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Hitman 2: The Real Experience

Jasvinder studies computer science in Virginia, U.S.A. This report refers to Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, a new video game from U.K.-based video game maker Eidos. Several Sikh organizations lodged protests claiming that the game is offensive to Sikhs. Earlier versions of the following were posted on Sikh-Diaspora (Yahoo! Groups) and AmericanSikhs (Yahoo! Groups).

The Sikh Times, Dec. 24, 2002

Judging by the volume of protests from the Sikh community, one would think that I'm the only Sikh who supports this game. However, having played the game in its entirety, here is what I have to say about it. After playing the version of the game released for PlayStation 2, I believe that us Sikhs totally overreacted. The Golden Temple isn't depicted anywhere in the game. Sikhs aren't portrayed as terrorists but as bodyguards. In fact, the place that is termed a gurdwara in the game doesn't seem at all related to Sikhism. It simply looks like a fort. It has beautiful rooms with lots of art on the doors and walls. There are Sikh bodyguards everywhere dressed in suits. The game actually has many more scenes from Hinduism and Islam than it does from Sikhism. One of the missions in the game takes the player to Kazakhstan where Muslim prayers are audible. There's another mission that takes place in India inside a Shiva [Hindu god] temple with pictures of Ganesh [Hindu god].

I truly can't see how this game gives Sikhs a bad image. It does, however, afford people from all over the world a chance to learn a little about the Sikhs. It is commonly believed that in response to protestation from various Sikh organizations this game was taken off the shelves. However, my information is that the game went off the shelves for a few days and then reappeared and is back on the shelves now. Furthermore, Eidos, the company that manufactures the game, hasn't stopped production of this game for PlayStation 2. Nor has it removed any of the Sikh images from the game. The only permanent action Eidos seems to have taken is to remove anything relating to Sikhs from their Web sites. Eidos might also be incorporating changes to future versions of the game for a different game console called GameCube.

As far as I can tell, this is a lovely game with information about many different cultures and languages. It makes me proud to see Sikhs included. Most importantly, it's just a game and people play these games just to add a little fun to their lives. It's terrible that most Sikhs supported the movement to get the game off the shelves without firsthand knowledge of its contents. I can only hope that if Sikhs face a similar situation again in the future, they take the time to determine the facts before taking action. My fear is that after the ugly response to Hitman 2 from the Sikh community our next opportunity might not be for a while.

Finally, the game's critics need to realize a few important things. One, it would have been better if they had actually bothered to play the game and not just gone by what they heard. Two, this is a game, not a documentary about Sikh history. Three, I have played the game and there is no 'Golden Temple' in it. Further, there is no 'simulation of the 1984 attack,' or anything related, in the game.