Virtual Representation, Art, Business, and Ethics

    The Resistance Fall of Man story is an interesting one. As you may well know the Church of England accused Sony of representing the Manchester Cathedral in their game without consent. The cathedral’s dean, the Very Rev. Rogers Govender was quoted in the AP story by Jill Lawless published on   

        “For a global manufacturer to recreate the interior of any religious building such as a mosque, synagogue, or in this case, a cathedral, with photo realistic quality and then encourage people to have gun battles in the building is beyond belief and in our view highly irresponsible,” Govender said Wednesday.

    The first comparison that came to mind were the infamous shootout sequences in John Woo’s films “The Killer” and “Face/Off”, where the primary protagonist and antagonist had shootouts inside of churches. Though the location for “The Killer” may very well have been a studio set, the Face-off sequence was most definitely shot in a church. I’m sure Woo’s production paid well for the Cathedral location, and maybe that’s the moral of the story.

    That is not to say in any way I’m comparing “Resistance” to the caliber of a Woo film.

    Problem is many artists, writers, and designers alike these days use Google image searches, or any web-based search for reference. For that matter, real life experience is the visual palate for any representational artist. The “Resistance” story is a fiction taking place in Britain in the 1950s, therein anyone playing should be of the maturity level to understand that it is by no means a call to violent real-world action. Given some can’t make that distinction, but that doesn’t stop some from publishing Marquis De’sade books, and why should it?

    Very few fortunat subjects like how they are represented in art. My favorite example would be “The Church” in Hieronymus Bosch’s triptych “The Garden of Earthly Delights”, or Marcel Duchamp’s infamous Dada challenge to the Art establishment with his work Fountain

    When it comes to something public like a cathedral what responsibility does the artist have in use of it’s representation? The only reason we have such wonderful parodies these days is due to people like Larry Flynt, who stood up for the right to create representations of public figures for purposes of art or commentary, in that no damages could be recovered for emotional distress based on parodies. Is Sony to blame in any way for this? I think their official apology is more than enough.

    Tony Blair stepped in and made it an issue of “social responsibility”, which I agree with to an extent. Though it’s a hard statement to swallow coming from someone who has backed Bush on his real-world “War on Terror”. Not to say he is not a great man, it would take me another lifetime to even begin to have hope of achieving such heights. While I love games without guns, how can you talk about social responsibility in a video game about an alien invasion?

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