Suzuki charity denies benefit from game with pipeline bombs
Ontario taxpayer-funded 'Pipe Trouble' has raised serious concerns about advocating violence
The developer of a controversial video game that included depictions of pipeline bombings had said a portion of any proceeds of the game would go to the David Suzuki Foundation, but the organization has denied any relationship with the game maker.
The game Pipe Trouble lets players build pipelines to move gas across landscapes, while balancing costs and potentially angering farmers and environmentalists.
It was paid for by Ontario taxpayers and posted on the website of the province's public broadcaster, TVO, as a companion to a documentary about local opposition to pipelines in northeastern B.C. and northwestern Alberta.
Pop Sandbox game developer Alex Jansen said the game is meant to be a learning experience.
"I think the beauty of the video game medium is you're able to make these complex cause-effect relationships inherent through the game play," he said.
But when the game play gets too heated, a level is sometimes ended with the bombing of the imaginary pipeline, which brings to mind several unsolved bombings that took place in B.C. in 2008 and 2009. Complaints about that aspect of the game prompted TVO to remove the game from its website and start a review.
On Saturday, Federal Heritage Minister James Moore came out critical of the David Suzuki Foundation for supporting the game's message.
"[The game] has sparked discussion, and it's tasteless, and I think that they [the game developers] should be ready for that kind of a pushback," Moore said.
"There are video games that depict all kinds of pretty aggressive acts — violent acts from time to time — but I think that angle, of the David Suzuki Foundation actually collecting a financial benefit from those who want to play games that depict violence against people who work in our natural resource sector, I think probably goes a little bit too far and I think probably tests the boundary of good taste."
David Suzuki Foundation CEO Peter Robinson responded to Moore's call by saying the charity hasn't received any money from the game's developers, and won't accept any until they look more closely at it.
"And I would hope that everyone involved in this would, sort of, step back and say, 'Wait a minute here, what is the real issue we're trying to look and how could we have a better dialogue?' so we don't end up in these types of controversies each time they happen," Robinson said.
Alberta Premier Alison Redford said it is disappointing for a taxpayer-funded game to depict the blowing up of pipelines, and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said she's looking into the matter.
B.C. premier Christy Clark said there is no place for positions that advocate violence.
"In British Columbia, we have a long history of strong, vigorous debate on issues and it is always done in a respectful way," she said.
"There is no place in debate for positions that advocate violence and it is disappointing this video would even suggest that approach is appropriate."