November 11, 2009

War is Not a Game protest in Oregon

A mall security officer speaks with protesters during a launch party of “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2”
Monday night at Heritage Mall. From left are Sharon Gisler, Leah Bolger and Ray Kauffman.
(Mike Henneke/For the Gazette-Times)

By Mike Henneke, Gazette-Times writer
A handful of people staged a protest at Heritage Mall Monday night during a launch of the latest “Call of Duty” video game.

The first of nearly 200 people began lining up around 8:30 p.m. in the mall’s GameStop video game store, ready for when the game went on sale at midnight.
GameStop employees, some dressed in U.S. Army attire, set up two large flat screens for a tournament featuring the game in the middle of the mall.

Army representatives had planned to be there with a shooting simulator but canceled, said Heritage Mall Marketing Director Melody Clark.

Only players 17 and older could play “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2” at the mall and had to show identification.

Younger participants could watch but had to be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

The shooter game is rated M for mature by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board for blood, language, intense violence and a drug reference.

At least eight people from three peace organizations showed up to protest a game they say is selling war as entertainment. At least two carried signs, some tried to hand out pamphlets and all refused to leave when asked by mall security.

“There was an attempt at intimidation,” said activist Ed Hemmingson, who said security threatened him with police involvement. “I smiled at them and said it wouldn’t be the first time.”

Hemmingson had a yellow sign attached to the front of his shirt that said, “War is not a game.”

“I thought the mall police were a little zealous,” said Corvallis resident Leah Bolger.
Clark said that while Heritage Mall does not take a position on the game, its goal is to support its stores, including GameStop.

Mall policy prohibits people from demonstrating for political purposes, including handing out pamphlets.

Albany police were called, but the protesters had already left by the time an officer arrived around 10:30 p.m., Clark said.

Protester Ray Kauffman said violence and war has become acceptable in society.
“I see war games as conditioning and training our youth to accept that,” Kauffman said.

Releases of the game in the mid-valley also were held at Fred Meyer and Hollywood Video.

-thanks to Leah Bolger and the Corvallis Gazette Times

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