Space Invaders Leipzig exhibit sparks 9/11 controversy

Although the latest and the greatest games are making the biggest buzz at the Leipzig Games Convention this week, one classic arcade staple is finding itself in the spotlight again, thanks to a controversial piece of art. The installation, Invaders!, juxtaposes an adapted version of Space Invaders...

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Although the latest and the greatest games are making the biggest buzz at the Leipzig Games Convention this week, one classic arcade staple is finding itself in the spotlight again, thanks to a controversial piece of art. The installation, Invaders!, juxtaposes an adapted version of Space Invaders against a backdrop featuring the World Trade Center towers destroyed in a September 11, 2001 terrorist attack.

Created by French-American artist Douglas Edric Stanley, Invaders is at the Games Convention as part of Space Invaders: The Anniversary Show, a 30th anniversary homage to the touchstone Taito game. The exhibit also features an original Space Invaders arcade game and "comprehensive documentation" of the game's historical significance.

The Games Convention write-up of Invaders explains a bit of the exhibit's message. "In [Stanley's] interactive large installation, the players must prevent the catastrophe by controlling the well-known cannon at the lower screen border with their bodies and firing it using arm movements," according to the convention's official site. "Like the original, this trial is ultimately unsuccessful, thus creating an articulated and critical commentary about the current war strategy. In this regard, Douglas Edric Stanley sees Space Invaders as 'a social tale that can be related to historical tales without losing its poetic power.'"

The New York Daily News asked some people who lost relatives in the September 11 attacks what they thought of the game. One firefighter called it "very, very distasteful," and a woman who lost her adult son in the tragedy labeled it "disgusting." They weren't the only people put off by Invaders, judging from the multiple posters wishing Stanley's death in the comments section of his own blog.

As for Taito, which owns the rights to Space Invaders, the Square Enix subsidiary today released a statement distancing itself from the entire affair. The company said in a statement, "Taito Corporation...today stated unequivocally that the Invaders installation by Douglas Edric Stanley and displayed at the Games Convention held in Leipzig, Germany was produced entirely without Taito's knowledge and that the use of the world-famous Space Invaders content was wholly unauthorized."

Furthermore, Taito is "seriously considering all available options--including legal actions against the infringer and, if necessary, the Games Convention exhibitor involved--in order to end this unauthorized and impermissible misuse of the Space Invaders content..."

Discussion

496 comments
Grimlouis
Grimlouis

So, what i get is, you try to save the twin towers from space invaders in a video game and Americans get pissed and all? what's the matter with you guys?

BloodLoss
BloodLoss

What's there to be offended about? You Americans really should try pulling those sticks out of your rear-ends once in a while.

nappan
nappan

This is just a grab for the spotlight by yet another irrelevant "artist". I'm not personally offended by the material, and it's such and obvious and ham handed approach that the only people I would imagine have a strong reaction are people who were directly affected by the attacks. Given that, and given that this is hardly some Picasso-esque artistic work... or even a South Park -esque kind of humour... why bother? Tasteless, and unecessary, but ultimately irellevant.

Bobderpie
Bobderpie

I would feel more comfortable if a person living in the united states or a person with a personal connection to 9/11 would create this. You cant help but feel that no one can understand it like those people.

dom1000
dom1000

Looking at all the weird comment here why cant i get green day american idiot song out of my head...i wonder...

xdeiri
xdeiri

72 virgins waiting or a god that can give birth to a child? see ,no need to mock others religions when yours are full of holes , and if I wear an American I will ask my government why ?rather than make a taboo of it .

zintarr
zintarr

My God! The people saying this is great and that we need to talk about it are just insane. There is a difference between talking about the murders that happened on 9-11 and mixing it up with Space Invaders. This is about as good as putting a cross in a jar of piss and saying...oh, its art.

Chrypt22
Chrypt22

Tystock... maybe you shouldnt compare actions of WW2 to blatant acts terrorism. The atom bomb, though some may disagree, actually saved lives from preventing a land invasion. If the US would have invaded Japan the death toll could have reached the millions before the war was done. Not only that the US gave warning before dropping it, so dont compare flying planes into buildings killing innocent unsuspecting people. Besides I have never seen nor heard of anyone making a joke out of the atom bomb.

