Is It Wrong to Assassinate the President in a Videogame?

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT
 

Is It Wrong to Assassinate the President in a Videogame?

image

In games like Call of Duty 4, gamers step into the shoes of U.S. soldiers slaughtering Middle Eastern militants without a second thought. But when we switch the roles around - even target the President - is it suddenly offensive?

Games - and gamers - are no stranger to controversy. We decry it when modern TV networks portray our hobby inaccurately, seeing offensive material where there is none (so we think). We wholeheartedly reject the definition of violent games as "murder simulators." But ... what happens when someone intentionally makes a game that is a murder simulator - in fact, a murder simulator where your target is the sitting President of the United States of America?

As Kate McKiernan relates in Issue 215 of The Escapist, that was the case with The Night of Bush Capturing: Virtual Jihadi, a game mod created by Iraqi-born American artist Wafaa Bilal as a way to draw attention to the plight of Iraqi citizens under the American invasion and occupation. Bilal soon found himself in the center of an argument about morality and censorship - why is it okay for one game to demonize an entire group (in this case, Arabs and Muslims) as evil, but not to do the reverse?

Virtual Jihadi is a game where it's easy to see the delineations between the medium (a first-person shooter), the content (shooting American soldiers and assassinating Bush) and the speech (racist generalizations are dangerous). The game uses the videogame medium as a chance to explore what would drive someone to become a suicide bomber (the content). By taking the player through the grief of the senseless death of a family member, Bilal asks the player to consider - not approve, but consider - where these bombers are coming from (the speech). It encourages players to consider that if The Night of Bush Capturing is a mindless recruiting tool for racist violence, Quest for Saddam may be as well.

To read the full story, check out "Cease Fire: A Look at Virtual Jihadi" in Issue 215 of The Escapist.

Permalink

What's the big deal? Everyone who's played Destroy All Humans! has already killed the President. And taken his place afterwards.

Ok, I realise that's not as topical and/or controversial as this has the potential to be, especially since DAH was meant to be a comedy game, but I still think frying the President alive with your trusty Zap-O-Matic is worse than shooting him with a sniper rifle. Besides, nobody seems to care about the games where you assassinate Middle Eastern political leaders, so why should killing the President be any different? I would have thought a lot of people would want to play a game where you get to kill Dubya, to be honest.

Maybe it's just me.

Actually, I think I'd be pretty psyched about a game that focuses on assassinations (Hitman?). I Don't see any problem with it.

well I do see the moral dilema here, and it just shows us more than ever that the saying "history is written by the winners" is ever so true. Personally, I applaud the game for trying to put things through the view of the other side. And shooting George Bush? Please, there are a million games that do that on the interweb already, why does this one suddenly make it a controversy?

whats the deal whit that guys jaw?
also i see no problem in turning around the tables, its been done tons of times before, even in situations whit a clear evil team (the blue) vs the clearly good team (the red).

also theres been plenty of games where you could play as the nazis killing of the americans, and where you could be the aliens trying to kill of the human race and so on.

I thought games were about freedom to do what you want? Oh, sure, we're allowed to kill Middle East terrorists cause they're against America, but when it's the reverse, suddenly it's unpatriotic and evil. Games are sometimes a bit too patriotic and biased. Imagine if a game company in Iraq made a modern day shooter with the same patriotism, but for Iraq.

Mornelithe:
Actually, I think I'd be pretty psyched about a game that focuses on assassinations (Hitman?). I Don't see any problem with it.

Come to think of it, Hitman has already killed the president. Fact is fact, it was a phoney one, but still.

Also, Futurama killed McNeil the president. Because he wasn't the hot bimbo single female lawyer McNeil.

Red Alert 2 had me killing the President as memory serves. Or did I just mind control him? I forget. Either way, I'm fairly certain I blew the White House up at some point in that game.

"Is it wrong to Assassinate the President in a videogame?" No more so than it's wrong to kill anyone else.

There was that JFK assassination game I remember seeing at a LAN party once where you took the role of Lee Harvey Oswald sniping the President. I thought it was a tad odd that it'd simulate an actual assassination, but it's just a game.

The longer that people patronise the populous' "inability" to separate fact from fiction, the less I'm willing to listen to them when they actually bring up relevant and interesting points.

I have to say its because of people thinking you can only kill the "bad guy" in real world relations and americans dont want americans to do this sort of thing but they can assassinate anyone from the middle east yeah this is just plain wrong and I side with Bilal

It can't be any worse than JFK reloaded.
And honestly compared to that game where you hunt down Bin Laden and fight him hand to hand combat. (I think it was top ten most wanted) It's hardly that offensive.

I think this guy is cashing in on hatred the exact same way.

You mean I get to shoot George W. Bush, the man who launched us into a useless, unnessecary, unwanted war, in the face?! Sign me up!

Just cause was fun, especially killing the president. It does not, however mean I wish to kill the real president... much.

Hmmm, if you put Obama in one of these games I'm sure you'd get someone complaining at killing the president and how it was racist. xD

And is it wrong? No...It's just fiction, if Thompson was right, then yes, but the world isn't that stupid and corruptible, is Bush dead? No, just proving it's fine to kill him as much as random US soldier #33...In a video game, of course. >.>

what?! thats really an un-racist mod that some a mother caught her son playing it and took it toooo far

*is poster #15*

*realizes that many red flags just went up in ECHELON*

Seriously, though, it's not any more harmful than a 14 year old girl writing "KILL BUSH" in her blog.

Oh wait, the Secret Service did find that harmful...

