back to article C of E blasts 'sacrilegious' Sony shoot-'em-up

The Church of England has become rather hot under the dog collar after it learned that one of the locations aliens have chosen to launch their invasion of Earth in the PlayStation 3 shoot-'em-up Resistance: Fall of Man is modelled on Manchester Cathedral. Manchester Cathedral: real and not real Manchester cathedral: real …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "This begs the question of who actually - if anyone - owns visual representations of the cathedral."

    Genraly the owner of the building, much like a painting by a dead artist.

  2. Mark Finn

    Marching Proudly into the 18th Century...

    Looks like the has-beens have forgotten (yet again) that law, morality and property rights are no longer decreed by the Speakers for the Sky Beard Faery...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Surely Sony just prayed and asked God?

    The dude works in mysterious ways.

    Surely his almightys permission trumps any refusal that the "management" at Manchester Cathedral may give.

    I would be interesting to see them try and proove sony did not ask and recieve his almightys permission

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brave, brave Sony ...

    I wonder why Sony - or rather Insomniac Games - chose a Christian religious building for desecration by alien hordes in Resistance, Fall of Man and not (say) the Askariyya Mosque in Samarra, Iraq?

    Aside from the fact that the Sunnis had already done that, I guess a legal challenge from the CofE is a bit easier to face than having your head carved off in an internet video feed.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Visualized without permission ?

    Hmm, a rather interesting argument they've got there. I understand the reaction since Sony is selling a game, thus making a profit, and we all know that, historically, all Churches (be it Roman Catholic or CoE version) have roundly and repeatedly condemned any profit not made by themselves.

    That, plus the fact that there is no copyright on cathedrals, makes me think that this particular spat has no legs to stand on. I have no love for Sony, far be it, but hey, cathedrals do tend to look a lot alike when you don't have a masters in History or Architecture.

    And I do believe there is prior art, here ? Lacking that, there's at least a dozen other versions ?

    No, what is clear is that the CoE wants a contribution from Sony in return for turning a benignly blind eye to the blasphemous market. It seems equally clear that Sony can argue that, once upon a time, churches were basically marketplaces, with a booth at the rear for the faithful to pray while trussed chickens were exchanged for hard currency just a few feet away.

    This issue is going to be fun to follow, in any case, but it will be solved in a back room and away from the spotlight.

    And Sony will contribute. With the feeble amount of goodwill it can benefit from at this time, it cannot afford to raise a ruckus against a religious emissary. Not now in any case.


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fantasy vs Fantasy

    'The company also pointed out that R:FoM is an entertainment and not based on reality', unlike religion, which is of course completely fact based.

    The church is looking for a substantial donation to their youth work, so now Sony has to fund brain washing and kiddie fiddling?

  7. Ian Ferguson


    As much as I enjoy realistic shoot-em-ups, why did Sony think this was acceptable? It's a place that is holy to some people. Even if I don't agree with the Church's views, I have the good manners not to blatantly offend them. What's next - a Mecca add-on pack?

  8. Adrian Jackson

    For God's Sake...

    The Church of England is clearly going for some sort of publicity stunt here, because they don't have a legal leg to stand on, as anyone who's read this will know:

    Ignoring for a moment the fact that even if there were copyright on the church's architecture (which would in reality have expired some time in the 18th century), this says:

    "62.—(1) This section applies to—

    (a) buildings, and


    (2) The copyright in such a work is not infringed by—

    (a) making a graphic work representing it,


    (3) Nor is the copyright infringed by the issue to the public of copies, or the broadcasting or inclusion in a cable programme service, of anything whose making was, by virtue of this section, not an infringement of the copyright."

    No copyright infringement, no need to ask permission.

    Of course, what the C of E fails to tell us (probably because none of the people involved have actually bothered to take a look at the relevant bits of the game) is that the church is being used as a makeshift hospital in the game, and the battle is a result of this hospital being attacked by alien creatures (many of which are two-foot tall facehugger type creatures). While Manchester might have some degree of gun crime problems, I don't believe it leads the world in gun crime committed against invading alien monsters. Tennessee tops the league tables there, I believe.

