Infinity Ward has temporarily pulled multiplayer map Favela from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3, following complaints from Muslim gamers who called the map offensive and inappropriate.
The Favela map is set in a shanty town in Rio de Janeiro - not typically known for its Muslim population - and indeed the problem isn't so much with the gameplay or the location, but instead the art team's taste in decorations, in just one room.
Somewhere in Favela, there is a house. In that house, there is a bathroom, and in that bathroom there are two paintings - a tree, and a seascape. Despite the slum-chic bathroom, the paintings are quite pretty (although hung crookedly), and contained within a beautiful frame, which on closer inspection is decorated with Arabic writing.
...and it's the writing that's the problem. The decorative text is a quote attributed to the prophet Mohammed, reading "Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty."
It's no different to many pieces of religious art many people have in their homes, however, Muslims have been taught that it is offensive to some followers of Islam to display holy teachings in or on a bathroom.
A Modern Warfare fan, speaking for all Muslim gamers, explained all this in a well-worded, thoughtful video calling for an apology. The video is not angry, it is not upset, and it gives Activision and Infinity Ward an easy way out, by attributing the error to ignorance, rather than malice.
As a result of that video, and the surrounding fuss, Activision has simply removed the map from rotation, and put out a public apology on the matter:
We apologize to anyone who found this image offensive. Please be assured we were unaware of this issue and that there was no intent to offend. We are working as quickly as possible to remove this image and any other similar ones we may find from our various game libraries."
We are urgently working to release a Title Update to remove the texture from Modern Warfare 3. We are also working to remove the texture from Modern Warfare 2 through a separate Title Update. Until the TU is ready, we have removed the Favela multiplayer map from online rotation.
Activision and our development studios are respectful of diverse cultures and religious beliefs, and sensitive to concerns raised by its loyal game players. We thank our fans for bringing this to our attention.
Another, similar post had been prepared to post on the video itself, however, the original uploader has been forced to close YouTube comments.
The first patches for the new title update for Modern Warfare 2 and Modern Warfare 3 are planned to start arriving as soon as next week, meaning you shouldn't have to go too long without your Favela fix.
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Jimmy the Geek