9/11-themed "Invaders!" pulled from GC

Artist claims US response was "immature".

The artist responsible for a Space Invaders-themed installation at Games Convention described by organisers as "an articulated and critical commentary about the current war strategy" pulled the exhibit last Friday after a backlash.

Douglas Edric Stanley's installation asked two players to fend off Space Invaders-style enemies attacking the World Trade Center towers by making tiring arm gestures - ultimately without any hope of repelling the "Invaders!" that gave the piece its name.

The initial response from the likes of Kotaku was unsurprisingly strong, with the blog noting "that the 8-bit tower jumpers and the negative score applied to each WTC tower to indicate damage aren't going to sit well with, we're thinking, everyone we know who doesn't hate freedom".

However, Kotaku apparently changed its mind once it went hands-on. "Spending more time absorbing and, of course, playing Invaders! gives one a better perspective on what Stanley was aiming for," the site's senior editor Michael McWhertor noted.

"Invaders! may be unsettling, with its blending of archaic gameplay and modern day catastrophe, but it's also an impressive accomplishment in that it delivers complex messages via simple means," he went on to say.

But by then it was too late, as Stanley - tracking the response on his blog - decided to withdraw the exhibit. "After three days of a steady downward spiral in public discussion of the piece, I have just given my agreement to the organisers of the Leipzig Games Convention to simply turn off the installation Invaders!" he wrote, in a message that was subsequently displayed on the Invaders! screen in Leipziger Messe's Hall 2.

Stanley went on to deny that the piece was designed to "merely provoke controversy for controversy's sake" or that he'd been pressured to remove it, and argued that "the American response to this work has been, frankly, immature, and lacking the sophistication and consideration that other parts of the world have so far shown the work."

Space Invaders owner Taito has said it is "considering all available options - including legal actions" against Stanley and others at the Games Convention who may have infringed Space Invaders copyright.

Meanwhile, jubilant US critics including the New York Daily News responded to Stanley's decision by reminding everyone that the installation was "tasteless" and that the "9/11 families" are now happy again.

Take a look at the controversial exhibit in action over on EGTV.

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About the author

Tom Bramwell

Tom Bramwell

Contributor  |  tombramwell

Tom worked at Eurogamer from early 2000 to late 2014, including seven years as Editor-in-Chief.

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