Energy Group Labels Creators Of Video Game As 'Eco-Terrorists'

from the new-lows dept

The fever-pitch from those that claim that violent video games lead to real-life malicious activity is such that it produces some truly dumb diatribes and soundbites. Despite vast evidence that human beings are at least intelligent enough to separate digital violence from real-world violence, and given how rife with error and purposeful obfuscation the opposing research has been, we still get the silliness. Dr. Oz spouts off about the harm video games do to teenagers, forgetting to back it up with anything resembling evidence for his position. Dan Brown was sure video games lead to real-life violence, forgetting apparently that his own novels are stuffed with violent episodes. And Pat Robertson told his addled audiences that killing in a game is no different at all than killing someone in real life, indicating that we are a nation chock full of mass murderers that will be judged harshly by the Lord his god.

But it’s something of a new low to see oil-business advocacy group Energy Builders attempt to label the creator of a video game an “eco-terrorist” because the game includes some mild violence against oil pipelines.

“Thunderbird Strike” is a Windows PC game that allows players to take the form of a thunderbird. The mythological creature, rooted in indigenous culture, flies from the Alberta’s tar sands to the Great Lakes, where environmentalists are currently challenging Enbridge’s Line 5, a 645-mile-long crude oil pipeline. Players use lightning strikes to gain points by destroying pipeline equipment, but they can also revive animal skeletons.

The game sends an obvious message in support of political activism, offering advice on its website for users who want to take action against fossil fuel extraction. That’s not pipeline-advocate Energy Builders’ apparent problem, though. Its issue it has is with users blowing up pipelines, according to a press release. Energy Builders considers this signature move “an act of domestic terrorism.”

First off, it’s been quite nice to not hear form Energy Builders on all the other violent video games out there that allow you to perform actions much more insidious compared with fantasy-striking an oil pipeline with a lightning-bird. I guess all the fictional and virtual murder out there that got Pat Robertson’s sin-detector humming is of no concern to Energy Builders, whereas virtual violence against some metal and plastic is a bridge too far. It’s tempting to wave off these comments as simple oil industry silliness, except that calls for anything resembling eco-activism as terrorism have become a kind of sport for the industry, often with dire consequences at the federal level.

Linking environmentalists with terrorism is becoming a popular way of attacking activists. In Congress, 84 members (including four Texas Democrats) sent Attorney General Jeff Sessions a letter Monday asking him to label environmental activists as terrorists.

They don’t use the term explicitly, but mention 18 U.S. Code 2331, which is all about defining international and domestic terrorism.

It’s quite easy to see how an innocent game-maker might be “accidentally” lumped in with groups far more extreme in their actions. That’s the real danger with an energy group happily throwing around words it knows are irresponsible.

Meanwhile, I imagine the game’s creator might want to send a fruit basket to Energy Builders for propelling the game into the public consciousness with all of this silliness. This kind of Streisand Effect is almost classic in nature, with news coverage of the game so hated by Energy Builder supercharging the attention it is receiving.

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Companies: energy builders

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Comments on “Energy Group Labels Creators Of Video Game As 'Eco-Terrorists'”

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ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

It’s true!

I played a majorly evil Chaotic Evil alignment bad guy in my D&D games. My character went around murdering peasants and raping women and children! My character even stabbed his own party members in the back and murdered them just to keep all the loot for his greedy self!

And now look at me! I’m… a perfectly ordinary adult with no criminal record who hasn’t raped or killed a single person…

Uriel-238 (profile) says:


Who needs a murder weapon? You just use the totally real spells in the AD&D players handbook to ensorcell the target’s spouse to bludgeon him to death with the rolling pin.

I shit you not, this is the argument made against Satanic role playing games and rock-&-roll in the seventies, and the public believed it.

At any rate there are plenty of other objects that make dandy murder weapons (like rolling pins) that we don’t criminalize on account of them being dandy murder weapons. Objects being dangerous has never been an excuse

(or rather it always has, and a poorly asserted one.)

