TV-based adventure title taken off shelves after image of murdered UK toddler James Bulger draws complaints from the boy's mother.
The recent surge of controversy surrounding the games industry isn't showing signs of abating just yet. Following the Church of England's Resistance row and the news that Manhunt 2 has been banned in the UK, a new storm has hit today.
This one focuses on the use of an image in Law & Order: Double or Nothing of two-year-old James Bulger, which was captured on CCTV footage as he was led away by two 10-year-old boys in a Liverpool shopping centre in 1993, reports Sky News. Bulger was later murdered by the boys and his body left on a railway line.
Bulger's mother, Denise Fergus, has said that the use the image in a game was "below contempt." Fergus commented, "Using that terrible picture of James as part of a game is sick. To know that he has been turned into a clue in a game makes me very angry."
Law & Order: Double or Nothing, developed by Legacy Interactive, was released in 2003. The game is the second video game adventure title based on the hit US TV show Law & Order.
In the game, players partner with a virtual character from the TV show, Detective Lennie Briscoe, in solving what at first appears to be a random murder of a respected scientist on a busy New York street.
The image of the tragic tot holding hands with one of the boys who murdered him shortly thereafter shocked the public when it appeared in news reports at the time. The game shows the image pinned to a notice board, and it is referred to as players are asked to solve a kidnapping.
The UK distributors of the game, GSP, said that the title had been withdrawn from sale forthwith due to the offending image until it has "investigated this matter further." As of press time, representatives with Legacy and US publisher Vivendi Games had not returned requests for comment.
A5H19: God F**king damn the UK! This is why you don't let lil toddlers play these games! Do you understand what its actually about? The little kid got taken away from his mother by two 10 year olds who were twisted in the head and they murdered this kid. They try to keep the story quiet, but actually, what they really did was horrible. Back then all that was about was Megadrives and SNESs, so it couldn't have anything to do with games. This game has no right to put this in here. I don't think they realise how bad it was and still is. Who cares if its a clue in the game, why can't they make something up about a fictional character not someone that was once real.
I will say that the story behind James' murder is one of the most tragic you can ever find, but at the same time, you are dealing with a kidnapping in the game. I can't think of any kidnapping that's truly more known than James Bulger, and as a clue in a game, it could be something vital in terms of criminal psychological nature study. Nonetheless, I don't know if it should be used in the game or not. That's just what I think.
A lot of those comments are in such bad taste, no wonder people say Video games cause this and that when the people playing them, cannot distinguish when something has gone too far.
Normally i'd tell these people that continually b**** about video games to grow a spine and get a thick skin, but in this case i've gotta side with the mom. There is nothing wrong with basing a character after a real thing but using the image of a real murdered person is kinda sketchy. There is a reason why they say let the dead rest in peace. Now as for the people that made the game, are you trying to cause more problems for the industry. Enough people with nothing better to do have made it their mission to destroy fun in video games. By doing something like this, you give these people more cannon fodder to fire at all video games, to which they have no knowledge of.
a5h19... it is really quite sickening that a game would include that video, It was a tragic and brutal murdering of a young innocent child. I know for a fact that if my little sister was led away by two complete strangers and then sadistically and mercilessly beaten to death I would be against this video being used in a game. Yes the video was shown on UK TV but that was purely in an attempt to help find the sick murederes of the child. The though tof a game developer using it for profitt is just plain wrong. Using that video cant be defended, you are ignorant and soulless if you try to justify using those images and videos.
They should have known better. For the TV show they'll do something "ripped from the headlines" but they're never stupid enough to use actual names and real images.
VU and Legacy should've asked the parents if they could use the child's image. The news story Im pretty sure makes us all sad though.