    Still, congratulations are due to the BBC for hiding this by using the dodgiest of blurry Youtube footage for their story on this. Journalistic integrity? Who needs it?

    Anyway, perhaps the church needs to start closer to home when acting as the arbiter of morality. They could start by putting an end to their promotion of a book which endorses genocide and the slaughter of innocents perhaps.

  9. Josh

    Fair enough but...

    Fair enough them wanting an apology or redesign. The House of God isn't the *best* place to be shooting stuff, but I think the "substantial" donation is a bit over the top. They're asking for a little much there.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wonder how the Church of England got to know about this?

    Have they been playing the youth-oriented education programmes Playstation 3 again? No wonder they want Sony to donate money towards the programme. It's so they can buy more games!

  11. Joe K

    Utter nonsense

    So i guess the developers of The Getaway owe the whole of London a big wedge then.

    I bet these money grabbing god-botherers haven't even seen a PS3, or know what it is. Ooh, they've heard that there is gunplay in their polygonal cathedral, gotta stop that.

    The irony is that its only shooting aliens in an attempt to save mankind, not Doom-alike stripped bodies on stakes or anything.

  12. Graham Marsden


    So how many churches and cathedrals have featured in Horror movies etc before now? (Hint: Try Guildford Cathedral appearing in The Omen)

    And if it's so bad, how come a "Substantial donation" will sort it out?

    "The love of money is the root of all evil"...! 1 Timothy 6-10

  13. James Bassett

    Special Case

    Once again, the Church acts as if it has some strange right that the rest of us aren't entitled to. Why does it matter that Sony chose to use a church without asking permission? Would it be less wrong if Sony had chosen a School, a Sports Centre? What about my house?

    And what is it that they consider to be scariligious? Why is it wrong to depict a church? I've heard a lot of hot air from the Church on this one, but they all seem to assume that everyone will understand why they are getting so upset. So go on, what has Sony actually done to upset you?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pay up Sony!

    It's 'nice' when Sony can have it both ways isn't it. I should think they say this game is Photo Realistic and yet NOT using real photos. I've seen this Game - and 'tried' to play it. It's leading edge - and VERY realistic. In my eyes Sony have two choices, either admit they have a second rate game that doesn't look very realistic, or bite the 'bullet' and write C of E a cheque. I say pay up SONY!

  15. hugo tyson

    What are they on?

    "The church is *cross* with Sony..." ROFL, very witty.

    How typical of the church to believe something made-up is real.

    But seriously, I can't see how this is any different from a novel which describes action taking place in the cathederal "without permission". Are they claiming that a visual representation breaches some copyright-like notion that a novel doesn't? Or is it just "think of the childruuuuun" as usual, because they'll never read a novel, but will play shootygames?

    Do flight-sims get permission from everyone whose simulcra virtual property can be virtually overflown? From the organisations running well-known landmarks? No, because they're publicly viewable - the view is free content. So's the interior of the cathederal, surely?

  16. florian mosleh

    28 Days Later

    As I recall there was a scene in a church in the film '28 Days Later' featuring zombies crawling all over each other and a zombie priest chasing the sprightly protagonist out into the street.

    if sony should have checked themselves before including the set in the game, maybe the church folk should have raised a ruckus when a house of the holy was used in a similar context, albeit in a different medium of entertainment.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Permit required

    In most churches / cathedrals a permit is required to take photos or video.

  18. Leo Waldock

    Do games cause violence? really?

    Skipping over the question of whether or not Sony should pay The Church, the original kerfuffle surrounded the fact that Manchester has something of a gun problem. The Bish considered that Sony was unwise to use the Cathderal as a location as Fall of Man would stir those yoof who had previously been peaceful into joining their violent contemporaries.

