In a few months, the video game company Ubisoft will release "Call of Juarez: The Cartel," the latest installment in a series. The company’s website describes the video game:
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.
While details of the game are sketchy, a picture on the company's Facebook page shows characters toting big guns walking down a street in a bleak urban setting, i.e. Ciudad Juarez, Mexico’s most violent city, which tallied 3,100 plus murders last year.
Not surprisingly, Texas police chiefs are not happy with the video game. The following is from a story in the Brownsville Herald:
“Unfortunately there are companies that are looking to capitalize on the violent situation in Mexico which has had a very negative impact on the country,” said Brownsville Police Chief Carlos Garcia. “There have been spillover cases in certain areas of our country with cases of kidnappings and murders. This is a serious topic and this is just another violent video game.”
While the game is supposed to be set in Ciudad Juarez, Garcia said that any game dealing with organized crime sets a bad example for teenagers.
“It doesn’t matter if it deals with the cartel in Juarez, the Gulf Cartel or the Sinaloa Cartel. It is simply not something that is appropriate for our youth,” the chief said. “This leaves lasting images and ideas in teenagers who get caught up in the game and may try to make it a reality and live the violent lifestyle they see in these games.”
The TPMMuckraker website got this comment from Ubisoft:
Call of Juarez: the Cartel is purely fictional and developed by the team at Techland for entertainment purposes only. While Call of Juarez the Cartel touches on subjects relevant to current events in Juarez, it does so in a fictional manner that makes the gaming experience feel more like being immersed in an action-movie than in a real-life situation. Ubisoft is an entertainment company and our intention is to create a unique experience for video game fans.
Reuters did a story on the game’s imminent release which included the following paragraphs:
Community leaders in the troubled Mexican manufacturing city of Ciudad Juarez, which averaged eight murders a day last year including shootings, beheadings and torture killings, said the game glorifies and trivializes the violence for youngsters already drawn to crime.
“Lots of kids say they want to be a hitman, because they are the ones that get away with everything,” said youth worker Laurencio Barraza.
His Independent Popular Organization works with youngsters in the city's dirt-poor tin and plastic-roofed shanties that serve as both a recruiting ground and killing field for the cartels.
“This glorifies violence, as if victims were just another number or another bonus,” he added.