Michigan State Univ. Prof Uses School’s Taxpayer-Funded Lab to Create & Launch Video Game to Blow Up Pipelines and Block Energy Infrastructure

For Immediate Release
October 25, 2017

Contact: (202) 870-7715


Professor Proudly Admits the Goal of Taxpayer-Funded Game is to Stoke Pipeline Opposition

Energy Builders Asks MSU to Pull Game Immediately and Says Congress, NASA and NSF Should Withhold Subsidies for Lab Until Political Activity is Over

EAST LANSING, MI – A Michigan State University Professor has used the school’s award-winning computer game development lab (which has received federal and state tax dollars) to create a new computer game called Thunderbird Strike, which the professor herself says is designed to “bring awareness to pipeline issues and contribute to the discontinuation of [Enbridge’s] Line 5,” according to a breaking news article in Oil Price Daily. In the game, players get to blow up pipelines, which many consider an act of domestic terrorism.

This appears to be the first time that the MSU lab has created a game specifically designed to encourage political activism, as the other lab’s games are generally designed to educate players about non-controversial life skills like financial management, health, and other common values.

Energy Builders, (www.energybuilders.org) the new and leading pipeline advocacy group that recently launched on their website the nation’s first system to track and publicize the growing number of incidents of violent activity against energy infrastructure and their employees, called for the game to be pulled down immediately.

“It’s bad enough that privately-funded eco-terrorists encourage this kind of behavior, but it’s way over the line when a public university getting our tax dollars joins in the effort. We’re all for freedom of speech at public universities, but a computer lab financed in part by NASA and the National Science Foundation should not be supporting an effort to stop safe and modern infrastructure development,” said Toby Mack, President of Energy Builders.

“We call on Michigan State University to pull the plug immediately on this taxpayer-funded political campaign and reject any so-called educational program designed to encourage eco-terrorism or other bad behavior. We also call on Congress, NASA and the National Science Foundation to end any public subsidies of this computer lab until this overtly political activity has ended,” continued Mack.

The Michigan State University Assistant Professor is Dr. Elizabeth LaPensee. The game’s website shows that the MSU lab and Minnesota state tax dollars contributed to the creation of the effort, stating:

“Thunderbird Strike was developed through the Games for Entertainment and Learning Lab at Michigan State University and residencies including O k’inadas Residency, The Banff Musicians in Residence Program, and Territ-Aur(i)al Imprints Exchange. This activity is made possible in part by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, thanks to appropriations from The McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota State Legislature’s general and arts and cultural heritage funds.”

According to the lab’s website, “the GEL Lab has created and researched over 22 games with funding from the National Science Foundation, NASA, the National Institute of Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Ford Motor Company Fund, and more.”

About Energy Builders

Energy Builders is a community-based coalition of workers, families and businesses dedicated to educating friends, neighbors and elected officials about the importance and benefits of energy infrastructure and its ongoing development. Energy Builders’ members are people and businesses who make their livings in the energy supply chain, building the infrastructure necessary to produce and deliver America’s energy. The industry sector provides over a million good jobs with a massive economic footprint throughout America.


601 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 900 • Washington, DC 20004

info@energybuilders.org • www.energybuilders.org • (202) 870-7715

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