Personally i think you should be allowed to do pretty much anything in a game, after all...Its in a game.

crazyhaircut94:
I thought games were about freedom to do what you want? Oh, sure, we're allowed to kill Middle East terrorists cause they're against America, but when it's the reverse, suddenly it's unpatriotic and evil. Games are sometimes a bit too patriotic and biased. Imagine if a game company in Iraq made a modern day shooter with the same patriotism, but for Iraq.

Actually, a modern patriotic Iraqi game may very well find the player killing insurgents, depending on if it was told from the point of view of the government, or the violent minority that attacks people.

Games =/= Reality.

CantFaketheFunk:

image

To bring a completely different question into the mix: who's the cg guy in this pictures and why does he disguise his chin as testicles? o_O

Spucktier:
To bring a completely different question into the mix: who's the cg guy in this pictures and why does he disguise his chin as testicles? o_O

Sexpionage? Reconnoisex?

On topic. Killing a made up presidential figure is not that big a deal (take that Richardson.) It's when they target an actual person that it borders on offensive. I'm pretty sure it could get an American game developer deep-sixed.

I reserve the right to sneak up on anyone I want and shiv them in the bollocks (in a game)

Is It Wrong to Assassinate the President in a Video Game? My answer is no. Every human being, fictional or real, living or dead, is fair game in my eyes when it comes to gaming. As Gary Coleman once said in response to the video game Postal 2 using his likeness in their game: "Shoot me, kill me. It's only a game."

Its a game, but if it was Obama or Al Sharpton or Oprah there would be blatant racism and it would all be instigated by far right wing terrorists who only eat red meat and read bibles and watch fox news with guns.

Anyone else it would be just fine.
----------------------------------
The differences Ive noticed is that Bush would call it democracy in action. Pelosi would call them names and act like a giant whiny toddler.
----------------------------------

Finally my opinion is that it may be a game but its still not something I would play or own. If it involved killing terrorists I'm OK with that because they make it their goal in life to try and kill me.

Mornelithe:
Actually, I think I'd be pretty psyched about a game that focuses on assassinations (Hitman?). I Don't see any problem with it.

Same, they need more hitman games, but I would like to be more acrobatic in my assassinations...

When did it become wrong to assassinate the president in real life? I'm pretty sure the constitution gives us the right to grab a rifle and tear out the entire presidency, cabinet, and congress when we feel they're no longer listening to us. We're not too far from that happening again either.

And before you flame me, just don't. I know there's a passage in the constitution that supports this, I just don't want to find it. I think it was Jefferson.

This is just stupid. Killing Americans is no different than killing anyone lse. And the same goes for the president. And it's jsut a game, for fuck's sake. People take offense at anything now.

Dude it's not wrong to do ANYTHING in a video game, it's why people play them.

Wait.

There's a game where you can assassinate Bush?
Holy shit I'm going to kiss this dude.

On a slightly less serious note, I don't see a problem with it.

You wanna slaughter starving orphans?
Go for it.
You wanna kill the President?
Do it.

It's a fucking game, nobody's actually getting cut into little bits and raised as a cruel mockery of a flag.
Yet.

I don't see what's so wrong with it.

I'd love to have had a crack at Bush... Hmm, he's still alive isn't he?

No, it's a game, which qualifies as art, freedom of expression allows for this sort of thing. If you live in a free country then it should be allowed.

As a game setting putting the player into the role of the freshly recruited insurgents and fighting against the US Army would at least create a plausible challenge and all that. The US is simply stronger than anyone else and making a game where the player is a high-tech US soldier fighting against kids who just picked up a rifle isn't exactly going to create a sense of danger. Generally plots tend to get more and more outrageous when trying to justify how your character can be hated by everyone and still be the good guy.

Of course a publisher wouldn't let you make anything that features unpopular groups as its hero, there was a game (Freedom Fighter?) that was originally intended as taking place in a smaller eastern European country that's being invaded by the Soviets and the player fighting against the invaders, the publisher wanted to make it more palatable to the US audiences so the whole thing got revamped and instead the story had the USA captured by the Soviets...

ShadowKatt:
When did it become wrong to assassinate the president in real life? I'm pretty sure the constitution gives us the right to grab a rifle and tear out the entire presidency, cabinet, and congress when we feel they're no longer listening to us. We're not too far from that happening again either.

And before you flame me, just don't. I know there's a passage in the constitution that supports this, I just don't want to find it. I think it was Jefferson.

I don't think it actually gives you that right or the government would not be allowed to arrest you for it. You are allowed to carry a gun but if you want to overthrow the government you'll obviously have to fight against its forces and will only get to walk away if you win.

Interesting... Not sure how I feel about it, but I see no reason why it should be blocked in any way, shape, or form.

I think it is ok to depict the assassination a president as part of a plot, but encourage a player to do so is bad taste at best and treason at worst. I read the article and sympathies with the guy getting censored, but we have rules that make advocating the death of a sitting president for a reason. To openly flaunt those rules to gain attention does not make this guy a martyr of the 1st amendment. He could have made his game more tasteful by using a generic president like so many movies and TV series do.

I'm finding fewer and fewer reasons as to why he shouldn't be in real life.

Honestly, do you guy gravitate towards the stupid ones, or is this a generation thing?

Nothing wrong with it. Change in perspective is a vital tool to cultural understanding and progress in art forms.

Adovcating killing a particular person though is where it steps into the realms where the law will get involved - you could easily be a party to a crime if some nutter kid goes out and attempts to kill Bush for real.
The point could be made far more simply by using a generic president, as hamster mk 4 said

 Pages 1 2 3 NEXT

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here