view counter

Eco-terrorismMSU urged to pull the plug on an “eco-terrorism” video game

Published 2 November 2017

Michigan State University’s award-winning computer game development lab has developed a new computer game called “Thunderbird Strike.” Dr. Elizabeth LaPensee, the game’s designer, says that, among other things, the game is designed to “bring awareness to pipeline issues and contribute to the discontinuation of [Enbridge’s] Line 5.” Enbridge’s Line 5 is a 645-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that travels through Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas. In the game, players get to blow up pipelines. Oil industry officials argue that the game, in effect, encourages players to engage in acts of domestic terrorism.

Dr. Elizabeth LaPensee, a Michigan State University (MSU) professor, working at the university’s award-winning computer game development lab, has developed a new computer game called “Thunderbird Strike.”

LaPensee says that, among other things, the game is designed to “bring awareness to pipeline issues and contribute to the discontinuation of [Enbridge’s] Line 5.” Enbridge’s Line 5 is a 645-mile, 30-inch-diameter pipeline that travels through Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsulas, originating in Superior, Wisconsin, and terminating in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. The Oil Price Daily reports that in the game, players get to blow up pipelines.

Oil industry officials argue that the game, in effect, encourages players to engage in acts of domestic terrorism.

The Washington Post reports that this is the first time that the MSU lab has created a game designed to encourage political activism. All previous games developed by the lab were designed to educate players about life skills such as financial management, health, and similar topics.

Energy Builders, a pipeline advocacy group which tracks incidents of violent activity against energy infrastructure, has called on MSU to pull the game down.

“It’s bad enough that privately funded eco-terrorists encourage this kind of behavior, but it’s way over the line when a public university getting our tax dollars joins in the effort. We’re all for freedom of speech at public universities, but a computer lab financed in part by NASA and the National Science Foundation should not be supporting an effort to stop safe and modern infrastructure development,” said Toby Mack, president of Energy Builders.

“We call on MSU to pull the plug immediately on this taxpayer-funded political campaign and reject any so-called educational program designed to encourage eco-terrorism or other bad behavior. We also call on Congress, NASA and the National Science Foundation to end any public subsidies of this computer lab until this overtly political activity has ended,” continued Mack.