Rockstar "Spazzed Out Like Little Babies" Says Simpsons Game Writer

October 29, 2007 -
Is there a simmering feud in Game Developer Land?

GamePolitics readers may recall the dust-up between EA and Rockstar at the recent Leipzig Game Convention. Rockstar objected to satirical GTA references in the upcoming The Simpsons game (see: Rockstar Bullies EA Over Parody).

Specifically, a poster for Grand Theft Scratchy, a GTA parody which appears in The Simpsons, drew Rockstar's ire.

A trio of writers on the game have fired back at Rockstar on Geoff Keighley's Game Head program. Matt Selman (left) explained the controversy:
The game begins with Bart wanting to play a game called Grand Theft Scratchy. Of course this is a parody of Grand Theft Auto. And Marge immediately takes it away from him. She tries to clean up the town and stop the game from being distributed in Springfield because Marge is against video game violence. She uses horrific violence to stop video game violence... in a video game.

Thats called irony... The people who make Grand Theft Auto, they spazzed out like little babies.

Writer Matt Warburton (right) chimed in:
They're supposed to be rockstars... That's not a big Rockstar move, to be afraid of The Simpsons making fun of their game.

Selman also dinged Rockstar a bit for the delayed release of GTA 4:
We couldn't get our game out in time, so we're afraid that the gamers -- who are not morons -- are going to get confused by an Itchy and Scratchy poster of Grand Theft Scratchy - they're going to think that's the same thing as Grand Theft Auto...

EA lawyers are afraid to use the name Grand Theft Scratchy in promoting the game... [Rockstar's] games are full of satire, lame attempts at parody... basically putting the words sixty-nine in wherever they can find it...

Selman eventually paid homage to GTA, but couldn't resist a parting shot: 
Their games are amazing. Trust me, I'll be the first person in line to play Grand Theft Auto 4... in five years when it comes out.


While I'm not defending Rockstar, I can kinda see where they are coming from. With all the guano from the looney in Florida, the games that are half-ass knock off of GTA, and the bull crap that Hillary and Lieberman have been giving them I'm not surprised that they are a little touchy right now.

Did they over-react? Heck yeah, however they are under a lot of pressure right now, frankly.


You just mentioned the Arse! Turn in your Penis, 'cause your credibility has gone down One Million points.

Yo can have it back at the end of the day.

^^Why does that always happen?


No, you're not "right again". This is opinion vs. opinion, so you're not right on this just because one person has the same opinion as yours.

And just when were you ever "right" before? This isn't about you, Jack. Be quiet and let those who are grown up speak.

Nice to at see some developers getting pissed at other developers. I don't know why, but I think it's actually kinda intriguing. This could spur some Simpsons-related parodies in GTA4, making Rockstar's anger over this issue ironic on multiple levels. Oh the insanity.

John B. Thompson, Attorney at Law

1172 S. Dixie Hwy., Suite 111

Coral Gables, Florida 33146

October 29, 2007

Strauss Zelnick


Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.

C/o Howard Camerik

Blank Rome

Boca Raton, Florida Via Fax and e-mail

Re: Manhunt 2

Dear Strauss:

You are now formally on notice that the above product is being sold to anyone of any age, with no age verification whatsoever, not only through Take-Two’s own web site but through other Internet sites as well.

Secondly, you are now formally on notice that Manhunt 2 has an ESRB “descriptor” that proclaims it contains “Strong Sexual Content.” You may not know that the 40+ state jurisdictions and the federal jurisdiction all have “sexual material harmful to minors” statutes which criminalize the sale of sexually indecent material to anyone under 18 years of age.

The “Mature” rating that the ESRB uses foolishly allows sales of sexual material to teens as young as 17. This one year hiatus, between 17 and 18, exposes Take-Two corporately and you personally to criminal prosecution.

Govern yourself accordingly, regarding this “fine art.”

Warm personal regards, Jack Thompson

"As I was saying, Strauss Zelnick should buy Hypocrisy, Inc. He’s the biggest hypocrite in the video game universe. Just ask EA. Jack Thompson, right again."

