When Montreal video game designer Diego Liatis decided to put together a scene set in Canada, he couldn’t have known his choice of location would result in the threat of a lawsuit.
Liatis, 35, created an episode for the online game Counter-Strike Global Offensive and chose a Montreal metro station as the backdrop. He said he worked for nine months in consultation with STM – the city’s transit authority – and then without warning received a cease-and-desist letter threatening legal action if he made the game public.
The STM apparently told Liatis that the game could panic commuters, but that’s just silly. Travellers using the system can tell reality from video games.
It’s a stretch to suggest video games cause violence or any other social or anti-social behaviour. If they did, we’d have a generation of adults trying to topple giant gorillas and every car on the street would be stolen.
And even if a violent game made anyone feel like acting out, how would the place shown in the game trigger violence in the real location?
The STM’s reaction is juvenile and really amounts to just posturing. The transit agency has deeper pockets than Liatis and is trying to scare him off from completing the episode based inside the Berri-UQAM station by threatening to send in the lawyers.
Because the station is a public place, no one can claim the view inside is their property. About the only way the STM can make things sticky is if Liatis uses copyright materials, and judging by a look at his preview posted on YouTube, he will need to make only minor changes to avoid legal problems.
As characters run around the station in the video game, you can see the Montreal metro map posted inside the subway cars, and that map is easily recognizable and belongs to STM. But once that map is removed or changed, there’s no way the STM can prevent future Counter-Strike players from firing away.
Of course, the game may then be legal, but it may still be a bad idea.
Many Montrealers remember the 1989 École Polytechnique massacre that took the lives of 14 women. Many of those same people will find a shoot-’em-up video game based in the city to be in bad taste. Bad taste can’t be regulated, so Liatis is free to continue his game design. But perhaps he should give the concept a second thought.
Even though Liatis has worked hard to create a scene inside the Montreal metro, his efforts might be even more celebrated if he decided – on his own and without legal threats – to move the scenario somewhere else.
Montreal has seen enough of real guns. Enough that even virtual guns aren’t welcome.
Image credit: Diego Liatis/Facebook