RPG's in Manchester Cathedral

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Is it embarrassing to admit I really love role playing video games (weird, huh, that the acronym is RPG)? I'm thirty, but I'll tell you, I am nostalgic for Street Fighter II and Super Mario., and if I had a Playstation I would happily turn into a twelve year old boy (that sounds funny, but you know what I mean). However, I'm also a thirty year old woman, and a bit of a prude, so I was certainly surprised and slightly squeamish about this story: a Playstation 3 game called Resistance: Fall of Man, features a shootout in the interior of Manchester Cathedral (in the U.K.). (You can see the footage here.) It has the Manchester clergy — who regularly speak out about gun violence — up in arms (so to speak). It's a tough call; the game is obviously fictional (takes place in a dark dystopia in which WW II never happened, but all kinds of critters are roaming Machester), but it makes use of sacred space in a decidedly profane way. We'll talk to the Sub Dean of Manchester Cathedral about the game... have any of you played it? Or something like it in recognizable places? Does anyone even remember StreetFighter? (I had a mean "wind punch" as Chun Li. That's not a euphemism. And you literally cannot beat the "wind punch.")

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I haven't played this specific game (I am a Xbox 360 fan, after all) but have played games in real or "realistic" locations. Would the same people up in arms from the Cathedral been as upset if this story took place in a novel? Or a movie? Or a comic book? I think real locations make for a more engaging setting when telling a story. That story can be of a violent nature, like this particular video game, or a mystery (like Da Vinci Code) or even a heist picture like Oceans Whatever. I think this is much ado about nothing. It is one thing to be against violent video games. I don't agree with that stance but understand the concern. But if you have a space as publicly known and accessible (is it??), then you have to suffer the virtual slings and digital arrows of video game or movie or book settings. Aren't there more important issues in the world to deal with than an alternate history video game?

And yes, I remember Street Fighter! I was horrible at it then, too.

Sent by phil | 2:34 PM | 6-12-2007

This game has been on the market in the US for nearly six months and in the UK for three. It was heavily advertised for months and more than a million copies have already been sold. The C of E can expect to get an apology from Sony, but removing the games from the shelves doesn't make sense this late in the game. Why didn't they speak up earlier?

Sent by J.D. Lovejoy | 3:15 PM | 6-12-2007

I was very disappointed when I heard this story because once again the news media goes out of its way to portray video games in the worst possible way. We are given zero explanation in the story as to what Resistance is about, in that much of the game you're shooting completely fictional aliens. No, we are simply given that the game involves shooting and a brief audio clip so the listeners can simply imagine the worst possible things they want going on in this game.

And as usual any representative of the game in question or counterpoint for video gamers in general is completely absent. The story didn't even attempt to contact the games developers, Insomniac Games for comment (Sony is the games publisher, not its developer).

Sent by Daniel Barnett | 3:33 PM | 6-12-2007

The coverage of this story was sloppy and amateurish. It was obvious that NPR had done no homework on it at all. I kept waiting for Neal to ask the Dean if it didn't matter to him that the fictional battle that takes place in the virtual Cathedral in an imaginary timeline was against flesh-eating aliens determined to destroy the human race. Is the Dean really suggesting that if somehow he woke up to such a reality that the Church would demand the aliens be allowed to eat his parishoners? That NPR would allow itself to be a tool of fear-mongering is sad. Will you be calling for a ban on Rock and Roll and Comic Books as well? Unless NPR is pro-flesh eating aliens, you should redeem yourselves and speak to some legal experts on the issue of how far copyright law can extend to.

Sent by David Dressel | 12:51 AM | 6-13-2007