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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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Consistent aren't we
By PKmjolnir on 5/1/2008 12:43:06 PM , Rating: 5
They rave and want to have the game banned because you can practice drunk driving in it. Meanwhile completly ignoring the shooting-innocent-crowds-with-automatic-weapons part.

Next up: Hardcore pornography needs to be banned because it shows women in indecent underwear!

RE: Consistent aren't we
By sh3rules on 5/1/2008 1:11:57 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed. That behavior really defines our religious conservatives: gun violence is ok, but anything suggesting sex is bad.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By SavagePotato on 5/1/2008 1:28:55 PM , Rating: 5
I'm starting a new organization.


Gamers against Crazy Christians.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By darkpaw on 5/1/2008 1:44:01 PM , Rating: 2
Sign me up.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By AlphaVirus on 5/1/2008 2:48:24 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Consistent aren't we
By hubajube on 5/1/2008 3:41:35 PM , Rating: 2
Oh hell yes!


RE: Consistent aren't we
By FITCamaro on 5/1/2008 1:33:39 PM , Rating: 5
Well violence is against religion too. People are just a lot more prudish about sex because many people want to believe it doesn't happen. While I am not for the promiscuity that exists today since I think sex should be between two people who care about each other (not necessarily married though), I am also not for the attitude that people have that it shouldn't be present.

I don't think we should glorify promiscuous behavior as some TV shows and music do, but we also shouldn't make it taboo. Doing so only makes the young curious and wanting to break the rules, same as with alcohol. If you don't put it up on a pedestal, kids will be a lot less likely to do it (in my mind). Sex education should be taught with the mind that it does happen but just encourage kids that if they are going to have sex, to do it with someone they care about, not just anyone. It should not be taught with the mindset that sex is evil outside of marriage.

And really it shouldn't need to be taught at all. Parents should be taking care of it. Sadly though, they aren't. I mean I went to Catholic school and even there they didn't teach that it was wrong outside of marriage. They didn't talk about that at all. They merely educated us about the body and the possible risks such as different STDs and pregnancy. They left the when and whether or not to have sex to be taught by the parents.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By SavagePotato on 5/1/2008 1:42:37 PM , Rating: 3
Religion is causing more real deaths on a daily basis all around the world than any Video game ever could.

That is if you believe that things like religion, video games, movies, etc are worthy of being blamed for the choices of human beings to commit acts of violence.

If GTA4 or any video game can be blamed for the actions of someone committing a crime, then religion instantly becomes the greatest plague to mankind ever seen at the same time.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By FITCamaro on 5/1/2008 1:47:03 PM , Rating: 3
The deaths today being caused in the name of religion are not what those religions actually teach. They are twisted interpretations of a religion by psychopaths who prey on the uneducated and ignorant.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By AlphaVirus on 5/1/2008 2:58:39 PM , Rating: 2
They are twisted interpretations of a religion by psychopaths who prey on the uneducated and ignorant.

I think you missed the concept of what religion is then, its all based on perception. Faith is nothing more than a thought, which comes from a single persons mind, which is based on a perception.

Why do you think there are some people that preach "God is a forgiving God" and others that say "God is a merciful God". Some people find different characteristics in a single thing, everyone has different thoughts so interpretations will become skewed.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By FITCamaro on 5/1/2008 3:44:35 PM , Rating: 2
I'll give you that. I won't deny that horrible things have been done in the name of religion.

I was just trying to say that gun violence is not "ok" with religious advocates. But yes they do seem to ignore it more than sex when it comes to video games.

I will say that I do think video games, movies, etc can be the stimulus for why people commit violent acts. But its only when they're not taught by their parents that the acts in these forms of media are wrong. If you let a young child grow up watching violent movies without putting them in context and perspective, the kid is never going to learn that this is not how they should behave.

