To some, it’s a messy, expensive battle between the federal government and the man who defies it, allowing his cattle to roam on public land closed to grazing 16 years ago. To others, the Ranch War — and Cliven Bundy himself — is a situation ripe for parody.
For those following the Bundy story, the Bundy Ranch Shootout app released last week is just another notch in the timeline of events that have dominated the Southern Nevada news cycle this spring. For now, the situation remains a draw following a tense standoff last month that resulted in a BLM cattle roundup being called off following threats of violence.
In this story, the bad guys are clear: The arcade shooter-style game, set to the backdrop of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” pits players against agents with the Federal Bureau of Cows, who are trying to steal cattle. Players are tasked with shooting the agents as they move from behind FBC vehicles while allowing the cattle to pass unharmed.
Catching an American flag boosts the health bar, symbolized by pink women, which according to the game’s description is “because Cliven Bundy supporter and militia leader, Richard Mack, told Fox News, ‘We were actually strategizing to put all the women up at the front. If they are going to start shooting, it’s going to be women that are going to be televised all across the world getting shot by these rogue federal officers.’”
For developer Ryan Drewrey with DigiSky Games, which released the app, Bundy Ranch Shootout is more than an attempt to hitch a ride on the Bundy bandwagon. Drewrey said the app may be “a little sick and twisted,” but so is the situation as it played out earlier this year.
“The fact that the militia groups wanted to use women and children as shields seemed kind of shocking,” Drewrey said. “But so does a bunch of agents showing up outside of your property. It’s kind of a scary scene.”
Bureau of Land Management wranglers and armed agents began a roundup of cattle on April 5 after serving notice to Bundy of their intent to gather the “trespass cattle.” It was the second time since 2012 they’d served him such a notice, and just the latest battle in a dispute between the rancher and BLM dating back to 1993, when Bundy stopped paying his grazing fees to protest a change in federal policy.
The roundup was called off by the BLM after armed militia members flocked to the rancher’s aid. BLM has since said multiple times that it would “continue to pursue this matter administratively and judicially.”
BLM hasn’t responded to the Shootout game, but one retired BLM agent contacted Drewrey’s team to request the game’s removal from Google Play and Apple’s App Store.
“He said the game was irresponsible, not very funny, and that it was silly,” Drewrey said. “But taking the game down isn’t something we’re going to do.”
Being silly is the entire point of the game, according to Drewrey, who said that while some people have requested it be taken down, others have applauded the different approach to the Bundy story. He said for a story that was everywhere you looked in April, there were few creative ways to help people digest what they were reading.
“We weren’t trying to point out anything new, but bring light to things pointed out by others,” he said. “We didn’t want to insult either side too much, so we took out some elements we thought were too radical to make it fun whether you’re a supporter or anti-Bundy Ranch.”
Officials with the BLM did not respond to requests for comment.