Was it really Strauss Zelnick? Like...Strauss Zelnick of TAKE TWO? Or just Rockstar? I figure I should ask, Jack, because you'd be the one to know, right?

@jack thompson, attorney

So you're willing to sell your company to whom you see as the enemy?

The real irony is that they're spazzing over what is most likely a request from Rockstar's lawyers or editorial. Those jabs at the dev team were totally uncalled for.

Oh, and you don't get to zing other people over "lame attempts at parody" when the best you can come up with is "Grand Theft Scratchy". GOD. Thank you, EA.


*Thank you, Rockstar.


Well, with his legal license taken away he'll need an alter form of income, discounting of mooching from his wife, of course.

It does seem uncharastic of R*, who usually doesn't care what anyone else thinks. I can see two things about this parody, though, that combined make it somewhat less benign than most.
1) The parody is being used on advertisements. Advertisements that are used to sell games. So EA is, in theory, making money off GTA's likeness.
2) The parody poster (at least the one linked in the story) is a very good parody. It has the look and feel of the usual GTA art down rather well. It's good enough, in fact, that someone not very well informed of the circumstances could conceive that it was an actual game and that if R* wasn't making it they were at least giving it the company's blessing. Parody, I thought, is supposed to be obvious enough that no one in the target audience could possibly confuse the parody with the real thing. I'd argue that that's not the case here - the poster could be construed by some as R* backing the Simpsons game somehow, and EA making money off it.
Note - and I think this is significant - that the article clearly states that the advertisement poster was the focus of R*'s ire. I imagine they'd have no problem with them being parodied - it's happened to them often enough, and they say parody is the highest form of flattery. But things become more complicated, perhaps, when the parody is no longer being done solely for entertainment purposes but is being used to sell something.

I seem to hear a buzzing sound, is there a bug in here?

I'm thinking the whole of Rockstar don't really have a problem with the parody. In the original piece that was run on this, the lead developer of The Simpsons game said he thinks it was just one of the lawyers overreacting.

Rockstar flipping out over this doesn't make sense, considering their past with Reflections

Rockstar and Reflections have gone back and forth with parody and jabs at each other in games before. Rockstar started it in GTA3 and Reflections responded with Driv3r having Timmy Vermicellis with waterwings mocking the inability to swim in Vice City. Rockstar then responded again in a Madd Dogg mission in San Andreas.

So why would they flip out over The Simpsons game having a parody instead of just poking fun of the game in their next game. So I see it as one person overreacting.

Honestly, it’s hypocrisy on Rockstar’s part. In any PS2-era GTA game they not only pepper their game world with parody posters, they have spoofs of movies on the radio stations and lines from other movies deliberately placed in the dialog. But then EA does the same thing and it’s suddenly wrong. Give me a break.

Yeah, well said.

well honestly the Simpson's game is not going to be very big most likely. games based on things like movies and other media rarely turn out well and from the demo on XboxLive i can already say that it doesn't play well.

so if not many people play it than it's even less of a big deal.
Rockstar is just a little sensitive. Maybe they need "Johnson ans Johnson's no tears baby shampoo"

GTA is one of the greats though

@ JT

What is he right about this time? or I should say wrong because he doesn't seem to know how to read.


Mate, i'm going to tell you a little secret. He can't read.

How the hell would anyone here know if it's going to be a big game or not? I think it will sell well, just cus of the simpson fan base alone. And i've heard good reviews of it so far. And you can't base a game on it's demo, that's just lame.

As far as I recall, Parody falls under "fair use".

I think this has more to do with US copyright law than Rockstar being hypocritical. Doesn't a copyright holder have to at least complain about violations? My understanding is that if they don't they set a precedent and might risk losing the copyright/trademark.

I think JT is age-regressing these past few weeks. His posts and court filings are becoming more and more childish. He also seems to be cruising toward a libel/slander suit- be careful or you'll wish you did.


It's been like this for years.


Can we stop talking about Jackie over there?

I'm pretty sure EA could go ahead and parody GTA since it would be covered by fair use. GTA does crappy parody all the time.


