Friday, February 18, 2011

Mexico, U.S. border officials rail against video game

Every once in a while the subject of violent video games becomes a hot topic not only in industrialized countries but also in developing nations of Latin America. In 2009 a Brazilian Senator proposed barring "offensive" video games that "affect the customs, traditions of the people”. Last year the Cuban government was angry over a mission in “Call of Duty: Black Ops” where users try to kill Fidel Castro. The latest controversy has arisen over a particular game’s depiction of a Mexican city.

The third installment of the hit “Call of Juarez” video game series is in the works and it’s expected to go on sale around the middle of this year. Entitled “Call of Juarez: The Cartel”, the game from Ubisoft will be set in the present day rather than the Old West setting of the previous two chapters. Players will "take the law into (their) own hands" on a "bloody road trip from Los Angeles to Juarez," according to Ubisoft’s website.

Community leaders and law enforcement officials on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border are unhappy with the upcoming release of “The Cartel”. "Lots of kids say they want to be a hitman, because they are the ones that get away with everything," said Ciudad Juarez youth worker Laurencio Barraza to Reuters. Though Ubisoft insists that the game is for “entertainment purposes only” the police chief of Brownsville, Texas accused the firm of trying to “capitalize on the violent situation in Mexico.” Another Texan border police official compared the video game to Mexican “narco-corrido” music:
"In games you get hurt, you die and you get another life. In real life, you only die once," said El Paso County Sheriff's Office Commander Gomecindo Lopez. The Sheriff's Office lost a jailer to a shooting in Ciudad Juarez last March that also took the life of his wife and their unborn child. "This goes along the lines of narco-songs that portray cartel leaders as heroes, but both are a gross misrepresentation of who they are. They are criminals."
The dispute over “Call of Juarez: The Cartel” comes as a pair of U.S. federal agents was shot in an ambush in northern Mexico this week. One of the agents was killed in an attack that may be linked to Mexico’s Zetas drug gang.

Image- France24 (“A woman participates in a protest against violence and organized crime in Mexico City, on February 13. Gunmen burst into a home in the border city of Ciudad Juarez and killed a woman and her two teenage daughters, state officials said Tuesday.”)
Online Sources- The Latin Americanist, The Guardian, BBC Mundo, Reuters, Houston Press, The Escapist, NPR,

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