298: Ghosts of Juarez

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Ghosts of Juarez

First person shooter games like Ghost Recon and the upcoming Call of Juarez: The Cartel are becoming uncomfortably indistinguishable from real life events. Or vice versa.

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Chihuahua's Interior Department? Um, why do they have a department for small dog organs? I liked the article, but I can't get over that.

My thoughts on the subject are complicated. To be honest I'm a big believer in free speech, and have defended things like sex and violence to an extreme degree. Albiet in most cases I am defending it in the context of pure fantasy, like the horror genere.

Recent political trends, and a desire to deal with real world incidents happening right now, have however caused me to reconsider this stance to an extent. Kudos to the game industry, it has managed to get one of the staunched defenders of free speech to reconsider his position, and not because they pushed the envelope in the direction they should have been.

To be entirely honest I don't think video games should be dealing with real world conflicts that are currently going on, at least not to the point that allows one to play the "bad guys" as defined by the US (more on this dual standard in a second). Playing as terrorists and anti-US insurgents, even labeled "Opposing Force", or using a game to do what amounts to pass gang propaganda is a problem. Things like "Grand Theft Auto" and "Saint's Row" haven't been a problem because everything is not only exagerrated beyond belief, but it's pure fiction, none of these cities, gangs, or incidents actually exist in the real world. On the other hand the drug wars in Juarez is real, and a game like this is tantamount to how gangs distribute propaganda in real life, they are more advanced than a lot of people think. Gangs like The Latin Kings and The Aryan Brotherhood very much do distribute propaganda.

Now as an important point, I think historical incidents are something else entirely. Decades after the smoke has cleared, I think real life becomes fair fodder for video games. The Cold War, World War II, Vietnam, they are all a relatively distant memory, while things like "The War On Terror" and the cartel wars in Mexico are still ongoing.

The reason why the US is an exception is because I think we're in a league of our own as a nation to be honest. As arrogant as it sounds, it's important to note that the US is it's own worst critic, and the US goverment is pretty much a stock villain in American fiction to begin with... to the point of being an almost painful stereotype (oh noes, it was the goverment conspiricy!). When dealing with other nations nowadays, I think the problem is largely one of context. Like it or not, Mexico isn't in great shape as a country for example, while the US has a lot of problems, the military publically turning against the goverment isn't one of them, and hasn't been for a long time (and The American Civil war is fair game for video games anyway). With all the problems Mexico has keeping it's own people on it's own side of the border and everything else, not to mention how that violence spills over into US cities like El Paso, I think it's not entirely unfair to portray rogue Mexican military units as bad guys, assuming you do it totally in the context of fantasy.

See, the differance is that in general when people want to make games where they shoot at US troops and such, it's typically active duty military and such operating for the goverment, because your looking at a situation where they want to make an Anti-US statement, and there are usually some pretty borked politics involved. On the other hand when your dealing with rogue elements of the US goverment, that's typically fair game. Look at say "Metal Gear" for example, it was made in Japan, it's pure fantasy, and it generally comes down to the US military against the US military. It was done in such a way that unlike "playable Taliban" or a hypothetical game where you say played Mexicans invading the US or whatever, it didn't offend many people, and actually became a big success.

The dual standard ironically being a matter of maturity, that only a very nations, games and game companies/developers seem to be capable of.

Thanks for making this article.
I'm from Chihuahua, the same state of Ciudad Juárez, and I'm leaving the country the 8th of April because of the constant fear of being hurt. Things are not going to get better in Mexico.

Everyday I see at least 12 different trucks full of federales and the army...

Very good article, and not the least because now that I have read it I have no idea where you stand in the debate (ok I have an incling but no more).

Now for my views:

We can't hide and flee from controversy. Honor the troops, respect the families, patriotism and more I am sure. These are reasons we give when we say "don't tell us what is going on." We apparently don't want to know and the people who are suppose to tell does not want to. Journalists do not inform of the horrors of war so war becomes something where soldiers go to get glory.

I am gonna go out on a tangent here but this is the reason wikileaks is out there. Wikileaks is doing what repporters were suppose to do. Investigate if something fishy is going on and if something is report it. So instead we have wikileaks. Now don't get me wrong I support wikileaks and their ambitions but there are somethings that are the business of the public and there are some things that are not. What one ambassador really thinks of another is not something we need to know. An american helicopter opening fire on civilians, killing among others 2 journalists and wounding 2 children? That is very much our business. We need to know because we bear some of the blame for that.

Now back on topic. we can not just sit back and ignore what is happening. We need to know what we are supporting when we snort a line of coke. We need to see the cost of our actions or else we just won't care. We may not care anyway but we MUST know. Getting this information out is hard enough as it is. Controversy helps. Hopefully a game about the horrors will help to. Hopefullywe will see and feel the horrific events. Hopefully it will make us understand. Hopefully it will make us care.

I'm not gonna chime in with a response to events here; I am not American, and as such do not have sufficient knowledge about the situation in Mexico.
I would just like to say what a really well written and researched article that was. I enjoyed reading it.

I don't watch a lot of news. I never knew how much trouble there is in Mexico. I liked the article and it was very well balanced discussion about the situation there and the way the games portray it. I think that it is a bit insensitive to make a game about current affairs but at the same time am all for free speech.

What I don't like about the idea about making games is that games are meant to be fun. Games are meant as a form of entertainment. If you fire into Mexican soldiers in the game, it represents firing at a real person somewhere that I don't know. This is easy to deal with in pure fictional games or games about established enemies of the state (i.e. Taliban) but in a situation that is so complicated as it is in Mexico, I don't know if I would be ok with shooting these targets. Damnit, shooting games are getting too complicated to think about. lol... now I see why Halo is so popular. No thinking, just kill the alien scum!

When I play games, it's usually to escape some of the harsh realities of our world. I've never been a fan of FPS games based in modern day; in fact, when I play an FPS, it's usually a historical theme (BF1942, CoD) or sci-fi (Resistance, Bulletstorm).