    Clearly drugs and gangs play no part in the current violence, oh no.

    This argument only holds water if games cause gamers to commit violent acts so do they?

    I say no and cite Japan as an example where console and PC games have been massively popular for many, many years yet the levels of violent crime are very low. We'll assume that Yakuza are not overly influenced by Sonic the Hedgehog.

    Meanwhile in the US where guns are available to every Tom, Dick and Harry, it seems that a strongly worded song lyric is enough to prompt a killing spree yet no-one has blamed the cartoon violence in The Simpsons or Tom and Jerry as justification for hitting a stranger over the head with an impossibly large mallet.

  19. Andrew Downes

    History lesson needed

    Given the bloodthirsty nature of religion I wonder how many REAL murders have taken place in cathedrals over the years (Thomas Becket onwards), not to mention fictional murders in printed word form that didn't raise a single column-inch of publicity?

    What's funny is that the journalist who spotted this angle clearly did such a good job - presumably extracting rent-a-quote from "outraged reverend, 53, Manchester" with no more than that YouTube clip. What a weird world we live in.

  20. Mad Mike


    Bearing in mind religion has caused many of mankinds worst wars and conflicts, perhaps the depiction in a church is very apt. Given the morality shown by most churches over the years, this pious hypocracy is really taking the biscuit.

    I suppose the crusades (to fund the pope!!) and the Spanish inquisition mean nothing to people. Perhaps the people doing the shooting should be in robes?

  21. Dam

    And I thought churches couldn't sink any lower...

    To be honest, it's just a *sacrilege* that a game should feature a church.. a church man, a church!

    A church! Come on a CHURCH!

    These guys are pure and untainted, the Church has never tortured nor killed so-called "heretics", and crusades never happened.

    Or did they?

    They're plainly just after the cash, unless someone cares to explain how a "substantial donation" can wipe clean the terrible insult they've withstood?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Photos vs. Photo-realistic

    Peter Taylor: An image can be photo-realistic without containing photos. Presumably the game developers used photos of the building to create their photo-realistic version. That version, however, does not itself contain any photos.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    As God, I would like to point out that I have signed a licensing deal with Sony.

    This entitles them to use images and scenes based on any Church, Cathedral, Minster, Monastery, Convent, Mosque, Temple, Area of standing stones, Flat bit considered holy, Big rock, Decrepit wall, Grove, Coppice, Cave, Altar, Hill, Mountain, Unspecified geographical fetaure, Star, Constellation, Comet, Meteor, Meteorite, Asteroid, KBO, Statue, Statuette, or any other such object deemed to be venerated unto Me or one of Mine Avatars.

    Hope that this clears things up.

    Incidently, while I am here, MacOS *is* the work of Satan, I don't give a stuff either way about Microsoft and Open Source is, indeed, righteous.

    Hope that clears other things up.

    Thank you for your attention.


  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Copyright of Buildings

    There is no restriction on taking photos in a public place like the public highway, although the Police have been known to try to stop this. So images of London shot in the Londo streets is fine.

    To take photos inside a private building or grounds, or of a building from private grounds, requires the permission of the owners of the grounds where the photographer stands to take the images. If you photograph a private property from public land you are probably in the clear. A private property from privae land or inside the property, that needs permission. However old the building is and whatever the public access may be.

    The National Trust has in the past sued professional photographers for taking photos with a tripod and without permission on their land. The photographer Fay Godwin was prevented from photographing on Trust grounds without permission for example. In some cases a permit can be purchased for commercial photography.

    Manchester Cathedral is private property, even though the public has right of access, it is owned by the Church of England. Photographing the interior is probably sanctioned by the authorities for visitors, but if there are notices saying No Commercial Photography without Permission (or similar) then they are bang to rights and Sony will have to cough up.

