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The latest campaigns against the Grand Theft Auto come as little surprise to anyone, but still serve up interesting societal questions

Perhaps the biggest video game release of the year, Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto IV is an iconic example of the power of the video game industry.  EA Games is desperate to acquire Take Two, almost entirely out of a desire to get its hands on the lucrative franchise.  Sony is hoping the system will help re-energize Playstation 3 sales.  And movie executives are fearful that the game will ruin their summer blockbusters by stealing away their viewers' time.

The power of GTA IV, though, as always is not merely in sales, but in shock.  On top of its extreme violence, usage of profanity, drugs and alcohol the new game pushes the envelope featuring masturbation, fellatio and intercourse -- though stopping short of full nudity sex scenes.  In an era, seen by some as prudish, in which parents are more appalled by sex, a biological function, than severed heads it seemed inevitable that the game would draw some high profile criticism.  Now the critics have come out, both with some familiar and unfamiliar faces.

First up is a new foe -- Mothers Against Drunk Driving.  The group is incensed at the game for providing depictions of driving intoxicated.  It is lobbying the Entertainment Software Ratings Board to change the game's rating from "Mature" to "Adults Only."  Such a change seems unlikely, but if it happened, it would mean that the game would be unable to be carried at many major retail stores.

MADD released a statement saying, "Drunk driving is not a game, and it is not a joke.  Drunk driving is a choice, a violent crime and it is also 100 percent preventable."

The organization is also trying to convince publisher Take-Two Interactive and developer Rockstar Games to stop distribution of the popular game "out of respect for the millions of victims/survivors of drunk driving."

In GTA IV players can "drink" at bars and then afterwards have the option of hailing a taxi, walking off their intoxication, or throwing caution to the wind and driving drunk.  When driving drunk the view blurs and its harder to steer.  Players recover from intoxication after several minutes in-game.

Rockstar shot down MADD's requests in a public statement in which it said, "We have a great deal of respect for MADD's mission, but we believe the mature audience for 'Grand Theft Auto IV' is more than sophisticated enough to understand the game's content.  For the same reason that you can't judge an entire film or television program by a single scene, you can't judge 'Grand Theft Auto IV' by a small aspect of the game."

Meanwhile a familiar foe of the video game industry is rearing his ugly head.  Jack Thompson, scolded by the Florida Supreme Court for his record of junk lawsuits against video games is back at it.  He's calling on a Florida U.S. attorney to sue Take Two and retailers for offering the game.

He raves in his letter, "Indictments should be returned against Take Two corporately and its Chairman, Strauss Zelnick, along with other Take Two officers. Indictment should also be against Sony and Microsoft which are making this pornographic game available to minors, and openly so, on their PS3 and Xbox systems.  Further, indictments should be handed down against Wal-Mart, Best Buy, GameStop, and all other retailers distributing this game to minors at their retail stores, openly, to kids who are only seventeen."

Then in a comical moment he compares the game to the polio virus.  He continues, "Grand Theft Auto IV is the gravest assault upon children in this country since polio. We now have vaccines for that virus ... The 'vaccine' that must be administered by the United States government to deal with this virtual virus of violence and sexual depravity is criminal prosecutions of those who have conspired to do this.  If you doubt me, look at the aforementioned streaming audio/video. It will make you sick."

As "evidence" Thompson offers up a link to a graphic video from IGN entitled "Ladies of Liberty City," which is viewable online, and definitely not a good idea for those of you reading at work.  While the only likely ramification of Thompson's tirade is the furthering of his public reputation of somewhat of a joke, it does continue to illustrate the controversy over whether video games merit the same depictive rights as other forms of graphical media.

However, controversy certainly isn't stopping customers. GTA IV is expected to set both sales and profit records, as analysts predict it to sell around 9 million copies, and make $400M USD at launch.

