Fact Check

25 to Life Boycott

Law enforcement group urges boycott of the video game '25 to Life'.

Published Mar 5, 2006


Claim:   Law enforcement group urges boycott of the video game 25 to Life.

Status:   Multiple — see below.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2006]

The video game "25 To Life" is due out in stores this month.

The object of this game is to kill LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is putting together an online petition to boycott this game.

I am asking each of you to go to their website and please sign the petition and pass along this info to your family and friends.


It is the duty of this organization to take a stand for what is right, so I encourage all of the dedicated members of our fine Association to visit the Memorial website and sign the petition in memory of all of our fallen brethren.

Origins:   The e-mail forward quoted above calls attention to a petition from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) regarding the video game 25 to Life, which the group decries due to "the violent nature of the game, in which participants role-play shooting gang members and police officers and using civilians as human shields":

"It is absolutely unconscionable that game makers are enabling young people — or anyone — to dramatize shooting and killing as a form of entertainment while officers and innocent people are dying in real-life on our streets every day," said NLEOMF Chairman Craig W. Floyd. "We're encouraging parents, caregivers and everyone who is concerned about both law enforcement officers and children to ensure this game never makes it into the homes or hands of impressionable young people."

Players of 25 to Life© are presented with a scenario that enables them to choose between playing as a law enforcement officer, or a drug dealer who role-plays shooting fellow gang members and law enforcement officers. The Web site advertising the game boasts that players have "more than 40 weapons to choose from, including shotguns, machine guns, stun guns and tear gas."

Noting that in the past 10 years, 70 officers have been killed by people under the age of 18, Mr. Floyd said, "While it's true that players are given a choice between wearing a badge or the colors of a gang, the ultimate message carried by the game is that some players are justified in endangering the lives of police officers. That's a terrible message for anyone, but particularly so for young people who are already confronted with numerous choices that can lead to dangerous consequences. Regardless of your views on free speech or marketplace dynamics, there is really nothing good that can be said about this game. The images are wrong. The messages are wrong. And stocking it in U.S. stores is wrong."

Mr. Floyd noted that the NLEOMF's recently released report on law enforcement officers who died in the line of duty during 2005 included more than 50 officers killed by gunfire, which he says "represents only a fraction of the number of officers who have been shot at and wounded." A total of 153 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty during 2005, according to preliminary figures released by the NLEOMF and Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS).

"We're focused on this game right now because children and communities are facing the greatest threat from it right now, but our broader goal is to encourage all parents and caregivers to be more aware of what their children are exposed to or encouraged to emulate," added Mr. Floyd. "Any type of media that glorifies violence against law enforcement or civilians should be scrutinized very carefully."


of early March 2006 the NLEOMF was reporting it had collected over 220,000 signatures, but the purpose of its petition is a little vague — signatories are expressing their support "to have the game removed from the U.S. market," but the entreaty doesn't explain how this goal is to be accomplished (through legislative action? by bringing social pressure to bear on the game's manufacturer?) or indicate to whom the missive and its attached signatures will be sent.

The 25 to Life game was released by Eidos (with a "Mature" rating) in January 2006 and quickly became one of the top video game rentals in the U.S. market, although enthusiasm for the product has since dropped off sharply due to widespread disappointment with the game's graphics, story line, and mechanics. As a Los Angeles Daily News reviewer wrote:

Visually, the game is flat and boring. There's a chance you've seen better-looking graphics on the PlayStation Portable. That alone isn't enough to sink this title; the game play does that all by itself.

In single-player mode, you are placed in the role of a gangbanger who's trying to find a way out. While other games and movies have used this kind of story to craft intriguing tales of redemption, in this game, much of your solution comes through blowing away as many cops and other gangsters as possible.

And when the bullets start flying, the game unleashes a barrage of broken game-play mechanics. For instance, the game lets you take hostages, but the virtual cops still shoot at you as if you were holding Osama bin Laden. Most of the time, the hostage ends up dying and you're forced to run around with guns blazing.

There's usually some thought involved in third-person shoot-'em-ups like this, because the enemies in the game do things like take cover, move into position and try to flush the player out. Not here. The enemies scatter all over the screen like marbles, turning any concept of strategy into a chalk outline.

The cherry on top of this ignorant sundae is the delivery of the story itself. Every tired rap and urban cliche you can think of is presented in its full glory.

The dialogue sounds like it's being read from a gangsta rap cue card. Our "hero" tells his wife to stop talking about his friend because (in the words of Tupac) "only God can judge him."

The reviewer noted in a coda "The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has an online petition to pull the game off the shelves. How much of an impact it will have remains to be seen. One almost feels the need to tell the group not to bother — the game itself could do the job for them."

Last updated:   5 March 2006

  Sources Sources:

    Carolipio, Redmond.   "'25 to Life' Like a Jail Sentence."

    [Los Angeles] Daily News.   4 March 2006.

    Clairmont, Susan.   "'25 to Life' Is Blockbuster's Top Video Game Rental in the U.S."

    The Hamilton Spectator.   2 March 2006.

    TheIndyChannel.com.   "Indy Officials Call '25 to Life' Game Dangerous."

    17 February 2006.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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