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LittleBigCockUp October 17, 2008

Posted by Mike in Articles, Console, Games, News.

An Edge 10, a rapturous Beta reception… what could possibly go wrong? Well, in the case of classic-in-waiting LittleBigPlanet, it’s religion. Careful launch plans have been scuppered, and the game will now not be released on Friday October 24, following a surprising worldwide recall of the title this afternoon.

According to an official Sony statement: “LittleBigPlanet will be remastered in order to remove a track from the game that contained two expressions found in the Qur’an. Whilst shorter expressions from the Qur’an are sometimes used in Nasheeds, we are aware that the mixing of musical instruments with recognisable extracts from the Qur’an is offensive to Muslims. Therefore, we have taken immediate action to rectify this. We will confirm a new launch date shortly.”

While Sony’s swift action here is commendable, strangely it seems that the furore began because of a single user posting on a couple of forums, including here

That a single forum post can inspire such wild panic is not only pretty unprecedented in the videogames industry, but also rather controversial. As a result of Sony’s actions, certain videogame forums are already awash with posts full of unpleasant racist overtones directed towards Muslims.

Hopefully the delay to LittleBigPlanet’s release will be small, but this incident will no doubt cause the industry to further look at its practices regarding its relationship with religion. I personally find it rather ironic that an industry that has always railed against censorship of any kind is now falling over itself to remove a game that may be offensive to a small group of people. I find it unlikely that the vast majority of Muslim players will either notice the said music track in the game, or be offended by it.

I suppose that, where religion is concerned, Sony have to be seen to tread very carefully, as so many other companies across the world in varous fields have in the past few years. The music track in question’s existence on iTunes, however, suggests that who is offended by what, and with what consequence, is far more open to interpretation than Sony’s swift action to withdraw the current version of the game from worldwide markets might make us believe.

And please spare a thought for Media Molecule, whose triumphant development of LittleBigPlanet is in danger of being overshadowed by a truism that may leave many people shifting uncomfortably in their seats in the 21st Century: religion still equals power.

UPDATE – Media Molecule has said the following: “We learnt yesterday that there is a lyric in one of the licensed tracks which some people may find offensive, and which slipped through the usual screening processes. Obviously MM and Sony together took this very seriously. LBP should be enjoyable by all. So within 12 hours of hearing about this issue involving a lyric (in Somalian, I believe!), we prepared an automatic day 0 patch and had a new disk image ready; however a decision was made within Sony that the right thing to do for quality and support of people with no on-line was to replace existing disks. They assure us that they are doing everything in their power to get things straightened out as fast as possible, and will announce dates soon.”



1. Jon - October 28, 2008

Great site, I’ll come back and read more when I have more time.

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