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LittleBigPlanet Recalled
October 17, 2008 11:52 AM   Subscribe

LittleBigPlanet, the highly anticipated create your own platformer game by Media Molecule, originally set to release next week, has been recalled. The reason? Apparently one of the music tracks used in the game, "Tapha Niang" by Grammy Award winner Toumani Diabate, contains verses from the Qur'an. As it's a no no to mix Islamic holy text with music, Sony has pulled the game after complaints. The problem has been fixed, but no new release date has been announced.
posted by yellowbinder (61 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
The mom'n'pop video game store that I buy my games from actually had copies of LBP delivered to them, so I'll probably be picking it today...
posted by yeoz at 11:55 AM on October 17, 2008


Yeah, I'm going to swing by my local place after work and hope and plead and beg. This sucks, and I don't know who to be mad at, so I'm just sad.
posted by yellowbinder at 11:56 AM on October 17, 2008


Pretty polite as complaints go. That game looks hype like DJ Hype.
posted by chunking express at 11:57 AM on October 17, 2008


What, seriously?
posted by Electrius at 11:57 AM on October 17, 2008


Either it's all OK, or none of it is.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:59 AM on October 17, 2008


I can think of all kinds of other things in games that are a no no's to a particular religion. This stinks.
posted by tomplus2 at 12:01 PM on October 17, 2008


Reminds me of the old Dutch Reformed Church (and probably others) joke:

Q: Why is the CRC against sex?
A: It might lead to dancing.
posted by DU at 12:04 PM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't know who to be mad at

I dunno, Muhammad maybe?
posted by uncleozzy at 12:07 PM on October 17, 2008


facepalm.jpg
posted by Dr-Baa at 12:17 PM on October 17, 2008


Interesting that they didn't recall Resistance 1, then.
posted by aramaic at 12:18 PM on October 17, 2008


{; P
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:18 PM on October 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


That's my interpretation of a winking Muhummad. Sorry, Matt, the jihad is on. Orthodox, fundamentalist religion is stupid, including and especially Islam.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:20 PM on October 17, 2008


And thus eBay is flooded with LIMITED RECALLED VERSION WITH MUSLIN WORDS! OMG!

Apparently all those stores who would be selling copies have them by now, including Best Buy, but they won't be sharing their treasure trove of forbidden treasures for the usual exchange of cold hard cash. Unless you happen to know someone who works at one of these shops, and doesn't mind passing along "damaged copies" which might or might not be missed.

I don't know who to be mad at

I dunno, Muhammad maybe?


I don't think the guy had anything to do with this. Fear of repercussion from an annoyed to outraged group of followers, yeah, but don't go around blaming holy spirits - they've turned that trouble-making over to us physical entities.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:21 PM on October 17, 2008


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:21 PM on October 17, 2008


MUSLIN WORDS
I can has كل نفس ذائقة الموت on my sheets?
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


MUSLIN WORDS

Oh dear, you're not one of those people who sends the anti-Obama e-mails, are you?
posted by desjardins at 12:29 PM on October 17, 2008


Well, why don't we set up a board of Muslim censors, and we'll run every new book, song, newspaper, comic, television program, video game, photograph, blog entry, painting, article of clothing, and movie by them to make sure they're not offensive? Alternatively, they could just ignore the shit that bothers them, like every other grownup on the planet.
posted by Nahum Tate at 12:30 PM on October 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


This sucks, and I don't know who to be mad at

Sony seems a reasonable place to start. At some point the Western world must either take a stand on these matters or continue to surrender the very idea of freedom of speech... one or the other, but it's our choice. You can't solely blame Muslims for this sort of thing, not when it's our own corporations and media which knuckle under at the slightest whiff of controversy.
posted by vorfeed at 12:31 PM on October 17, 2008


Ok, now I'm pissed. Everyone at my house has been super excited about this game.

And now I have to wait to smack my male roommate bitch up. =(
posted by Zarya at 12:33 PM on October 17, 2008


Yeah, I definitely don't really have much anger about this, aside from anger at the corporation for caving so quickly.

