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Malaysia blocks Steam to ban religious fighting game

The Malaysian government has blocked access to the whole Steam store in an attempt to ban Fight of Gods [Steam page], a new fighting game where deities from Jesus to Odin punch each other in the face. The game is a threat to the “solidarity, harmony and wellbeing of the multi-racial and multi-religious people in the country”, an official said.

The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission yesterday issued a 24-hour ultimatum demanding that Steam’s operator, Valve, block users in Malaysia from downloading the game. After that passed and the game was still available, they ordered ISPs to block the site. Steamers in Malaysia are unable to access the store, though playing Steam games still seems to work – and the block can be bypassed.

Fight of Gods hit Steam Early Access on Monday, made by Digital Crafter and published by PQube. Its lineup of religious figures throwing down includes Buddha, Jesus, Odin, Athena, Moses, Sif, Anubis, Guan Gong, and Amaterasu.

Molleindustria’s Faith Fighter games caused a stir a decade ago with similar deity-decking but nothing on this scale.

“This action is necessary to protect the users and to prevent untoward incidents,” Salleh Said Keruak, Malaysia’s Minister of Communication and Multimedia, said today according to a report by Malaysia’s national news agency BERNAMA.

“(To ensure) solidarity, harmony and wellbeing of the multi-racial and multi-religious people in the country are the main objectives of the government,” he said. “The government will not compromise with any action that can jeopardise these objectives.”

The game is supposedly in violation of a law which prohibits creating or spreading “any comment, request, suggestion or other communication which is obscene, indecent, false, menacing or offensive in character with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass another person”. A game where gods and prophets kick each other’s teeth in is a problem, it seems. The law carries the threat of a fine of up to 50,000 ringgit (about £9,000) or up to a year in jail.

PQube have insisted that “We never received any communications from Malaysian officials” and issued a statement from themselves and Digital Crafter. They respond:

“Fight of Gods is a video game that takes a humorous approach to religion in the same way that other entertainment formats have – across television, film, books and theatre.

“The game is not promoting any religious agenda and is not designed to offend. The description of the game on the digital platforms through which it is distributed provide clear guidance on the nature of the game and its content so that people can freely choose whether or not to play it. We fully respect the choice of those who would not wish to play it.

“We are disappointed that such freedom of choice is not given to everyone and in particular that the game has been forcibly removed from sale in Malaysia, although no direct communication has been received by us as to the reasons for this. Nevertheless we respect any rules and censorship imposed in any given territory.”

While PQube say it’s not trying to cause offense, they surely can’t be surprised that it has. The game’s launch announcement even posed the question “Will Jesus, fresh from ripping himself off the sacrificial cross, smite all his foes with the power of his Punishment Fist?” I know I’d consider myself a right cheeky chops if I wrote that line, though I would be somewhat surprised if objectors tried to block Steam from a whole country to stop me.

Malaysian tech site SoyaCincau helpfully offer instructions on how to bypass Malaysia’s Steam block but this is still a flipping nuisance. Hopefully it gets resolved soon. A game this boring shouldn’t cause so many problems.

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Alice O'Connor

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When not writing news, Alice may be found in the sea.

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