I know it is considered by some “politically incorrect” to talk about technology which teaches “the wrong values,” but I am not going to apologize for my normative stance on this issue.

According to a San Diego NBC affiliate, racist games like “Border Patrol” (available online for free) are outraging people across the world, especially those concerned about human rights. Educators and parents should be concerned. According to the article:

The game is called “Border Patrol,” and it challenges players to kill as many illegal immigrants as they can. The computer game puts the player in charge of guarding the border with a loaded gun. The goal to kill as many people as possible, including pregnant women and children. Pedro Risol and other immigration rights activists are outraged.

“It’s sole purpose is just to offer violence to the immigration question,” Risol said. “It truly is disturbing.” The site plays up the racial overtones of the immigration debate. Those killed during the game are called “wetbacks.” The game is part of a Web site called “The Insurgent.” Information on the Web site says that it is based in Temecula, Calif., just north of the San Diego-Riverside county line. The site claims that Tom Metzger, the head of White Aryan Resistance, is responsible for the content.

Video games ARE a form of reality. We are defined by our perceptions, which shape our behavior and our habits: both habits of mind and habits of action. As human beings, we should not want people of ANY age to become desensitized to the killing of people of any ethnic background or socio-economic class. In these self-proclaimed “racist games” focusing on killing pregnant Mexican immigrants, Arab Muslims, or African Americans, the activity and goal is the same: provide an opportunity for users to virtually kill others based on their race, creed, or socio-economic status. This way of thinking and websites which encourage this way of thinking are totally unacceptable.

Of course US school district web filters will, if they do not already, soon block these sites. But that is really not the larger issue. We need to be engaged in ongoing discussions with our students about issues like human rights. Recent debates over immigration policy in the United States provide outstanding “teachable moments” to address the wide variety of issues raised through protests and other forms of civil discourse.

We should be outraged that these games are online, and that people are playing them. Just like pornography, however, unfortunately unscrupulous people are going to put stuff like this “out there” on the Internet. Our abilities to stop inappropriate behavior on a largely unmanaged global network are inherently limited. That is why we need to focus on EDUCATING USERS, educating students: not just saying “don’t go there and play those games” but also talking about WHY no one should be playing those games. This is not a justification to ban the Internet and keep all students off it. It should be viewed as a clarion call to conversations inside and outside the schoolhouse about digital ethics, digital citizenship, global citizenship, and universal human rights.

Games can have a powerful influence on people’s perceptions. These types of games represent the exact OPPOSITE influence we should want students exposed to in the world of ideas. The solution is not just banning the sites. The solution lies in conversations that must be ongoing about what is appropriate and inappropriate to do online and in real life, and the reason why these choices need to be made. This is at the heart of digital ethics, which should be part of a digital citizenship curriculum taught in every school worldwide.

We need to champion games like Peace Maker (a video game teaching about the Middle East conflict and its peaceful resolution, from the Carnegie Mellon Entertainment Technology Center) rather than these racist games. Video games are not inherently evil, but like any other technology tool they can be used well or poorly, to serve noble or evil ends. We need to choose the former options, and encourage our students, our children, our families and our neighbors to do the same.

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14 Responses to Racist games teach wrong values

  1. Mathieu Quimper says:

    I teach in New-Brunswick, and the school district goes out of his way to block webmail services such as Hotmail or Gmail.

    On the other hand, every time I take my class to the computer room I catch students playing violent or pornographic games.

    They can’t read or send emails, but they can play a game that consist of killing some fat guy by making him run for too long or throwing babies from a roof top…

    It will take more than a filtering software. The problem lies in the fact that some students are SEEKING this kind of content. If they don’t find it on the school computer, they are still going to access it from home.

    I figure for most of the kids it’s just a phase that will fade away quickly. A “hey, look at that! It is inapropriate therefore it is cool! And since I am showing it to you I am cool!” kind of thing.

    Then again, for a few this need to access inappropriate content will affect their attitudes and behaviors.

    Why are they seeking this kind of content? What does it mean for schools and society in general?

  2. Celina says:

    I just wanted to tell you I enjoyed reading your blog. I’m a preservice teacher and for part of my technology course have been reading other edubloggers entries! I blogged about this article in my own blog!

  3. pancho "el loco" says:

    hey you motherfocker you think racist is funny i’m mexica so what tell the one who invented that game patrol border i want to tell him or her somthing fockyou

  4. Wesley Fryer says:

    Pancho, I would encourage you to read my post, I am definitely NOT supporting racist games, I am opposing them and encouraging others to do the same. I understand you are angry and may be looking at someone to get mad at, but I don’t think I’m the right person for you to be mad at on this topic.

    I’m mad and upset that people are creating games like this too, and also upset that people are choosing to play them.

