muslim-massacre460René Magritte painted a picture of a pipe with the caption “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” “This is not a pipe.” Of course it wasn’t a pipe, it was a picture of a pipe.

Muslim Massacre is a game made by SomethingAwful forumer Sigvatr (I refuse to call them “goons”) that lets you destroy little pixelly blips. There are lots of games where you destroy little pixelly blips, but in this one the pixelly blips represent Muslims. This has made it controversial. We can only guess at how many Muslims in real life have been killed because of this game, but it’s probably a lot.

The game itself is a nose-thumbingly cheap tribute to Postal. You control a true American patriot (hatriot?) carrying a pistol, although passing planes drop additional weapons like a shotgun and a rocket launcher. Your enemies possess everything from suicide bombs to burkas, and eventually you fight Osama bin Laden, Muhammad, and Allah himself. You use the WASD keys to move, and the mouse to aim and fire. Like games of old you can’t save your progress, so you have to beat the thing in one try.

Muslim Massacre is halal if pixelated violence is your creed. You can throw grenades that leave huge craters in the ground, fire rockets that send bodies flying like leaves in a gale, and each dead Muslim vents roughly twenty gallons of blood over the desert sand. Cheerful generic chiptune music plays over the slaughter.

However, I’ll say this: it’s probably not as outrageous as you’re hoping. As a game, Muslim Massacre is fun. As satire, it has a…mildness to it. The whole game involves shooting tiny sprites that sort of look like they have brown skin. A few changes to the art and Muslim Massacre would be just another shameless nostalgia trip to the days when Nintendo published official strategy guides and kids bought them. It certainly has some shock value (especially for people who want to be shocked), but it doesn’t go beyond what Postal accomplished ten years earlier, to say nothing of even older games like Custer’s Revenge.

One wonders why Sigvatr didn’t push the game’s concept further, into South Park territory. Why not allow pork-tipped bullets as an upgradable weapon, for example? If you’re going for edgy, why not go for the white-hot DEFCON 1 shit? Muslim Massacre is a paradox…too much, and not nearly enough.

Perhaps this game isn’t meant to be funny. I’ve read the creator’s webcomic, Electric Retard, which is a mixture of Monty Python’s comedy and Adam Lanza’s misanthropy. I’ve also seen his strange, po-faced apology where he tries to sell Muslim Massacre as an indictment of American foreign policy. Sigvatr’s funny like that. You’re never sure as to whether he gets his own jokes.

Anyway, the game came out, it upset people (but not to the extent where they’d pass up on free traffic by not writing outraged blog posts promoting it), then it went away. Maybe these games are offensive, maybe they’re not, and maybe “offensive” doesn’t matter. These kinds of games hurt nobody, and even if they do, the cure could be worse than the disease. Many people who promote freedom of speech are only thinking about their own speech. They don’t realise that there are a lot of ideas out there, and that – for better or for worse – they’ve opened Pandora’s box.

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