Summerfest Stops the Virtual Killing

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One small step for humankind:

At the request of Summerfest officials, the U.S. Army on Tuesday removed a virtual urban warfare game that allowed fest-goers as young as 13 to hop into a Humvee simulator and fire machine guns at life-size people on a computer screen.

Peace Action-Wisconsin launched a campaign Tuesday to shut down the “game,” and Veterans for Peace, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice also joined in asking their members to call Summerfest to complain.

Summerfest officials reported “a handful” of complaints, but it took less than 12 hours to get action, suggesting there was more than a handful of callers, which forced Summerfest to take it seriously.The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

“We’re determining it’s probably not something that we want to have shown at Summerfest,” John Boler, vice president of sales and marketing, said before the decision was made to request removal of the game, called Virtual Army Experience… Summerfest officials received a handful of complaints and first requested the Army raise the minimum age of the players to 18 and to stop giving out a DVD of a similar virtual experience. But officials later reconsidered the whole game.

The Army’s defense? This isn’t about killing, just what it’s like to be a soldier:

An Army spokeswoman said the game isn’t meant to teach people how to shoot, but rather educate them on the life of a soldier.

“It gives them a glimpse into what it’s like to really be a soldier,” said Pat Grobschmidt, a public affairs officer.

Grobschmidt said the game is one component of a larger game that is extremely popular with more than 8 million registered users. More than 500 Summerfest goers played the game on opening day, she said.

It was displayed at a concert in Madison and an air show in Janesville last year and did not get any complaints, she said.

Yesterday’s diary on the subject.

Please call Summerfest and say thanks. They are being flooded with calls from right-wing talk show listeners. Call 414-273—2680. They need some support.

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