You might have heard about the "Islam is the light" controversy that broke out this week. Kotaku has a blurb about it and yesterday's Penny Arcade comic dealt with it as well. If you don't feel like following the links for some reason, here's a summary: there's a baby-raising sim (think Nintendogs with people) for the DS out there, Baby Pals by name, and some woman in Indiana could have sworn that the damn thing said "Islam is the light" to her daughter.
Now, the idea of subliminal messages in video games is nothing new, nor is the mistrust of the medium by parents, but there's something that really rubs me the wrong way about this story that I haven't seen answered yet and that's what the big deal is over the whole thing.
In all likelihood, the noises made by the virtual baby were just computerized approximations of infantile gibberish interpreted in the ears of some over-protective parent as beckonings to her child to accept that there is no god but God and that Muhammad is His Prophet. If this thing implied as much to the kid, that's certainly weird but I don't know if I'd go so far as to say controversial. Great, some Muslim programmer is messing with your kid; shame on them, let's move on. However, the debacle is being treated by some sources as if Al Qaeda has a secret plan to convert the youth of the nation into mujahideen and wage holy war against their parents across the American heartland. Mwahahahahahah! My question really remains what would have happened if the game (or its ally in jihad doll counterpart) had said something like "Jesus is Lord" or "Shabbat shalom" or something else having to do with some other faith system. Would there be a controversy if my kid's video game was doing its damndest to convert them to Christianity or Judaism. Any world religion sneaking its way into my game and making an effort to proselytize to me would piss me off (unless of course I knew about it beforehand) regardless of what theological worldview it was expressing. Nevertheless, this ultimately comes down to people expressing their ignorance by getting mad at the very mention of Islam to their children, unless of course I'm proven wrong when that dirty bomb that was set off by the Baby Pals playing little girl goes off tomorrow.
Whatever your religious affiliation might be, this video-game-controversy-of-the-week reveals and reinforces the fact that video games are still being used as a scapegoat by parents and probably will be until the baby-boomers die out in the soon-to-come Battle of the End Times between the loyal soldiers of Christ and the servants of Satan.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Posted by Boivin at 11:00 PM