Another Video Game Makes Sport of Problems Along the Border

As we reported last week, a new iPhone app called Smuggle Truck purports to satirize our broken immigration system, even while exploiting it for profit, with the object of the game to keep as many illegal immigrants as possible in the bed of a truck that’s speeding through the desert. (See MurthyBlog, Anti-immigrant Rhetoric Needs To Cool Down, 18.Feb.2011.) Now the Washington Post reports that legislators in the Mexican state of Chihuahua are seeking to ban yet another tasteless video game – Call of Juarez: The Cartel – that makes sport of the misery along the border. (See Mexico State Congress Asks Ban of Video Game, Washington Post, 20.Feb.2011.)

Two offensive video games do not necessarily make a trend, but one can’t help wondering what makes game developers imagine that other peoples’ misery is compelling fodder for trivial entertainment, especially when, as the Washington Post points out, “about 6,000 people died in drug-related violence in Ciudad Juarez in 2009 and 2010, making the city, located across from El Paso, Texas, one of the deadliest in the world.”  According to the Post, the game’s developers – Ubisoft Entertainment SA – is promoting the title as a chance to “take justice into your own hands and experience the lawlessness of the modern Wild West.” Although the Post was not able to speak with a company representative at Ubisoft’s San Francisco office, one wonders how long it would have taken their P.R. staff to fall back on the last-ditch argument, “It’s only a game – lighten up!” Perhaps the game’s developers would consider a field trip to Ciudad Juarez to see whether things look quite so entertaining there, in real life.

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