10 June 2007

Virtually Real Street Violence

(Or: Zapping Islamo-sensitive Aliens?)

I remember spending many happy moments as a young boy blasting aliens to pieces in an effort to get the highest score I could.The original handheld Space Invader gameTechnology has come a long way — so far, in fact, that we are now asking whether Sony was right to set their PlayStation 3 game Resistance: Fall of Man in a virtual cathedral identical to Manchester Cathedral.Sony Playstation 3's Resistance: Fall of ManI'm not really sure that the real cathedral is in any way desecrated by today's space invaders' virtual use of the religious sanctuary as their base. However, I do wonder whether the public and media response would have been any different had the game been set in Manchester's Central Mosque.

I also suspect Mothers Against Violence's Patsy McKie, whose son Dorrie was shot dead in gang violence in Manchester, is right to be concerned about the impact such realistic portrayal of violence and use of weapons has on the perceptions of today's younger generation and their respect for life. When set in iconic places that were once recognised as being the centres of our communities, I guess I can also see that this could quite possibly further undermine attempts to maintain—or restore—a sense of community cohesion.

What do you think? Are today's "shoot 'em up"s simply a bit of mental fun? Or have the games become virtually and dangerously real? Am I wrong to dismiss so easily any possible impact on the cathedral's reputation? And would it make any difference if the game were set in Manchester's Central Mosque?