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Censorship Games Politics

Russia Recalls Modern Warfare 2 548

Posted by timothy
from the no-you-take-that-back dept.
eldavojohn writes "You may recall much ado over some questionable footage in the latest Call of Duty game. Well, that footage has led to a recall of Modern Warfare 2 in Russia. Seems the Russian government was none too happy about the portrayal of Russia in the game and decided to yank it from stores. Infinity Ward has responded with a patch that removes the 'No Russian' mission (the content in question) from the storyline. Before you overly criticize the Russian government, there may be some truth to the claim that the game's story line overly demonizes Russians as just terrorists as the Russian site GotPS3.ru alleges. Is cultural sensitivity becoming an overly played card in the gaming world? Not too long ago, Wolfenstein was recalled in Germany for containing Nazi symbols."
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Russia Recalls Modern Warfare 2

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:15PM (#30118462)

    > Before you overly criticize the Russian government, there may be some truth to the claim that the game's story line overly demonizes Russians

    Oh, I guess that makes it okay, then. The Russian government has every right to make up your mind for you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Idbar (1034346)
      "The Russian government has every right to make up your mind for you"
      How come you're label as insightful? Perhaps the Russian government shouldn't have a right, but certainly not a game that wrongly stereotypes countries.

      I am from Colombia, I have to constantly deal with being stereotyped as a drug dealer, and although I learn to take it as a joke, that doesn't make right. I won't miss the chance of correcting people making these kind of mistakes. I'm sorry but I don't like when they depict my country's
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by e2d2 (115622)

        You just pointed out the root problem: the world needs a big old dose of buck the fuck up. People will stereotype you, pigeon hole you, label you, etc. Who cares? Is it really reason enough to silence those people? Hardly.

        Why is there so much outrage these days? Every source of debate seems to be summed up as "Your tone, it's all wrong!" Lighten up, sheesh. Legit problems should be the focus, not things related to personal egos.

  • by crowne (1375197) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:17PM (#30118490) Homepage
    Its actually illegal to display swatika's in public in Germany and Austria.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by snowraver1 (1052510)
      I wasn't aware that images on your TV inside your private residence was considered 'public' in Germany.
      • by Yacoby (1295064)
        That is not why it was recalled. The law in question outlaws "use of symbols of unconstitutional organisations" and while it does ban the swastika in public, it also states:

        Whoever domestically disseminates or produces, stocks, imports or exports or makes publicly accessible through data storage media for dissemination domestically or abroad, means of propaganda [...] shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine. [...]

      • by sopssa (1498795) *

        They're publicly broadcasted, if you didn't know.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by eldavojohn (898314) *

      Its actually illegal to display swatika's in public in Germany and Austria.

      So if I recall the images from the Germany story that I linked to in the summary, it wasn't even swastikas. It was SS symbols on a dead soldier's lapel that they missed as they retextured much of the game. As I commented on that last story:

      German law Strafgesetzbuch Section 86 [wikipedia.org]:

      Dissemination of Means of Propaganda of Unconstitutional Organizations (1) Whoever domestically disseminates or produces, stocks, imports or exports or makes publicly accessible through data storage media for dissemination domestically or abroad, means of propaganda: 1. of a party which has been declared to be unconstitutional by the Federal Constitutional Court or a party or organization, as to which it has been determined, no longer subject to appeal, that it is a substitute organization of such a party; [...] 4. means of propaganda, the contents of which are intended to further the aims of a former National Socialist organization, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine. [...] (3) Subsection (1) shall not be applicable if the means of propaganda or the act serves to further civil enlightenment, to avert unconstitutional aims, to promote art or science, research or teaching, reporting about current historical events or similar purposes. [...] Section 86a StGB Use of Symbols of Unconstitutional Organizations (1) Whoever: 1. domestically distributes or publicly uses, in a meeting or in writings (Â 11 subsection (3)) disseminated by him, symbols of one of the parties or organizations indicated in Section 86 subsection (1), nos. 1, 2 and 4; or 2. produces, stocks, imports or exports objects which depict or contain such symbols for distribution or use domestically or abroad, in the manner indicated in number 1, shall be punished with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine. (2) Symbols, within the meaning of subsection (1), shall be, in particular, flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting. Symbols which are so similar as to be mistaken for those named in sentence 1 shall be deemed to be equivalent thereto.