It's like when an awesome old movie house in Toronto shut down a few years ago. It was probably the most beautiful single screen art deco theatre in town. It wasn't wheelchair accessible though, and when people complained the corporation just shut the theatre down instead of paying for renovations. You can't be mad at the people who complained, but you can't help but thing "this is why we can't have nice things."

BTW, a new street date has been announced. Not so bad actually. It's a sucky situation, but at least it's being resolved quickly.
posted by yellowbinder at 12:35 PM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


It should be pointed out that Toumani Diabate himself is Muslim. Apparently he even has a prayer room right next to his studio. Apparently it's not an 100% across-the-board rule to not mix verses from the Qur'an with music.

They're just playing it safe, in other words.
posted by evilangela at 12:35 PM on October 17, 2008


The words are:

1- In the 18th second: "كل نفس ذائقة الموت" ("kollo nafsin tha'iqatol mawt", literally: 'Every soul shall have the taste of death').

2- Almost immediately after, in the 27th second: "كل من عليها فان" ("kollo man alaiha fan", literally: 'All that is on earth will perish')


I don't know, pretty much echos the sentiments of the "End of Days" fundamentalists who'd be offended by it. You'd figure mutual self-destruction would be where all nutjobs from every cloth could come together.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 12:39 PM on October 17, 2008


Well, the letter was polite anyway. I think the proper response would be a polite "we understand your objections but we will not be according your religious beliefs any more, or less, respect than we grant to your political beliefs, preference in TV shows, etc. People are sometimes offended by things, that happens in life, we didn't set out to offend you but neither will we be going out of our way to avoid offending you."

Religion demands not merely respect, but hyper-respect, super-mega-more-important-than-anything-else respect. And I say bugger that for a lark. I will give a person's religious beliefs the exact same measure of respect I give their taste in food, or their belief about whether Han shot first or not, or their political beliefs.

Islam, particularly of late, has gotten quite pushy about demanding that everyone give them hyper-mega-super respect. While I do reject the Dutch cartoonist approach of deliberately giving offense (its obnoxious, and tainted by crypto-racism in that specific instance), I do think that nonsensical requests such as this one should be brushed aside.
posted by sotonohito at 12:41 PM on October 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


Sony is not in the business of protecting free speech; it's in the business of making money. If violence broke out because some Muslims were offended, and say someone's kid got killed, people would be up in arms because they didn't pull the game. At the very least, their stock would drop. They did what was responsible for their shareholders.
posted by desjardins at 12:46 PM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've been waiting for this game for a long time now, and I would like nothing more than to have it come out when it was originally planned, but I don't understand all the Sony hate here. They made a game they think can have a broad audience, that can sell some systems, and part of that is the idea that it's a safe, family-friendly game. Some people were offended by some lyrics and took it to Sony. I assume Sony and Media Molecule weren't previously aware of the lyrics and decided they didn't want to offend anyone.

How is this different than the people-first speak that was brought up a few weeks ago? Why is this caving in when saying "Person with X" is being compassionate?
posted by SAC at 12:55 PM on October 17, 2008


According to Kotaku, the new release date is October 27th.

Bleh.
posted by kbanas at 12:59 PM on October 17, 2008


I used the word caving, and I knew when I typed it that it probably wasn't the correct term to use. I think it's just that it's annoying when a company suspends a product that millions are salivating over for something that seems such a trifle to most people. It's one song in one level of an extremely cuddly game, it's obvious that no offense was meant. As someone pointed out above, the artist himself is Muslim, and the song has been around for two years with no (known) controversy.

Also, it would be super easy for them to patch this via the PlayStation Network, day one, mandatory patch. True, some people don't go online, but this is a game that is almost entirely about the online experience. They are basically annoying millions of people out of fear that the likely incredibly small number of muslims that a) play videogames, b) buy LittleBigPlanet, and c) never take it online will cause a ruckus. I'm all for being sensitive, but a recall seems excessive in this case.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:01 PM on October 17, 2008


I'm "offended" by the rampant bisexuality in The Sims. Can I get EA to remove all versions of the game from the shelves and have them cancel Sims 3 until we get some flat out, default-state gay Sims to play with?