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By MozeeToby on 5/1/2008 12:24:17 PM , Rating: 5
What's ironic is that the game specifically says "Driving in this condition is a bad idea, better call a cab". The scene in question is designed to teach you how to use the cabs in the game. If you drive anyway the police will arrest you, even open fire on your car if hurt someone and refuse to stop. The game is actually very clearly anti-drunk driving.

RE: Irony
By Brandon Hill on 5/1/2008 12:29:11 PM , Rating: 3
Hmmm, maybe I should have done that :) I took Michelle to a bar on our second date and got plastered. She asked me to take her home, so I hopped back in my SUV and drove her home without getting into an accident or getting pulled by the cops. I guess that saved me fare for the taxi :-)

Didn't bother her though... and I scored with her the next night, so all is well in Niko's eyes (DualShock3 FTW) :)

RE: Irony
By KristopherKubicki on 5/1/2008 1:14:51 PM , Rating: 5
Haha I'm so not interesting in the random dating minigame. I took her bowling once and figured this was the dumbest shit I've ever seen in a video game (I haven't played the Sims much) -- there's no story value in doing that right?

RE: Irony
By BladeVenom on 5/1/2008 1:39:05 PM , Rating: 5
If you hated that, you'd best steer clear of Japanese PC games.

RE: Irony
By afkrotch on 5/2/2008 12:53:34 PM , Rating: 2
Ya, but in those type of games, you have sex with them. Fully mosaic'd out and all.

RE: Irony
By nugundam93 on 5/5/2008 1:20:23 AM , Rating: 2
the ones most fun are those with full animation, like in sexy beach. some just have stills with sound (background music, voices). :D

i sure did waste some time playing them too way back. hahaha.

RE: Irony
By AlphaVirus on 5/1/2008 2:26:04 PM , Rating: 2
there's no story value in doing that right?

I questioned this, I do not know but it does not hurt to have a female to tag along. I'm hoping towards the end of the game, she will turn into a Bonny and Clyde deal. :)

RE: Irony
By AlphaVirus on 5/1/2008 2:24:23 PM , Rating: 5
I did the same thing "Hey a martini glass on the map, must be a bar" so I took her there. After the date was over, he is stumbling around but I was not about to leave my car so I hopped in and drove off. The car started to drift and swerve and the visuals began to blur. This was fun and all but it actually made me slow down to prevent crashing my car.

I would have scored the next date but I accidently pressed the L1 button and fired my pistol off while driving her home. She starts to scream and hops out the car...lets just say she does not like the violent lifestyle.

I still am trying to get her to go on another date with me. After I spent all that money on nice clothes, shoes, etc and finding the nicest neighborhood to steal a decent car.

RE: Irony
By afkrotch on 5/2/2008 1:09:48 PM , Rating: 2

I want to play this game so bad, but our local store (AAFES) is sold out. It'll probably be another month or two before I see it on the shelves again.

Have no fear, for play-asia is here. I want to get Minna no Golf 5, as the US version (Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds has terrible voices), and Fate/Tiger Colosseum along with GTA IV. Yes yes, I love my PS3. That's not to say I hate my Xbox 360. I blew $240 on a single game and two XBL point cards in Feb. That's more than GTA IV, Minna no Golf 5, and the F/T Colosseum game. $40 USD more.

Another week and I'll be getting drunk and driving over ppl's of course.

RE: Irony
By AlphaVirus on 5/7/2008 2:58:34 PM , Rating: 2
Its almost been a week, have you been able to purchase GTA4?

RE: Irony
By killerroach on 5/1/2008 12:29:14 PM , Rating: 5
And that will deter MADD from rasing a stink... why? :)

Publicity is publicity for an advocacy group, especially if you haven't been drawing the headlines in recent years due to guns, gods, or Gore. So I take it their "G" word to score a quick headline, therefore, is "GTA"...

RE: Irony
By HOOfan 1 on 5/1/2008 12:29:31 PM , Rating: 5
Jack Thompson could probably find something "offensive" and "violent" to campaign against in a My Little Pony game.

You cannot reason with the unreasonable.