Although I believe ardently in the 1st Amendment, there is a modicum of not doing something taboo. I'm not sure if the events in Juarez blatantly cross that line, but they certainly smudge it a bit, IMPO. The thinsg happening just on the other side of the US border is a human tragedy, and it's bad enough today without making fictional depictions of those events.

It's like the old adage: "... Too soon?" In this case, in my opinion, yes, definitely too soon.

Wow. I was not aware that things were that bad. 15,273?!?!? I checked that statistic a couple times because I could not believe it. I hope the Mex. gov't can get a handle on things soon. My heart goes out to my Mexican brothers and sisters.

I watched a movie called "Traffic," recently. It's about the drug flow from Mexico to the U.S. and to some extent, the drug wars. It's a great movie, and portrayed the war and drug problems realistically, with no clear cut good guys or bad guys, in the traditional sense. It won Oscars, including Best Director.

Why the fuck do you guys, forum posters above me, think a game shouldn't be allowed to do this? Portray it realistically and intelligently. They might fail, but they have to try first, and you don't even want them to try. Fuck that and fuck your delicate little sensibilities. Maybe these games can bring people to the light about the drug wars. Traffic did for me.

Psychotic-ishSOB:
I watched a movie called "Traffic," recently. It's about the drug flow from Mexico to the U.S. and to some extent, the drug wars. It's a great movie, and portrayed the war and drug problems realistically, with no clear cut good guys or bad guys, in the traditional sense. It won Oscars, including Best Director.

Why the fuck do you guys, forum posters above me, think a game shouldn't be allowed to do this? Portray it realistically and intelligently. They might fail, but they have to try first, and you don't even want them to try. Fuck that and fuck your delicate little sensibilities. Maybe these games can bring people to the light about the drug wars. Traffic did for me.

The simple reason is that a film is passive, you just sit there and watch it. The script, actors and director already have made the choices as to the outcome of the picture and it never changes. A game is active, you press the fire button and kill the cop or execute the hostage. Try explaining to this woman http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/mexico/8077251/Mexican-student-takes-over-police-in-drug-war-town.html why a large American corporation should make an entertainment out of her attempt to bring basic law and order to where she lives. Lets face it, the game is going to sell to 15 year old middle class white boys who like fantasise about being drug barons. In the real world they wouldn't last 5 seconds in the environment the game purports to show. All the victims of cartels are just going to look and see some making money out of their misery.

albino boo:

Psychotic-ishSOB:
I watched a movie called "Traffic," recently. It's about the drug flow from Mexico to the U.S. and to some extent, the drug wars. It's a great movie, and portrayed the war and drug problems realistically, with no clear cut good guys or bad guys, in the traditional sense. It won Oscars, including Best Director.

Why the fuck do you guys, forum posters above me, think a game shouldn't be allowed to do this? Portray it realistically and intelligently. They might fail, but they have to try first, and you don't even want them to try. Fuck that and fuck your delicate little sensibilities. Maybe these games can bring people to the light about the drug wars. Traffic did for me.

The simple reason is that a film is passive, you just sit there and watch it. The script, actors and director already have made the choices as to the outcome of the picture and it never changes. A game is active, you press the fire button and kill the cop or execute the hostage. Try explaining to this woman http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/mexico/8077251/Mexican-student-takes-over-police-in-drug-war-town.html why a large American corporation should make an entertainment out of her attempt to bring basic law and order to where she lives. Lets face it, the game is going to sell to 15 year old middle class white boys who like fantasise about being drug barons. In the real world they wouldn't last 5 seconds in the environment the game purports to show. All the victims of cartels are just going to look and see some making money out of their misery.

And how does the movie not also appeal to their sick ass tastes? Those people exist not because of games, but because of shitty parents. They're not gonna grow up to be assholes becuase of games, but because of shitty ass parents. The mature people will be able to tell if its legitimate art, or exploitative crap, same with movies, but the only people who have problems with that are Fox News and CNN, and apparently you, who think games are held back from being a legitimate art form because they're interactive, whereas I think they can strike nerves stimulate thought better because of that.

I never heard about middle class white boys fantasizing about being drug barons; they just like drugs. Or maybe, like I was, they hate them, and would sympathize with this woman. I read that article before. I also know she ran away because the threat of violence became too much for her to handle. She shouldn't have had to handle it, but she tried, and that makes her a better person than either of us.

You also ignored my desire for the conflict to be portrayed well. If done well, it could be fun, in a cathartic kind of way, like Traffic was entertaining because it was partly a thriller. But the game could transcend simple fun; Traffic was so good because it built up characters that the audience could connect with and feel for. the game should at least try.

I just can't fathom taking the Call of Juarez franchise out of the setting that gave it its identity. What a strange move to take a game series out of a sparsely populated area, westerns (Red Dead, Gun and Call of Juarez are the only IPs I can think of), and move it into the overcrowded modern shooter market. Typical Ubisoft thinking, take a game franchise with a sense of individual identity, (Splinter Cell, Rainbow Six, Ghost Recon) and turn it into a samey shooter.

I understand the Mexican stance, and would expect the game to be banned.

The freakiest thing of all was the timing of the Russian incursion into Georgia over a Georgian break with South Ossetia in 2008 exactly as predicted by Ghost Recon in 2001.

Psychotic-ishSOB:

albino boo:

Psychotic-ishSOB:
I watched a movie called "Traffic," recently. It's about the drug flow from Mexico to the U.S. and to some extent, the drug wars. It's a great movie, and portrayed the war and drug problems realistically, with no clear cut good guys or bad guys, in the traditional sense. It won Oscars, including Best Director.

Why the fuck do you guys, forum posters above me, think a game shouldn't be allowed to do this? Portray it realistically and intelligently. They might fail, but they have to try first, and you don't even want them to try. Fuck that and fuck your delicate little sensibilities. Maybe these games can bring people to the light about the drug wars. Traffic did for me.