Talgrath Not sure how to feel on this one. On the one hand, the mother has some real grief there; but on the other hand, the media plastered this image across TV sets across the UK (and to some extent, it got covered in the US). So the image being plastered across TV screens (where millions saw it) is somehow just fine, but the picture appearing in a game that probably only a few thousand people played is completely wrong? I'm really confused here, to be honest, how is this worse than having that image being up on millions of TV screens? Quite possibly the stupidest person ever. The television images were to help identify the killers, are you such an imbecile as to not recognize that? The sad story of that little boys final moments still makes my eyes well up, I have no idea how his mother feels, but as a parent I can only imagine how horrible it must be. Go back to killing prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto you little moron.
Since so many of you are apparently lost in your own little delusional worlds all I can say is pull your heads out of your gaming butts. The people who decided to put that little boy's picture in that game should be drug outside and beaten. And if you seriously think its ok then I hope its your your child next time that way you can game and mourn at the same time.
I'm confused, the game came out in 2003 so its been out for 4 years. So was it just released this year in the UK and they just found the image or has the game been in the UK for four years and they just found the image?
Why oh why do publisher/designers go down these roads? The biggest selling games of all time are The Sims and Civilization and the Tycoon series etc. Not Manhunt or any other incredibly violent game like Manhunt 2, so why make them and raise all this noise which only hurts PC gaming when it is struggling already! Where are the cowboy games, the detective games that don't need to use real photo's like Law and Order did, and even romance and drama and thriller based games?! As long as the PC games industry keeps shooting itself in the foot like this I just cannot see how it's going to do anything than disappear as a gaming genre.
@acole84: Right, like getting ratings, right? Because after the killers were caught there was no point. You weren't going to find the killers again, they'd been caught; at that point the image was purely for ratings. I'd much rather see the image used in a game for entertainment than used by the new for shock value ratings. @_Legions_: I always find an argument like that hard to swallow. "You can't understand unless you've experienced it." could just as easily be applied to drug use; yet we don't see that as an acceptable argument for leagalizing drugs now do we? I can understand that having your child killed viciously would be a horrible experience, but to some extent logic has to apply here; even for the grief stricken.
I agree with you Ghostin-Dashell I like videogames but some people act as if they could do no wrong I bet you if Rockstar put out a game were you just run around raping people half of the gamers out there would defend it with some sort of sick logic
It truly does worry me to read some of the comments on here, lets be quite clear here... This wasn't made up, this isn't a game and the grief of that poor boys mother is no less real this long after the fact as it was the day she lost her little boy. Some of you need to take a good long look at yourselves... it's wrong...plain and simple. Television here in the UK did indeed use this image.... but for the sole purpose of passing on information... never ever for entertainment. Memories are all that a family have once you are gone... for someone to make light of them is a terrible thing...surely you can see that? The people who gave the greenlight to using these images in game, and those who published it should truly be ashamed of themselves.
@Talgrath The problem here is that the picture is used in the game purely for entertainment value. The news at least had reasons aside from entertainment.
Well you need to be a parent to understand this dilemma. If you haven't had children yet, then there is no way you can even comprehend what issue is at hand here.
Oh wow, it's weird that would take the game off the shelves sure. But they should have asked the mother if they could use the image first, I mean come on.
Not sure how to feel on this one. On the one hand, the mother has some real grief there; but on the other hand, the media plastered this image across TV sets across the UK (and to some extent, it got covered in the US). So the image being plastered across TV screens (where millions saw it) is somehow just fine, but the picture appearing in a game that probably only a few thousand people played is completely wrong? I'm really confused here, to be honest, how is this worse than having that image being up on millions of TV screens?
im not sayin its right (i think it shouldnt have been in the game) but this just ends up becoming more ammo for the anti-game peopleand that pisses me off
If the image has already been publicly archived, such as in a federal library, I believe that it's use in other media is legal. It might have been insensitive to use such recent material, but I don't think VU Games should be held liable for any damages for using a public image. I'm sure it appeared in hundreds of newspapers and web articles up to this point.