RE: Irony
By JasonMick on 5/1/2008 12:45:33 PM , Rating: 4
Of course, I mean clearly "My little pony" is a euphemism, and you can imagine what it means.

And you think that's bad how about
Disney's The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Underseas Adventure

"Adventure" under her "sea", huh? Not on my watch!

Darn video game manufacturers, what will they unholy next??? Oh the humanity!

RE: Irony
By kinnoch on 5/1/2008 4:51:57 PM , Rating: 5
"Everythings better, down where its wetter, take it from me."

Sabastian said it himself in the song "Under the sea"

RE: Irony
By mles1551 on 5/1/2008 1:04:52 PM , Rating: 3
I heard he tried to stop the release of Hello Kitty Island Adventures b/c of its Nazi overtones.

Anyone watch Boston Legal last night? Just think they tried to make this guy look like a Presidential candidate.

RE: Irony
By spluurfg on 5/1/2008 2:06:41 PM , Rating: 2
I just think the funniest thing is that the devs were already making fun of him and other such 'values' activists in the game, because they were expecting this:

RE: Irony
By Synastar on 5/1/2008 3:44:04 PM , Rating: 3
You have to wonder if JT's hoping in some twisted way that someone will murder him and make him a martyr so he can prove his point and go down in history.

RE: Irony
By FITCamaro on 5/1/2008 1:07:42 PM , Rating: 5
I agree. When I read they were upset about the drunk driving, I thought, "If anything the game goes to show what can happen if you try to actually drive drunk." It does anything but promote it. I would understand them getting upset if you could go out drinking and then get in the car and drive normal as that would show what they're inferring. But it doesn't.

The fact of the matter is the game is rated M. It's for people 17+. It clearly states on the box all the things that are in the game. Language, violence, drug use, sex. They don't hide any of it. If you don't want your kid playing it, then don't buy it. If they buy it and you catch them playing it, take it away. For the rest of us that enjoy the game, leave us alone.

I was quite surprised when I picked up a hooker, chose the $70 option, and the chick climbed in Niko's lap and started f*cking him.

RE: Irony
By Sulphademus on 5/1/2008 1:31:21 PM , Rating: 2
Further, indictments should be handed down against Wal-Mart, Best Buy, GameStop, and all other retailers distributing this game to minors at their retail stores, openly, to kids who are only seventeen."

People like to act like teenagers have their heads buried in the sand. They have their heads in the sand if they think highschool is Little House on the Prarie.
I mean, come on, how many of us were devirginized prior to age 18?

RE: Irony
By FITCamaro on 5/1/08, Rating: 0
RE: Irony
By FITCamaro on 5/1/2008 1:45:09 PM , Rating: 5
And I certainly don't think its a good thing that a good bit of 16 year olds aren't virgins. Hell we have 12 year olds having sex now. This is hardly a progression of society.

RE: Irony
By Sulphademus on 5/1/2008 1:50:53 PM , Rating: 2
I'm not saying its good or bad; I'm just saying that it is and these people, Mr. Thompson, like to think that it isn't.

I would also say that teenage promiscuity is unrelated to TV or Movies or Video Games.

RE: Irony
By FITCamaro on 5/1/2008 2:05:28 PM , Rating: 5
I would also say that teenage promiscuity is unrelated to TV or Movies or Video Games.

I would say its highly related. Kids see shows and movies where sleeping around is shown to be acceptable, even cool. Plus they see sluts like Paris Hilton all over the media glamorizing it and acting like its no big deal and cool. Finally, hip hop and rap music encourages it as well in their lyrics(not all but a lot). All these things are the "cool" and "in" things so kids get the idea that this is how they should behave to be accepted. Yes good parenting is a stop gap against this but unfortunately, there's very few good parents anymore.

