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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: 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!

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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