Debunked: Children of Morta Developers Were Not Summoned by Iranian Courts

Stories about Children of Morta developer Dead Mage being summoned to court by the Iranian government (over allegations of violating Islamic law) have begun to circulate recently. We investigated, and found this was not the case.

The story began due to a now deleted Tweet, where what appears to be developer Amir H. Fassihi stating (via Google Translate):

“We were summoned to the Moral Security Police today to file a complaint against the Children of Morta. It is said that there is dance in the game, there is no veil, no mention of God, magic is used to fight the demons and there is a funeral that is not Islamic. The next step is to go to court.”

Inaccuracies of machine translation aside, it comes across as though the developers were questioned over allegations of the game violating Islamic law; including depictions of dancing, women without hijabs or other coverings, and according to some translations (via ResetEra) a lack of praising Allah.

Many tweets and retweets from the Twitter account seem to prove it is a Dead Mage developer, going as far back as August 2017 with a tweet discussing work on “Gershasp” (via Twitter’s machine translation). This is most likely Garshasp: The Monster Slayer, another game by Dead Mage.

However, Giant Bomb and IndieDB both list Dead Mage’s address as Texas, United States of America. As such, it seems highly unlikely Iran would have much sway over developers in another country- especially the US. The matter has been further blurred by the nature of the translation and the use of the term “summoned.”

Combined with the spread of misinformation that the developer is based in Iran (in actuality, several major Dead Mage developers are from Iran), it has lead to some fearing the developers would be tried under Islamic law, and face punishments such as flogging and even death.

Dead Mage’s past games (Garshasp: The Monster Slayer, Shadow Blade: Reload, and the upcoming Tale of Ronin [1, 2] ) all depict things that could violate Islamic law, such as depictions of magic being used to fight “demons,” alcohol, and women without coverings. The upcoming Tale of Ronin concept art (on the official website) shows a woman with her cleavage exposed. As such, if the developers were based in Iran, they would have been questioned much sooner.

On January 6th, the developers hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Switch RPG. We also joined in to ask the developers some questions, including Team Lead on Children of Morta Amir H. Fassihi- seemingly the owner of the aforementioned account where the original deleted Tweet came from. Fassihi does have another Twitter account in English.

We asked the team about the situation. You can find the screen-captures of those questions below:

As shown above (and for those who cannot see the images or who rely on translation software), Fassihi stated that the Iranian government took issue with the game’s digital distribution platform for the region- Hayoola– not the game’s developers. The decision to sell the game to Iran, in spite of it’s harsh censorship laws, was due to the developers being from Iran and wanting to help give back to gamers in the region.

“That was not an economic decision, we just wanted to do this because many of our developers are Iranians. We felt it would be nice for the youngsters back home to play this game. Not many games are sold there officially. We have received many emails from the gamer community that were interested in playing a legit version of the game. They don’t have access to international markets.”

Why Hayoola though the game could be distributed without alteration is intriguing. What is more interesting, is how some games on the store would seemingly violate the aforementioned Islamic laws- such as women without coverings [1, 2, 3], heavy implications of sex and prostitution [1a, 1b], and defeating demons with magic [1]. All of these examples were taken from the store’s front page.

Children of Morta is out now on Windows PC and Mac (both via GOG, and Steam).

Special thanks to Ben, and Gio Pimentel of Switch RPG. You can find their transcript of the Dead Mage’s AMA here.

Image: Children of Morta Steam Page.

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Ryan was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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