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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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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.


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