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Redneck Software?
By Jon Gordon
September 29, 1999
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Hunting and fishing simulators appeal to many people who love the outdoors. That's led some people to derisively call it "redneck software."
You don't have to get up at three in the morning and squeeze into a pair of long-johns to go deer hunting anymore. Hunters are now stalking deer and other animals on their computers. A Twin Cities' software company leads the way in virtual hunting and fishing.

THREE OF THE TOP 10 computer games so far this year involve stalking and killing wild game. Since GT Interactive Value Products in the Twin Cities' suburb of Plymouth released "Deer Hunter" in 1997, the virtual-hunting and fishing category has been a stunning success. "Deer Hunter" hit the market with little promotion or fanfare, but rocketed to number one, selling nearly a half-million copies in its first 90 days. That game spawned last year's Deer Hunter II, whose shrink-wrap packaged reads, "Stalk your prey in stunning 3D."

Deer Hunter II sold more than its predecessor. Now the Plymouth company publishes games where you slay big-racked bucks with a bow and arrow.

Blast a ring-necked pheasant with a 12-guage shotgun.

And snag a big-mouth bass from the depths of a virtual Lake Okechobee.

Tommy Shiflet of Denton, Texas, operates two Web sites devoted to virtual outdoor games. He's an avid deer hunter, and likes to bag doves too. He's been pumping himself up by chasing wild game on his PC.
Shiflet: Deer season is coming up in another month or so here in Texas, and I've been playing a lot lately, getting excited, getting all geared up about that upcoming season.
Hunting and fishing simulators appeal to many people who love the outdoors. That's led some people to derisively call it "redneck software." Paul Rinde heads the Leisure Products division of GT Interactive. He says calling hunting and fishing games "redneck" is unfair.
Rinde: It's easy to refer to it as that, but the fact of the matter is the hunting and fishing industry is not a redneck industry, with the dollars that are spent, the corporations involved in that industry, it's really a broad-based, all-across-America industry. It isn't just a redneck, in the south, Walmart-only audience that is buying these games.
Related Sites
Cougar's Deer Hunter II site.
Deer Hunter official site.
Hunting and fishing games are getting more popular as the sound, scenery, and animal behavior get more realistic. Mike Wesolek of Madison, Wisconsin runs a Web site that reviews hunting and fishing titles. He says even the actual kill requires using the same strategies a hunter would employ in the woods.
Wesolek: You always want to kill the animal instantly, so if you shoot it in the vitals, then it falls down right away. If not, occasionally you have to track it and follow its footprints and blood trail for a few yards but it doesn't , they don't go very far, you'll just find the animal dead.
Killing animals is precisely the point of hunting and fishing games, and this makes some people uneasy. Target initially was reluctant to carry the games at first, after animal-rights groups threatened a boycott. Today, animal-rights groups don't know what to make of hunting and fishing simulators.
Prescott: We have actually mixed feelings about this topic.
Heidi Prescott is director of the Fund for Animals, a group that opposes hunting and fishing.
Prescott: We obviously would rather have people at home, sitting in front of their computers shooting at fake animals rather than real animals. However, one of the concerns we have is whether or not this desensitizes children toward animals, ultimately leading them to develop a taste for hunting; that's our concern.
Paul Rinde of GT Value Products says animal-rights groups don't have good reason to snipe at his products.
Rinde: It's virtual, it's not real. As we say, no deer were harmed in the making of our games.
Despite the company's insistence that the games are not harmful, its hunting games carry a voluntary warning from the Recreational Software Advisory Council, which reads:
ADVISORY: VIOLENCE. Rewards injuring non-threatening creatures.
GT 's Deer Hunter and Deer Hunter II have sold more than 2.3 million copies combined, making them not just the most popular hunting game, but one of the most popular computer games of any kind, ever. Analysts are expecting more big numbers from Deer Hunter III, a 3D game that will allow players to collaborate over the Internet. It's due out next month.