Iconic internet monster SCP-173 loses its appearance

One of the internet’s most popular monsters, a grotesque concrete figure named SCP-173, is losing face. SCP-173 is part of the SCP Foundation, a collaborative online horror writing project that most inspired Remedy’s Control, and has also appeared in several SCP fan games. But as SCP administrators grapple with copyright and morality issues, they prepare to remove this iconic image, which is actually a photo of a sculpture by a Japanese artist.

The SCP Foundation appears to be the private records of a vast secret organization dedicated to the discovery, study, and containment of supernatural threats. The wiki is a catalog of reports documenting oddities, describing their characters and efforts to contain them: a cave leading to an alternate reality where all life ended in 2016, a coffee machine capable of dispensing any liquid , a bustling pool of unblood, a bloodthirsty book rewriting the world as it rewrites the story of a lost civilization, a deadly farce, and hundreds more. Remedy borrowed this idea from Control, down to the ████████████ black bars over ██████ words, the █████ █████.

One of them is SCP-173, a strange concrete humanoid that cannot move if watched but will kill at high speed if not watched. It’s Doctor Who’s Weeping Angels, basically, but enhanced by the feature including a photo of a strange and terrible creature (“devil” our Katharine said when seeing it for the first time today). This version of 173 has starred in fan games including single-player horror game SCP: Secret Laboratory and multiplayer game SCP: Containment Breach. Unfortunately, this creature is a problem.

Like many community web projects, copyright wasn’t much of an issue when SCP started. The authors found scary images online, either to trigger a creation or to illustrate one. In the case of 173, it was a photograph of a sculpture by a Japanese artist, originally used without permission from either the artist or the photographer. SCP admins tell this with a photo that makes it look very different outside of the context of an SCP report.

The administrators explain in an announcement that they knew they would have to change it eventually, between Kato’s displeasure and the wrongs of using it commercially against his will. “Although this process has been significantly delayed, the longer we wait, the more Izumi Kato’s creative vision is damaged and the risk of legal issues increases,” they state. He didn’t insist that they remove it, but they add a tweet that they believe “it is necessary in the spirit of Creative Commons, open collaboration, and artistic integrity to remove the image”.

Thus, SCP-173 will soon no longer look like Untitled 2004. The author of the report requested that it look like nothing at all. Rather than replacing the photo with a new, legitimate photo (as they did when SCP-682, the “hard-to-destroy lizard”, was changed from a photo of a decomposing cetacean retrieved from the internet to a Creative Commons of a beached humpback whale), his report will have no image. With no definitive official look for the monster, newcomers will have to imagine it for themselves. Goodbye, terrible beast.

The SCP Community Team plans to see it with a community art showcase of different interpretations.

If you’ve never encountered SCP before, take the opportunity to waste an afternoon browsing through random reports. I tend to prefer short reports of strange objects and inexplicable places to sprawling reports of murderous monsters and the mythos of Kewl, although people have written longer, neat stories in the world of SCP. I liked the There Is No Antimemetics Division tales of “qntm”, who also wrote crossover SCP/Control fanfics. And I only just realized that qntm is also behind Absurdle, a Wordle variant that changes the answer as you play. Eh!

I realize this isn’t directly a PC game, but 173 was in several PC games, and the whole SCP project feels very PC to me? The ephemeral quality of PC gaming? So. Yeah. Go read some entries, I’ll talk to you later, bye.

About Dawn Valle

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