Or, you know, to make shelf space for more games like LittleBigPlanet, Psychonauts, and Portal?
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:02 PM on October 17, 2008


Just to add another perspective to this, I suspect they're not simply worried about offending Muslims here. I'd bet they're more worried that if a small, vocal group of offended Muslims gets media coverage, it'll attract the attention of a larger, vocal-er group of backwater Palinites who'll treat Qur'an verses in the soundtrack as evidence of LittleBigPlanet's terrorist agenda.

I wish I was kidding.
posted by Riki tiki at 1:17 PM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why not just release a patch? I guess fear of being exploded makes one act quickly. Islamic thuggery gets results it seems.
posted by damn dirty ape at 1:18 PM on October 17, 2008


Thanks for pointing out this song, I was looking for something to listen to while I eat bacon and draw amusing cartoons about the adventures of Mohammed.
posted by mullingitover at 1:21 PM on October 17, 2008


yellowbinder, I completely agree with you. I actually think this recall will only focus more of the media attention on this "controversy" instead of the game. I can see what their intent may be, though, and I just don't think I can hold this against them.

As for a zero-day fix, remember that Hot Coffee actually required the game be patched to play the mission, and Rockstar still got a lot of bad press for that.

It's just sad that this game itself may be overshadowed by some lyrics.
posted by SAC at 1:25 PM on October 17, 2008


it's annoying when a company suspends a product that millions are salivating over for something that seems such a trifle to most people

or consider the reverse - millions of Muslims (may be) offended and the product is just a trifling video game.

Seriously - the new release date is 10 days away. You're going to tell me that 10 days without a video game is some kind of impediment to your happiness?
posted by desjardins at 1:33 PM on October 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's things like this that make me sort of admire the Amish. If something rubs them the wrong way, they just don't use it.

Someone wouldn't find it necessary to write a letter to Sony, Microsoft, or Nintendo saying: "Just thought I'd let you know that some Amish don't care for modern technology. So, y'know, maybe you should make your consoles function solely by clockwork."

Why not just release a patch?

To cover the percentage of people who don't have their consoles hooked up to the internet.
posted by CKmtl at 1:38 PM on October 17, 2008


Obviously 10 days without a videogame isn't that significant. The original rumor was November 14, which still wouldn't be the end of the world.

That said, while I'm not a Muslim fundamentalist, I just don't think this is a big deal. It's not Muhammed with a bomb ferchristsakes (Oh noes! Did I just offend Christians? Mods, delete please!)

Lots of videogames contain things that horrify the average churchgoer. This is a song in a kids game, not mass murder, drugs and sex. With rare exceptions (Manhunt 2, Hot Coffee), nothing happens to those games.
posted by yellowbinder at 1:43 PM on October 17, 2008


Toumani Diabate is Malian and Muslim culture there is traditionally fairly-broadminded and cultured. They've been having increasing problems with Saudi-funded radicals showing up and pushing these more puritanical forms of Islam. What you're looking at is a bit like extreme Baptists doing their nut because a Catholic congregation think it's fine and not at all idolatrous to sing hymns in praise of the Virgin Mary. The people making this fuss ought to be told to respect other Islamic traditions than their own.
posted by Flitcraft at 1:52 PM on October 17, 2008


I foresee interesting user-created levels arising from this tempest-in-a-teapot. I don't have a PS3, so I don't know: will user-created content be stored on Sony's servers, and thus be subject to some sort of screening before being made available to the LBP community? Can users swap items and levels without going through Sony? This'll be an interesting test -- LBP seems to be amazingly flexible in terms of what one can do with content creation, and I'm sure this kerfuffle will "inspire" some less-than-tasteful creations...