RE: Irony
By Ryanman on 5/1/2008 3:22:37 PM , Rating: 5
actually, as a teenager, let me say that I want to have sex because I've heard rave reviews from everyone else. Not becasue it's on CSI : D

RE: Irony
By tdawg on 5/1/2008 4:26:03 PM , Rating: 5
Exactly! Kids derive their desire to have sex from other kids that have done it. While media may play a small part, it's peer pressure and high school perceptions that get kids to have sex before they're necessarily ready.

RE: Irony
By AlphaVirus on 5/1/2008 2:19:01 PM , Rating: 2
I would also say that teenage promiscuity is unrelated to TV or Movies or Video Games.

Thats what Jack is not understanding.

Sex has been around..hmmm..if scientest are correct, millions of years. Caveman anyone? Dinosex anyone? So all of this was way before tv and movies. Tv and movies just started making people think sex was a bigger problem than it should be.

RE: Irony
By FITCamaro on 5/1/2008 2:30:56 PM , Rating: 1
Humans are not cavemen or animals anymore. We have evolved. We have self control. We don't act entirely off instinct as animals do.

Teenagers mainly do what is considered cool and what will make them popular. Having sex is one of those things these days thanks to mainstream media. Back in the days when having sex as a teen was heavily frowned upon, it didn't happen as much. Now its pretty much considered "cool" for someone to sleep around. I've heard girls joke about "I'm such a slut". That's sad.

I'm not saying all sex as a teen is wrong. I'm just saying promiscuous sex is running rampant these days, both in teens and adults, and its a problem. All its doing is creating a mountain of welfare cases for the rest of us to pay for since people are stupid and don't use proper protection. And not having access to the protection isn't an excuse. If you need it and don't have it, you shouldn't do it anyway because you want to. You just shouldn't have sex.

RE: Irony
By AlphaVirus on 5/1/2008 2:46:31 PM , Rating: 2
I believe this is the cycle.

DNA has I-want-sex-genetics
the more and more kids you have the stronger this gene gets
news portrays sex as bad so adults think its bad for kids
kids watch the latest MTV show and little Katy thinks sex is cool between her and her young friends
those same kids go to school and discuss with their real life friends and thus
public sex among teens is accepted.

Sex is something we have been doing forever, groups like MADD and fools like Jack should stop making it seem as if GTA is a ploy to destroy little kids lives.

RE: Irony
By FITCamaro on 5/1/2008 3:36:56 PM , Rating: 2
groups like MADD and fools like Jack should stop making it seem as if GTA is a ploy to destroy little kids lives.

Agree 100% there.

RE: Irony
By Sulphademus on 5/1/2008 5:15:03 PM , Rating: 4
Well, I believe we have evolved technologically and societ..icaly? But genetically? Not so much.

Our bodies are still made to start reproducing at 13ish. And it wasn't all that long ago that that was common. Back in dino-days early and frequent reproduction was probably very important to the survival of the species.

I don't think the concept of 'maturing too quickly' even came about until recently. It requires a cushion society for that to occur. No one there to hand you free bread or babysit your kid? Too bad. And over the centuries the evolution of society has added more and more cushion.

The biggest thing though is that now, children are a liability. Children were labor in the middle ages. That doesn't work nearly as well in an office as it does on a farm.

Advancements in contraception (please google the methods they used to try!) are pushing down the unplanned pregnancy rate. The percentage of teenage mothers in the USA has dropped dramatically since the 1950s when you just couldn't talk about such things.

Of course this could mean anything about the rate of sex itself. I'm sure though that alot of it has to do with the increased availability of effective contraception.

Society has changed alot. Science is unfathomably different. Our DNA is fairly the same.

RE: Irony
By jeff834 on 5/1/2008 11:26:02 PM , Rating: 2
Having sex as a teen was frowned upon and didn't happen as much when exactly? In the 80s? Nope. 70s? Nuh uh. 60s? LOL yeah right. When was Romeo and Juliet? Late 16th century? Must have been before that. Is it much more visible now than it was? No doubt. I mean back in the 50s when 16 year old Susie got pregnant she was sent away somewhere and never talked about. In the 70s and 80s you heard about pregnant girls but they were sluts you didn't really know. Nowadays, seeing a pregnant girl or two in a highschool class isn't uncommon, I knew a couple myself, but I think it's more our perceptions of things that have changed than the actual sexual activity that occurs.

