Dealing Virtual Drugs On The iPhone Seems Unlikely To Get People To Do Real Drugs
from the just-saying... dept
For many, many, many years there has been a very popular application called Dope Wars. I used to have a copy of it on my Palm Pilot a decade ago, and it was a fantastic way to kill time (that and Rally 1000 were great time wasters). Over the years, Dope Wars has shown up on many different platforms and many different versions. I just looked around, and it appears there are a variety of downloadable versions, some web-based versions, both a MySpace and Facebook app and many other things. There have also been a ton of derivative games, some taking the drug theme further, and some changing the theme of the game completely.
That’s because, in actuality, Dope Wars has relatively little to do with drugs. It’s really a classic trading game. You borrow money that you need to pay back (with interest) and then you go buy and sell goods at different location. The goal is simple: buy low, sell high, don’t run into any catastrophe (police) and make back enough to pay back whoever you borrowed the money from. You could easily apply that to any sort of “commodity” — and I’ve seen versions based on stock trading, middle ages commodity trading, space travel and a few other such things. The “drug” connection is pretty weak, and basically just gives a framework for what it is you’re buying and selling.
Either way, back when I had that Palm Pilot, I played the game for many, many hours, and never had the slightest interest in following that up by taking or dealing any drugs. If someone’s going to get interested in drugs, it’s not going to be from playing such a game… but that hasn’t stopped one woman from demanding that a version of the game created for the iPhone, called Underworld, be banned. Now, the woman’s situation is tragic. She has a daughter who fell into a coma after taking heroin. That’s clearly an awful situation. But it’s difficult to think that the reason she took heroin was because she played a dopey trading game on a mobile phone somewhere.
Besides, why target just this iPhone version? This game, in some form or another, is found on pretty much every platform around (including TI calculators), often with multiple versions from different programmers — and we’ve yet to see any evidence that playing the game leads anyone to be even slightly more disposed to taking drugs.