Kirby: Murder and mayhem from my armchair

Published September 24, 2005 12:01 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2005, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In the early morning hours, my highly trained assault team crept into the fortified hacienda of a Latin American drug lord.

Our mission was simple. Using stealth and advanced communications, we were to arrest and extradite the drug lord to the United States for judgment. If he or any of his henchmen resisted, well, we couldn't be held responsible for what happened.

Fortunately, something alerted the guards. I say fortunately because the judicial process is boring. We shot every living thing in the place including the pets and the houseplants.

"Rainbow Six 3" is one of my favorite "shoot 'em up" video games in which serious problems are solved with a lot of violence. Drug lords, communists, terrorists, rogue agents - I've killed them in droves from an armchair.

As bad as it sounds, I like to tell myself this behavior is a force for good in the imaginary world. Even if it's only pretend, I'm pretending on the right side of the line between good vs. evil.

Not all video games make such a distinction. On Monday, a group of citizens plan to protest the October release of "25 to Life," a video game that features the murder of police officers in order to get away with crime.

Among those protesting the game will be Shalon Gurr Hansen, whose father, Roosevelt Police Chief Cecil Gurr, was shot to death in 2001 by some drug-addled creep with an assault weapon.

Hansen doesn't like the idea of a video game glorifying the murder of police officers. This makes perfect sense to an ex-cop and someone who, I'm proud to say, took out 5,000 electronic terrorists last week.

"25 to Life" isn't the first video game to involve shooting police officers. The enormously popular "Grand Theft Auto" not only rewards players for killing cops, but also for murdering prostitutes. Ah, anarchy with a chaser of misogyny.

Sort of makes you wonder just how far the video game industry is willing to go to fill its pockets while pandering to our baser instincts.

A less mainstream video game titled "Custer's Revenge" featured the raping of American Indian women. Another is "Camp Commandant," a nasty bit of "entertainment" that reportedly allows a player to liquidate a concentration camp filled with Jews.

These two games are admittedly on the low end of the business. What makes "GTA" and "25 to Life" so dangerous is their apparent popularity, and that they are readily available to children.

If the video game industry can justify the murder of women and police officers as entertainment, what's to keep them from crossing the line in other areas? So far, it isn't a conscience.

It's probably going to be us. Would you tolerate a release of "Klan Rider," the video game that lets you lynch African Americans in order to keep them from voting?

What about "Baby Boomer," a game that rewards players for blowing away nurses and receptionists in abortion clinics?

If you wouldn't sit still for these, you shouldn't sit still for "25 to Life" or "Grand Theft Auto." It ought to at the very least make you worry about how your kids are playing cops and robbers these days.


Tribune columnist Robert Kirby welcomes mail at 90 S. 400 West, Suite 700, Salt Lake City, UT 84101, or e-mail rkirby@sltrib.com.

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