An almighty row (no pun intended, honest) has broken out between two giants: Sony and the Church of England.
It’s all down to the highly controversial use of Manchester Cathedral in Sony’s hit game “Resistance: Fall of Man”.
Both the Church, and relatives of victims of Manchester’s gun crime, have condemned Sony for producing the game, branding it “sick” and “highly irresponsible”.
Sci-fi it may be (the first-person shooter is annihilating aliens as they dash around the sanctuary toting a huge gun) – and that’s the line Sony is sticking to – but the Church of England is considering legal action if the game is not removed from shelves and if Sony do not apologise.
In the highly unlikely event that Sony do remove the game voluntarily from shelves, they’ll be reaching up to the number one shelf position – this controversy will probably just increase the game’s popularity.
So does it matter?
Well, putting the religious and moral views of this case aside for just a moment, should gaming companies seek permission to use recognisable locations in their games? Or is it enough to say that it’s an unreal world (however lifelike it looks on the latest hardware) and it’s fair game for use?
Sony say that they sought all the “necessary permissions”, but the Church obviously doesn’t agree.
Why did Sony feel the need to use Manchester Cathedral anyway? Would the game have been any less dramatic had it been set in an obviously fictional cathedral?
Perhaps not. I can’t really believe Sony thought they’d get away with this without causing a stir. Maybe it was deliberate?
There’ll always be controversy when a church is used in a non-traditional way. I can’t help feeling that Sony wouldn’t tread on the toes of any other religious group, but that’s not a debate for Tech Digest!
This kind of issue is only likely to escalate as virtual reality becomes ever more popular, and more realistic. Let’s draw it away from religion for a moment (or perhaps not) – would Apple be happy if Microsoft launched an Xbox game depicting people running round their Cupertino HQ shooting aliens, people, or (heaven forbid) Macs and iPhones?
There’ll come a time when no-one will be able to keep track, anyway. Virtual property is instantly duplicable. There could be a hundred Manchester Cathedrals lurking in cyberspace and video games, with just as many virtual things going on in them.