      That part about "flags, insignia, uniforms, slogans and forms of greeting" is what got them--not a big fat swastika but some more obscure symbols. It really makes you wonder how broad they purposefully wrote this law so that they can use their own discretion to censor

    • But should they be? What if the Nazi party had used the leter 'N' as it's symbol, should the letter be banned in Germany? Don't get me wrong, I understand the reasons for the ban, I just don't think it is wise to say "this, and only this, is illegal". A) I gaurantee there are still Nazi's and Neo-Nazis in Germany. B) The swastika has symbolic meaning to the Hindu religion. In other words, you are banning both less than, and more than you wanted to when you created the ban.

  • Truth in Gaming? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:19PM (#30118522) Homepage Journal

    Before you overly criticize the Russian government, there may be some truth to the claim that the game's story line overly demonizes Russians as just terrorists as the Russian site GotPS3.ru alleges.

    Assuming that it portrays them in an objectively false way, you still have to demonstrate that censorship is a good idea.

    I propose that it's a lousy idea, that games are art, and that inaccuracy isn't a reason to suppress art.

    Consider the Russian government "overly" criticized by me!

    -Peter

  • CoD6: Vietnam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by number17 (952777) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:20PM (#30118542)
    When are the Vietnam missions coming out where a villiage gate opens and you have to pillage and rape all the civilians? That's right, nobody is stupid enough to do it for the same reason.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The appropriate question is not that some company has/hasn't made such a game but if said game existed, would you be able to play it in the USA?

      The answer would likely be "yes", you could probably still buy said game but it would likely be pulled from many store shelves due to public pressure. Places like Walmart that have pulled music and magazines because of "objectionable" nature.

      * SPOILERS * Of course, the scene in question isn't all about Russia. You're playing an "undercover" American who also willi

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ravenshrike (808508)
        I'm confused as to exactly how the Russians invade America. Without, y'know, getting their asses handed to them on the high seas.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:21PM (#30118574)

    Not too long ago, Wolfenstein was recalled in Germany for containing Nazi symbols.

    Germans are anti-nazi-nazis.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Would you play the Jihad Freedom Fighter game that one day demonizes the US?

    Having played through and beaten the game. I don't think anyone comes away with their hands clean. The games name is "Modern Warfare" and it's dirty, gritty and cold blooded.

    Grand theft Auto I - IV never left me questioning anything I did because of the comedic gameplay. This game did.

    I don't think they should mess with the content but I do think they should have said something about it. Politely, formally, respectively. I mean this

  • by cosm (1072588) <thecosm3@@@gmail...com> on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:22PM (#30118588)
    In 'No Russian', you play as an American CIA agent, and you, as an AMERICAN agent, lay round after round into the innocent populace, alongside the Russian antagonist. I think the even larger message Infinity Ward sends with this mission is the atrocious things the American government is willing to do for the sake of 'National Security'.

    Does anyone else see the hilarity in this? Not to mention their foreshadowing of American soldiers torturing an informant via electrocution! Each side of the geopolitical spectrum gets demonized in their own right.

    But hey, lets just hate on the game that shows the gritty reality of the world.
    • by snowraver1 (1052510) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:29PM (#30118728)
      I played this mission. All the hype was saying you have to kill dozens of civiilans, but in truth, you didn't have to kill any. You were just along for the ride. If you chose to kill some, that was up to you, but it was not required. I am sick about all the misinformaiton about this game.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I played this mission. All the hype was saying you have to kill dozens of civiilans, but in truth, you didn't have to kill any. You were just along for the ride. If you chose to kill some, that was up to you, but it was not required. I am sick about all the misinformaiton about this game.

        If you shoot the civilians in the german edition of the game the mission fails. Police is a valid target though.

