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There’s one good thing about having spent the last four months cleaning up the biggest oil spill in the country’s history; the mainstream media has been too busy with the Gulf to cover frivolous stories like controversial video games. With an unpopular health care bill, a Hatian earthquake, and The World Cup occupying the headlines, it’s been a good year for us gamers and our killographic sexboxes.
There was a short uproar over the new Medal of Honor game which lets you play as the Taliban, but that died down when the Ground Zero Mosque debate hit the front page. This week I was bracing myself for outrage over the nudity in Mafia II, but the news channels are too busy covering Lindsey Lohan to even notice naked ladies in some game. In fact, the last time I saw some shrill talking head complain about sex in video games on CNN was last year when Dragon Age had that boy-on-elf gay sex scene.
We don’t really have anything controversial on the horizon either. Someone might freak out because the new Call of Duty Collector’s Edition comes with a remote controlled killbot, but that’s unlikely. The outrage generally surfaces when a game has sex, violence against women, or racism.
Wait a minute… Now that I think about it, there is a franchise the mainstream media hasn’t caught on to yet…
In this game, players take control of an all white army that attacks a black army without provocation and attempts to capture the leader of the black civil rights movement. Anytime members of opposing races meet each other, lethal violence is the only outcome. Also, there is only one female character of each race, and killing your opponent's woman is one of the game's most important moves. There’s religious intolerance, too! To further the destructive potential of this murder simulator, the game has an online component that allows players to spread their message of hate across the world.
If you're wondering who to write to, so that you can complain about this atrocity, then write to the game’s developer Ubisoft. The game is Chessmaster.
Chessmaster is, of course, a chess simulator. The above analogy to a race war is true in that a white army attacks a black army (White always moves first in chess). Violence against women (Capturing the Queen) is one of the most important moves in the game. You are even allowed to kill your opponent’s Bishop, and think of those innocent horses the Knights ride! Oh, and don't get me started on how pawns turning into queens encourages children to get sex change operations...
Does chess really promote racism? Of course it doesn't. Violence against women? Surely not. Trampling Bishops? No. Should every chessboard have a warning label to help parents determine if it’s is too violent for their children (Warning, contains depictions of Regicide)?
Why is killing hookers with a chainsaw in Grand Theft Auto wrong, but it's okay to trample Bishops beneath a Knight's hooves in Chess? That's a good question. I don't know the answer but it's a great one to ask when the next controversy happens (And eventually there will be another moral panic over a game).
Take heart, because there are a bunch of miners trapped in a collapsed mine in Chile, and it’s going to take months to get them out. Months of dramatic, emotional interviews with adorable Chilean kids who miss their daddies. Months of night-vision footage of the inside of the mineshaft. Months of experts speculating on worst-case-scenarios. Surely whatever controversy lies in Fallout: New Vegas will slip by unnoticed.