The simple reason is that a film is passive, you just sit there and watch it. The script, actors and director already have made the choices as to the outcome of the picture and it never changes. A game is active, you press the fire button and kill the cop or execute the hostage. Try explaining to this woman http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/mexico/8077251/Mexican-student-takes-over-police-in-drug-war-town.html why a large American corporation should make an entertainment out of her attempt to bring basic law and order to where she lives. Lets face it, the game is going to sell to 15 year old middle class white boys who like fantasise about being drug barons. In the real world they wouldn't last 5 seconds in the environment the game purports to show. All the victims of cartels are just going to look and see some making money out of their misery.

And how does the movie not also appeal to their sick ass tastes? Those people exist not because of games, but because of shitty parents. They're not gonna grow up to be assholes becuase of games, but because of shitty ass parents. The mature people will be able to tell if its legitimate art, or exploitative crap, same with movies, but the only people who have problems with that are Fox News and CNN, and apparently you, who think games are held back from being a legitimate art form because they're interactive, whereas I think they can strike nerves stimulate thought better because of that.

I never heard about middle class white boys fantasizing about being drug barons; they just like drugs. Or maybe, like I was, they hate them, and would sympathize with this woman. I read that article before. I also know she ran away because the threat of violence became too much for her to handle. She shouldn't have had to handle it, but she tried, and that makes her a better person than either of us.

You also ignored my desire for the conflict to be portrayed well. If done well, it could be fun, in a cathartic kind of way, like Traffic was entertaining because it was partly a thriller. But the game could transcend simple fun; Traffic was so good because it built up characters that the audience could connect with and feel for. the game should at least try.

Don't be naive, they are going after the same market as GTA or Saints Row but set in Mexico. Do you think those games are sensitive treatments or just adolescent wish fulfilment? You are talking about an industry that uses sex to sell a game about tennis for god sake.Do you think that Dante's inferno was aimed at the over 18s or the 15 year year kid? Have you seen the your mom wouldn't like it campaign for dead space 2. The companies know precisely who they are marketing the game at and I can tell you for free they are not going after the art house cinema market.

The story in the game has yet to be told for this game. It could be that the game is told from the perspective of the residents of the city, trying to fight off the cartel, or something else noble, but this is unlikely, because this kind of stuff doesn't sell in video games. Instead, it will likely be in the perspective of a cartel agent, trying to his increase his influence in the cartel, and the cartel influence in the country. This appeals to the larger audience, and contrary to what most people think, some white boys from the states actually do manage to do exactly this.

http://www.tampabay.com/incoming/reputed-mexican-drug-lord-was-once-a-texan/1118865

The fact is that Americans have a huge role in the turmoil going on in the Mexico, from supplying the guns, financing, and buying the drugs, some might argue that this war is primarily America's doing. Which makes it all the more sad to see that so many Americans are ignoring the problems in Mexico, to an almost pathological degree. How often does anyone hear about the atrocities that occur there, unless it has to do with a foreign national? Instead, what we hear is that a Canadian party-goer is killed while vacationing in Mexico, and that areas are unsafe to visit; not about the 35,000 killed since it began in in December 2006, as well as the 12 mayors in 2010 alone.

This is not going to be a post that just "blames America". Instead I would rather give context while recognizing the major role that America has a leader in the international community, and how they are majorly failing their next door neighbour. I actually have been following news of the drug war a lot because I have some friends in Mexico, who luckily aren't nearly as affected as those in Juarez in the capital.

I also noticed this controversy about the game a while back, and was always struck by how people seemed to just take it as an attack on their freedom of speech rights. Yes, sure you have freedom of speech and expression, but sometimes there are more important things than simply exercising it because you can. Thank you Robert, for trying to examine why it meant so much more than freedom of expression to the people of Juarez.

Imagine you were a member of the Columbine community when the shooting happened, or lost someone in the Virginia Tech shooting, wouldn't you be upset to see that there was a game being released about shooting students and teachers in school? For those of us that experienced this through television and media coverage, wouldn't you at least think it is in horrible taste?

Well, there is, its a mod for Half life 2.

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/108065-Inside-the-Sick-Mind-of-a-School-Shooter-Mod

Just because you have the freedom to express things, doesn't always mean you should.

Or is there something else I'm missing?

OK, the thing is this, Mexico it's not on his knees as most of you americans whant to belive.
I'm from Mexicali which is in the border with Calexico California,
what it's happening is a horrible wave of advertising from the govberment, who want's everybody craying about violence and crime, so we all forget other problems in the country,

I played GRAW 2 just a few weeks ago, and i can tell it's nothing like what is happening in Mexico.

I found it to be purely fantasy, silly, bad writen but somehow fun.

I dont understand what's the problem with this games, ok, for mexicans it's that we have to kill our people in the game... well nobody is forcing us to play it.
And if it's for the kids, i don't think Call of Juarez it's going to be less than Mature rating.

albino boo:

Psychotic-ishSOB:

albino boo:

The simple reason is that a film is passive, you just sit there and watch it. The script, actors and director already have made the choices as to the outcome of the picture and it never changes. A game is active, you press the fire button and kill the cop or execute the hostage. Try explaining to this woman http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/centralamericaandthecaribbean/mexico/8077251/Mexican-student-takes-over-police-in-drug-war-town.html why a large American corporation should make an entertainment out of her attempt to bring basic law and order to where she lives. Lets face it, the game is going to sell to 15 year old middle class white boys who like fantasise about being drug barons. In the real world they wouldn't last 5 seconds in the environment the game purports to show. All the victims of cartels are just going to look and see some making money out of their misery.

And how does the movie not also appeal to their sick ass tastes? Those people exist not because of games, but because of shitty parents. They're not gonna grow up to be assholes becuase of games, but because of shitty ass parents. The mature people will be able to tell if its legitimate art, or exploitative crap, same with movies, but the only people who have problems with that are Fox News and CNN, and apparently you, who think games are held back from being a legitimate art form because they're interactive, whereas I think they can strike nerves stimulate thought better because of that.

