NY Times: GTA Chinatown Wars One of “Most Important” Games

The release of GTA Chinatown Wars for the Nintendo DS is a defining moment for video games, writes Seth Schiesel of the New York Times.

While video games have been incorporating more mature themes for at least a decade, the NYT’s game critic views the arrival of Grand Theft Auto on the generally kid-centric handheld as a definitive statement that the medium is no longer for children only.

What makes [GTA Chinatown Wars] so significant is the system it has been made for, Nintendo’s hand-held DS… [so far] the DS has found its most fervent customers among children.

Yet like “Scarface,” “Goodfellas” and other gangster movies, Chinatown Wars is definitely not for children. Recent Grand Theft Auto games go quite a bit further in their references to hedonism (some might call it depravity) than almost anything coming out of Hollywood…

With Rockstar making Chinatown Wars exclusively for the DS, and with Nintendo approving the game for its system, the two companies are making a bold and vital statement to the public. Chinatown Wars is likely to force many to realize that just because something is called a video game does not mean it is appropriate for children…


This is a crucial moment in the maturation of both the game industry and in the mass public conception of what a game is and can be. In just the last few years games have gone from the whipping boy of politicians to a somewhat grudgingly accepted element of popular culture. But there is still a long way to go…

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  1. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Mew thinks youer 10 years off but whatever…. its ncie to see the mainstream wake up if just alittle…


    Gore,Violence,Sexauilty,Fear,Emotion these are but modes of transportation of story and thought, to take them from society you create a society of children and nannys, since adults are not required.


  2. Wormdundee says:

     "Recent Grand Theft Auto games go quite a bit further in their references to hedonism (some might call it depravity) than almost anything coming out of Hollywood… "

    I find this quote pretty interesting. I can’t really think of something in a GTA game that hasn’t been in multiple movies. The idea that they go further than ‘almost anything’ coming out of Hollywood is fairly ridiculous. Hell, recently I’ve been rewatching the Friday the 13th series and in just those movies the murders are far more brutal than anything in a GTA game (spear gun through the eye, multiple machete impalings, choked out with a length of barbed wire, axes through the skull, etc.) not to mention the multiple sex scenes and ‘horrendous’ bare breasts.

    And I think it’s safe to say that Friday the 13th is not anywhere near the pinnacle of sex and violence in movies.

  3. HarmlessBunny says:


    Yessssssssssssssss video games are not just for kids. Yes there have been adult games as far as video games have been invented. Is it just dawning on these people now that this medium happens to not be just for kids?!

    I would have said that the defining moment was around ’94 to ’96 when we had video games with a budget of several millions of dollars to make said game (rivaling then movie production budgets). Sometimes hiring A-list and B-list movie actors to do video and/or voice work. Some games then even had….gasp….actual nudity and have mature language (see Phantasmagoria and Ripper [with Christopher Walken! :P] ).

    We have come a long ways since the days of Pitfall and Super Mario Brothers.

  4. Moriarty70 says:

    Funny thing is, I was in a Futureshop yesterday and they didn’t even have it lined in anywhere. I don’t know if they’re afraid to carry it or just filled in a sold out gap with something else.

  5. JustChris says:

    It sucks that it’s easier to dig yourself into a hole than it is to get out, isn’t it? Life’s rules are like the game show Jeopardy.


  6. mdo7 says:


    The first Mortal Kombat on SNES was censored, but the second one was uncensored (with a label on the box with a warning).  Most of the game on SNES was censored actually.  But because of the ESRB and the first amendment.  Nintendo can now have M-rated game.  Sadly, if the Wii had a graphic of the 360 and PS3.  Nintendo can have Fallout 3, Bioshock, F.E.A.R. series, Resident Evil 5, Call of Duty 4 (even though the DS was ok).  That would make Nintendo more hardcore then kiddie (even though, the 360 and PS3 has share of family-friendly games too)

  7. Dan says:

    Big N has been doing M rated games since before there was a rating system.

    Mortal Kombat SNES and the Resident Evil series, for example. Why is this such a big deal?

    —— Ago. Perceptum. Teneo.

  8. mdo7 says:


    The SNES version was censored because of the blood and gore and Satanic theme.  The GBA was dumb down to get a T-rating.   

  9. AM says:

     "In just the last few years games have gone from the whipping boy of politicians to a somewhat grudgingly accepted element of popular culture."

    …last I checked, games were still the whipping boy of politicians.


  10. State says:

    The Brain Training games have had a lot to do about making the DS seen as a console for older gamers, rather than the new GTA. Those are also games not aimed at kids (although they can play them).

  11. TBoneTony says:

    While I do think it is a brave move by both Nintendo and Take-Two, many people forget that Nintendo have allowed many other MATURE rated games on their consoles and handhelds.

    Anyone remember Conker’s Bad Fur Day?

    While you will keep the parents and family happy with Wii Sports and Wii Fit. The same group will always critisize you with anything associated with GTA and any of Rockstar’s other games.

    While great games like Mario, Zelda, Donkey Kong and even Pokemon don’t even get the mainstreem attention they honestly deserve and only those games get the true recognition they deserve for the gamers who have grown up with those classic Nintendo games.

    Nintendo all the way for me, M rated games for the Wii too.



  12. Faceless Clock says:

    Or people will still let their kids buy it and then act all appaled when they finally take a moment to look at it 3 months later.

    This is an amazingly out of touch article that is probably only written because the editor said "Hey its Rockstar, Rockstar is cool with gamers am i rite?" and ordered a piece.

    The Honest Game – http://www.thehonestgame.org

  13. michaelleung says:

    I kinda knew that the DS wouldn’t be just for kids. Just because it’s got a Nintendo sticker slapped onto it does not make it a kid-friendly system. Look at the South Park game for the N64.

  14. sheppy says:

    You know what I miss?  Last generation.  When an M rated game hit Gamecube or GBA, nothing about it was mentioned.  It was simply an M-Rated game.  Now if an M-Rated game hits Wii or DS, it’s some grand line being drawn in the sand to show games are for everyone… pathetic.

    Wall of Text Simulation- Insert coin to continue.

  15. hellfire7885 says:

    Sadly, it’s not going to open the eyes of certain people, and for soem it will be further "proof" that Take two is conspiring to sell M rated games directly to minors.


    And what about the M rated games on the Wii?

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