PQube and Digital Crafter have managed to stir up the same kind of media furor that surrounded games like Mortal Kombat way, way, way back in the early 1990s. A furor, I might add, that ended up resulting in the creation of the ESRB. Mortal Kombat was attacked for the original Fatalities, involving pulling out your opponent’s heart, ripping out their spine, and burning them to a crisp. What was the crime PQube and Digital Crafter committed? They a made a fighting game featuring different religious deities called Strijd van Goden.
The game was recently permanently banned from being sold in Malaysia, and the Malaysian government took extra steps to permanently block access to the Steam store because they were so offended by Strijd van Goden. Volgens PCGamesN, Steam is now back up and working but the game is still a no-show.
PQube has been attempting to work with Valve to restore the game in Malaysia, as well as figure out exactly what can be done to appease the Malaysian government. The government wanted them to change the names and themes of the pugilists to no longer represent religious figures, which would ultimately defeat the purpose of the game.
In the case of Hindu statesmen Rajan Zad, he’s been advocating for the game to be denounced by Hindus. He explained in a press statement that Strijd van Goden could have a negative impact on youth, and that the developers should think of the children…
“[…] Hindus were for free speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at belittling it hurt the devotees. Video game makers should be more sensitive while handling faith related subjects, as these games left lasting impact on the minds of highly impressionable children, teens and other young people.”
If you think that Zed is just pontificating about the game, keep in mind that he’s managed in the past to reach the ears of developers and enact some measure of censorship before.
For those who forgot, Zed led the initial charge in getting Kali from Slaat censored. He worked with Catholic and Buddhist orthodoxy to turn the issue into a global one. Statesmen from other organized religions also condemned the appearance of Kali in Slaat, which resulted in the character being censored, as reported on The Escapist.
According to Zed, religious figures shouldn’t be allowed to fight in a digital playground because they’re supposed to be about “peace”, saying….
“Peace was at the core of major religions, while this video game seemed to be full of violence. Moreover, the highly revered religious figures were not meant to be reduced to just a “character” in a video game to be used in combat in the virtual battleground”
Strijd van Goden is already facing some tough scrutiny from Malaysia, but things could get worse if the issue is elevated to other religions. Right now PQube and Digital Crafter are getting a ton of free press for their 2D fighting game, which is still in Early Access. Whether or not they will weather the storm and ride out the controversy like Midway Games did back in the 1990s (which brought them unparalleled fame), or cave in and give up like Cwavesoft or so many other studios these days remains to be seen.
If you’re interested, you can check out Strijd van Goden nu boven op de Steam Store gratis