I never heard about middle class white boys fantasizing about being drug barons; they just like drugs. Or maybe, like I was, they hate them, and would sympathize with this woman. I read that article before. I also know she ran away because the threat of violence became too much for her to handle. She shouldn't have had to handle it, but she tried, and that makes her a better person than either of us.

You also ignored my desire for the conflict to be portrayed well. If done well, it could be fun, in a cathartic kind of way, like Traffic was entertaining because it was partly a thriller. But the game could transcend simple fun; Traffic was so good because it built up characters that the audience could connect with and feel for. the game should at least try.

Don't be naive, they are going after the same market as GTA or Saints Row but set in Mexico. Do you think those games are sensitive treatments or just adolescent wish fulfilment? You are talking about an industry that uses sex to sell a game about tennis for god sake.Do you think that Dante's inferno was aimed at the over 18s or the 15 year year kid? Have you seen the your mom wouldn't like it campaign for dead space 2. The companies know precisely who they are marketing the game at and I can tell you for free they are not going after the art house cinema market.

That was EA who did that shit with Dante's Inferno and Dead Space, and they're jackasses. THis is Ubisoft. They shouldn't market the gamme towards children, they shouldn't make an insensitive game, and I'm not saying it will be a masterpiece, I'm just saying it's ok to try. It could be good, it probably won't. It's not like that HL2 mod where you're murdering people in Columbine; this is about a war, and its cops vs criminals. Some of the cops are also criminals, though.

What pisses me off is that you're too goddamn sensitive to let a game try. Just because little bitch ass children won't understand any possible nuances it might have doesn't mean you should fucking write it off!

They made hundreds of games out of WWII; nobody got pissed. "it's a long time ago," they said. That doesn't fucking changed what happened. People just like to forget history as well as current events, and this is gonna make them think. "oh I don't wanna." You gotta be fucking kidding me. If you're so upset, read a fuckin book about the drug wars and educate yourself.

It's interesting that the Half Life mod has been brought up, I was actually just discussing this with my roomate.

When the mod was announced, almost universally, everyone rose up and condemned it. Personally, I'm in agreement, I don't think the mod should be made, because the people making it have expressed, quite profoundly, that they lack the maturity to handle the subject matter with any amount of respect.

But to get back to the topic at hand, I'm very torn when it comes to this game, and mostly because I don't know enough about it. It very well could be a well done, thoughtful piece that handles the subject matter with maturity and respect as it tells a tale about the hardships people face, or it could just be another Grand Theft Auto or School Shooter National Tour mod. If the latter, then I will stand alongside those who condemn the piece as the insensitive trash it would be. But if the former, then wouldn't the greater crime be in judging the game before it is even made?

Look at Six Days in Fallejuh, it was supposed to be a game made under the direction of the men who were actually there, if that wasn't a guarantee of material being handled responsibly I don't know what is, and yet, because of people jumping on it and calling it tasteless and vile before it ever reached completion, we'll never know what it might have been.

My point in all this is an old bit of advice I'm admittedly guilty of ignoring far more often than I'd like to admit, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Or in this case, "Don't judge a game by a screenshot and a press release." Let Ubisoft exercise it's freedom of expression, and if they exercise it poorly, then we can exercise ours and condemn it.

auronvi:
I don't watch a lot of news. I never knew how much trouble there is in Mexico.

You are not Mexican, right? The current situation isn't really exposed by the foreign media outlets. Mexico is in hell right now, and that's why we are leaving to Australia in 2 weeks.

Adventurer2626:
Wow. I was not aware that things were that bad. 15,273?!?!? I checked that statistic a couple times because I could not believe it. I hope the Mex. gov't can get a handle on things soon. My heart goes out to my Mexican brothers and sisters.

Since this war (2006) there are already 35,000+ dead people, and an unknown number of assaults and disappearances. The first 72 hours of March (in other words: the first three days) 52 people were executed in Ciudad Juarez alone. And I live in the same state. The Government won't get things any better, and according to some of the WikiLeaks cables the war could extend 10 years. Even the USA offered support, but they said that even with their support the war would take at least another 12 years. Right now there is a chance of a Social Revolt, and we fear that there is going to be a probable overthrow in the 2012 elections, in consideration the 2006 election fraud.
Me and my family are leaving Mexico for good. Several teachers at the Conservatory are thinking on to going back to Armenia. Some might think we are paranoid, but we rather be wary and safe than sorry.

Iskander_Estel:
OK, the thing is this, Mexico it's not on his knees as most of you americans whant to belive.
I'm from Mexicali which is in the border with Calexico California,
what it's happening is a horrible wave of advertising from the govberment, who want's everybody craying about violence and crime, so we all forget other problems in the country,

I played GRAW 2 just a few weeks ago, and i can tell it's nothing like what is happening in Mexico.

I found it to be purely fantasy, silly, bad writen but somehow fun.

I dont understand what's the problem with this games, ok, for mexicans it's that we have to kill our people in the game... well nobody is forcing us to play it.
And if it's for the kids, i don't think Call of Juarez it's going to be less than Mature rating.

Mexicali eh? En realidad Baja California está mucho mejor que en Chihuahua, creeme. Claro, en ninguna parte de México se está exento de violencia, pero Chihuahua es simplemente una pesadilla. A mí casi me asaltan el 31 de Enero (persiguido por 300 metros), y desde entonces tengo un cierto pánico en las calles. Varios camaradas de mi padre han sido ejecutados y secuestrados. En mi opinión la violencia no es para crear una distracción de los demás problemas en el tema socio-económico. Pero bueno, el resultado siempre será el mismo.

I'll never stand on the wrong side of the First Amendment... It outlines the five core freedoms essential to a free society and its centerpiece is the coveted freedom of speech, which translates into expression, which covers everything from art to journalism to political commentary and so on...

Ubisoft has every right to make and release this game.

And Mexico has every reason to take serious offense, and censor it in their own country where the standard of the 1st Amendment is not the supreme law of the land. Ubisoft, as far as I know from the story, missed a very important opportunity to define their game and their reasoning for making the game, and to make a case for games as a legitimate form of expression. But then, Ubisoft seems to handle most issues badly.

