Cybernaut 

Have a murder — I mean ‘merry’ — Christmas

A group of parents, church and women’s groups released a list of the 10 most violent video games for 2004-05, thereby ensuring that all 10 titles will be instant classics and on every 13 year old’s wish list this Christmas season. If this many groups are outraged, you know the games have to be good.

The list was released on Tuesday, coinciding with the blizzard of holiday shopping that accompanies Thanksgiving weekend. The main agents behind the list are the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Mothers Against Violence in America, and the National Council of Women’s Organizations, as well as various others. The outrage is palpable.

The list isn’t numbered in order, suggesting that all games are equally violent, but spokespersons did specifically mention Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (www.rockstargames.com) as a standout offender.

Other games on the list include Activision’s Doom 3 (www.activision.com), Gunslinger Girls, Vol. 2 (www.mediaworks.co.jp — Japanese site), Halo 2 (www.microsoft.com/games/), Half-Life 2 (www.sierra.com), Hitman: Blood Money (www.eidosinteractive.com), Manhunt (www.rockstargames.com), Mortal Kombat: Deception (www.midway.com), Postal 2 (www.whiptailinteractive.com) and Shadow Hearts (www.midway.com).

The announcement came one day after the 41 st anniversary of the JFK assassination – which also happens to be the day after a Scottish video game company called Traffic Management Limited released a new game called JFK Reloaded (www.jfkreloaded.com). The game allows players to snipe the former president from Lee Harvey Oswald’s perspective in the book depository.

Condemned as "despicable" by family members and politicians, Traffic claims that the game will help clear up the controversy over whether the president was assassinated by a lone gunman or by multiple shooters. In other words, players have to shoot the president three times in a moving vehicle in a matter of seconds, duplicating the trajectory of those shots as closely as possible.

Conspiracy theorists say the lone gunman theory is impossible. Lone gunman believers think the conspiracy theorists are cracked. Now both sides have a chance to prove it, and earn a prize of up to $100,000 US for coming closest to replicating that fateful event. Enjoy!

The release of the top-10 most violent games also coincided with the release of another list, the ninth annual Video Game Report Card from the ultra-conservative National Institute on Media and the Family (www.mediafamily.org). They have a wider scope to their reviews than violence, rating games that have sex, foul language and other offensive themes.

In their preamble they slam the video game industry for recommending that parents use the video game rating system to purchase games while the industry simultaneously denies that violent video games influence children.

"That is a big problem for parents when you consider this year’s crop of games, such as Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and Leisure Suit Larry, are games that children have access to, and that drastically push the envelope on sex and violence," said David Walsh, founder of NIMF (an unfortunate acronym for a company that’s trying to reduce the prevalence of sex in the media).

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