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An inconsequential press release highlights the controversy caused by a simple misunderstanding...
Today's headlines surrounding the alleged condemnation of Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles by Anglican ministers initially seems to be the typical case of unwitting conservative minds bashing "violent video games". The actual motive behind it however is not quite as clear as it's been made out, and highlights the typical spin that can generate a little controversy and plenty of headlines.
The press release in question was originally sent out earlier in the week but has only widely appeared in blog reports today. It suggested that the Church of England condemned the game "for glamorising violence and promoting the occult", and cited three priests' concerns that the game is "making violence and the occult in youth culture acceptable".
A freelance journalist originally led the research and cited the quotes from the Anglican minsters. The quotes failed to materialise in a tabloid article, although Capcom seemed to have been aggrieved enough to issue a response, suggesting the clergy is "showing a lack of understanding of the video games industry and is too quick to splash the holy water and lump video games players into stereotypical boxes".
TVG contacted the relevant members of the clergy, all of which expressed surprise that their thoughts have been expressed in such a way and stressed that they have no knowledge of the game in question and as such wouldn't be in the position to comment on the subject.
The Right Reverend Brian Smith insisted that he was "very surprised" to find his name linked to the issue.
"I made it clear that I was not qualified to make a comment," Smith told us. "I suggested that the researcher should contact someone in one of the dioceses in London where I understood she was working."
"There is no way I could or would have made further comment about a specific game which I have not even seen," Smith added.
The Bishop of Burnley, The Right Reverend John Goddard expressed similar thoughts, claiming that while he was concerned by issues surrounding the occult and particularly children having access to such themes, he nonetheless wouldn't make a specific comment about a game that he hadn't seen and had been wrongly informed was aimed at children.
"I believe that I have been misrepresented," The Right Reverend Mark Bryant added. "Not least as I do not think I knew that this was an occult game, and I know enough not to go offering outright condemnation of things about which I know comparatively little."
It seems to be the classic case of a tangled web of spin, cheap publicity, and a timely lesson not to believe everything you read.
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