Another comment mentioned Traffic, which is exactly the movie I was thinking of as I read the article. Filmmakers have always been attracted to stories like these, sometimes thoughtfully, and other times in a more exploitative way. Books cover this ground. The news dwells on these stories. Politicians make speeches on this topic. There is nothing so fundamentally different about gaming that game makers shouldn't enjoy the same freedom to explore and comment on these issues.

Valanthe:
It's interesting that the Half Life mod has been brought up, I was actually just discussing this with my roomate.

When the mod was announced, almost universally, everyone rose up and condemned it. Personally, I'm in agreement, I don't think the mod should be made, because the people making it have expressed, quite profoundly, that they lack the maturity to handle the subject matter with any amount of respect.

But to get back to the topic at hand, I'm very torn when it comes to this game, and mostly because I don't know enough about it. It very well could be a well done, thoughtful piece that handles the subject matter with maturity and respect as it tells a tale about the hardships people face, or it could just be another Grand Theft Auto or School Shooter National Tour mod. If the latter, then I will stand alongside those who condemn the piece as the insensitive trash it would be. But if the former, then wouldn't the greater crime be in judging the game before it is even made?

Look at Six Days in Fallejuh, it was supposed to be a game made under the direction of the men who were actually there, if that wasn't a guarantee of material being handled responsibly I don't know what is, and yet, because of people jumping on it and calling it tasteless and vile before it ever reached completion, we'll never know what it might have been.

My point in all this is an old bit of advice I'm admittedly guilty of ignoring far more often than I'd like to admit, "Don't judge a book by its cover." Or in this case, "Don't judge a game by a screenshot and a press release." Let Ubisoft exercise it's freedom of expression, and if they exercise it poorly, then we can exercise ours and condemn it.

Well put and I agree completely.

albino boo:
Don't be naive, they are going after the same market as GTA or Saints Row but set in Mexico. Do you think those games are sensitive treatments or just adolescent wish fulfilment? You are talking about an industry that uses sex to sell a game about tennis for god sake.Do you think that Dante's inferno was aimed at the over 18s or the 15 year year kid? Have you seen the your mom wouldn't like it campaign for dead space 2. The companies know precisely who they are marketing the game at and I can tell you for free they are not going after the art house cinema market.

I choose naiveté if the alternativ is to condemn people for something that is still unknown. Condemning people for what they might do is oppression. It is just the same that heppens when people decide that games were to blame for shootings because a shooter owned Sonic the Hedgehog.

XavierAmaru:
The story in the game has yet to be told for this game. It could be that the game is told from the perspective of the residents of the city, trying to fight off the cartel, or something else noble, but this is unlikely, because this kind of stuff doesn't sell in video games. Instead, it will likely be in the perspective of a cartel agent, trying to his increase his influence in the cartel, and the cartel influence in the country. This appeals to the larger audience, and contrary to what most people think, some white boys from the states actually do manage to do exactly this.

http://www.tampabay.com/incoming/reputed-mexican-drug-lord-was-once-a-texan/1118865

*snip*

Is there something else I am missing?

You are missing something. Stories about heroes sell better then stories about villains. Villain games need to be either humorous, righteous or piognant to really work. If you do play as a cartel agent, cahnces are you will have a change of heart by choice or otherwise. gaining status and noteriety from the suffering of others is not something your average person wants. There may be a wish for the noteriety and the status but the price to pay is just too great.

My greatest hope is that the story is about a father who looses his son to drugs somehow. I seem to remember reading that the game actually starts fairly far away from Juarez. A father could then follow the trail of drugs back to Juarez where he eventually unravels a cartel. Then in a bravado of power fantasy he kills the big boss. The true horror of the situation of course becomes clear then as even though he has killed on boss there are many more like him and even more to take his place. The pointed end to the story becomes that the greater problem is not one that can be won by guns and force but that it must be solved in the minds of our children.

If this is story that is going to be told is it then insensitive for them to make it?

Blue Musician:

auronvi:
I don't watch a lot of news. I never knew how much trouble there is in Mexico.

You are not Mexican, right? The current situation isn't really exposed by the foreign media outlets. Mexico is in hell right now, and that's why we are leaving to Australia in 2 weeks.

Adventurer2626:
Wow. I was not aware that things were that bad. 15,273?!?!? I checked that statistic a couple times because I could not believe it. I hope the Mex. gov't can get a handle on things soon. My heart goes out to my Mexican brothers and sisters.

Since this war (2006) there are already 35,000+ dead people, and an unknown number of assaults and disappearances. The first 72 hours of March (in other words: the first three days) 52 people were executed in Ciudad Juarez alone. And I live in the same state. The Government won't get things any better, and according to some of the WikiLeaks cables the war could extend 10 years. Even the USA offered support, but they said that even with their support the war would take at least another 12 years. Right now there is a chance of a Social Revolt, and we fear that there is going to be a probable overthrow in the 2012 elections, in consideration the 2006 election fraud.
Me and my family are leaving Mexico for good. Several teachers at the Conservatory are thinking on to going back to Armenia. Some might think we are paranoid, but we rather be wary and safe than sorry.

Iskander_Estel:
OK, the thing is this, Mexico it's not on his knees as most of you americans whant to belive.
I'm from Mexicali which is in the border with Calexico California,
what it's happening is a horrible wave of advertising from the govberment, who want's everybody craying about violence and crime, so we all forget other problems in the country,

I played GRAW 2 just a few weeks ago, and i can tell it's nothing like what is happening in Mexico.

I found it to be purely fantasy, silly, bad writen but somehow fun.

I dont understand what's the problem with this games, ok, for mexicans it's that we have to kill our people in the game... well nobody is forcing us to play it.
And if it's for the kids, i don't think Call of Juarez it's going to be less than Mature rating.