        This way it's just half the fun :(

      • by H0p313ss (811249) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:57PM (#30119304)

        I actually found myself facing a moral quandry when I got to this mission. So I opted to try not using my weapon at all... this was no problem until we faced heavy opposition from the security forces and I opted to apply my fire selectively for self defense. So all told I fired less than 50 rounds, didn't shoot a single civilian and mostly hid behind things.

        That being said I have been waiting for this to hit the proverbial fan ever since.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lidocaineus (661282)

          Question - do you find it a moral quandary to run over people in the GTA games? Or play a thief stealing from people in any number of games?

    • by tetromino (807969)

      The problem with the mission with who is doing the shooting - it's with who you are shooting at. You are shooting Russian civilians. Massacring dozens of them in cold blood. That's why Russia threatened to ban the game unless the mission was removed.

  • The big picture... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How many sales do software companies even make in Russia? Russia is notorious for hacking, pirates, and spam; not a place where a lot of sales are to be made.
  • by mike260 (224212) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:29PM (#30118722)

    The US military spends half the game trying to recapture a Burger King and the other half trying not to bomb their own White House. At least the Russians get portrayed as *competent* terrorists.

    • The US was really Attacking Burger King. The "Terrorists" were actually Burger King workers. America has a grudge because Buger King stopped selling the Angery Whopper. Those Bastards!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ewenix (702589)

        The "Terrorists" were actually Burger King workers. America has a grudge because Buger King stopped selling the Angery Whopper. Those Bastards!

        My colon declared *me* a terrorist, after I ate one of those Angry Whoppers.

  • It would have been nice if there were a discussion of the "demonizing" of Russians from a site in English- to hell with site translators. I haven't played the game and don't really know if the game portrays all Russians as terrorists. I'm fairly sure they would have been content to depict Muslim Chechens as all being terrorists though. A Russian guy once told me about how Russian police(?) wrapped Chechen terrorists' corpses in pigskins to prevent their souls from escaping their bodies.

  • by mpapet (761907) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:38PM (#30118886) Homepage

    Seriously,

    My fictionally perfect game that will sell WAY more than this title will have country-specific enemies. Marketed in the U.S? Russia. Marketed in Russia? U.S. Marketed in India? Pakistan. Marketed in Pakistan? Indians.

    They'd sell more games pandering to country-specific deeply ingrained cultural enemies. Maybe the game engine doesn't support locales like that though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JimboFBX (1097277)
      Why would Pakistanis want to play a game where the Cherokee on horse-back are the bad guys?
    • I think they knew the game wouldn't sell original copies too much in Russia so they basically trolled with that "No Russians" level, predicting this or less would happen.

      Income: PR, "Reds banning American game", Slashdot YRO story etc. It is far more than the game would sell in Russia.

  • by Lemming Mark (849014) on Monday November 16, 2009 @02:52PM (#30119182) Homepage

    The article isn't specific on whether the infamous airport scene is being removed because of its portrayal of Russia, or whether it's being censored because it's an unpleasant part of the game. Most other countries have had uproar about this scene and I'd expect to see it refused classification in some places (e.g. in Australia where Left 4 Dead 2 recently encountered problems). A national classification body refusing to allow a game to go on sale does, effectively, constitute the government disapproving of something - but it's a very different situation to central government stepping in and banning something directly for political reasons. Maybe this is happening behind the scenes but the article *doesn't say*.

    It's certainly suggested that the Russian gaming public weren't all overjoyed to see the portrayal of their country in the game. That's hardly surprising, though - I expect most gamers from other big markets such as Europe, the US and Japan would also be quite easily offended if their unpleasant past was dredged up. People don't like to think of their country ever being the villains and yet pretty much every country in the world has been villainous in the past, often surprisingly recently.

  • And yet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:15PM (#30119636)
    A good percentage of games and media made in the U.S. portray the U.S. government in a bad light, and yet they don't get yanked. (pun merely fortuitous)
    • Re:And yet (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Phrogman (80473) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:39PM (#30120102) Homepage

      Ah but I think Americans also distinguish between criticism of their Government by other Americans and criticism by foreigners. There is also the distinction between criticizing the Government and the System.

