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Creator Of  Space Invaders -Based 9/11 Art Piece Pulls Exhibit
Creator Of Space Invaders-Based 9/11 Art Piece Pulls Exhibit
August 25, 2008 | By Chris Remo

August 25, 2008 | By Chris Remo
More: Console/PC

The creator of Invaders!, an art game that represents the World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001 by way of Taito's classic arcade game Space Invaders, has requested his piece be pulled from the GH ART exhibit held at the Games Convention in Germany.

"After three days of a steady downward spiral in public discussion of the piece, I have just given my agreement to the organizers of the Leipzig Games Convention to simply turn off the installation Invaders!" said Douglas Edric Stanley in a comment on his blog. He claims conference organizers did not encourage him to withdraw the game.

Invaders! depicts the two towers of the World Trade Center as being under neverending assault by Space Invaders' iconic alien enemies. The player is tasked with defending the buildings, but the infinitely-spawning aliens make the towers' destruction ultimately inevitable. Its "Game Over" screen calls for players to "Support Our Troops!"

Today, Square Enix-owned Taito said it 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." A disclaimer on the exhibition's program indicated that the game was not endorsed by Taito.

Invaders! has been the subject of a torrent of criticism since its public unveiling, with the controversy exacerbated by its creator being an American expatriate in Paris, who was described as "French-American" in a Games Convention press release.

In October 2001, just a month after the attacks, Stanley detailed an early version of his game concept on his blog. "The whole event [9/11] had sort of taken over my life," he wrote. "I was equally fascinated and disgusted by the whole thing."

The GC description, which Stanley notes he approved but did not compose, describes the game and its futile gameplay as "an articulated and critical commentary about the current war strategy."

Said one poster in response to a recent blog post, "Your [sic] a sociopath Douglas Edric Stanley. I hope God will recall you soon. Better yet, recycle yourself." Another commented, "I hope you die you rotten piece of scum."

"Contrary to previous reports, I am an American," Stanley said in the same comment thread, "and it saddens me that we as a people remain so profoundly unable to process this event outside of some obscure, but tacitly understood, criteria of purely anesthetized artistic representation."

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David Delanty
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I hate the phrase 'Artistic Representation.' People use it, as if they are seeking an excuse to make bone-headed moves in the name of some metaphorical enterprise they call art. And it's always worded in a way that getting offended by offensive 'art' is actually the viewer's fault, and not the fault of the 'artist.'

It's important to point out that while the artist has every bit of free speech and expression as entitled by his rights as a citizen, he also has to remember he is SURROUNDED by other citizens of the same rights. So just as much as he is entitled to make a 9/11 themed shooter, everybody else is entitled to bite his head off for it.

In a verbal sense, of course.

Sterling Reames
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What the hell is an art game? How can you make a game without considering art direction? And Who makes this non-sense up?

Besides that, what part did he think would be a good idea in the first place? Was it ripping off Space Invaders or the 9/11 part?

Either way, I do agree with David on this one. The guy has the right to make the game, and people have the right to speak up about it.

I honestly think this is a pretty lame way to make a statement about 9/11. I'm sure he wasn't trying to mock the whole ordeal, but it sure does seem like it.

Tim Robinson
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What, too soon?

Ernest Adams
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The hassle that Stanley is getting sounds like the same kind of knee-jerk jingoism that Gonzalo Frasca got after he created "September 12" (which is a more sophisticated piece, in my opinion -- see There will always be ranting dimwits around; it's just so unfortunate that they have access to computers.

I don't know about German law, but if Taito expects to go after him in America, they are in for a disappointment. First, this appears to be a one-off work of art, not created for commercial purposes. Second, satire is a protected form of speech -- that was established by case law many years ago.

Robert Farr
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Its interesting in a way, how a piece about conflict (The futility or otherwise) has itself spawned a whole different kind of conflict. It'll be a long time before you can make a statement about 9/11 and not have a very strong backlash, I suspect.

Michiel Hendriks
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freedom of expression/speech is only accepted when its politically correct.

john bonachon
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While the terrorist act of the 9/11 was awful and pointless, the fact is 1000% worst the punitive wars. In fact, currently there still people dying because it.

James Hoysa
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