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Censorship Versus Appeasement
Posted on October 30, 2012 by Nickolai Niver

This site has been aflame since last night with an onslaught of comments related to Islam. The recent upset is up due to a news piece we posted concerning Tekken Tag Tournament 2 getting a patch to remove “Allah's name” from a stage.  This tiny, almost invisible problem has caused a literal uproar. On one hand, there Muslims requesting stuff like this be taken down. Then, on the other side, are people telling the Islamic community to grow up (albeit, in more colorful language than that). While I can't be more thankful that I have entertaining content to read over my morning cup of tea, there are some points in all of this that I find troublesome.

Allah is found on Tekken Tag Tournament 2's Saudi Arabia stage causing Mulsim gamers to be offended

Video games are viewed in multiple perspectives. To developers, it's a business, and keeping customers happy is good business. Alternatively, censorship is a powerful tool that is being very much abused in our culture. This abuse, as sad as it is, is caused by forced favoritism in the game industry.

I remember reading an interesting bit a few months ago about an entire Call of Duty map getting pulled because it contained content that might be offensive to the Islamic culture. As soon as this was announced, it stirred up many gamers who had been complaining that Modern Warfare 2 had 'broken' weapons that were ruining their experience with the title (I'm completely ignoring the fact that MW2 is still being played in 2012 for inexplicable reasons). They seemed quite upset that a tiny graphic was causing a complete revamp of a map while they were still dealing with those noobs with P90s. Why did the Muslims get the game changed just to make them happy?

Because it's business 101.

As of 2005, roughly 21% of the world was recorded as Muslim, to some extent or another. From a business owner's prospective, if a potential 21%, or even as little as 10% of your customers are mad at you and refuse to buy your product, your profit will suffer significantly. Those butt-hurt players who don't like “Mr. I have no life and spawn camp with the AK-47”? They're still going to buy Black Ops 2 because sheep are sheep. On the other hand, religion is a very powerful thing.

I'm a member of a religion that considers the consumption of alcohol as foolish. While I have no qualms with people who drink alcohol, it would be difficult for me to recall an event where I woke up one morning in a bathtub filled with Jell-O, with a lady's undergarment atop my head. To put it simply, my religion has recommended I don't drink, and I don't. Now then, what would happen if a religious leader blacklisted a game and recommended all of its religious followers don't purchase the title? Sales would plummet.

I don't want anybody to get the wrong idea on my stance. The last 3 paragraphs were simply a logical way of viewing the events of the past few days. Realistically, this gets my blood boiling. Not because I'm a bigot who thinks all Muslims should be force fed bacon laced with alcohol from someone's left hand. Rather, I don't like favoritism.

There was no uproar by Catholics when Assassin's Creed series went off and painted their religious figures as tyrants who badly needed a good neck stabbing. There were a few complaints by predominantly Islamic countries during the first installment of AC. These complaints were so bad that Ubisoft had to be VERY careful when they took players to Constantinople (not Istanbul, but Constantinople) in Revelations. Remember folks, it's OK to insult Christianity, but Shiva forgive you if so much as try to depict Arabs in a negative light, regardless of if what you're doing is historically accurate.

The Assassin's Creed series have spent at least 4 installments killing the Templar and good, Christian people of the world over. That's fine with most people as the characters they kill should be relevant to the plot and unlikable as a whole. However, despite many of these contracts being Catholic, if not the freaking pope himself, I have never read anything about Assassin's Creed being banned by the Vatican. However, Assassin's Creed did get banned in Saudi Arabia for “negative portrayal of Arabs”. While I'm no expert on religion, I'm pretty sure putting a pope on a pike is somewhat more deserving of censorship than “Historical accurate depictions used to maintain atmosphere bother me”.

Here's what everything boils down to. Politely asking for clarity on something, or requesting it being removed because it violates your religious code is fine. Making it so game developers are horrified to depict something as slightly negative through passive-aggressive actions not only violates basic human rights, it's counter-productive to your society. Islamic faith aside, I don't know any culture that can tie a game developer's hands enough that the vast majority try to avoid the religion at all costs.

Call of Duty has Nazi soldiers being depicted as scum that make great bullet magnets. Grand Theft Auto seems to have this odd love of promoting racial stereotypes to a hilarious extreme. Saints Row The Third made fun of Japanese culture for hours on end with Professor Genki. Even Sesame Street has a Romanian with a fetish for basic math. The difference between all these cultures and Islam is that I don't see the internet become a vicious hate machine every time something regarding any of these races or cultures are brought up. Do you know why? Because they relax, let the inaccuracies roll off of them, and go on with their lives.

If a floor or a portrait depicting something that could be misconstrued as negative is offending you, please ask for it to be fixed. Only truly ignorant people would deny you the right to enjoy a fighting game that has no religious agenda. However, if you can't take someone occasionally slandering your culture (you know, just like everyone else’s) you do not deserve to have any influence in the world, and especially on what I enjoy during my leisure time.

Nickolai Niver - Staff Writer nic (@) | all author's articles

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