Sigh...so, television shows and local news channels using the footage is ok, but including it in a game is not. I think parents nowadays are turning into the same r3t@rded n00bs as their children are. In any case, I can understand their concern a bit, though I really don`t understand what they are trying to protect. The boys image? He`s dead already. Their image? I don`t see the connection. They want more easy money from lawsuits? Well, that`s a different story. In any case, if something like that ever happened to me, I would actually feel a bit happy that a game tries to make everyone remember and include the unfortunate fate of my son in it in an attempt to explain to gamers to not let these things happen again. But, of course, people are stupid as always. They can`t even see when they`re shooting themselves in the foot.
They wanted to make the game more realistic. The isn't even about the kid, only an image of him. He's probably mentioned only once in the game. I'm not saying I wanted the picture in the game, but I wouldn't have waited until almost four years later to get angry about it. I hate to say it, but it sound like the kid's mother just wants some attention.
all of this at the same time. the mother was so offended she waited 4 years to complain? and you are playing a cop, trying to save victims or punish their attackers. did a massive jack thompson fan club happen recently or what? and all she did was garentee the game will sell more on ebay. those copies have to go somewhere. it'll also probably spike on the pirated list with everyone wanting to see what all the fuss was about, like traffic slowing so people can rubber neck at a wreck.
I find this pretty tasteless. This isn't an issue of videogame violence or censorship. I am a huge proponent of letting developers make games as they chose, people make their own decisions on whether they want to play Manhunt 2 or Hello Kitty Island Adventure. This is about the developers using an image of a child w/the murderer holding his hand that was ACTUALLY MURDERED. You can't display this kind of image in a videogame without the expressed consent of the family, it's not right. If that was your son/brother you would be pissed too.
Overreacting? The game has a photo of her 2 year old son with his 10 year old murderer just minutes before he tortured him and then killed him. No wonder the distributors of the game took it down, at least they are showing some human decency. It kind of puts the manhunt2 debate into perspective doesn't it.
Wow, for once I agree with a complaint. Resistence.... was nothing. Places don't have feelings. But, to be playing a shotty video game and see your murdered son's photo is below the belt.... The developers should pay a fine.
There is nothing legally wrong with including the picture in distributed media. Freedom of press allows for the usage of the photo and once it is circulated publicly it's a-ok to use it in any published media, including videogames. They are completely overreacting and there is nothing other than possibly being considerate that mandates they remove the image or the product.
maxor, i dont think that anyone is blaming the show. people are having a go at the developers for doing something this stupid. take manhunts recent press. now i think that the licensing board have overeacted to it seeing as how it is not real but an imaginary situation with imaginary 'people', but something like this where people from my city have been affected takes things over the line a little. all in all i think people need to step back and look at the situation. what once was a relatively safe haven of computer games is now being slowly pulled apart. i feel the past two days will have a massive impact on how the computer games industry in the uk develops over the next few years.
A game with a photo of Jamie Bulger in? That is just not on, not on at all. If the developers knew what happened to him, and the complete horror and outrage it caused then there is no way they could justify putting that photo in a game. The country is still sickened by what happened to him and it will never be ok.
nygiants10: "And the mother didn't find this out until 4 years later...?" Why should she? Most likely the mother isn't a gamer. And even if she was, the game was not that succesful. If I go through something like that, most likely I wouldn't go search all available media to see if they menction something about the incident... She probably find out because somebody told her. That doesn't excuse the developers...
It took the mother this long to find out?(as people say) But for most of the people asking that question, it also took you this long to find out about it. It's not like we see/play every game that is ever made, everything that has been posted on every web site around the world.
How exactly does this cross the line? I think everyone is overreacting. Law & Order has always been about real crimes "ripped from the headlines." Why wouldn't a police station have something like that on its bulletin board? It's horrible that happened to the kid, but Law & Order didn't do anything wrong.
i think the manhunt 2 stuff is bs, but this clearly crosses some lines. as a father of a 2 year old i would flip out and go sue happy over a studio doing this. talk about bringing up bad memories......
While I disagree with the Resistance & Manhunt stories, this is one that I can agree is distasteful. Couldn't they have thought this one out a little better?
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