'Slavery, The Game': Is someone playing a hoax?

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A 48 second trailer for a new video game has the Internet buzzing, but not in a good way. Slavery: The Game is a real time strategy game reportedly to be released on PS3 and Xbox 360 gaming systems in spring 2012 by Javelin Reds Gaming. But many are questioning if the trailer is in fact real or a distasteful hoax.

In the darkly lit trailer, complete with dramatic music, slave ships and whips, gamers are told they can “Go back to the 17th century when Europe ruled the world and make a tremendous fortune.” The ultimate goal is to “become the most powerful slave trader” by buying, disciplining and exploiting slaves.

[youtubevid http://youtube.com/watch?v=WCgsXRyYXW0]

At first glance, the trailer seems pretty legit. But after a bit of digging, a number of things, including the adult only rating seem a bit suspicious.

Gaming blogs and sites such as Kotaku.com noted that PS3 and Xbox have never released an adult only game the history of either console. A quick search of the Entertainment Software Rating Board, which rates all games sold in the U.S. and Canada supports this contention.

Next, a quick Google search on the makers of the game Javelin Reds Gaming was unsuccessful. Kotaku.com also noted that Javelin Reds is a play on De Slavernij, which is Dutch for “the slavery.” In addition to the questionable PS3 and Xbox 360 endorsement and non-existent game developer, Slavery: The Game’s listed URL and phone number do not check out either.

Whether the game is real or fake, the even bigger question that should come to mind is: Has the Internet become such a immoral abyss that games such as Javelin Reds’ Slavery are now okay?

In recent years, a number of ads for controversial video games have graced the Internet. In 2002, a game called Ethnic Cleansing where gamers play as a Klansman or skinhead on a quest to kill Latinos, blacks and Jews.

In Scribblenauts for Nintendo DS, when a gamer writes the racial term Sambo, a watermelon appears. More recently, the video game Enslaved had many questioning if some of the content, including a slave named “Monkey”, was deemed racially insensitive by many observers.