Italy takes on Mafia Wars

Italian European Parliament member Sonia Alfano is taking out a hit – on Mob themed video games like Take-Two’s Mafia II.

For Alfano, it’s not just business, it’s personal, seeing as her own father, the  Sicilian journalist Beppe Alfano was gunned down by the Mob on Jan. 8, 1993 in the home country for getting a little too close for comfort in his investigations of shady businessmen.

“It really, really hurts,” Alfano told Bloomberg News in an interview, speaking on behalf of herself and others in Italy’s association for the families of Mafia victims of which she’s president. 

“We can’t allow this to happen, our wounds are still too fresh,” she said explaining why she continues to lobby the European Commission to ban the game in which players advance through the Mafia’s ranks by carrying out robberies and murders.

According to Bloomberg, there were on average 116 Mafia and organized-crime killings a year in Italy between 2004 and 2008. (“This country’s still growing up. Certain diseases, you’re better off having when you’re still young.”)

“These games transform the Mafia, a reality of death and destruction, into a thrilling and hands-on virtual pastime,” she lamented adding, “even if momentarily, players identify with brutal killers, for us who have experienced violence firsthand, it’s appalling.”

Alfano is not the first to rail against violence in videogames, but the Mafia specific attention is somewhat more specific. 

A plethora of games in which players take on Mafia personalities have sprung up online recently, including Zynga’s famous Mafia Wars and the motivational Goal Mafia site, but it is the violent videogame versions which really gall Alfano and her supporters.

Take-Two sold around 1.27 million copies of Mafia II this year, representing some $55 million in dough, the number four seller in the New York company’s game ranks – so one can imagine it won’t throw its hands up without a fight. (“You want me, you’re going to have to come and get me!”)

The title, like 26% of others in the US, sports an M for Mature rating and has even managed to find its way into the Guinness book of records for the dubious honor of having the greatest incidences of the “f-word” (397) in its 75,000-word script and 15-hour single-player story. (“You can get further with a kind word and a gun than you can with just a kind word.”)

Alfano is not the only paisano upset at the lack of tact and respect being shown by the EA’s and Take-Twos of this world, the New Jersey-based Italian-American group, UNICO has also expressed its disgust, even calling Mafia games “racist.”

To be fair, game companies would never dare to put out a title where users identify themselves as Nazi’s, so the anti-Mafia family may have a point, but we might venture to put it a little differently: 
”Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”