Kowpow
Kowpow

I know people are going to complain about the artwork or about the people complaining about the artwork but really, what was the point in creating this? The artist must have known that this would hit a nerve with thousands of Americans. Why not make something else?

kyletm2003
kyletm2003

Taking a disaster and using it to comment on a situation is touchy. I have a distaste for people who create things and then try to assign them some deep and profound meaning. in this case he thought he could make a statement of how hard of a situation we have in the middle place and our poor job of handling it. Unfortunately for him he managed to pick the wrong media to put that message through. Games by nature are not something to be taken seriously and are supposed to be entertaining but when you throw an event like this into game format the overall effect is mostly perceived as pure, plain, unfiltered, ignorance of the event that is being referenced. without some kind of text on the picture to point out the meaning of the item it loses its meaning and is then replaced by something left to the viewers mind. in most cases that is what your supposed to do but on something that has effected people so deeply, it is not to be joked around with and tossed about so lightly. Overall i find the "artist" to be one of the sort i hate. They assume that the feeling of the piece is beyond the grasp of anyone other then themself and show it proudly while everyone just looks at and and says "so... what is it? a cat or something?" which is met by some piece of profound poetry of how it holds deep meaning and makes no sense at all cuz it looks like a cat and not the struggle of humanity or something like that (ranting). All in all i think he should go jump in a lake the next time he thinks he has a statement that needs to be made. and then the next 100 times he has to brush his teeth and then immediately have to drink a glass of ice water followed but a gallon of ice cream of a flavor that makes him gag.

Fabler4
Fabler4

I proably shouldnt comment, but people, it hurt everyone, i remember watching it when i was 7, and it struck me as how could anyone in their right mind do this? But im reminded about WWII, and hiroshima, thousands of inoccents lost their lives there, but yet we make games, films, all about how the "good" guys stopped the war... Sure it did end it, but they killed thousands more civilians than anything. And im sure, you could say "well thats war, people know what the costs are" Do you think those innocent people said 'lets go to war' i doubt all of them did. How about the young german lads FORCED to go to war. I am not saying people shouldnt be hurt or some offended by this. But when you pick up a WWII game up and start playing it. Just think about how many of those enemies in real life wanted to fight and die instead of being forced into it. 9/11 was a great tragedy, and never should have happened, but no war shouldve happened either. We should never have killed each other, for we are all the same, just our beliefs are different.

tystock
tystock

i don't get the big deal. this wasn't displayed in america (not that it should matter). Plus, I don't see Americans getting all upset over depictions of the atomic bomb, which was just as destructive. so get off your high horse and deal with someone else's opinion.

kakotan
kakotan

Good I hope that Taito Sues the pants off all of them and i hope all the familys does the same. That is so stupid and dishonors all who died.

itwiz90
itwiz90

Some things should be left alone, and this incident is one of them.

kent6650
kent6650

Nothing's wrong with it IMHO. Although, everyone's entitled on their own opinion. Just be open-minded people. This art clearly shows how open-minded can people be. Besides with the 9/11 event, it's a thing of the past now and we all understand and feel what it did to us. We all need to move on from there rather than sit and pout all day about everything related to 9/11 be it art, videos, games, etc.

usukaschese
usukaschese

Mere sensationalism labeled "art" is the last bastion of the non-talented. The mere fact that it's offensive doesn't make it art, even if some art school reject says it is. Lame.

QAOSbringer
QAOSbringer

i agree with smbius. no need to hate each other for a picture.

smbius
smbius

While I wouldn't wish for Stanley's death - it was simply distasteful. That's all. I think I'm more annoyed with the comments here (trying to condemn each other).

demonx5584
demonx5584

How could this game offend anyone? Seriously? It looks like Missile Command and Centipede rolled into one with crappy 2d graphics of the WTC buildings... Big f****** deal. Grow up if that offends you. It's a game, and a bad one.

NightRain
NightRain

Can't be bad since the setting in this piece of art would be in the 80's (time of the original Space Invaders), therefore, way before than the events of 9/11. This is simply "science-fiction art".

canuter
canuter

If you hadn't pointed it out, I wouldn't have recognised the silhouette of the towers. No big deal, in my opinion.

Zacek
Zacek

@rcrofton: I mean, in that Hollywood movie, the Japanese are the "bad guys", and the american guys the heroes.

4nationfury
4nationfury

This artist has guts, I'll say that. But people are going to get offended, just like the ones going across a lot of these comments and giving them negative ratings. What the artist did doesn't offend me in the least, but I can understand why it offends others especially those who lost loved ones during 9/11.

iammai
iammai

"The gift of gab is a proof of jealousy" Sorry but every shouldn't be rude with some one who wants to show his piece of art respectfully! For god seek, the man didn't show pople daying! I If you don't like it say you don't and leave every one in peace, but acting like a world saviour and showing the world you have no manners and especially in a video game site, I don't think this is a good thing to do. I bet someone acting here like a hero then go to his home holding his popcorn just to watch dead people every where at his fav news channel then say easily it is non of my concern and act like nothing happened. It is time to act like a mature!

rcrofton
rcrofton

Um, the American Army didn't win at Pearl Harbor...we were attacked, by surprise. And we lost.

Zacek
Zacek

I don't have problem with that. I'm not from USA, so it's not difficult to see to me. It's like if my wife (she is Japanese) would feel bad about those american movies where the American Army won the WWII (Pearl Harbor, etc).

