Mexico Congress May Ban Videogame

Sam Claver

A new video game set in the city of Ciudad Juarez has angered local officials due to the suggestion of excessive violence and gunfights involving drug cartels. As a result, they want the Mexican Congress to ban the videogame from the shelves. While videogames are praised as a form of virtual art, is a game that’s based on real events going too far?

The game, Call of Juarez: The Cartel, is a third person shooter game which occurs in modern day Mexico. The game is developed by Ubisoft and is planned for release in the summer of 2011. The concept of the game is based on the drug cartels in Mexico and the excessive violence that surrounds it. The idea of the game is to take the law into your own hands. Screenshots of the game have been released which show guns being used in the open streets of Juarez.

Without being asked for permission, city officials are deeply offended due the realistic nature of the game. Ricardo Boone Salmon, one of the congressmen for Chihuahua State, claims that legislature has unanimously approved a request to ask the federal Interior Department to ban the game from the shelves.

“It is true there is a serious crime situation, which we are not trying to hide,” Boone Salmon said. “But we also should not expose children to this kind of scenarios so that they are going to grow up with this kind of image and lack of values.”

The game is still scheduled for release everywhere else, but it’s uncertain if Mexican Congress will ban the game or not. Regardless, the request for the ban has created quite a stir at an international level.

There hasn’t been much videogame controversy since the “Hot Coffee” incident with Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. “Hot Coffee” was a hidden mission that could be unlocked with cheats. The mission required you to sleep with someone and provide thrusting motions using the joystick. The end result was that the game rating was changed from M (mature 17+), to AO (adults only 18+). There were also quite a few lawsuits blaming the game for their child’s violence. Since then, the sale of violent videogames to minors has become a lot stricter due to the lawsuits surrounding the liability.

It’s important to note that this isn’t the first violent videogame that happens to be based on real events. Tons of war games have been created which attempt to recreate the epic battles fought by soldiers on either side of the war. Actual names have been used too in order to provide the games with a much more realistic vibe, along with using the actual names of real battles. The Grand Theft Auto IV is an excessively violent videogame based on the city New York. Games will attempt to create an environment that’s believable to the player. If the environment is unrealistic or poorly done, it could be difficult to draw gamers into the storyline. That being said, is this really a big deal? If you don’t like the game, don’t buy it. The game doesn’t appear to be offensive to anybody else other than city officials.

However, the city officials of Ciudad Juarez are angry for different reasons. The subject appears to be a very sensitive one for the community. After all, the city of Juarez is one of the most violent places in the world with over 6,000 deaths from 2009-2010. The drug cartel violence has escalated significantly in the twenty-first century and has become more real than ever for the community.

“Duck and Cover” is what the children are taught to do if there’s ever a firefight nearby. A videogame such as this will simply lead to delusion and disrupt a child’s perception of their city. If they perceive the violence as real as the videogame suggests, it could severely damage their growth and motivation.

Ubisoft has a few options regarding how they can handle this. Their public relations department has probably covered many options, but a game talked about being banned is great press. The game itself is getting more attention as being controversial than whether or not it’s even a good game.

A very recent event similar to this occurred with Danger Close’s Medal of Honor released in 2010. The game at first used the name Taliban to label their enemies. Therefore, players on the Taliban could kill American soldiers. Tons of controversy erupted because of this, and the game was banned from being sold on all American Military bases. In an attempt to appease the public and particularly the military, the developers changed the name from Taliban to Opposing Force.

Could Ubisoft do something similar? Maybe they should just simply change the name of the city to something else. If that’s the case, it’s possible that the local officials may not be as offended. However, it’s not the name which has created quite a controversy: it’s the violence involving the drug cartels. Local officials are probably not going to be satisfied unless this game is removed completely.

Nobody is completely sure as to whether the game will be banned or not. But regardless, the game is still scheduled for its summer release. It’s unlikely that Ubisoft will ban the game simply because of all the money and production gone into it. When a game is only a few months away from being released, there have been years of development involved.

The game is scheduled for its release in the summer of 2011, meaning it’s only a few months away from release. With such a short amount of time left, changes to the game’s violence are feasible, but unlikely. Regardless of all the hype, Ubisoft will most likely sell hundreds of thousands of copies of the game in America with little talk of it being banned.