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Mexico: Video Game “Call of Juarez: The Cartel” Draws Mixed Reactions

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

Update (25 July, 2011):

The game's Wikipedia entry explains that the game “released on July 19, 2011 for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, and it will be released on September 13, 2011 on PC.”

The video game “Call of Juarez: The Cartel” by game developer Ubisoft has drawn criticism from Mexican and US officials; but netizens are at odds about the game and the local politician's efforts to ban it.

According to the game's official website, “You'll embark on a bloody road trip from Los Angeles to Juarez, Mexico immersing yourself in a gritty plot with interesting characters and a wide variety of game play options. Take justice into your own hands in this modern Western shooter.”

Authorities on both sides of the border are concerned that the game will send the wrong message to young players, as The Latinamericanist reports:

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.”

Ismael Flores in Vivir México [es] explains that legislators in the state of Chihuahua –where Ciudad Juárez is located– have called on the Secretariat of Governance and the Secretariat of Economy to prohibit the sale of the video game in Mexico. Ismael wonders:

Si Call of Juarez: The Cartel en vez de ser un videojuego fuera una novela ¿Causaría tanta molestia? ¿También se pediría censurarla impidiendo su venta? Yo me sumo a la opinión de que esta clase de contenidos, como muchos otros, deben ser puestos al análisis individual y, en el caso de estar expuestos a niños, sometidos a discusión con ellos. Creo que puede ser más traumático para un infante sentarlo a ver las noticias que jugar un videojuego. Pero ese soy yo… ¿Ustedes qué dicen?

If Call of Juarez: The Cartel were a novel instead of a video game, would it bother people so much? Would they also ask to censor it and prevent its sale? I join the opinion that this kind of content, like a lot of other content, should be analyzed on an individual basis and, in the case that children are exposed to it, discuss it with them. I think it could be more traumatizing for a child to watch the news than to play a video game. But that's just me…What you think?

Pepe Flores in Alt1040 [es] agrees with Ismael’s argument and adds:

Coincido: no es que se trate de hacer una apología del crimen organizado, pero considero que existe una satanización sólo por tratarse, precisamente, de un videojuego. ¿Por qué tanta mala fama? Nunca me lo explicaré, pero tantos estudios cuestionables que pululan y hacer correlaciones forzadas han generado mucha intolerancia hacia los juegos de vídeo.

Vería muy mal que el gobierno federal hiciera caso de esta petición del Congreso de Chihuahua, pues sólo demostraría que están más atentos a la imagen que al fondo. El videojuego, como otras expresiones culturales, refleja y reinterpreta la realidad — por más triste y dolorosa que sea. En lugar de preocuparse por sacar a Call of Juarez: The Cartel de las tiendas, mejor que se enfoquen en lo que en realidad importa: disminuir el clima de inseguridad en la ciudad.

I agree: it is not about making an apology of organized crime, but I think people are making it sound satanic [es] just because it is, precisely, a video game. Why give video games such a bad name? I will never understand, but many questionable studies that make forced correlations [es] have generated much intolerance towards video games.

It would be very bad if the federal government obeyed this request from the Congress of Chihuahua, because it would only show that they are paying more attention to the image than to the content. The video game, like other cultural expressions, reflects and reinterprets reality — however sad and painful it is. Instead of worrying about taking Call of Juarez: The Cartel out of the stores, they should focus on what really matters: reducing the climate of insecurity in the city.

Tim Johnson from Mexico Unmasked gathers several articles and reactions in his post “You, too, can kill like a cartel hit man.” The post begins with the line,

Chalk it up to bad taste, and a strong profit motive.

On Twitter, @PouKii says he wants to play the game, and Drago (@The_Drago) writes:

Yo si jugare Call of Juarez: The Cartel, soy de la frontera con usa y me vale

I will play Call of Juarez: The Cartel, I’m from the border with the USA and I don’t care

José Escalante (@canek34) reacts to the attempts to ban the game in Mexico:

@AnaPOrdorica De que sirve que censuren el videojuego de CALL OF JUAREZ si luego lo van a poder descargar de internet.

@AnaPOrdorica What is the point of censuring the video game CALL OF JUAREZ if they will be able to download it on the internet.

Ian Nájar (@Mr_LinDowsMac) says:

Usualmente estoy en contra de la censura de los videojuegos, pero Ubisoft es inoportuno y políticamente incorrecto lanzar Call of Juarez

Usually I’m against the censorship of video games, but Ubisoft is being untimely and politically incorrect by realeasing Call of Juarez.

Jose Enrique Lixa (@NY_blackdiamond) tweets:

Ke tristeza k a mi pais le dediquen un juego, “Call of Juarez. The Cartel”… Se que es sarcastico, humor negro, pero #not

It’s sad that my country has a game dedicated to it, “Call of Juarez. The Cartel”… I know it’s sarcastic, dark humor, but #not

The game will be released in 2011 during the the Northern Hemisphere's Summer. You can see images of the game and read more reactions on the “Call of Juarez” Facebook Page.

This post is part of our special coverage Mexico's Drug War.

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