The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has requested platform provider of the video game "Fights of Gods", to disable downloads for Malaysians within 24 hours, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak, said.
A check by A+M found that the game was produced by Taiwanese gaming studio Digital Crafter and distributed by UK company PQube. According to multiple media reports by outlets such as the The Star, the New Straits Times and Malaysiakini, the minister said that "further action will be taken" if downloads are not disabled.
The game features the likes of Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha as player characters, as well as Zeus, Odin, Moses, Guan Gong and Athena. Keruak said the video game degraded religions and religious leaders, and posed a great threat to racial unity and harmony. He added that "immediate steps" are taken in the interest of the public to ensure that such content "do not continue to harm others".
According to reports, under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, creating and spreading offensive content is an offence, according to Keruak. He added that the MCMC would continue to work with all relevant parties in combating the crime. He also reminded consumers to make "wise choices" when choosing content to access.
Keruak stressed that the sale and distribution of the "religiously insensitive and blasphemous game" must be stopped instantly, and that Malaysians are respectful of all cultural and religious sensitivities. The game features of roster of 10 gods fighting for supremacy.
In a statement to A+M, a spokesperson for PQube said that Fight of Gods is a piece of entertainment software and was never made with the intention of causing offense to any religions or religious persons and does not endorse or promote any sort of religious agenda.
The spokesperson added that the company is "saddened and disappointed" by the response by certain groups in Malaysia. While they have not received any communication directly to PQube from Malaysian officials, they will respect and comply orders to discontinue distribution of the title by the legal bodies in any given territory if ordered to do so.
"There are plenty of depictions of religious figures in popular culture and it is our belief that people relate to these icons in many different ways all over the world. We wouldn’t say a religious person is wrong to feel offended, and we understand and respect each individual persons right to feel that way – that’s okay. We’re sorry for anyone that felt offended, that was not our intention. But we also wouldn’t say we are wrong to see religious figures as relatable, compelling or mythical figures in popular culture – we think plenty of people do," the spokesperson added.
Religion is known to be a sensitive topic and MCMC is not the only one that has decided to take action on such a blasphemous issue.
In February this year, Disney’s Maker Studios dropped PewDiePie, a Youtube star who shot to fame for releasing videos of him playing video games. According to an article on the Wall Street Journal, the typically provocative Swedish YouTube star Felix Kjellberg posted several videos with anti-Semitic messages which ultimately led to Maker Studios cut in ties.
A spokeswoman for Maker Studios had then told A+M that although Kjellberg has created a following by "being provocative and irreverent", he went too far in this case and the resulting videos were inappropriate. As a result, Maker Studios decided to end its affiliation with him, the spokesperson added.