Mexicali eh? En realidad Baja California está mucho mejor que en Chihuahua, creeme. Claro, en ninguna parte de México se está exento de violencia, pero Chihuahua es simplemente una pesadilla. A mí casi me asaltan el 31 de Enero (persiguido por 300 metros), y desde entonces tengo un cierto pánico en las calles. Varios camaradas de mi padre han sido ejecutados y secuestrados. En mi opinión la violencia no es para crear una distracción de los demás problemas en el tema socio-económico. Pero bueno, el resultado siempre será el mismo.

A mi tambien me han robado, me han asaltado, pero ha sido lo mismo desde siempre, Mexico nunca ha sido un paraiso, la cosa no es que este negando que exista la violencia, la cosa es que la exponen mucho mas de lo que se hacia antes y esto no es en proporcion a como ha aumentado sino una exageracion para desviar a la gente, Chihuahua siempre ha estado asi como todas las zonas controladas por los narcotraficantes, si claro que se miran muy impactantes las camionetas llenas de soldados, que no son mas que parte de la misma campaña.

La violencia no es ni por asomo el problema mas importante del pais, 50 millones de personas muriendo de hambre, empresarios quedanso las arcas de los municipios, un fraude que ya todo mundo olvido, los sindicatos haciendo lo que les viene en gana, presupuestos tirados en estupideces.

En todo caso si hay un problema son los gringos que consumen la gran mayoria de toda la droga que se produce no solo aqui sino en todo el mundo.

Los vicios de los norte americanos son los que pagan todo esto, incluso ciudades como Mexicali crecieron por la ley seca del principios del siglo pasado, esto no es un problema sobre la violencia o la falta de control del estado mexicano, es un problema de salud publica, algo que los americanos no estan atendiendo.

Psychotic-ishSOB:
Why the fuck do you guys, forum posters above me, think a game shouldn't be allowed to do this? Portray it realistically and intelligently. They might fail, but they have to try first, and you don't even want them to try. Fuck that and fuck your delicate little sensibilities. Maybe these games can bring people to the light about the drug wars. Traffic did for me.

Because they don't. I'm not going to say that games cannot deal with matters sensibly or intelligently, because they can. I am going to say, though, that the modern day game industry cannot deal with it sensibly or intelligently. Look at the endless flurry of CoD games, or the Battlefield games, or any games set in a modern day war theatre. They all treat their subject matter with all the seriousness of a kid who just farted in a funeral. They try with all their might to put on a serious face but they're barely disguising the fact that they just want to scream 'holy fuck, look at out awesome game! Look, you just shot a guy... in the FACE? Isn't that GREAT?'

There are dumb action movies, and there are intelligently written character driven movies. Traffic is one of the latter. There are no dumb action movies about people from Juarez rising up to shoot everyone in the face until Juarez is free of murder by virtue of everyone having been murdered already except for the protagonist and his love interest. If there were I believe the Juarez municipality would be seizing it up as well.

And this is just a byproduct of the game industry's poor understanding of what the word 'mature' means. Oh, we need to show people video games are mature. Let's show tits and blood. Oh fuck, that wasn't enough! People still don't think video games are mature! Let's show some people fucking, and maybe also have the players kill some demonic children. What? That didn't work? Well, let's show them by having realistic battles in areas full of political instability! I'm sure that we only need to do that and not bother changing our tone we used in our WWII games, in which we show every single nazi as being completely evil and stop short of showing them bathing in the blood of babies, though not necessarialy Jewish babies because mentioning the holocaust is rather impolite. Yeah, let's make sure the player is quite sure the Russians/Middle Eastern dudes/North Koreans/terrorists/Mexicans are all pure evil and have no redeeming quality at all, we don't want the player to notice someone with his kill record on the real world would be a fucking psychopath because that's also rather impolite.

This is not to say I agree with Juarez' decision, though. I'm quite sure that if a game did portray the area in a manner similar to the movie Traffic it too would get banned. And I do think anyone who does any creative work should have freedom to do whatever the hell he wants and governments should just sit back and watch. That doesn't mean creators shouldn't have a little common sense and try to think of whether their fiction is treating the matter respectfully - or, if it's not, at least it's being deliberately disrespectful to make people think. And it's hard to argue that your average FPS is such a case. It's painfully clear to me that every FPS wants to treat its subject matter as seriously as Team Fortress 2 but can't because of its gritty paintwork.

This is not excusable. This is not advancing games as an art form. If you wish to discuss matters such as this seriously, then do so, and call Juarez out when they ban their game. But if you don't, don't try to coat your game in fake grit and pretend it's more serious than the teenager militarist power fantasy it is. I don't believe that stupid fun games harm video games as a medium, but I do believe stupid fun games pretending to be serious mature games do harm it, because if you're not a gamer, you look at them and think that's all games have to offer.

The Random One:

Psychotic-ishSOB:
Why the fuck do you guys, forum posters above me, think a game shouldn't be allowed to do this? Portray it realistically and intelligently. They might fail, but they have to try first, and you don't even want them to try. Fuck that and fuck your delicate little sensibilities. Maybe these games can bring people to the light about the drug wars. Traffic did for me.

Because they don't. I'm not going to say that games cannot deal with matters sensibly or intelligently, because they can. I am going to say, though, that the modern day game industry cannot deal with it sensibly or intelligently. Look at the endless flurry of CoD games, or the Battlefield games, or any games set in a modern day war theatre. They all treat their subject matter with all the seriousness of a kid who just farted in a funeral. They try with all their might to put on a serious face but they're barely disguising the fact that they just want to scream 'holy fuck, look at out awesome game! Look, you just shot a guy... in the FACE? Isn't that GREAT?'

There are dumb action movies, and there are intelligently written character driven movies. Traffic is one of the latter. There are no dumb action movies about people from Juarez rising up to shoot everyone in the face until Juarez is free of murder by virtue of everyone having been murdered already except for the protagonist and his love interest. If there were I believe the Juarez municipality would be seizing it up as well.