But I do not think banning violent games and movies is the answer. Education is. Parenting is. If you're a bad parent and you let your kid watch violent movies and play violent games, and they grow up violent, thats your fault, not the movies or the video games. You didn't do your job so they didn't learn the difference.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By AlphaVirus on 5/2/2008 11:51:39 AM , Rating: 2
I was just trying to say that gun violence is not "ok" with religious advocates. But yes they do seem to ignore it more than sex when it comes to video games.

Ok, misread your previous post then. Yeah I get what you are saying.

The media puts gaming on its own pedistal that, for some reason, should stay holy. Movies on the other hand can have any sort of violence and massacre and its ok. TV shows can have all the cussing, soft porn, and violence and it seems to be marked as ok.

They try to protect tv shows with the excuse of "Kids should be sleep or at school at these times." but fail to realize "Parents should put parental control on electronic devices if they dont want them playing naughty games or movies."

RE: Consistent aren't we
By mmatis on 5/1/2008 4:47:39 PM , Rating: 3
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics
Body Count: 58,627,000
1922-1991 (69 years)

People's Republic of China
Body Count: 73,237,000
1949-Present (57+ years and counting)

North Korea Flag
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Body Count: 3,163,000
1948-Present (58+ years and counting)

Cambodia Flag
Body Count: 2,627,000
1975-1987 (12 years)

But then, I guess Communism is a religion too, isn't it?

RE: Consistent aren't we
By robinthakur on 5/2/2008 7:41:39 AM , Rating: 1
Religion is a virus like memetic mechanism for mass control, nothing more, nothing less, because only unproven faith in *something* is all that's required for it to occur. It takes advantage of something inherent only to humanity, which is 'Hope'

It simply says "believe in a dream, because accepting your reality at face value is too grim to contemplate."

RE: Consistent aren't we
By BiffRapper on 5/2/2008 12:28:47 PM , Rating: 2
So you'd rather believe in nothing than something?

If you are not, then what are you? For many people, hope allows them to drive on and push into the next day and continue with their otherwise rather depressing lives. It gives people something rather than nothing.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By SavagePotato on 5/3/2008 5:02:36 PM , Rating: 2
You don't need religion for that.

I think all religions are a ridiculous farce, but that doesn't mean I believe in nothing and presume to know the mysteries of the universe.

I don't know what happens to consciousness after death or presume to hazard a guess. However the ludicrous nature of pretty much all religions precludes anyone with any logic at all believing some silly fairy tale baloney that differs from religion to religion with each and every one believing they are the only true religion.

Let me tell you, god must be one hell of a prick to devise all these hoops to jump through and rules to get into his graces and still make it impossible for some of his "children" to ever succeed, because they are in the wrong area of the world to ever hear about the "true" religion. Or mentally handicapped and incapable of ever understanding it. etc.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By kiloguy on 5/4/2008 6:50:19 AM , Rating: 2
to AlphaVirus, quote, "Faith is nothing more than a thought"
robinthakur,quote,"unproven faith .." and "something inherent only to humanity".
SavagePotato,qoute,"presume to know the mysteries" and "I don't know" and "anyone with any logic at all.." and finally, "Let me tell you...".
OK. Every atheist i have ever met believes we are so smart, we can figure out the nature of God/religion/faith.
Question: Is there a chance that we can not SEE the things we can not see? Are there things UNSEEN?

Quote: "The universe is not only queerer than we imagined, but queerer that we can imagine".
Quote: "Now faith is ... the evidence of things not seen." (Heb.11:1 KJV)
one more quote: "Of all the creatures on earth only Man can experience shame, and the only one that should."
my 0.02.

RE: Consistent aren't we
By AlphaVirus on 5/7/2008 2:55:47 PM , Rating: 2
Did you just take quotes from the bible to stir a religious debate?

You dirty dog you!

RE: Consistent aren't we
By SavagePotato on 5/1/2008 3:01:19 PM , Rating: 2
That was the point.

If you hold a video game responsible for crimes committed by an individual then you have no choice but hold religion responsible for the endless plethora of crimes committed in it's name daily.

"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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