Malaysians who love video games may have experienced a shock today, as the Malaysian Communcations and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) blocked all access to the Steam store. Steam, as you know, is possibly every gamers’ favourite game and software delivery platform. The centre of the controversy is a title called “Fight of Gods,” published by Taiwanese gaming studio PQube.
UPDATE (10 September 2017): MCMC has lifted the block on Steam after Valve complied to the authority’s request to pull downloads of the game for Malaysian gamers.
The game in question, “Fight of Gods” is a humourous approach to religion, which features the likes of Jesus Christ and Gautama Buddha as game characters. It costs about USD4.75 in the store.
The MCMC cited the game degraded religions and religious leaders, and that it posed a threat to racial unity and harmony. Creating and spreading offensive content is an offence under Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.
So, is this Malaysia being oversensitive and overreactive over a game? Is it being heavy-handed in the move to curb what’s deemed a “offensive material”?
Is it fair that MCMC block Steam access in entirety, since the alleged offence is by a single publisher?
PQube, the game publisher, has released a statement:
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 and 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 respect fully 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.
The block applies to the Steam website, but users can still access the platform via the Steam app. If you use Google DNS or OpenDNS or a VPN, you’ll be able to access the site without issues.
At time of writing, the Steam store is still off limits and there’s no indication of how long this DNS block stands.
Are you affected by the block? And how do you feel about it? Comment below.