FOX News Latino, the latin-interest branch of the FOX network, in the wake of prior controversy over Bullstorm, has raised questions over the third part of the Call Of Juarez franchise, a modern-day tale set in Mexico, entitled ‘The Cartel’.
Bryan Llenas suggests that the setting and content of the game (although no hard details have yet been confirmed), would trivialise the state of violence and criminal activity in Mexican border towns, where drug-smuggling and illegal immigration rings operate. Speaking with Dr. Kathleen Staudt, Professor of Political Science at the University of Texas at El Paso, she expressed her concern at how these actions were going to be depicted:
‘I think this should be taken very seriously considering the large scale demonization of Mexico and the Mexican people.’
‘People who don’t understand the border and don’t know the border are now going to view it in a caricature game, …The whole picture of the border is one in which people are suffering tragedies but also it’s about the resilience of the people.’
In the game’s defence, an Ubisoft spokesperson responded to the criticism, explaining:
‘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.’
To be fair, FOX Latino isn’t launching an outright attack on Call Of Juarez – but it is raising fairly legitimate questions as to how and when it’s appropriate to depict sensitive issues in gaming. After all, Japan’s regulatory body, CERO, has already made changes to games such as Fallout 3 and Homefront, which allude to taboo topics such as nuclear warfare and North Korea.
As it happens, this isn’t Ubisoft’s first time with action set in the border areas either, as Tom Clancy’s Advanced Warfighter 2 set some parts of the game in both Mexico and El Paso. In this case, also, the action attracted criticism from the mayors of Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua, leading to the latter calling for the seizure of all copies of the title on Mexican soil.
It’s still going to be some time before the actual plot of The Cartel is revealed – whether or not this will stir up the same level of debate is unknown, but the question of what is and isn’t open for depiction in any media, interactive or otherwise, has yet to be settled.