JFK reloaded game causes controversy

A controversial new video game that has drawn harsh criticism from both politicians and the general public asks players to test their theories about the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Traffic Management, a Scottish video game company, released JFK Reloaded last week. The game re-creates the assassination of JFK, and lets players take the role of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald. The game depicts the presidential limo as it cruises through Dealey Plaza in Dallas, and allows the player to fire at the president from Oswald's perch in the school book depository building. After shooting at Kennedy, the player sees a slow motion replay and an analysis of where -- and who -- the bullets hit.

Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts), brother of the late president, has condemned the game. His spokesperson calls it "despicable."

Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-Connecticut) has spoken out against it, too. Lieberman "was sickened by the game," says his spokesperson Casey Aden-Wansbury.

Kirk Ewing, the managing director of Traffic, says the purpose of the game is to provide a realistic environment for users to test the lone gunman theory. The gamer who can most accurately replicate Oswald's shooting on November 22, 1963, can win up to US$100,000, according to the Web site.

"We genuinely believe that if we get enough people participating we'll be able to disprove once and for all any notion that someone else was involved in the assassination of President Kennedy," Ewing says in a press release.

But Christy Glaubke of Children NOW, an organization that promotes safer media for children, dismisses the claimed educational merits of JFK Reloaded. "I would think the only (lesson it teaches) is how to be an assassin," Glaubke says.

She also worries that, despite the registration policy that restricts JFK Reloaded to people over 18, kids will find a way to play Oswald on their computers.

"I would think any kid (who) has access to a debit card or prepaid credit card would have access to this," she says.

Causing real controversy

The release of JFK Reloaded, which coincides with the 41st anniversary of the assassination, follows the recent appearance of Riot UMass, another contentious reality game.

Riot UMass, created by freshman Grant Cerulo, depicted University of Massachusetts students beating police officers, re-creating the riots that occurred in Amherst after the Boston Red Sox won the World Series last month. That game site has been taken off the Internet.

Jason Della Rocca, program director for the International Game Developers Association, says that these two releases don't signify a trend. "This is not necessarily representative of the mainstream gaming industry," Della Rocca says.

At the same time, however, he defends quasi-reality games such as 9-11 Survivor, a game that challenges players to escape from the World Trade Center in New York before the building collapses, as helping the public "better understand a topic or issue."

Similarly, Ian Bogost, a game designer at Persuasive Games, considers JFK Reloaded "an attempt to frame a news event."

But not everyone appreciates these games' use of emotionally charged historical events to generate sales.

"I think it's awful that they're turning something as tragic as that into a game, for children especially," says Rebecca Sizelove, a graduate student of political management at George Washington University.

Jason Tuohey writes for the Medill News Service.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jason Tuohey

PC World
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?