Counter-Strike Map Modeled on Montreal Metro Prompts $50,000 Fine

Nancy Hui - 3A Civil
Posted on: February 27, 2013

Diego Liatis and Frederik Denis face a fine of $50,000 for creating a map of the Berri-UQAM station in Montréal for the game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, a first-person shooter game. The map was made for a LAN gaming competition at the Ecole de Technologie Superieure de Montréal in March.

After releasing previews of the map on YouTube, the two were sent a cease-and-desist letter by Montréal Transit Corporation (Société de transport de Montréal, STM) after the homage was previously approved. As the game clearly displays STM logos and maps, the STM may have a case for trademark violation. However, given the nature of Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, there may be other motives at play.

If someone created a virtual map of South Campus Hall, I’d be flattered, and maybe as gleeful as when Toronto City Hall blew up in Resident Evil. On the other hand, a map of Pacific Mall – where shootings have previously occurred – would be both flattering and slightly disturbing. A map of Newtonbrook Public School would just be in appalling taste.

It’s not really dangerous, in that all of these – besides Newtonbrook, anyways – are public places, and that any maniac with a gun and a bus pass could scout them out. Both the British and American army has experimented with video games as training devices for soldiers but I really don’t think bunnyhopping between benches, or being able to leap from one ground level to another without suffering impact damage is going to help anyone develop their real-world reflexes and abilities.

Claims that terrorists used Microsoft Flight Simulator to train for 9/11 are also unsubstantiated.

The point is, anyone planning to attack the Montréal subway will not base their decision on the existence of a Counter-Strike map, nor improve the effectiveness of their attack by training with Counter-Strike.

As for bad taste… well, would the STM be as offended if Liatis and Denis had published an extensive Skyrim dungeon modelled on STM tunnels and packed it with undead Nords? Not that political correctness has ever stopped modders, as evident from the extremely popular “Killable Children” mod for Skyrim.

I’m not familiar with the application of copyright law in this case, but if the STM is so intent on dissociating itself from the map, it’s easy for the developers to rectify the problem. Liatis and Denis can slap peace signs over the system-specific logos in their map, take inspiration from the nomenclature of Grand Theft Auto, and rechristen their map “Tourtiere City Subway Station.”