Rockstars' management is just interested in avoiding any more attention than it already has (and will) generate. I don't think they should have bothered with this, but coming out of the already heated media hate they've had for manhunt 2, i can see why they just don't want fresh attention.

I think i'll do this one for a little while..

JT says: "As I was saying, Strauss Zelnick should buy Hypocrisy, Inc. He’s the biggest hypocrite in the video game universe. Just ask EA. Jack Thompson, right again."

Let's see how many things you go against that you have become.

Vigilante, (illegal stings) distributor of adult material to minors, (gay porn) and a 'kiddy,' (your posts here).

I think the title of hypocrite belongs to you, Mr. Thompson.

Can we put possible Child Abuse on that list?

Hey, I've been sold the wrong games! My copies of the Grand Theft Auto series are made up of vulgar puns (mainly to do with homosexuality) and parodies of other games and films, padded out with mindless violence and a bit of story. What evil agent added these references to Rockstar's entirely original games?

Chris, in theory yes, but this is an open and shut case of parody, which is legally allowed in copyright law.

I suspect this is a left-hand/right-hand situation to be honest.


I am sorry ok. I just hate how far the series fell. It died when maud died. I do like family guy. I own alot of the early simpsons collection and they used the marge idea in the last game anyway.

to jack.

fuck off.

No need to apologise.


Fuck off and die.

does anyone here play Garrys mod. because if they do they will get this insult.

jack you are a mingebag.

my steam name is sdbarbary if any one wants to play.

I'm still thinking about what possible reasons R* would do this - especially since they have, to my knowledge, let other GTA parodies off in the past. (What can I say, slow day at work.) Some possible explanations:
1) R* did in fact just lose its sense of humor at some point.
2) It isn't the stance of R* as a whole but just that of one overzealous lawyer or executive within the company.
3) This isn't parody because it's just a poster. A parody usually has enough content to establish itself as kind of like its source material, only with a few key, silly differences. This may not be parody but just EA whoring out R*'s intellectual property to advertise something.
4) It's not a parody because the use of R*'s IP isn't creative enough. If they advertise a Grand Theft Scratchy portion of the Simpsons game, advertise using the same box art and art style as GTA, and have that portion of the game be just like GTA... it becomes questionable whether what they're doing is parody, or if they're just taking someone else's IP, changing the names, and selling it as your own.
I'm not saying this is definitively not a parody, but I'm willing to argue that it's presumptive to claim that it definitively IS parody.

Oh... PR stunt by EA to generate hype for their shovelware Simpson's title based off of the Simpson Movie. By guess is missing the release window(about time the movie came out), cost EA the retarded parent purchase.

Remember when the developers of this game just made this out to be a giant misunderstanding with a gung-ho over zealous lawyer from R*. Yeah, funny how they[EA] nears the fall release(It comes out tomorrow for the US) of this title their gets more elaborate.

I don't watched the simpsons much anymore, nor do I plan on getting this game, but I do think that maybe this has something to do with the symbolism of the poster.

Itchy and Scratchy were nothing more than gratuitous violence on the show and the poster shown continues that trend. By comparing them to grand theft auto, maybe T2/R* believe that the poster would fuel the fire that is "gta=pointless violence"

We all know (except one) that GTA is not just about killing for the sake of killing, but Itchy & Scratchy were.

Do you see what I am getting at? If you don't just say so, I can try to be a bit clearer with my opinion

P.S. first post here, so sorry if I come off a little weird.

@ Jack

Maybe I will get to speak to/about you in the future...

[...] [Via GamePolitics] [...]

i'm surprised R* don't let this slide... They usually have a pretty good sense of humor about this sort of thing. That's not say that I necessarily agree with EA about it, but this does seem to have been blown out of proportion.

To 'Mr.' Thompson, if he can be called as such:

I'm so sorry, but you seem to have mistaken the readers of this website for people who care. Go somewhere else and spout your vitriol. I think I speak for everyone when I say we've had enough.

I hate to be the grammar police, but the first line should read "Is there is a simmering feud..." instead of "Is their a simmering feud..." These sorts of errors irritate me to no end, and it's something they force us to learn in stenography school.