And this is just a byproduct of the game industry's poor understanding of what the word 'mature' means. Oh, we need to show people video games are mature. Let's show tits and blood. Oh fuck, that wasn't enough! People still don't think video games are mature! Let's show some people fucking, and maybe also have the players kill some demonic children. What? That didn't work? Well, let's show them by having realistic battles in areas full of political instability! I'm sure that we only need to do that and not bother changing our tone we used in our WWII games, in which we show every single nazi as being completely evil and stop short of showing them bathing in the blood of babies, though not necessarialy Jewish babies because mentioning the holocaust is rather impolite. Yeah, let's make sure the player is quite sure the Russians/Middle Eastern dudes/North Koreans/terrorists/Mexicans are all pure evil and have no redeeming quality at all, we don't want the player to notice someone with his kill record on the real world would be a fucking psychopath because that's also rather impolite.

This is not to say I agree with Juarez' decision, though. I'm quite sure that if a game did portray the area in a manner similar to the movie Traffic it too would get banned. And I do think anyone who does any creative work should have freedom to do whatever the hell he wants and governments should just sit back and watch. That doesn't mean creators shouldn't have a little common sense and try to think of whether their fiction is treating the matter respectfully - or, if it's not, at least it's being deliberately disrespectful to make people think. And it's hard to argue that your average FPS is such a case. It's painfully clear to me that every FPS wants to treat its subject matter as seriously as Team Fortress 2 but can't because of its gritty paintwork.

This is not excusable. This is not advancing games as an art form. If you wish to discuss matters such as this seriously, then do so, and call Juarez out when they ban their game. But if you don't, don't try to coat your game in fake grit and pretend it's more serious than the teenager militarist power fantasy it is. I don't believe that stupid fun games harm video games as a medium, but I do believe stupid fun games pretending to be serious mature games do harm it, because if you're not a gamer, you look at them and think that's all games have to offer.

But you don't know that for sure. You're against this game before it's even out. I do think it'll suck, too. I don't think it'll be "mature," in the truest sense, but that doesn't mean it should be banned just for tackling the issue. if it sucks, then reviews'll be poor, and they'll call them out on that, and WE WON'T BUY IT! The last military FPS that was actually "mature," that I can remember off the top of my head, was Call of Duty 4, and that was because it didn't take a political stance. Maybe this game won't either.

I doubt it. It'll probably be half assed, but that doesn't mean I want to ban it becuase it might suck.

Thank you for this article. I think a lot of gamers have no idea about stuff like this in the real world (as evidenced by some of the comments) and really need more exposure to it like this.

As soon as I heard about Call of Juarez: The Cartel I said "uh oh... this is gonna get heat, how dumb are they?"

I think game developers really need to start being more sensitive to the perception of their games in countries besides the US. I also think that there is a difference between free speech and doing something that is tasteful and common sense. Like some others have said, just because you CAN make something doesn't mean you should. I think people should start drawing the line at video game depictions of events that are running CONCURRENT to the release of the game. When real people are currently dying in the same situation, it's not cool.

I think no matter how this game portrays the situation in Juarez, it was a bonehead move to create it right now.

Games imitating REAL LIFE?!?!?!?!?!
image

HG131:
Chihuahua's Interior Department? Um, why do they have a department for small dog organs? I liked the article, but I can't get over that.

Iskander_Estel:
OK, the thing is this, Mexico it's not on his knees as most of you americans whant to belive.
I'm from Mexicali which is in the border with Calexico California,
what it's happening is a horrible wave of advertising from the govberment, who want's everybody craying about violence and crime, so we all forget other problems in the country,

I played GRAW 2 just a few weeks ago, and i can tell it's nothing like what is happening in Mexico.

I found it to be purely fantasy, silly, bad writen but somehow fun.

I dont understand what's the problem with this games, ok, for mexicans it's that we have to kill our people in the game... well nobody is forcing us to play it.
And if it's for the kids, i don't think Call of Juarez it's going to be less than Mature rating.

Blue Musician:
Mexicali eh? En realidad Baja California está mucho mejor que en Chihuahua, creeme. Claro, en ninguna parte de México se está exento de violencia, pero Chihuahua es simplemente una pesadilla. A mí casi me asaltan el 31 de Enero (persiguido por 300 metros), y desde entonces tengo un cierto pánico en las calles. Varios camaradas de mi padre han sido ejecutados y secuestrados. En mi opinión la violencia no es para crear una distracción de los demás problemas en el tema socio-económico. Pero bueno, el resultado siempre será el mismo.

I live near Cd. Obregon (if I lived in Nogales we would be from the three of the most important and violent border cities :p) And even though there is way more violence here than it used to be, on sunday there was an execution like 4 minutes from my home (Whaaaat!?), it isn't a violent as in Nogales even though political parties want to make it look like it is.

But the Cd. Juarez is, if not the worst, one of the worse.

I can understand the ban, and respect it. I imagine the developers of GRAW2 probably respect and understand the situation. I imagine at the time of development they didn't think it would end up hitting home so directly.

Therumancer:
My thoughts on the subject are complicated. To be honest I'm a big believer in free speech, and have defended things like sex and violence to an extreme degree. Albiet in most cases I am defending it in the context of pure fantasy, like the horror genere.

Recent political trends, and a desire to deal with real world incidents happening right now, have however caused me to reconsider this stance to an extent. Kudos to the game industry, it has managed to get one of the staunched defenders of free speech to reconsider his position, and not because they pushed the envelope in the direction they should have been.

To be entirely honest I don't think video games should be dealing with real world conflicts that are currently going on, at least not to the point that allows one to play the "bad guys" as defined by the US (more on this dual standard in a second). Playing as terrorists and anti-US insurgents, even labeled "Opposing Force", or using a game to do what amounts to pass gang propaganda is a problem. Things like "Grand Theft Auto" and "Saint's Row" haven't been a problem because everything is not only exagerrated beyond belief, but it's pure fiction, none of these cities, gangs, or incidents actually exist in the real world. On the other hand the drug wars in Juarez is real, and a game like this is tantamount to how gangs distribute propaganda in real life, they are more advanced than a lot of people think. Gangs like The Latin Kings and The Aryan Brotherhood very much do distribute propaganda.

