It is the video game equivalent of an urban legend - oft-repeated but simply untrue.
Numerous American politicians have partially justified attempts at legislating video game content by claiming they were trying to prevent kids from buying a game where the object is to assassinate the president.
The game to which they are referring is JFK Reloaded, a downloadable-only product from U.K. developer Traffic.
Readers may recall that Governor Rod Blagojevich denounced JFK Reloaded in order to help pass the Safe Games Illinois Act in 2005. More recently, State Senator Vi Simpson of Indiana has repeated the assassination mantra in her efforts to create game legislation in her state. Simpson said, "Right now, kids can walk into just about any store and get their hands on a video game in which they can shoot police officers, use drugs, steal cars, rape women or even assassinate a president. That's frightening to say the least."
Blagojevich, Simpson and other pols pushing game sales legislation either don't understand or choose to ignore the fact that no child - or adult, for that matter - ever bought JFK Reloaded in a store as it simply was not distributed through retail channels.
For those who somehow missed the controversy, the idea behind JFK Reloaded was to try and duplicate the marksmanship of assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, the loner accused of shooting President Kennedy on November 22nd, 1963. Traffic sold the full version of the game as a $10 online purchase, and sponsored a $10,000 contest for the best "score."
Tasteless? Beyond belief.
With the JFK Reloaded now gone dark, ace GameCloud reporter John Callaham checked in with Traffic's managing director Kirk Ewing.
According to Ewing, the game's concept was to explore whether Oswald - an average shot equipped with a poor quality rifle - could have committed the JFK slaying without help, say from the grassy knoll.
Oddly enough, Ewing claims to have been surprised by the game's bad press. "We did not expect that the game would have that kind of reaction," he told Callaham. "... We had a disclaimer put on the web site that it was not for children and the full version needed a credit card which children are not supposed to have."
Traffic's next game project is a console title called "Learn to Drive." Given the company's track record, let's hope it is not a Ted Kennedy Chappaquiddick simulator.