New Video Game Sparks Debate In South Jersey

New Video Game Sparks Debate In South Jersey

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CAMDEN, N.J. -

Video games may be pure fantasy, but a violent action-adventure game called "Watch Dogs" has ignited a very real debate in one South Jersey community.

Watch Dog allows players to adopt the persona of a James Bond-like computer hacker, chasing an evil mastermind. People say it's chock-full of foul language, sex and violence, features dark and foreboding backdrops. The latest version, which is due out this fall may be set in Camden.

Along Cooper Plaza, a neighborhood on the rebound, people are not taking kindly to yet another slap at their city's reputation.

"It makes us look bad. It makes us look very bad, because it's not like that. People just forget about us out here. This is a good community. Got good people here,” said one resident.

Section 8 housing is undergoing a major facelift around the area, which is one sign of better times in a city that many had long ago written off.However, the image of Camden as a dangerous place is no mere stereotype.

Brenda Soto moved to the area from Philadelphia about a year ago, and now wonders if she made a mistake. She heard gunshots outside her window just yesterday.

"I don't feel safe, at all. Not even my children. They can't even go out and play. I keep them inside. It's really sad,” she said.

"Bad publicity is better than no publicity at all. And you're getting bad publicity that's good for us,” said Community Activist Angel Cordero.

Cordero thinks the use of Camden as the video game backdrop may actually be a good thing. He says the city's crime statistics are what they are.

And he says the video game connection may embarrass city and state leaders into fully combating some of the root causes of violence.

"Absolutely, I absolutely think it wakes people up,” he said.

A spokesman for Mayor Redd calls the possibility of Camden being depicted in the video game "unfortunate." He notes that both total crime and violent crime are down significantly over the past couple of years.

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