MeFi does not recognize the word "kerfuffle". Huh. That's odd.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:56 PM on October 17, 2008


I can't blame Sony for what they're doing, but it's part of a serious and unfortunate trend: people giving in to the murderer's veto.

The problem with doing this is that it encourages the murderers, and those who invoke them as a potential threat in the name of censorship.

If Freedom of Speech doesn't include the freedom to offend, it is hollow and meaningless.
posted by Class Goat at 2:36 PM on October 17, 2008


Nahum Tate: Alternatively, they could just ignore the shit that bothers them, like every other grownup on the planet.

What, you've never heard of Republicans?

Where do you live? Can I move there?
posted by Pronoiac at 2:49 PM on October 17, 2008


Seriously - the new release date is 10 days away. You're going to tell me that 10 days without a video game is some kind of impediment to your happiness?

Nope. I don't think anyone saying that a trifling 10 day delay over a trifling video game is, in itself, that important. Video games get delayed all the time. Plus, there's a ton of great stuff out right now. It's the bountiful part of the release calendar.

The thing that isn't a trifle is that one group of people wants to change that same trifling thing because it offends them.

One cost of freedom of expression is that some things will offend some people. That's a cost worth paying*. We need to protect things -- trifling and important both -- from censorship because it's not always clear what's trifling and what's important. And because an environment of censorship is toxic to creativity.

Whenever I'm offended about something and wish it wasn't there, I always think of this brilliant exchange in Alice in Wonderland:
'Well, perhaps your feelings may be different,' said Alice: 'all I know is, it would feel very queer to me.'

'You!' said the Caterpillar contemptuously. 'Who are you?'
* Insert usual caveat here about freedom of expression ending when actual people are actually harmed. What is 'actual harm'? Children being abused to make porn is actual harm. A piece of music that affronts my beliefs is not.
posted by amery at 2:59 PM on October 17, 2008


I GREATLY look forward to having to explain all this to customers who've preordered

Oh, and I agree that overall it really seems like somewhat of a minor thing to do a full recall over, but sony is being cautious and doing something that is most likely in the best interests of their shareholders so I can't really fault them I suppose.

Still, I dread the few "conversations" I'm going to have about this.
posted by Stunt at 3:13 PM on October 17, 2008


The first question I had when I read this news was why this guy was able to put out this song in the first place if it was 'offensive'.
posted by mattholomew at 3:18 PM on October 17, 2008


I think some of you are going a bit over the top about the letter. It wasn't a "RECALL ALL GAMES NOW OR THERE WILL BE A HOLY FIRE!" They don't "demand" they simply "hope" there would be an update to remove the track. The writer actually requests a more sensible approach and it was Sony's idea to just delay the whole thing. Seeing as setting Arabic or other Middle Eastern peoples as the enemy is the new fashion in games, I'm sure the gaming world can offer them just this one concession.

It was a polite, well written and complimentary letter. Give the guys a break.
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party at 3:24 PM on October 17, 2008


Seriously - the new release date is 10 days away. You're going to tell me that 10 days without a video game is some kind of impediment to your happiness?

There's a point being missed here. There will be a change in content. Because someone, somewhere MIGHT be offended. Not was offended. Not will be offended. MIGHT be offended.

The game has a music supervisor, or some similar role on the development team. This person(s) listened to a shitload of music in making his/her decision of what licensed music best fit the rest of the artwork and gameplay provided by the game. This music supervision task is as much an art and craft as any DJ in the world. Now, that person's creative energies have been blunted out of nothing more than fear.

Would you accept it if I told a DJ he couldn't ever play a certain song again, because some people might get offended? I doubt it.

Would you accept it if I told you a librarian couldn't stock a certain type of book? I doubt it. Unless you're Sarah Palin, that is.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:30 PM on October 17, 2008


In one month, no one will remember this at all.

I am not a fan of the PS3 but LBP looks absolutely killer.
posted by Diskeater at 3:39 PM on October 17, 2008


It's hilarious that a game is getting killed because people might get offended about scriptures in the lyrics.

