NEW YORK—On the cover of "True Crime New York City" videogame, a black man with dark glasses points a gun—dead ahead. The game, rated "M" for mature content, is intended only for videogame players 17 and older, but community activists are saying adults are buying them for their children, and regardless of age, these games are a detriment to the black community.
"In one video game, the child playing is given the choice of either sparing or killing the prostitute he has just had sex with," explained Bob Law, chair of the New York State Millions More Movement.
On the predominantly black 125th Street in Harlem, members of the Millions More Movement stood outside the videogame store Game Stop on Nov. 25 to tell adults not to buy "killer videogames" for their children during the holiday season, or ever.
The Millions More Movement was launched in October 2005 by a broad coalition of U.S. black leaders to mark the commemoration of the 10th Anniversary of the historic Million Man March in 1995. The group is essentially focused on improving the quality of life for African Americans.
An open letter issued from the group states: "The killer videogames currently on the market for the coming holiday season feature Black and Latino youth as thugs who simply roam the urban areas killing, stealing, fighting, and often using drugs … are these ideas appropriate for your children?"
The games pointed out by the group as especially bad included "Warriors," "Bulletproof," "True Crime New York City," and "Grand Theft Auto."
Also, Law explained, some games overtly have other themes like skateboarding and football, but then contain sex, violence, and drugs, which makes it difficult for parents to know not to buy the games when their children ask for them.
"They are being fed poison, and this poison eventually becomes lethal," said Cliff Frazier, a Millions More Movement member.
The Millions More Movement, however, is not taking its grievances to the manufacturers. The campaign against killer videogames began in Detroit, Michigan, where a county prosecutor tried suing a videogame manufacturer. The manufacturer said it was its right to free speech to produce whatever games it wanted and the case was struck down.
"We're not going after the manufacturers," said Law. "It's a question of supply and demand. We can reduce the supply. It's about strengthening our resolve."
Law said his group will continue boycotting killer videogames and continue raising awareness about killer videogames through community channels and the Internet. They also plan on issuing a new "Open Letter to Black Parents" each week from now until the end of December.