Cuba denounces `virtual` Castro plot in new game

Cuba says the violent role-playing will turn US children into sociopaths.

Havana: Cuba harshly criticised a new video game in which US special operations soldiers try to kill a young Fidel Castro, saying on Wednesday that the violent role-playing glorifies assassination and will turn American children into sociopaths.

The island`s state-run media also took a dig at the CIA`s real-life efforts to do in the island`s revolutionary leader, who has survived dozens, perhaps hundreds of attempts on his life.

"What the United States couldn`t accomplish in more than 50 years, they are now trying to do virtually," said an article posted on Cubadebate, a state-run news website.

The brouhaha surrounds one of the most highly anticipated shoot-em-up video games of the year, "Call of Duty: Black Ops”, which went on sale in the United States yesterday. The game, from California-based Activision Blizzard Inc, takes players on secret missions to American Cold War enemies such as the Soviet Union, Cuba, Vietnam and Laos.

The Cuban operation is one of the first challenges players face in the ultra-realistic game. The mission takes place with John F Kennedy in the White House in the months leading up to the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, which brought the world to the brink of nuclear Armageddon.

Players must shoot their way through the colonial streets of Havana on a mission to assassinate Castro, then a young revolutionary who had recently overthrown dictator Fulgencio Batista. In a twist, they end up killing a body-double and are sent to prison in Siberia.

Cuba said the game attempts to legitimise murder and assassination in the name of entertainment.

"This new video game is doubly perverse," the Cubadebate article said. "On the one hand, it glorifies the illegal assassination attempts the United States government planned against the Cuban leader ... and on the other, it stimulates sociopathic attitudes in North American children and adolescents."

The article said psychological studies show that violent video games can produce anti-social behaviour in the young because players must take an active part in the bloodletting in order to win. Watching violent movies, by contrast, is a more passive pursuit and thus less likely to produce copycat behaviour.

Christopher J Ferguson, a psychology professor at Texas A&M International University who studies video-game violence, said such studies are off-base.