      Pretty much every American seems willing to accept that their Government is not perfect and needs constant correction to keep to the right path; that its capable of corruption etc.

      Pretty much every American I have met or talked with seems to think that in general their government system is the best possible option over other systems - and many seem to assign almost religious overtones to the US Constitution, like it was handed down to them from the hands of Jehovah himself.

      If a game came out that portrayed the US Government as a malevolent system that dominated and abused its population, that portrayed the Constitution as a scheme/tool that permitted that domination, and which showed the US Government rounding up civilians both at home and abroad and slaughtering them in concentration camps - and encouraged you to support this view of the US by participating, I think that US gameplayers and the US Government might have some objections (although some would love it of course). I agree that they would likely founder on the rights of free speech mind you, but someone would be speaking up. There is a distinction between portraying individual Americans as evil and portraying the system as evil.

      Now, I don't think that the US Government or the US Constitution are in fact evil. I do think that Corporations are inherently immoral, and that they have far too much control over the machinations of the Government (in some ways they appear to be the Government effectively). The truth of the situation is somewhere in between I think.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Simulant (528590)
      Citation needed. Please list one game that portrays the US military in a bad light.
  • Not following (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JimboFBX (1097277) on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:16PM (#30119644)
    The game was supposed to draw parallels to Afghanistan without being that obvious (imagine your country being invaded all because of the acts of one person/small group of people). Its clearly criticism against he US government.

    Oh well, the Russians aren't missing much. The plot was quite frankly kind of stupid, like it was written by Michael Bay. The snowmobiles/speedboats move at 150 mph too and don't feel even remotely realistic.
  • Story sources (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2009 @03:23PM (#30119788)

    If you trace the the story back it all originates from a forum post on a Russian game site. Despite this, the story has been picked up by the Guardian UK, PC World, Gamespy, to name but a few. Yet not a one of them has done anything to verify the report. How hard is it to call a Russian retailer or "My Gosh!" someone in the gov't. This is just another example of the incestuousness of today's news where the reporter's job entails nothing more than reading newspapers and websites.

  • As a Russian (Score:5, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday November 16, 2009 @07:26PM (#30123564) Journal

    As a Russian, let me share my opinion on this.

    First of all, I'm generally irked by portrayal of Russians in U.S. mass culture, including films and video games, especially action ones. "Hordes of dumb evil rampaging barbarians" is so cliche. You can do better.

    CoD series was never good at it in the past, either - e.g. in CoD5, all Soviet missions seem to emphasize brutality and human waves as much as possible, especially by character dialogue, while American missions seem more focused on "fighting the bad guys". This is clearly evident in two prisoner-taking scenes - in Soviet one, Germans genuinely surrender, but you have to execute them (or have your squad do so), and your only choice is between shooting them and burning them alive. Either way, it's clearly a war crime. In American mission, Japanese fake surrender, and you cannot shoot them until they try to overpower and kill your fellow soldiers restraining them (and then, of course, killing them is perfectly justified). I didn't see much difference in MW2 in that regard. If anything, the first MW was more ambiguous in that regard, since at least you had "good Russians" and "bad Russians"; in MW2, the former kind has apparently rapidly died out again, so we're back to good old stereotypes.

    On the other hand, I actually have to thank Infinity Ward for MW2, for one simple reason: it's been a while since any American game depicted a proper, honest-to-God Russian invasion of U.S. soil, complete with shelled cute "American Dream" neighborhoods and burning White House, and the overall gloomy atmosphere of verging on defeat. At least it's markedly different from your typical drivel of a U.S. Rambo squad on rampage somewhere in Siberia, taking out Russian soldiers by the thousands. Just as unrealistic, too, but hey, at least you can appreciate how it looks from the other side now. I only wish there was an option to play for the paratroopers in the initial wave :)

    Finally, regardless of my personal likes and dislikes of this and other games touching on the subject at hand, I firmly believe that any kind of political censorship is wrong; and this, especially, is one really stupid reason to ban a game.

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