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:


…using solar and/or wind energy make me an environmental activist/terrorist? If yes, how does that not make the US Government both environmental activists AND terrorists (not that there are not other reasons to call the US Government terrorists)? Will Jeff Sessions go after both with equal enthusiasm?

Or will we need to wait for the ISDS law suits from oil exporting nations to claim our electric cars violate their profits?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Does...

Absolutely! Companies are composed of many people, which means harming company profits like that is no different than setting off a bomb in a crowded venue, and advocating for an act which would be harmful to company profits is no different than telling people to go out and start lopping off heads.

Whether it be protests, depictions that are anything less than gushing with praise or using an alternative, anything that doesn’t put money in the bank of a major, politically minded(which is to say ‘making donations’) company is no less that terrorism of the highest order, and needs to be prosecuted as such in order to protect the freedoms this great country is based upon. Large, well funded corporations are the bedrock this great country is based upon, which means attacking them is nothing less than attacking the country, it’s government, and all it’s citizens directly.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Does...

When we get done claiming everybody else in the world as terrorists, and everybody else in the world has claimed we are terrorists, will the word have any meaning to the word left? Does it have any meaning left now?

Other than that, Corporations are terrorists, one and all, but if they use ISDS, they are more terroristic than those that haven’t yet, not that the other won’t be cause joining the club is what one does, even in the corporate world.

Here’s to creating an international terrorist day, the one holiday that everyone, regardless of ideology, religion, politics, race, or any other identifier can celebrate because we have all been declared terrorists, everyone of us, the world over. No presents please.

Coyne Tibbets (profile) says:

Labeling advocacy

This is just more of the divisiveness in the current political environment. Advocates for my side are perfectly reasonable, peaceful, intelligent and well-informed demonstrators. Advocates for your side are completely irrational, terroristic, fake news spouting morons.

The interesting thing is that so many people believe we can still hold meaningful political discourse under these conditions.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: Labeling advocacy

Not to mention labeling environmental activists ‘terrorists’ while NOT labeling almost all the mass shootings in the US terrorism or domestic terrorism makes a mockery of the ‘terrorist’ label.

Terrorism is about using fear and violence, or threats of violence, to accomplish your political goals. Most environmental activists don’t fall under either category.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Fear and violence to accomplish political goals.

That is a rather late 20th century / post-9/11 definition of Terrorism. Convenient as it excludes the crap the US does.

In the old days, terrorism was attacking civilians rather than military or infrastructure.

WWI Rail guns, buzz bombs, V2 rockets, Firebombing cities. Atomic Weapons…

Oh and Drone Strikes and targeted killings. Totally terror.

PS: Did anyone else notice how WMDs became strategic weapons again now that the US might need to nuke someone?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Actually, the problem may be the other way around. A person many people have heard of is getting away with complete fabrications and claiming opinion over evidence. It has a certain effect on people with non-evidence based opinions.

As long as you can get away with zero-summing everything, both sides will always be wrong and opinions of volume and sufficient regurgitation will be of greater important than facts.

Not saying that regulating speech is the answer. Just that the kind of speech we see so often today is pure emotion and that is an extremely bad basis for making politics.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Like I need another excuse to replay that game...

Eh, I figure I’ve saved enough kingdoms/countries/planets/galaxies that any killing should be well balanced out.

After all, if killing a character in a game is equivalent to killing someone in real life, then clearly saving someone in a game is equivalent to saving someone in real life.

DB (profile) says:

Complete own-goal

My previous perception was that ‘eco-terrorist’ referred to those extremists that were willing to destroy property and even kill in “raise awareness” for their ’cause’. They do evil things like spike trees, burn down buildings and release ill-adapted animals to the wild.

Now when I hear that phrase I’ll just expect regular people with moderate views wanting reasonable constraints on companies that would otherwise destroy the environment to make money.

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