Sniper Game Removes Mission Where Players Kill Journalist

3D Assassin: Shoot to Kill is a game that, as its title suggests, is about players assassinating people with a sniper rifle. The game is available to download for free through the Google Play Store and on iOS devices, with the 10 year old nephew of New York Times journalist Jamal Jordan having played the game on his iPad. Jordan was playing Sniper 3D Assassin with his nephew when they came across a mission called “Breaking News” where the goal is to shoot and a journalist.

In the mission, a journalist bribed a cop for information and is going to retrieve a briefcase “full of sensitive documents” from him. The mission says that players should make the journalist “famous in a different way” by killing him. Jordan tweeted about the game, which caught the attention of HuffPost. Following an article written about the game and some social media outcry, developer TFG Co. removed the Breaking News mission from Sniper 3D Assassin.

Sniper 3D Assassin originally launched in 2014, and it has enjoyed quite a deal of success. The mobile game was once the most-downloaded App Store game, hitting 10 million downloads in its first month of release. However, it’s unclear if the Breaking News mission has been in Sniper 3D Assassin since launch or if it was added to the game more recently.

In today’s political climate, it makes sense why the developer would want to remove a mission like this. Violence against journalists has reached “unprecedented levels” according to NPR. Perhaps the most notable example is Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, who was murdered at the orders of Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salma according to the CIA.

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While the developer was not forced to remove the journalist killing mission from Sniper 3D Assassin, some will argue that this is a form of censorship. There’s also the issue that children can easily download and play this game since it’s free on the various app stores, which will open up yet another can of worms.

Violence in mobile games has long been controversial due to the ease at which children can access them, especially the free-to-play titles. It will be interesting to see if this will result in regulation of free-to-play mobile games, or if developers will be able to successfully police themselves.

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