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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: *chuckle*
By AlmostExAMD on 5/2/2008 5:24:57 AM , Rating: 1
So u blame the game for their lack of maturity then?
Lets all go live in a padded box house and ban movies/games/alcohol/sex all together, Hell while we are at it might as well just slit our wrists and be done with any life at all,Ohh wait we can't knives were banned too cause they were deemed far to dangerous!
I'm afraid I don't like the way our world is headed, What the hell did 1 my ancestors fight and die in Gallipoli for, Freedom of choice?
The way our society is headed there won't be any freedoms left, Every year little laws the general public don't even notice get passed in parliament that nibble away on our freedom of choice!
Now as an adult I should be able to play this game with every good and bad aspect of the game without having some group censor it, Here in Australia GTA IV is censored, Looks like I'll be importing.
Now maybe the people u know are immature around that age but hence a need for AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT(R U LISTENING) to introduce an "R 18" rating for video games here in oz, Like we have for movies.
As an adult I am so sick of having to put up with this censored crap just to please some minority group, They expect us to go fight wars for them and then take away basic freedom of choice.
What next? Will I have to go down to my local council to fill out a permit to have sex with Miss's or what, Where does this bullshit stop,Orwellian World here we come!
Take responsibility for your own actions, U don't want to play the game or don't want your kids(who shouldn't be playing adult game anyway) THEN DON'T BUY IT, SIMPLE!!!

As for other comments, 14 year old sex video u talk about was done by school age kids, Only kiddie porn if YOU,me or any other adult views it, The cultprits who made the video were minors also,Probably was funny to them qat that age group, Of course it was absolutely digusting and wrong and they need to be punished severely for it but does that mean u want all sex/nudity in any media fromat baned as well?
Now Need for speed on front seat of car, Come on now take all the games away and I bet every young guy is still gonna be idiotic on the roads at some point, Goes with the age demographic, I can tell you now it's been going on LONG before there were even video games, Even some old 1950's films have seens with street racing, Wanna ban fast cars too?

RE: *chuckle*
By Richlet on 5/2/2008 9:55:39 AM , Rating: 2
uhh.. I don't blame the game at all, just the demographic most likely to stand in line like lemmings.

As for the video I was referring to, I was talking about R. Kelly. Last time I checked, he was 40. (34 at the time of the incident, his trial is set to begin in a week)

RE: *chuckle*
By wempa on 5/2/2008 12:39:04 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree with your assessment of the majority who will buy this game. The average age of a gamer is around 29 years old. By 29, if you can't distinguish real life from a video game, then you have BIGGER problems to worry about than a stupid game. Everybody I know of who bought this game is a mature adult who knows right from wrong. Even my younger cousins who were allowed to play some of the GTA games understand that it's only a game and not something to be done in real life. Sure, there's nothing to stop the immature people over 18 from buying it, but the same goes for R rated movies.

"My sex life is pretty good" -- Steve Jobs' random musings during the 2010 D8 conference

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