  5. shadow says:

    i reall think that who ever invented this game i not human. how would he
    or she feel if they were immigrints. why don”t you live and let live. they
    are not asking anyone to pay their bills. that”s why these people work hard so they don”t need from anyone out there. don”t forget what goe around
    comes around and when that happens someone out there will be laughing at you.

  6. Wesley Fryer says:

    I agree with you Shadow. The people making these games are not thinking about anyone’s feelings at all. I doubt seriously that these people have any friends or relatives who are immigrants. That’s why I think intercultural friendships, relationships, and exchanges are so important. Our ideas and perceptions are changed most powerfully through experiences and real relationships with others.

  7. J3 says:

    Any of you ever hear of free speech? Or does that only apply when you find the content acceptable?

  8. Wesley Fryer says:

    Sure, free speech is a basic right in our nation, thank goodness. I’m speaking out and saying I don’t think the “speech” in these games is appropriate. I’m not advocating for a law that would prohibit people from making junk like this, or people from speaking out on either side of the issue. I’m saying people should choose not to play these games, and should teach students why they shouldn’t play them.

    This is an important part of education: Learning about how we are not only citizens of our communities, states and nation, but also citizens of the world. Games which promote racism should be opposed by people who care about things like human rights and social justice. I put myself in that camp, so that’s why I’m speaking out about this.

    I oppose hate and speech which advances agendas of hate. That doesn’t mean I want to censor voices that disagree with mine through laws. I don’t. I do think people should make good choices when they decide what to do online, and playing these games is a bad choice in my opinion.

    I put games like this in the category of hate speech, which is something I oppose. For more of my thoughts on this, please refer to my post Value of life, forgiveness, the Holocaust.

  9. prayers06 says:

    I think that people need to think about the things they say and do before they do it. I like to have other colors of friends. I have a few mexican friends and a few black friends. Well i will respond tomorrow.

  10. Eric says:

    No transnational corrparations market this boarder potrol game. however, they market grand theft auto 3 where a sceen plays out and Black gang members Attack whites and say I’m gonna kill you cracka! It’s a total dobule standard that the media,Cival and human Rights groups only speak out against it when the violance is directed towards Minorties and don’t do the same for Whites.

  11. HappyCamper says:

    Have any of you actually played the game Border Patrol? I am a student in a town of over 50% Mexican population and I can say that i sit down with my friends and we can laugh and enjoy this game. Video games are meant to be fun and challenging. My best game only consists of killing 35 wetbacks! If I can laugh, that makes the game fun. If I can only kill 35 spicks because they’re too darn quick for my aiming capabilities, then that makes it challenging. If I were the person who made this game, I would be proud to say that I created a wonderful flash game that people of all races and ages can enjoy together. Also, if you remove this post because it goes against the beliefs and values of the moderator or administrator, then all of you are just as guilty of racism and prejudice as I am.

  12. Wesley Fryer says:

    HappyCamper:

    To answer your question: No, I have not personally played the game Border Patrol. I have seen screenshots of it, and I have played other shoot em up games, so I think I can understand the basic gameplay well enough based on the descriptions of others who have played it or seen it played.

    I’m not deleting your post, because I think others should hear your voice and consider your perspectives. I’m glad you posted, although I disagree with you. I think there is a difference in being racist or discriminating against other people based on their skin color, beliefs or background– and wanting to encourage an environment of understanding and mutual respect.

    Respect is important. I believe that most of the time, people have attitudes of superiority when they have not had a friendship with someone from another ethnic background or identity. That’s why I think it is very important to support exchange student programs, and to encourage face to face interactions in school and out of school with people who look different.

    I believe we are all worthy of respect because we are all human beings– and fundamentally, because we were all created by God in His image. God didn’t make any junk– even if someone thinks they were “an accident” or their child was, they weren’t. I think the more friendships people have with different people, the more they come to see that although we may look and act differently, there is still a great deal that makes us the same.

    I don’t know if you have ever had a chance to hang out and talk with people who survived the German concentration camps of World War II. I have, and let me tell you, those survivors are some of the most persuasive people I have ever met for rejecting hate.

    It may sound trite, but it is true: We need to reject hate wherever we find it, and instead embrace love. I think a game like Border Patrol feeds on people’s feelings of hate, and that is why I think people should not play it.

    If you’re willing to read more of my thoughts along this line, I encourage you to check out the post “Value of life, forgiveness, the Holocaust” from this past March. I know you may say “it’s only a game,” but perception creates reality, so choose carefully when you decide what images to put into your brain.

    Reject hate, my friend. And thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts.

  13. HappyCamper says:

    You can’t reply with the concentration camp thing, that’s below the belt, but I know exactly what you mean by this. While on the subject of racist games, if you can find the game “KABOOM: An Arab Terrorist Training Game,” I find that it is also very interesting. It makes everyone a target of prejudice instead of just illegal immigrants. Everything is viewed in the eyes of a terrorist. See what you think of this one.

  14. deport illegal mexicans says:

    I love this game:)

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