    In the UK museums galleries often ban photography of their "Old Masters" because once an item is out of copyright (70 years after creators death) anyone can copy it from the original. So they ban photography of the original, and then sell photos they have taken because they own the copyright in the photos. So far as I am aware for example, photography is banned in Tate Britain, although not, interestingly in the V&A's main galleries.

    The situation is different in the States, where they take a much freer attitude. In a recent test case, a British Picture Library sued an american publisher for reproducing an image of an old master in its collection, citing copyright in the image. The US judge ruled against them saying images of our cultural heritage should be freely available. This is not the view taken by the British cultural establishment.

    Of equal interest is the point made by several commentators, why choose Manchester Cathedral and not, for example, Finsbury Park Mosque.

  25. Philip Meason

    A Christian perspective

    As a Christian myself, I fail to be alarmed or upset by the use of a Cathederal in a computer game. The "Church" is a body of people not some building therefore the place can only be considered Holy when a group of Christians are worshiping in it. However, I have no problem with the C of E looking for a finacial contribution to keep their youth works going, after all Sony (music) have no problems demanding contributions everytime a small piece of a song from their label is played. As for altering the images or removing the game entirely, I find these demands for more ridiculous as I am sure C of E churches are payed for inpart by the state and our considered public buildings(?).

    For those knocking church run youth activities, get some facts before ranting on about brain washing and kiddie fiddling! For the most part, I know sadly there have been a few exceptions, Church based youth groups provide an invaluable resource to help provide kids, many of whom who are below the povety belt/ otherwise ignored by any other organisations because of social problems/ have very little else in their local area to do.

    The Christian church in general, not just C of E and Catholic, have thousands of youth projects run by thousands of volunteers who just wish to give the youth a place they can go and have fun, without costing the earth, unfortunately there have been a few occassions where leaders have been found to be hurting the children and my heart grieves for those who have been hurt by such people but state run youth programs have also run foul of the same situations.

    That'll do.


  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A mixed issue

    As a professional in the games industry, and as a practising Christian, I have a mixed view on this.

    The first is that it is promoting Cathedrals, and may well get members of the gaming community interested in them. I don't believe that games cause violence any more than watching violent movies do.

    On the other hand, the Cathedral was designed and built to be a holy place where people could worship God. I feel that using this as a background to a place of violence is disrespectful (although probably not harmful).

    Sony can easily afford to cough up some cash for the CofE's worthy young people cause, and should have sought permission before designing and implementing this level.

  27. Richard Thomas

    Photo Permission

    All religous sites are owned by one body or another. As an example my girlfriend and I are due to be married and wanted to have photos taken after the service in a nearby Abbey ruins.

    We have had to apply for permission from Kidwelly Castle who own the Abbey. This will be the same for the Cathedral.

    Where Sony say they applied for permission is probably right, all it is, is one single A4 form you have to fill in. It doesn't mention anything about making money or what said photos will be used for.

    My guess would be that CoE found out that money could have been made and invented a form i.e. "Yes, you filled out form 1B22566gf, you SHOULD have filled out form 1B22566gh"

    As said before, if this is the case the CoE haven't a chance in court but I suspect that $ony may settle anyway to avoid the bad publicity of "robbing*" from the Church.

    *not my words just how the press would put it.

  28. Highlander

    Say what now?

    Um, hello, CofE, wake up please, reality is knocking on your door. Games set in actual cities will use public landmarks frequently in order tin increase the sense of being there. It's also entirely possible through the use of these tools called pencils and pens and even paints for an artist to render a fair facsimile of a scene without recourse to photography of the interior of a 'private' place like a Cathedral. I'm sure you've heard of artists before, they're the ones who paint on ceilings and create stained glass windows.

    Ironically, this is is probably going to have a similar effect to the 'banning' of a single by BBC Radio 1. How many more sales did Frankie Goes To Hollywood get because of the way in which old auntie Beeb reacted? Yeah, exactly. Now the CofE comes along and pitches the big one over Resistance:FOM and what does it think will happen exactly?

