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Video game depicts JFK assassination

By Justin Boron

Perched in the downtown Dallas book depository, a digital-rendering of Lee Harvey Oswald leans out over Dealey Plaza and points his rifle at John F. Kennedy's motorcade, poised to re-enact an indelibly shocking moment in history.

The scene comes from a recently released video game called "JFK Reloaded," which allows its users to simulate the JFK assassination of 1963 and acquire points based on a player's ability to make three shots at the correct people, in the right sequence.

The game has swelled with public exposure amid the outrage and criticism that came with its release last week as a $9.99 Internet download. Its conspicuous entrance into the gaming world also has constructed a platform for its own publicity, garnering media attention and making it a buzz topic in many communities.

Local response to the game has been defined by sharp words and in some cases, pure disgust.

"It's horrible, the game should be banned from the U.S." said Lynn Wallace of Morrow. "Anybody caught with it should be tried for treason."

Kirk Ewing, the managing director of Traffic Games, the Scottish firm responsible for the game, told Reuters he had anticipated a horrified reaction in some people but insisted he had respect for the Kennedy.

"We believe that the only thing we're exploiting is new technology," he told the news service.

The video game firm said its objective in releasing "JFK Reloaded" was to dispel conspiracy theories surrounding the event and to reaffirm the Warren Commission's investigative findings.

But many residents didn't see it that way.

Ed Wallace of McDonough called the game "callous."

"It's pretty cold blooded," he said. "Regardless of whether he was a good president . . . the whole world was shocked."

Wallace said he was entertaining officers at Mathers Air Force Base in Sacramento, Calif. when news of the shooting came in. The entire tone of the base transformed instantly, he said.

Wallace said he worried the game may influence a younger generation, less familiar with the incident, and skew its view of JFK.

But a handful of Jonesboro High School students had similar reactions to the adults interviewed for this story.

Brittany Marks, a Jonesboro High School senior, said she thinks it is awful.

"It is belittling an actual event," she said.

Devaki Kumarhia, also a senior, compared the event to a tragedy that occurred in her lifetime, asking, "40 years from now are they going to make a game where they bomb the twin towers?"

Nikki Lane said she likes the concept of a sniper game, but thinks that killing JFK "mocks the situation."

Behind the severe reactions to game are worries of the impact that virtual violence like this will have on the behavior of the game's users.

But the psychological effect of media violence on adults and young people is still murky from a research standpoint, said Antoinette Miller, a professor of psychology at Clayton College & State University.

She said some studies suggest a correlation between media violence and increased aggression.

Stopping short of a causal relationship, Miller said anecdotal evidence and research have shown that the length of exposure to scenes like those presented in "JFK Reloaded" often determine the psychological impact of media violence.

"This is an ongoing field of interest. Unfortunately, there isn't enough research," she said.

News Daily intern Laura McMillan contributed to this article.