliban Burns Down Pakistani Video Game Shop

November 21, 2008 -

GP sister-site GameCulture, citing Indian newspaper The Hindu, reports that Taliban thugs burned down a video game shop as part of a sweep through the Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan.

Stores selling videos and electronics were also attacked.

 

 

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Controversial New Board Game Parodies Religious Violence

November 18, 2008 -

A great deal of blood has been spilled in the name of religion over the centuries, and the maker of a new board game hopes that parodying religious violence will bring him Earthly rewards.

USA Today reports that Playing Gods: The Board Game of Divine Domination is billed as "the world's first satirical board game of religious warfare," and includes playing pieces such as Jesus wielding a cross and a chain gun-toting Buddha (see pic).

Playing Gods was launched at DragonCon in September. The game's creator, Ben Radford, told USA Today:

Much of the world's violence is rooted in religion... [I wanted to] make more social commentary... [and] pierce the pretensions of extremist religious zealotry with humor...

 

[The game is] not anti-religion. It's anti-zealot, anti-people who kill for their beliefs, whatever those are.

Not surprisingly, Playing Gods is not without its critics. Prof. Carl Raschke, who teaches religious studies at the
University of Denver commented:

[The game] has no basis in historical reality and doesn't actually represent any religion. It just appeals to people who hate religion to begin with — the hip subculture of militant popular atheists. These people are fanatics, for the most part, themselves. Their thinking is rigid and hostile and not much different from jihadists who don't use their minds or study what they are dealing with. They start from their own dogmatic perspective.

 

Of course it is [offensive]. But it sounds too stupid to go far.

In an FAQ on the Playing Gods website, designer Radford denies that the $39.99 game is anti-religious:

The game is not anti-anything, except anti-boredom. Players can inject as much – or as little – real religion into the game as they wish. Players may pit Zeus against Cthulhu and Eric Clapton for control over the world, or pit Jesus against a Muslim figurehead. It's all up to you. I hope the game is taken in the spirit in which it was offered.

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Game Censorship Fuels Game Piracy in Saudi Arabia

October 31, 2008 -

Is piracy ruining the video game market in Saudi Arabia?

That's the spin coming from the Arabian Anti-Piracy Alliance at this week's Dubai World Game Expo. But, as GP sister-site GameCulture explains, it is actually game censorship by the Saudi government which pushes gamers into pirating the titles they want.

AAA official Scott Butler claims that Saudi officials aren't doing enough to combat piracy:

In the UAE they are sending pirates to prison a lot, whereas in Saudi Arabia there has never been a judgment like that for any kind of pirate. When they mete out the judgement of imprisonment, that's when the market will finally crack.

But, as GC editor Aaron Ruby points out:

That might be the first time the Saudi legal system was chastised for being too lenient. And therein lies the absurdity of Butler's proposal... Censorship in that country has effectively driven the videogame industry underground. The kingdom's fear of media that challenges its cultural values has created a thriving entertainment black market, of which games are a key segment...

 

Iran, whose entertainment is also heavily regulated by the state, is also a hotbed of piracy. According to Mehrdad Agah, chariman of Puya Arts Software, 99% of all games sold in Iran are pirated...

 

It's no coincidence that the countries with the highest piracy rates (Saudi, Iran, China) have some of the most draconian censorship policies on the planet. The true counter to piracy is more freedom, not less.

Bonus: In this fascinating article, a Saudi gamer pens a history of game piracy in the kingdom.

8 comments

Ex-Kazaa Guy's Provocative Game Pits Israelis Against Iranians

October 30, 2008 -

An Australian businessman who once was caught up in the legal battle over the Kazaa file-sharing network has launched a controversial, ad-driven war game.

As reported by the Syndey Morning Herald, Kevin Bermeister is the money man behind Rising Eagle - Gaza. The game pits Israel's elite Golani Brigade against the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Players can fight on either side.

Bermeister, who is Jewish, told the newspaper that he wanted to "throw out a challenge to Iran." Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has vowed to destroy Israel.

People will get to know each other in a competitive battleground environment, get to text each other, speak to each other, connect with each other and figure out that they're human beings and they can get on with each other...

 

Just like Ahmadinejad is throwing out a challenge to Israel, I think this game throws out a challenge to Iran. Clearly the intent is that the Israeli Defence Force is the futuristic fighting force that is capable of overcoming anything thrown at it, and the challenge is for anyone to come and take a shot.

Rising Eagle has been developed in Israel. Developer Yaron Dotan also spoke to the SMH:

Dotan, 34, was delighted at the suggestion that his game, which includes billboard-size photographs of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad looking like a monkey [see pic at left], might cause offence to Iranians. He describes the Iranian soldiers as "the Waffen SS of today".

"I want this to upset people. I hope it causes the biggest shitstorm in history," he said.

Quakers Set to Launch World of Peacecraft

October 24, 2008 -

UPDATE: This entire story is a hoax. My bad for falling for it, although it came from what I thought was a reliable website. Won't make that mistake again with that person or his site.  The Escapist has more...

 

With more than 10 million subsrscibers, World of Warcraft is the most successful MMO of all time.