I lost my virginity at 16 and many of my friends around the same time, but we all used protection and so do most middle class suburban teenagers in similar situations. Teenage pregnancy runs rampant where people are poorly educated. Learning about sex ed in school isn't good enough parents need to make sure their kids know the score and hang out with the right people.

RE: Irony
By robinthakur on 5/2/2008 7:35:09 AM , Rating: 2
Either that or if you're gay you really don't have to worry about getting anyone pregnant. I'm not saying its an answer for everyone but hey... :)

RE: Irony
By snownpaint on 5/2/2008 10:39:53 AM , Rating: 2
Haha.. We are animals.. A little more civilized, but still hunters and foragers. Read the news, not CNN or Fox, the human race for the most part are still barbarians. As for a reduction in sex life, I think the 21st century has way less sex then past. In comparison to the 60's -70's.. You want to talk about sex. This was off the charts after the pill came out. STDs caused a scare, but it is so much fun, I doubt it will ever be to the level the conservatives would like to see it. Trying to hide it or curb its presence in the media, is like not talking about or noticing your nose. I would say holding it back only breaks the flood gates.

RE: Irony
By Coca Cola on 5/1/2008 2:46:57 PM , Rating: 1
to those that are typing out his name, just refer to him as "that crazy bitch", don't capitalize

his name, don't give him a title (Mr.), he's not especially don't feed him

violent video games after midnight :) my opinion, but oh well

RE: Irony
By Hiawa23 on 5/1/2008 1:49:28 PM , Rating: 3
The organization is also trying to convince publisher Take-Two Interactive and developer Rockstar Games to stop distribution of the popular game "out of respect for the millions of victims/survivors of drunk driving."

what next, no war games out of respect for our fallen troops? The game is for 17 & older, & just like alchohol, if a yougin wants the game I am sure he/she can find someone to get it for him. Seems these days, people are not accountable for their actions, & always want to blame everything & everyone. It's unfortunate for those who have lost love ones due to DD, it's also unfortunate for those who lost love ones due to gun violence, I don't see any bans on that, & who are they going to blame next? I am all for kids not getting this game, but I have no issues with parent buying this game for their kids if they deem they are mature enough to handle it. I am 34 have a 10year old & my mother never had issues with me playing violent games or listening to ruff music. she taught me right from wrong. Perhaps parents needs to look in the mirror instead of everywhere else.

RE: Irony
By arazok on 5/1/2008 1:54:11 PM , Rating: 5
I like:

Drunk driving is not a game...

Isn't driving drunk, in a game, clearly a game?

RE: Irony
By bodar on 5/1/2008 9:50:48 PM , Rating: 2
I think that technically makes it a mini-game. Hell, let's throw it in the next Mario Party.

RE: Irony
By jtemplin on 5/1/2008 5:02:26 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. And in a game where you can shoot and kill police officers, is allowing drunk driving even a big deal? The point of GTA 4 is to simulate a real city and all the choices, good or bad, that can be made in it.
Maybe the trade group representing the dairy industry should become "incensed" by a previous GTA allowing you to sell drugs out of an ice cream truck. These people are ridiculous.

RE: Irony
By walk2k on 5/1/2008 5:07:17 PM , Rating: 2
Please stop giving this guy attention!! He is NOT worth it.

RE: Irony
By HexiumVII on 5/2/2008 7:38:15 AM , Rating: 2
You know what, i wasn't that into the GTA franchise, only played original III for a little bit but got pretty bored. But now i'm actually interested in 4 because you can actually drive drunk, that sounds really fun and shows how much thought went into making this game. Just unfathomable. Pretty soon you really don't need to go outside.

"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone

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