    I can tell you, instead of fewer people playing this game, the publicity will no doubt generate a few more sales as some buy the game to see what all the fuss is about. What's that old truism about publicity and it all being good?

    Anyway, Perhaps the Church needs to brush up, if they want to get all knicker twisted over this, then in the new age of tolerance surely they must object to every portrayal of a religious site, institution or figure in modern culture. When was the last time anyone made this kind of fuss? Was it over Mel Gibson's slasher flick The Passion, or perhaps Monty Python's Life of Brian.

    Hey, look, did you notice, John Cleese - JC. It's a mockery I tell you, a mockery!

    Life of I mean Brian, funny film, massively misunderstood by God fearing people. One question I've always wanted to ask such people is this; Why is the Almighty concerned by this satirical performance by a few human comedians? Now the similar question begs; Why would God care about this PS3 game? (Before anyone jumps down my throat, I believe in God, and I believe that an all powerful God has little reason to be concerned by such matters.)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sony should sue Channel 4 news...

    ... because screen-shots of the game have been awful! Do PS3 graphics look that bad?

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  31. Richard Kay

    dont fight on God's virtual turf or we wont buy your products

    Copyright isn't the issue. Christians consider those of all faiths and none welcome to join us respecting its owner on God's turf, but not to stage virtual fights in images of it, any more than anyone is welcome to stage actual fights in real Church buildings. If we can or can't sue Sony for photography without permission all well and good. If we can we should, if we can't well probably soon find out, but this is a side issue compared to the losses a Christian consumer boycott will cause them. Either way Christians will want this particular product withdrawn from sale or Sony can risk losing our custom. Sony have the opportunity to register their awareness of having caused offence by donating to our youth work and withdrawing the product. Or they can choose not to bother and risk losing our business. Their choice - and ours whether to boycott their products. Sony's behavior here is seen a bit like someone being invited into your home suddenly doing a dump on the floor and throwing their mess around. Would you buy anything from someone who did that ?

  32. This post has been deleted by its author

  33. Daniel Ballado-Torres

    Christian boycott? Yeah, sure

    Like anyone would care. If it were something *truly* offensive (like that controversial cartoon that made fun of Moslem beliefs), I'd believe that a mass boycott would hurt the game.

    But it isn't that much of an "offense". In fact, it would only boost sales, as someone else mentioned. Well, not from me, I just don't dig First Person Shooters that much anymore. (Not having a PS3 or a decent PC also deters me from newer FPS games, anyway).

  34. Jason

    "Time to kick arse and chew gum..."

    I would have thought the C of E would have welcomed the opportunity to be see to be doing something useful... well, other than spreading stone age superstitious mumbo jumbo, but you know.

  35. the Jim bloke

    The CoE has a valid excuse for being upset

    Sony is rubbing their face in the fact that the churches architecture is more interesting than its beliefs.

    But religious buildings have been a regular feature in computer games since graphics became advanced enough to make one box pointy on top.

    from the chapel in Doom, to the cathedrals in Unreal, to the stereotypical sniper positions in Battlefield 1942.. not ignoring Diablo..

    I think it is a common practice for churches to charge a small fee to professional photographers which is usually put towards building maintenance. 700 year old buildings with lots of fiddly bits are expensive to repair.

  36. Matt

    "substantial" donation

    that'll be one ps3 at current prices then...i wonder if they'll include the game.... :)

  37. Andrew Denton

    Did somebody say collusion?

    Am I the only one to think that Sony and the C of E are in cahoots over this? The C of E needs some cash for some project or another and Sony are desperate to boost flagging sales of the PS3 and its flagship title. The C of E kicks off and Sony gets millions of pounds worth of free publicity. Sony then coughs up and the C of E trousers a nice wodge of cash - everyone's a winner.

  38. Colin Jackson


    Finding it very difficult to drum up any sympathy for Sony. Their copyright practices are far more MAFIAesque than even the CofE could come up with. A plague on both their houses, frankly.

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