So, how does World of Peacecraft sound?

The Click Heard Round the World reports that the Religious Society of Friends - aka the Quakers - plans a December  launch for WoP, an MMO based on Quaker themes. Blogger Rik Panganiban cites a draft press release from the Quaker United Service:

The Quaker United Service is pleased to announce the beta-release of the new MMORPG "World of PeaceCraft," the first massive online game for a Christian religious denomination.  Full of fun quests and adventures, the WoP will extend traditional Quaker values and historic testimonies -- such as their work to end the slave trade, protesting against war, and worshipping in silence -- into an immersive, 3D environment.

Not just for Quakers, the game promises to be inclusive of those from other faiths and spiritual traditions.  WoP CEO Thad Thomas promises that "whether you are a Buddhist, Muslim, Jew or just a curious agnostic, you will find much to do and enjoy in World of PeaceCraft."

Panganiban says that in-game quests will follow the course of Quaker history:

You begin in 17th Century England... preaching against the evils of war and unjust rule, meeting in clandestine locations to avoid persecution, and facing beatings and imprisonment at every turn.  Then you are transported to the early 1800s in the United States, helping shepherd escaped slaves to freedom as part of the Underground Railroad. Later quests involve you in the women's suffrage movement, the civil rights movement, and the anti-death penalty and anti-war protests of today.

Look for WoP on PC and Mac in December.

35 comments

Second Life for Islamic World?

October 23, 2008 -

TechCrunch reports that Muxlim.com, 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 Muxlim.com 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

12 comments

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...

32 comments

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?

60 comments

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

60 comments

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.

6 comments

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.

90 comments

 
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Matthew Wilsonthe lose of nn would not be good for us, but it will not be good for verizion/comcast/att in the long run ether.04/24/2014 - 2:16pm
Matthew Wilsonsadly yes. it would take another sopa day to achieve it.04/24/2014 - 2:13pm
NeenekoI am also confused. Are you saying NN would only become law if Google/Netflix pushed the issue (against their own interests)?04/24/2014 - 2:10pm
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, you are saying a lot of things but I am still unclear on your point. Are you saying that the loss of Net Neutrality will be good in the long run?04/24/2014 - 2:06pm
Matthew WilsonOfcourse it does I never said it did not.though over time the death of NN will make backbone providers like Google, level3 and others stronger becouse most isps including the big ones can not provid internet without them. they can peer with smaller isps04/24/2014 - 1:54pm
E. Zachary KnightMatthew, and that still plays in Google's favor over their smaller rivals who don't have the muscle to stand up to ISPs.04/24/2014 - 1:45pm
Matthew Wilsongoogle wont pay becouse they control a large part of the backbone that all isps depend on. if verizon blocks their data, google does the same. the effect is Verizon loses access to 40% of the internet, and can not serve some areas at all.04/24/2014 - 1:14pm
Neenekolack of NN is in google and netflix interest. It is another tool for squeezing out smaller companies since they can afford to 'play'04/24/2014 - 12:57pm
Matthew WilsonI have said it before net nutrality will not be made in to law until Google or Netflix is blocked, or they do what they did for sopa and pull their sites down in protest.04/23/2014 - 8:02pm
Andrew EisenGee, I guess putting a former cable industry lobbyist as the Chairman of the FCC wasn't that great of an idea. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/24/technology/fcc-new-net-neutrality-rules.html?_r=204/23/2014 - 7:26pm
Andrew EisenIanC - I assume what he's getting at is the fact that once PS3/360 development ceases, there will be no more "For Everything But Wii U" games.04/23/2014 - 5:49pm
Andrew EisenMatthew - Yes, obviously developers will eventually move on from the PS3 and 360 but the phrase will continue to mean exactly what it means.04/23/2014 - 5:45pm
IanCAnd how does that equal his annoying phrase being meaningless?04/23/2014 - 5:09pm
Matthew Wilson@Andrew Eisen the phrase everything but wiiu will be meaningless afer this year becouse devs will drop 360/ps3 support.04/23/2014 - 4:43pm
Andrew EisenFor Everything But... 360? Huh, not many games can claim that title. Only three others that I know of.04/23/2014 - 3:45pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/23/another-world-rated-for-current-consoles-handhelds-in-germany/ Another World fulfills legal obligations of being on every gaming system under the sun.04/23/2014 - 12:34pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/04/steam-gauge-do-strong-reviews-lead-to-stronger-sales-on-steam/?comments=1 Here is another data driven article using sales data from steam to figure out if reviews effect sales. It is stats heavy like the last one.04/23/2014 - 11:33am
Andrew EisenI love RPGs but I didn't much care for Tales of Symphonia. I didn't bother with its sequel.04/23/2014 - 11:21am
InfophileIt had great RPGs because MS wanted to use them to break into Japan. (Which had the side-effect of screwing NA PS3 owners out of Tales of Vesperia. No, I'm not bitter, why do you ask?)04/23/2014 - 10:52am
RedMageI'm still disappointed the 360 never broke into Japan either. It had a bevy of great RPGs in the late 2000s.04/23/2014 - 9:48am
 

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