Now as an important point, I think historical incidents are something else entirely. Decades after the smoke has cleared, I think real life becomes fair fodder for video games. The Cold War, World War II, Vietnam, they are all a relatively distant memory, while things like "The War On Terror" and the cartel wars in Mexico are still ongoing.

The reason why the US is an exception is because I think we're in a league of our own as a nation to be honest. As arrogant as it sounds, it's important to note that the US is it's own worst critic, and the US goverment is pretty much a stock villain in American fiction to begin with... to the point of being an almost painful stereotype (oh noes, it was the goverment conspiricy!). When dealing with other nations nowadays, I think the problem is largely one of context. Like it or not, Mexico isn't in great shape as a country for example, while the US has a lot of problems, the military publically turning against the goverment isn't one of them, and hasn't been for a long time (and The American Civil war is fair game for video games anyway). With all the problems Mexico has keeping it's own people on it's own side of the border and everything else, not to mention how that violence spills over into US cities like El Paso, I think it's not entirely unfair to portray rogue Mexican military units as bad guys, assuming you do it totally in the context of fantasy.

See, the differance is that in general when people want to make games where they shoot at US troops and such, it's typically active duty military and such operating for the goverment, because your looking at a situation where they want to make an Anti-US statement, and there are usually some pretty borked politics involved. On the other hand when your dealing with rogue elements of the US goverment, that's typically fair game. Look at say "Metal Gear" for example, it was made in Japan, it's pure fantasy, and it generally comes down to the US military against the US military. It was done in such a way that unlike "playable Taliban" or a hypothetical game where you say played Mexicans invading the US or whatever, it didn't offend many people, and actually became a big success.

The dual standard ironically being a matter of maturity, that only a very nations, games and game companies/developers seem to be capable of.

Incidentally, as an Australian I'm sick of the US as bad guys manipulating all the foreign bad guys as a twist, it's ridiculous, the game devs think someone from another country can't even be a villain?! They to have suck up to fucking Americans?! I would like to see a game where you have the bad guys be Americans from the start and the player character is a non-American. Try that game devs, or try making a fucking game with America having no/little involvement in the plot at all, for every game that wants to be the next CoD (when it was good) not many games are contending to be different except for a new coat of paint.

Games makers should be free to make whatever games they want and let the marketplace decide if they are right or wrong. GRAW2 was a good game with a good story, and decent gameplay, dunno if tom clancy actually wrote the plot for it, kinda assumed they just stamped his name on stuff anymore and cut him a check, but he was alaways a bit ahead of the curve in picking out world trends and making the implosible seem plausable, based off worst case scenarios.

Free market actually works you know, if a game offends people will not buy it in great numbers. So i have no problem with games using real world bad guys like the taliban to portray terrorists, now if they are using said terrorists to portray that they are just misunderstood people that like kittens and babies then i would not bother with the game.

If your for free speech you cannot and should not accept any limits on said free speech, else one day you will have no free speech. People can decided what they like or dislike for themselves given a chance and proper information on all sides of an issue. Use logic rather than emotional thinking, because emotional thinking causes alot of the woes in society. And lets governments take rights away.

If you are anti free speech or for limits on free speech then you basically say i have no faith in people to think for themselves and act responsibly. And the small number of crazies and just pure evil people that cannot or will not act responsibly should be dealt with. But never let an extreme minority dictate the norm for everyone.

I opened this thread thinking that their were gonna be a lot of people saying discriminative stuff. Im glad there isnt. I also live in Mexico and it is a scary situation. A 6th grader from my school recently got kidnapped. My mothers friend was kidnapped. I go walking from school to my house, so the chances of getting kidnapped are high. And I have friends that also go walking home that live further away.

Ugh. I'm from a border state, in Hermosillo, Sonora, in Mexico. And, yeah, shit seems to be hitting the fan these days as violence sems to be creeping around, like esperandote says. Just a few months back a dude was executed less than a mile from my house b/c he happened to be tha General Director of Jails in the municipality, or whatever, and was cracking down on some illegal nonsense that was going on inside of them (they had just fired his predecessor and is now who the fuck knows where).

But what people should understand is that this isn't about free speech against censorship. If you wanna say something go ahead and say it, be it in movie form or game form, but don't expect us to be okay with what feels like exploitative bullshit coming from someone who isn't dealing with this mess of a situation. If people intend to do a serious game about it then I'm all for it, but when Ubisoft or someone else pulls that kind of shit then we have an issue.

And yeah, it's too soon. How about someone started making schlocky games while people were jumping off the burning twin towers? people are quick to condemn a highschool shooting mod but not this? It's all in the principle, people. Give people time to move on.

Again, I'm all for your free speech, but, please, do eff yourselves if you are using it for the sake of your own entertainment.

Psychotic-ishSOB:

What pisses me off is that you're too goddamn sensitive to let a game try. Just because little bitch ass children won't understand any possible nuances it might have doesn't mean you should fucking write it off!

They made hundreds of games out of WWII; nobody got pissed. "it's a long time ago," they said. That doesn't fucking changed what happened. People just like to forget history as well as current events, and this is gonna make them think. "oh I don't wanna." You gotta be fucking kidding me. If you're so upset, read a fuckin book about the drug wars and educate yourself.

What pisses me off is that you have no undertsanding or empathy to understand that people aren't even trying. They're just profiting from exploiting an unfortunate situation that they're not even dealing with. Your entire logic is a sad mess and I cannot believe you cannot see the glaring holes in it.

i miss shooters like graw 2 good story good game play sadly it had a crap pc port. more thing people say about other contries make me want to stay in Canada where its safer till i can be a assassin like in those movies(wont happen ever)

Mexico is more dangerous than Iraq.

Being British I'd find it pretty insulting to my country if 'the troubles' started up again, ROI invades us and an American game developer then decides to portray the British army losing badly with the Merkan Army sent to rescue our poor defenceless selves.

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