And so we return to one of the perennial moral panics of our age, the video game, with the news that Norn Iron has inspired its very own shoot-em-up. The Masked Gunman is apparently a Grand Theft Auto-style game that allows players to assume the role of a loyalist or republican godfather, and build a paramilitary empire by engaging in extortion, pimping, drug-dealing and bumping off one’s enemies. This had Nolan’s listeners in paroxysms of fury this morning, on the grounds that it glamourises violence. The creator responds by arguing that only other paramilitaries are killed, not civilians.
This marks one departure from gritty realism. Another objection might be that, while the activities described are a fair description of how armed loyalism functions, the Provos have been making most of their money through “legitimate” business ventures for decades now. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for a thrilling gaming experience.
I wonder if Johnny Adair, now reinventing himself as Norn Iron’s answer to Chopper Read, is going to put in a claim for royalties. And it’s curious that the bookshops are coming down with Johnny’s heavily fictionalised autobiography – which really does glamourise the life of a semi-fascist thug – but the great Ulster public seem pretty much unexercised about the matter. Nor do they seem to worried about the massive subsidies being directed to armed loyalism by the British government.