22 Jan 2018

Mongrel mob app 'totally unhelpful and totally stupid'

6:44 am on 22 January 2018

Gang violence mediators say a Mongrel Mob-themed game is 'bloody stupid', but its maker says he was just taking advantage of a gap in the market.

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Photo: Screenshot

'Mongrel Mob Defence' was released on Google Play on Friday and depicts a character dressed in Mongrel Mob attire defending his 'gang pad' with a gun from incoming Black Power members carrying knives.

The maker, who did not want to be named for personal safety reasons, said the game had been hugely successful. Yesterday it reached number one on the Google app store.

He was criticised for initially releasing the game using an image of Mongrel mob member William Hurinui - aka Greco - of the Notorious chapter in the South Island, who died in 2012.

The game developer said he did not realise the photograph would cause such distress and he replaced it shortly afterwards with an image of Alf Stewart from Home and Away.

"It wasn't intentional, it just happened to be the first image that came up on Google.

"It wasn't actually intended that would be the backlash, the backlash was more expected to be around the whole concept in general, not specifically because of the character."

He did not consider the game to be glorifying gang violence.

"The app store's clear of anything New Zealand gang-related so we really have taken charge of a gap in the market really," he said.

"It seems to have worked well, it's currently the highest trending application on the whole Google app store, on its second day of release," he said.

Mongrel Mob member Harry Tam said he was outraged and said the game was "bloody stupid" and insensitive.

Mr Tam has been a member of the Mongrel Mob since the 1980s and also worked as a policy advisor in various government departments, including Corrections and Te Puni Kōkiri.

"As a person who's involved in organised gang mediation, a game like this is totally unhelpful and totally stupid. It's marketed for kids aged 12 years old and up, I mean, what on earth?

"I'm struggling to find the words," he said.

12072016 Photo: Rebekah Parsons-King. Harry Tam has worked in for the Government in a number of roles, he's also a member of the Mongrel Mob. His reaction to Judith Collins standing down a Black Power member, Ngapari Nui.

Harry Tam has worked for the government in a number of roles. He's also a member of the Mongrel Mob. Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

The game should be taken seriously, Mr Tam said.

"I think it requires government intervention. We still have serious gang violence issues and it's a matter that people need to be concerned about - it glorifies and makes a joke out of something we're trying to eradicate."

The number of gang mediations he was involved in last year was "astronomical", he said.

"Iit's certainly on the rise. This sort of thing could encourage other game developers and it could get out of control very quickly."

He wanted the game developer to know that his actions had hurt a lot of people.

"How would they feel, if they saw their family, their dead family's image used in this way?"

RNZ put that question to the game developer, who said he would not mind.

"I probably wouldn't be that upset or distressed about it, I might be happy that they're being carried on - a bit of a digital legacy I suppose."

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