Officials from British budget priced publisher GSP (Global Software Publishing) have confirmed that they have withdrawn the game Law & Order: Double or Nothing
(aka Law & Order II
) from sale in the UK, following tabloid reports that the game includes an image of murder victim James Bulger.
A short statement released by the company reads: "GSP is the UK distributor of the game Law & Order: Double or Nothing
, developed by Legacy Interactive. It has come to our attention that there is an image in the game that may cause offence. As a result we have withdrawn the product from sale with immediate effect."
The game features a CCTV camera image of murder victim James Bulger, a two year old toddler who was abducted and murdered in Merseyside in 1982, by two ten year old boys. The case is one of the most infamous in recent British history and the CCTV image widely recognizable from media coverage.
At the time, the movie Child's Play 3 was accused of being an inspiration for the murder. Despite a lack of evidence to that effect, the movie was voluntarily withdrawn from sale or rent by many national chains.
The game Law & Order: Double or Nothing
, based on the U.S. crime drama of the same name, was first released in the UK in 2003 and initially distributed by Ubisoft. It drew no controversy at the time and was given a 12+ age rating, which was maintained for its budget priced re-release by GSP.
Tabloid newspaper The Daily Mail has claimed that the image is used as a visual clue
and is referred to directly in gameplay. Due to the age and obscurity of the title though this has been difficult to verify, particularly in regards to the UK release. A GSP employee, who refused to be named, has indicated to Gamasutra that their understanding was that the image was not an interactive part of the game.
GSP was also unable to confirm how exactly the issue was brought to their attention, saying only that they were made aware of the issue on Monday. The furor, which is receiving widespread media attention in Britain, follows several days of media coverage of violent games in the UK.
The Church of England's complaints over the inclusion of Manchester Cathedral in Sony's Resistance: Fall of Man
has been widely reported in the British media, as has yesterday's decision by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) to refuse a rating to Rockstar Games' Manhunt 2