Thursday, June 3, 2010

Broken News: Video Game Linked to Rise in Cowboy Crime

Above: Students at Malcolm X Memorial Junior High School in Brooklyn, NY

WASHINGTON--The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) made public troubling research today indicating that the release of Rockstar Games'
Red Dead Redemption has contributed to a precipitous real-life uptick in illegal behaviors frequently observed in the acclaimed video game.

The sandbox-style action-adventure western game has been met with universal acclaim since its North American release on May 18. Set in the early 20th century American Old West,
Red Dead is awash in traditional western imagery and action with which any fan of the genre would be familiar--sprawling plains, dust-strewn trails, horse-drawn wagons, abundant gunplay, and morally ambiguous law enforcement, just to name a few.

Red Dead's release two weeks ago, police departments across the country have reported drastic spikes in the crime rate, due mostly to offenses featured prominently in the game. Lone wanderings are up 35% across the country, while cattle rustling has increased roughly 20%. Vigilantism has held steady, for the most part, although folksy musings and racial epithets also rose.

This, according to anti-video game zealot Jack Thompson, is further evidence that the in-game behaviors witnessed by players can and does carry over into real life.

"I've been saying it for years. Kids play
Pac-Man, they start munching pills, hallucinating ghosts and fruit, and listening to repetitive electronic music. Kids play Super Mario Bros., they start scarfing down mushrooms, installing toilets, and acting Italian. And now, kids play Red Dead Redemption and they start wandering the land, slapping iron and doling out frontier justice."

The data seems to support Thompson's assertion. Apart from the increase in the aforementioned crimes, use of "Y'all" and "I reckon so" have skyrocketed, as have instances of pitched gun battles being enacted in super slow motion. Additionally, incidents of fair maidens tied to train tracks by mustachioed ne'er-do-wells have quadrupled in the last four weeks.

But not all of the data is negative. Elderly communities are seeing an increased sense of usefulness and renewed vitality as coots, grizzled prospectors, and world weary old timers who dole out tales of yesteryear are in increased demand. Area animal control agencies are also noting a substantial decrease in nuisance bird populations.

"Oh there have been some positives, I'll admit to that," said moralizing busybody and anti-gaming advocate Harriet Smith. "The increased amount of moseying, amblin', ramblin', and wayfarin' has led to an increase in the fitness of the players. But this is mostly offset by all manner of gun battles, duels, and low down, dirty ambushes that result in bullet-riddled corpses. I won't even get into the kicked chickens, the 4000% increase we've seen in dynamite and cannon related deaths, or the 300% increase in horse tramplings."

"The public hangings and increased accounts of American gamers crossing over to Mexico to wage violent war against 'banditos' and 'revolutionaries' has been a welcome change, however," she finished.

Another part of the mixed bag of positives and negatives the game has brought about is in regards to a newfound reliance on horse-based transport. While a switchover from cars to horses has been a positive boon to the environment, this has also been met with more and more "durned idjits breaking their damn fool necks" after falling off these same horses.

John Law has advised that anyone attempting to ride a horse should first take a series of lessons at the nearest stable or ranch.

The construction industry has also seen a slight uptick in business, a rare bright spot during this troublesome economic climate. All manner of courthouses, gallows, hoosegows, outposts, jails, and telegraph stations have sprung up across the frontier in an attempt to fully emulate the world of
Red Dead.

Rockstar Games, which developed
Red Dead, has maintained silence in the face of these reports. Although, sources close to the company claim that president Sam Houser is having "a really hard time not making jokes about another British company ruining America."

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