Video game urges players to kill journalists to make them ‘famous in a different way’
A hugely popular video game has been slammed for featuring a mission where the player has to kill a journalist – then congratulates them for making headlines.
The Sniper 3D Assassin game has been downloaded more than 100 million times on Android alone, with millions more playing it on iPhones and on PC.
In the game the player controls a sniper, with missions where you have to take out criminals, spies, drug lords and even zombies.
The game’s seventh mission, called Breaking News, featured a journalist as a target.
“A journalist bribed a cop and will pick up a briefcase,” the game told players. “Make him famous in a different way.”
Kill the journalist and the mission ends with the words “That’s a cover story” before rewarding the player with gold coins and experience points to help make them a more effective killer in future missions.
The developer promises gamers “entertaining missions”, and urges them to “start the killing” and “fight the global war on crime”.
As a result of the outcry, Brazilian developer TFG has removed the level according to the firm’s CTO Michael Mac-Vicar, talking to the Huffington Post.
“At TFG, we work to create games that bring fun and entertainment to users all around the world,” Mac-Vicar said. “As such, we take feedback from our players very seriously. After listening to our community today, we have decided to remove the mission ‘Breaking News’ from the game.”
Sniper 3D Assassin was first released in 2014, and footage posted to YouTube shows this mission has been in the game for several years.
The game is free to download and play. It is rated 18+ on Android and 17+ on iPhone, though the PC version simply says it is “may contain content not appropriate for all ages” and warns users of “frequent violence or gore”.
The content is particularly disturbing in light of the levels of violence faced by journalists.
In 2018 the four journalists who were shot dead at The Capital newspaper in Maryland, USA, were among 34 journalists murdered across the world, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Two journalists reporting on state corruption in Brazil, where developer TFG is based, were also shot and killed in 2018.
US President Donald Trump has been accused of making matters worse by describing reporters who are critical of him as “enemies of the people”, and journalists have been attacked at his rallies.
While this level has been removed from the game, it still encourages users to “start shooting real enemies”, and remains available on Apple’s iTunes Store, Google Play and Steam.
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It is the latest in a long line of twisted games to cause controversy.
A school shooting simulator was banned from Steam last year, while more recently a game that encouraged sexual assault was slammed by charities before also being removed from Valve’s platform.
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