Source - Reuters / Reuters / Reuters
The gaming industry has, like the rest of the world, been coming to terms with the recent terrorist attacks in America over the last few days, and has decided to delay, cancel, redesign or withdraw some games which may be considered to be in poor taste as a result. This mirrors events elsewhere in the entertainment industry, with several movies and TV series now postponed, cancelled or rewritten, and digital effects being used to remove the World Trade Center from sequences already shot in New York.
Electronics Arts started the ball rolling earlier this week by suspending its innovative online game Majestic, which uses a combination of ambiguous e-mails, instant messaging and pre-recorded phone calls to immerse players in a conspiracy-laden plot. JoWood soon followed suit, deciding to delay indefinitely the release of real-time strategy game World War III : Black Gold, which is based around a conflict in the Middle East between America, Russia and Arab nations. It's currently unknown when the game will finally see the light of day, although JoWood are determined not to see it canned entirely.
The highest profile title to be effected by the attacks is the long-awaited Metal Gear Solid 2 : Sons of Liberty, with Konami said to be reviewing the game in the run-up to its planned November release in the USA. At least part of the game takes place in New York, and according to a Reuters report some scenes may be removed "because they show the New York City skyline, including the World Trade Center". It seems likely that the scenes will merely be re-edited to remove the twin towers from the skyline rather than being removed from the game entirely though. And as Konami pointed out in an official statement, "Metal Gear Solid 2 is about the desire to end violence on a global scale", following on from the strong anti-nuclear slant of the last game in the series.
Other companies scrambling to remove the World Trade Center from their games include Microsoft, who are removing the landmark from the soon-to-be-released Flight Simulator 2002. This comes following unfounded speculation from certain elements of the tabloid media that the hijackers may have trained using earlier versions of the game, with Sky News even showing a rather tasteless sequence interspersing in-game footage of a jet being flown towards the World Trade Center with shots of the terrorist attack itself. Meanwhile Arush are checking an episodic Duke Nukem game they were developing to make sure that any references to the building are removed.
And it's not just forthcoming releases which are being effected. Some stores in the USA have now removed Red Alert 2 from shelves after spotting that the game's American box features a picture of New York's skyline in flames, with the World Trade Center clearly visible silhouetted against the devestation. Electronic Arts are reported to be working on new cover art for the game.
Obviously on the wider scale of things though this is all rather trivial compared to the human tragedy in New York, and the gaming industry seems to have had a lucky escape, with no companies reporting any of their staff missing so far.