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Hindu Activist Asks Santa Monica Developer to Make Video Game Respectful


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By Jonathan Friedman
Associate Editor

June 26, 2017 -- A new Playstation 4 game created by Santa Monica-based Naughty Dog and set for release later this summer has a Hindu activist leader concerned about “trivialization” of his religion.

The setting of the game “Uncharted: The Lost Legacy” is India and a focus of it is the tusk of the Hindu deity Lord Ganesh, according to Rajan Zed, a Nevada resident who heads the Universal Society of Hinduism.

“[I hope] that the final product of this video-game would showcase the Hinduism concepts, traditions, objects and deities authentically; matching their characterization as portrayed in ancient Hindu scriptures instead of giving its own fantasized or re-imagined version,” Zed said in a statement released Friday.

He added that he did not expect any problem because “seasoned and skillful professionals” are making the game.

Naughty Dog was founded in the 1980s and was acquired by Sony in 2001.

It still exists as a subsidiary of Sony, making video games out of its studio in The Water Garden office complex on Cloverfield Boulevard in Santa Monica.

Zed captured headlines last year when he blasted another Santa Monica video game maker for what he said was its use of a Hindu character.

In the first-person shooter game "Overwatch," Activision Blizzard gave players the option to alter a character to look like what Zed claimed resembled the Hindu goddess Devi (“Santa Monica Company’s Video Game Denounced by Hindu Leader,” July 18, 2016).

He said that it was an inappropriate feature because the player controls the movement of the character “while in reality the devotees put the destinies of themselves in the hands of their goddesses” and that the movements of the character “did not match with characterization of the goddesses in the scriptures."

Activision Blizzard never publicly responded to the accusation and did not make any changes to the game based on Zed’s complaints.

There was a larger video game controversy in Santa Monica in 1999 when what was then known as Activision (prior to its 2008 merger with Vivendi Games) was the target of a local protest.

Its “Toy Story 2” video game featured a villain alleged to be a Latino stereotype (“Video Game Image Triggers Protest,” December 14, 1999).

Oscar de la Torre, now a member of the local school board, said the game was encouraging “virtual genocide” because it included a character with a droopy mustache, sombrero and bandoleers of bullets across his chest.


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