N.Y. theater removes arcade gun game after complaint

Richard Reitnauer complaint about a video game that used realistic guns in the arcade of Yonkers, N.Y. movie theater, led to its removal.
  • Richard Reitnauer complained to theater management after seeing the shooting game in the lobby after two high-profile shootings.
  • Theater chain considering removing similar games at other locations.
  • Reitnauer said his information was listed in error on a controversial Journal News interactive map containing information on gun-permit holders.
  • YONKERS, N.Y. — Richard Reitnauer has found himself at the end of a gun three times in his life — when his father’s grocery store was robbed; when a drunken neighbor brandished an antique revolver in his face as a “joke”; and years later, when a rattled park ranger mistook him and a friend for armed trespassers.

    So it struck a nerve for Reitnauer when he and his partner, just days after the Aurora, Colo., Mass shooting, walked into the Ridge Hill multiplex in Yonkers to see two kids blasting away with lifelike guns at an arcade shooting game.

    “I was upset to the point of cursing,” said the retired museum administrator. “You can at least choose whether to see a violent movie. But there’s no choice when you walk into the lobby and there’s the most violent arcade game you’ve seen right there.”.

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    After seeing the game again when he returned to the theater shortly after the Newtown, Conn., Killings, Reitnauer decided he’d had enough: He got on the phone to complain — and a senior executive at the theater chain listened.

    A couple of days later, National Amusements had the offending game removed from the Ridge Hill multiplex and replaced it with a multiplayer Pac Man.

    “I was so pleasantly surprised,” said Reitnauer, who hunted with his father and friends while growing up in California, but no longer owns weapons.

    Steve Horton, an assistant vice president of operations for National Amusements, told The Journal News that in addition to removing the offending game at Ridge Hill, his company is considering pulling violent arcades “on a case by case basis” from other locations.

    The theater chain headquartered outside Boston operates more than 1,500 movie screens around the globe and has 14 Showcase Cinemas theaters in New York state.

    “In the video game business, shooting games and driving games generate the most revenue,” he said. “But it isn’t always revenue that drives your determination of what’s right for your business. We try to listen to our customers because they’re our lifeblood.”.

    Reitnauer — whose information, he said, was listed in error on a controversial Journal News interactive map containing information on gun-permit holders that has since been removed from the paper’s website — believes violence in entertainment is one of many issues that should be part of a national debate on firearms.

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    “If people take little tiny steps at the local level,” he said, “we are going to start solving the bigger problems.”.