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Ontario premier to investigate online game showing bombing of pipeline

Pipe Trouble, a game available on the website of TV Ontario on March 21, 2013. The TVO blog describes “Pipe Trouble” as a “companion ethical game” to adocumentary that deals with local opposition to pipelines and the bombing of pipelines in Peace River, B.C. TVO says the game uses “over-the-top satire to cleverly explore the two sides of the energy extraction debate.”

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne says she will look into an online game partly paid for and promoted by a taxpayer-funded broadcaster that shows the bombing of a gas pipeline.

A blog post supporting the game appeared on the website of TV Ontario. It also provides a link to the game, called Pipe Trouble, and offers a free trial.

But questions were raised on Thursday about the game's introductory video, which appears to show activists protesting before a pipeline blows up.

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The TVO blog describes Pipe Trouble as a "companion ethical game" to a documentary about local opposition to pipelines and the bombing of pipelines in Peace River, B.C.

TVO says the game uses "over-the-top satire to cleverly explore the two sides of the energy extraction debate."

Ms. Wynne said she doesn't know anything about the game or TVO's involvement and would like more information before commenting on it.

"It sounds somewhat disturbing to me on the face of it," she said. "So I'm going to ask the Minister of Education to have that conversation about TVO because I think there does need to be a question asked about that."

Education Minister Liz Sandals issued a statement a few hours later acknowledging that there have been "some concerns" about the online game.

"The government, along with TVO, does not condone illegal activity," she said. "That is why we have asked TVO to ensure that this online game adheres to their existing programming standards and does not condone such activity."

TVO denied suggestions that the game draws a link to the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would ship oil sands crude from Alberta across the U.S. midwest to refineries in Texas.

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But the Keystone pipeline isn't mentioned in the documentary or the game, TVO spokeswoman Jill Javet said.

The game is meant to engage people actively on both sides of the pipeline debate by allowing them to see the connection between their actions and the effect of those actions, she said.

It looks at the construction of a pipeline from the perspective of the pipe layer and the protester, she said. To get a perfect score, the player has to lay down as few pipes as possible while not disrupting the environment.

"So you have to build the pipeline as economically and as environmentally responsible as you can," Ms. Javet said. TVO spent about $100,000 on both the documentary and the game.

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