Note the total lack of protest about games where you can run around a shopping mall beating people to death with a dildo.
posted by mullingitover at 3:45 PM on October 17, 2008


Note the total lack of protest about games where you can run around a shopping mall beating people to death with a dildo.

There have been plenty of protests about that series. BUT the people doing the protesting aren't known to perform suicide bombings, so the release company didn't stop the release for them.
posted by Class Goat at 4:12 PM on October 17, 2008


Serial Killer Slumber Party, you make a good point. The letter of complaint is perfectly polite, rational and valid. Sony's response is a bit of an overreaction though. Such an issue should certainly be dealt with to avoid offense. I think the issue here is Sony launching a massive recall so close to a hotly anticipated release date. Media Molecule had a patch ready within 12 hours. Most of the people who will buy this game, especially quickt after release, will take it online. The rational response would be to say, Whoops, our bad, patch the game, and fix it for future printings. Sony's kneejerk reaction is what's interesting here, I think.
posted by yellowbinder at 4:23 PM on October 17, 2008


It's hilarious that a game is getting killed because people might get offended about scriptures in the lyrics.

But they didn't kill it. They recalled it. It's delayed for 10 days.

There have been plenty of protests about that series. BUT the people doing the protesting aren't known to perform suicide bombings, so the release company didn't stop the release for them.

This brings up a larger point of who decides what's offensive? If it turned out to have anti-gay lyrics, should it be recalled? Would it be? You don't see many openly gay suicide bombers, after all. What if the lyrics were racist? You don't see black suicide bombers either, but it would almost certainly be recalled to preserve Sony's image.
posted by desjardins at 5:00 PM on October 17, 2008


The lyrics themselves aren't anti-muslim, or anti-qur'an, though. The offense isn't at the substance of the lyrics, it's at the verses having been used as lyrics at all.

As to charges of racism causing automatic recalls... No, they don't.
posted by CKmtl at 5:12 PM on October 17, 2008


{; P
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:18 PM on October 17 [3 favorites -] Favorite added! [!]

That's my interpretation of a winking Muhummad. Sorry, Matt, the jihad is on. Orthodox, fundamentalist religion is stupid, including and especially Islam.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:20 PM on October 17 [+] [!]



I recognised who it was the moment I saw him. Well played, sir!

oXC. <--- Shiva
posted by Drexen at 5:21 PM on October 17, 2008


"There's a point being missed here. There will be a change in content. Because someone, somewhere Sony's RoI MIGHT be offended affected by bad PR. Not was offended affected by bad PR. Not will be offended affected by bad PR. MIGHT be offended affected by bad PR."
Annoying and trite as it is, I FTFY...
posted by Pinback at 5:44 PM on October 17, 2008


Little Big Planet GET
Second to last copy at my mom'n'pop video game store, and I told the owner that the game had been recalled, and he snagged the last copy for himself. He had sold ~25 copies already, with some people buying multiple copies, and him not realizing why they were buying multiple copies until I told him.
posted by yeoz at 6:02 PM on October 17, 2008


On second thought, since RE5 hasn't been released yet, it's a slightly poor example. So, here's some other games that have been called racist:

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune1 -- Not recalled or changed.
LocoRoco2 -- Not recalled or changed.
Grand Theft Auto: Vice City3 (or, hell, any of the GTA series or their clones)4 -- Not recalled or changed.
Hitman 2: Silent Assassin5 -- Changed pre-release.
Total Overdose: A Gunslinger's Tale in Mexico6 -- Not recalled or changed.

1 White guy beating the snot out of lots of non-white guys.
2 Baddies are pitch-black blobs with dreadlock-looking tentacles, with big eyes and mouths à la blackface.
3 Portraying Haitians as thugs and having to shoot a whole lot of them.
4 Minorities are thugs, etc., etc.
5 Shootin' up Sikhs in a temple.
6 Mexicans as drug-runners, stereotypes, etc. Reaction piece by one of the designers here.

posted by CKmtl at 6:20 PM on October 17, 2008


This music supervision task is as much an art and craft as any DJ in the world.

