Faith Fighter, a Mortal Kombat-style fighting game featuring deities like Jesus, Buddha and Ganesha has been pulled by Italian developer Molleindustria following a protest by the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
The controversy started following a report by Metro.co.uk which called the game "deeply offensive and provocative," particularly to Muslims, whose religion prohibits images of the Prophet Muhammad. "This game is going out of its way to upset people and I think it should be taken off the internet," said Link Church Pastor Douglas Miller. "Playing violent video games will ultimately affect your behavior and this game is deeply offensive and provocative."
There's only one small problem: Faith Fighter was released well over a year ago and had cruised under mainstream radar until the Metro report broke. In fact, Molleindustria claimed that prior to the article the company had received only two letters of complaint about the game, from Catholic gamers. Faith Fighter is firmly tongue-in-cheek, opening with a message urging players to "reflect on how the religions and sacred representations are often instrumentally used to fuel or justify conflicts between nations and people." The character of Muhammad can even be censored to avoid depicting his face and thus causing offense.
Nonetheless, the Saudi-based Organization of the Islamic Conference accused the game of promoting "intolerance" and called for its removal. "When his attention was brought to an internet report posted by Metro.co.uk on an online game depicting holy figures such as Prophet Jesus and Prophet Muhammad (PBUT) fighting each other to the death, a spokesman of the OIC Islamophobia Observatory in Jeddah today expressed his concern stating that the computer game was incendiary in its content and offensive to Muslims and Christians," the OIC said in a statement. "He said that the game would serve no other purpose than to incite intolerance. He called on the Internet service providers who are hosting the game to take immediate action by withdrawing it from the web."
"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 said on its website. "This phenomenon is related to the still marginal role of the medium: Commentators feel authorized to judge a game without playing it and just conforming to the common narrative depicting video game as violence generators (a narrative we tried to make fun of promoting Faith Fighter as a cathartic tool for religious hate)."
Faith Fighter was removed from the Molleindustria website as a result of the OIC complaint but the company noted that doing so was a "symbolic act," since the game has been out long enough that it's easily available elsewhere. "Hopefully this will help people to make their judgments by examining the actual work and not the sensationalist accounts spread by mass media," the studio said.