Legather
Legather

While I'm not one for modern art, I think I could possibly see the point behind this one much more than any 'unmade bed' rubbish. If the design was such that no matter the interactivity, the 'invaders' prevail against the backdrop of the destroyed towers, then it is a pretty effective comparison to ineffective measures against invading threats such as 9/11 terrorists. Of course those affected by the tragedy have every right to be upset, and if it were simply a space invaders custom background rather than a means of commentary they would be justified in calling it shameful or disgusting. It is a wonder though why the same manner of criticism was never levied against 'games for entertainment' such as Command and Conquer Generals or the (to me anyway) completely disgusting Kuma War, which boasts as a selling point the ability to 'recreate actual missions from the war on terror'.

spartanshorts07
spartanshorts07

The fact it came from a french man puts so much more than mere "to soon" issues to my mind... Im not against any culture but with their history i fell this is more of an attack than an complex art project.

igl
igl

Rather funny that he receives death threats. Does anyone remember the Mohammed comics? Same rage from the people, and prolly their media. If you think it's perfectly fine to let freedom pass there, why protest here? That is just inconsequent and shows how self-righteous your believes in freedom of speech are. The relatives have my condolence.

igl
igl

Rather funny that he receives death threats. Does anyone remember the Mohammed comics? Same rage from the people, and prolly their media. If you think it's perfectly fine to let freedom pass there, why protest here? That is just inconsequent and shows how self-righteous your believes in freedom of speech are. The relatives have my condolence.

Kevin75
Kevin75

Wasn't Terrorist. The truth is far worst. And yes it is sad that many lost their lives for gold and power. But the picture is kinda cool. Irrelevant of those who died. People are being kinda hypocritical. So games where you kill thousands is okay but a picture of the trade centers is a no no, come on. Bad things happen, they will happen again for sure. Plus you could also argue the games as art angle on this too.

Born4this
Born4this

regardless of whether or not you think the govt. was responsible for this tragedy, you must recognize that some people lost their entire family on those flights. Whether it be the responsibility of crazy extremists who think they have 72 virgins waiting for them or by some dumb politician who wants war. Lives were lost and although I was lucky to have not known anyone who died, there are thousands out there who did and if they get offended, we as human beings, have no right to tell them to get over it... Although I am usually the last person to care one iota how other people feel, this even is just a little to big to be made into a video game just yet... Maybe in 50 years (like all of our WWII games) but right now it's a little too fresh in SOME peoples hearts and minds... we has people need to respect that...

crimped
crimped

the wounds of the 9/11 have not healded enough yet to accept things like this. in time who knows if there will be a game about 9/11. but not now.

Saki630
Saki630

I see nothing wrong with this. Tell everyone to stop crying about it, before i PhotoShop some WWII stuff and get every senior citizen E-RAGED.... Instead of feeling sick at the image, they should feel sick that America as a whole, still hasn't stepped in and demanded answers to the hundreds of unanswered questions that happened before and during that day. And get even more raged at the rich heartless people who haven't rebuilt sh!t, just rebuild the damn towers no need for design changes....but they want money, nothing else out of this staged disaster. o_o

LoneSoldier11
LoneSoldier11

Wow that piece is really crazy and when i say crazy i mean it in like a really cool kind of crazy and even though its in old graphics he could still make it look realistic.

LoneSoldier11
LoneSoldier11

Wow that piece is really crazy and when i say crazy i mean it in like a really cool kind of crazy and even though its in old graphics he could still make it look realistic.

mberkholz
mberkholz

guess they invested more money in programming the software than the 911 Commission for investing who was behind that controlled demolition. and of course the Daily News ask people who have lost relatives during that day - otherwise they wouldn't get the answers they want. why don't you ask people who have lost relatives during World War 2 how they like the gazillion games about it that are out there? get a grip. if our American nation would care about what really happened that day we would discuss more important things than stupid and lame games about it.

xdeiri
xdeiri

Oh it is the hero RAMBO killing all the bad Vietnamese and Afghanis people , and it is the good us marines fighting the savage Somalis ( all though I don’t know what America was doing there ) , and oh look it is denzel killing and putting Arab in cages like animals , and oh who I see over there aha, it is john wayne the American hero killing all those savage Indians, and who is those poor solders whom trying to protect themselves from the barbarians Iraqis ( of course behind the hammer or the tank ) trying to bring the American nightmare sorry i meant the american dream to the rest of the savage world ,was that bugs bunny making fun of stupid Indians , or those courageous solders led by ben affleck bombing japan with nukes although it was going to surrender , and oh the list will never end , and oh god bless America

Whitewind617
Whitewind617

wtf were they thinking when they thought that would be a good idea? It really boggles my mind that they thought people wouldnt be offended.

JaMeS4418
JaMeS4418

wtf, really? Even though it has been seven years, that doesn't mean that people still didn't lose their lives and that it's no longer a sensitive subject.