A new video game has generated controversy in both the U.S. and Mexico, even prompting legislators in the Mexican state of Chihuahua to vote unanimously in favor of asking the Mexican Interior Department to ban the game.
“Call of Juarez: The Cartel,” produced by Ubisoft and set for release this summer, follows Billy Candle and Reverend Ray as they travel from the U.S. to Mexico in search of the killers of Candle’s parents. Along the way, they keep an eye out for lost Aztec gold in Juarez, Mexico, according to an IGN.com video game review.
Since part of the shooting-based game takes place in Juarez, which saw 6,000 deaths related to drug cartel violence in 2009 and 2010, many feel the game is far too inappropriate.
However, it’s unrealistic and unfair to expect the video game industry to ignore real-life conflicts when creating games, as other entertainment mediums have always done.
“I think this should be taken very seriously considering the large-scale demonization of Mexico and the Mexican people,” Kathleen Staudt, a political science professor and researcher on the Mexican border region at the University of Texas at El Paso, said to Fox News.
The inability of Mexican and U.S. authorities to eliminate the U.S.-Mexican drug trade or stabilize the Juarez region, in addition to cartels’ lethal tendencies, has brought the region’s violence to the forefront of international attention, much more than any game ever could.
“It is true there is a serious crime situation, which we are not trying to hide,” Ricardo Boone Salmon, a Chihuahua State congressman, said to the New York Times. “But we also should not expose children to this kind of scenario so that they are going to grow up with this kind of image and lack of values.”
Though Salmon understands that one can’t deny the region’s realities, he fails to recognize that the game is rated Mature and only consumers age 17 and older are allowed to purchase the game.
Video games are constantly offending someone, yet very few ever face any type of penalization or legal action. Therefore, “Call of Juarez: The Cartel” must follow this precedent.
For instance, there was controversy in 2009 over “Call of Duty: World at War” from animal rights activist who opposed the game’s depiction of the shooting of violent attack dogs. Last year, there was protest from Italian-Americans in New York City over the depiction of Italian mafias in “Mafia II.”
Neither of these games were ever banned or edited.
If one doesn’t like Mature-rated video games like “Mafia II,” “Call of Duty: World at War” or “Call of Juarez: The Cartel” they’re free to not purchase the adult product, as is the case with R-rated films, graphic novels or tickets to controversial plays.
Video games and other entertainment mediums aren’t at fault for these depictions. Contemporary culture and attitudes that lead consumers to gobble up these stereotypical depictions are what’s to blame, though fighting to change attitudes is a more difficult and complex task than attacking video games.