No, it's more a business than an art. Does a DJ have to include certain songs in their set because some music label wants to get exposure? Does a DJ have to pull the awesome song from a rapper just because he got arrested and that's not the image the management wants for the game? Does a DJ have to pass up songs because they're too expensive to use, or that the artist refuses to license to "some video game"?
posted by smackfu at 9:15 PM on October 17, 2008


Maybe I'm just being naive, but wouldn't just about any kind of offensive or controversial content cause the ESRB to revisit the game's rating? LBP is obviously going for an "all-ages" appeal, so it makes sense that they want to keep it as innocuous as possible -- it's not Resident Evil or GTA or Hitman.

And while I'm thinking of it, people suggesting Islam is getting some kind of special treatment are obviously forgetting that the ADL had Nintendo pull some offensive Pokemon imagery because it had a swastika and that the Castlevania games are routinely stripped of imagery that might be offensive to Christians.
posted by Amanojaku at 10:08 PM on October 17, 2008


wouldn't just about any kind of offensive or controversial content cause the ESRB to revisit the game's rating?

The ESRB is concerned with sex, violence, blood/gore, gambling, and drugs (incl. alcohol and tobacco), not any and all things that may cause offense. If they were, then those ratings boxes would take up the entire back of the box.

Assassin's Creed, for example. Reading off the back of my copy, it's rated M (17+) for Blood, Strong Language (I think he says 'damn!' once), and Violence. If they had to include anything that may give offense, it would have to include a warning about possible offense to the sensibilities of:

- muslims/arabs (when your target is a muslim character in the holy land)
- christians/caucasians (when your target is a crusading european)
- deists of all stripes ('religion is a lie' is a theme in the plot, especially at the end)
- the poor (you can mistreat or kill beggars)
- women (those beggars are women)
- alcoholics (stumbling drunks are a frustrating obstacle, and you can mistreat or kill them)
- the mentally ill (stumbling ranting crazies, basically the same as the drunks)
- members of military (you kill an awful lot of soldiers)
- store owners (you're encouraged to jump through merchant stalls, which greatly annoys the merchants)
- PETA (you can ride a horse)

the ADL had Nintendo pull some offensive Pokemon imagery because it had a swastika

That was stupid of the ADL. They should make a note never to open a japanese map...
posted by CKmtl at 7:43 AM on October 18, 2008


I recorded a video of the level where the song in question is played. (youtube)
At least, I think it's this level. Not knowing arabic doesn't help.
posted by yeoz at 9:54 PM on October 18, 2008


@CKmtl: Yeah, good point. The ESRB seems to dole out the ratings so arbitrarily sometimes that it's easy for me to forget that there's an actual list of specific "touchy" subjects.
posted by Amanojaku at 2:48 AM on October 19, 2008


What I find most annoying about the ESRB isn't the ESRB itself, but the parents who are concerned about violence/gore, but don't pay any attention to the ratings.

Someone posted a lulzy link to an eBay auction on the Assassin's Creed forum at gamespot. Some parent was selling the game used, because "i bought it for my 13yo son but its too violant."

It's M rated. It has the word assassin on it. The cover has a dude with a kitchen's worth of knives strapped to him, and the phrase "Master the Art of the Kill" on the back. If you can post an item to eBay, you should be able to google for videos of the game and see all the stabbing and hacking.
posted by CKmtl at 9:19 AM on October 19, 2008


As a followup, the American Islamic Forum for Democracy has issued a statement against the recall. (Follow link from Kotaku for full statement, sorry can't seem to link it directly because the URL contains quotation marks)

“Muslims cannot benefit from freedom of expression and religion and then turn around and ask that anytime their sensibilities are offended that the freedom of others be restricted."

Exactly. On a sadder note, despite the new release date of the week of the 27, most online retailers here in Canada have it listed as November 4 :(
posted by yellowbinder at 6:30 PM on October 20, 2008


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