As for the content of the article itself, they're basically saying what everyone who heard about this was thinking. Rockstar, we're not idiots. We know what games we're buying and playing. If we come across a parody of a game within another game, we're not going to assume that we're playing the game being parodied. We're going to think that we're playing a video game that contains a parody of another video game, because that is all that's happening. To suggest that any reasonable person would think otherwise is insulting.

@FlyinM_X: Interesting idea, that, and I do follow what you're saying - that GTA wants to think of itself as 'better than' Itchy and Scratchy. That gets into a question of artistic merit, though, which won't fly. If you say Itchy and Scratchy can't parody GTA because the former lacks anything but senseless violence, it's a short step to saying that, say, Scary Movie infringes on Scream and other slasher movies because the former is just slapstick and movie references, or that Spaceballs infringes on Star Wars for being silly, or that Robot Chicken infringes on, well, damn near everything. It is not our place, or anyone's place, to decide what IP is deserving of protection and what isn't. Otherwise some would have already said that video games, by virtue of being games, don't deserve the same protections as books or movies.

Way to look like jerks (again) R*! For once here, EA is in the right. R*, if you want to do parody then you must expect, nay, encourage people to parody you!

If you can't take a joke, then you shouldn't make a joke!

this is not an attempt at valid criticism
this is an attempt to milk the public's sympathy so that even more people will buy the game

I don't think it is the actual game developers at rockstar who are bitching; probably just the guys who make all the financial decisions. Its pretty shameful and it gives Jack Thompson and the like ammunition.

Oh my. Folks, scroll up; Jack posted again.

Time to break it down.

Dear Strauss:

You are now formally on notice that the above product is being sold to anyone of any age, with no age verification whatsoever, not only through Take-Two’s own web site but through other Internet sites as well.

No, it has verification. Credit card verification. If you don't agree with that, go after the federal government. Pursuing Take-Two or the other sites on your FRAUDULENT charge won't work and opens you up to countersuit. Plus, you can't sue -- agreement earlier this year, remember? Guess not.

Secondly, you are now formally on notice that Manhunt 2 has an ESRB “descriptor” that proclaims it contains “Strong Sexual Content.” You may not know that the 40+ state jurisdictions and the federal jurisdiction all have “sexual material harmful to minors” statutes which criminalize the sale of sexually indecent material to anyone under 18 years of age.

The “Mature” rating that the ESRB uses foolishly allows sales of sexual material to teens as young as 17. This one year hiatus, between 17 and 18, exposes Take-Two corporately and you personally to criminal prosecution.

Sorry, Jack, wrong again. Strong sexual content does not mean that it has sexually indecent material in it; only that it has "strong sexual content". If the material was sexually indecent, an AO would have been given. May I point out the strong sexual content in episodes of Family Guy, which are viewable every week on Fox, available even on televisions with an ANTENNA? Strong sexual content, yes. Indecent and lawbreaking? No. Same for Manhunt 2. Pursuing Take-Two on your FRAUDULENT charge won't work and opens you up to countersuit. Plus, you can't sue -- agreement earlier this year, remember? Guess not.

Govern yourself accordingly, regarding this “fine art.”

Misuse of quotation marks. Videogames are art. Ask the Library of Congress. Plus, they already are governing themselves accordingly; the game was rated AO, they edited it, it's now M. If you disagree with it... tough.

@Jack .....

R* prove themselves to be a pack of idiots and you HAVE TO out-do them yet again !! Why are you vying for the crown of "Moron of the Year"?

Incidently, I have no idea why people place R* on such a high pedestal. Their games aren't THAT good, you know.

yawn even.

I'm really curious when will Take-two take too legal action looney toon for violating their settlement, considering that they have the legal ground for it, simply saying that he signed said agreement in bad faith and is not blatantly violating it. Perhaps they are waiting for his disbarment so he 1) will not be able to stall it with pointless and meaningless legal fillings, 2) will actually have to PAY another lawyer to represent him, i.e. $$$$$$$ out of his wife's bank account.

Basically, give him enough rope to hang himself with.

Hi, Jack. Did you get lonely again?

Makes me wonder if Rockstar is sick of EA's crap as well.
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