Up in Arms: Winnipeg Police Union Upset over GTA IV in Manitoba Jail

August 22, 2011 -

The Winnipeg police union is up in arms over inmates at Headingley Correctional Centre in Manitoba having access to Grand Theft Auto IV... in 2008. The union calls the situation "absolutely disgusting" and says that prisoners were treated to a game that glorifies violence, crime and cop-killing.

10 comments | Read more

BBFC Dishes on Gay Tony Content

October 21, 2009 -

The British Board of Film Classification has bestowed an 18 (Adult) rating upon Grand Theft Auto: Episodes From Liberty City, the bundle which features both The Ballad of Gay Tony and The Lost and The Damned.

In doing so, their report contains a few spoilers from both games, which we won’t detail here. The BBFC noted that “at least four uses of very strong language that crop up in some of the cut scenes” bounced the rating up from 15 to 18. “Strong sex and violence and hard drug use” also contributed to the higher mark.

There is also sex scenes, which are “quite strong, but always masked and the characters concerned are invariably fully clothed (no nudity).” Portrayals of cocaine, in addition to references to drug trafficking, are also spread liberally throughout the game.

Additionally:

“There are blood spurts as people are shot and stabbed etc. and pools of blood form on the ground. However, there is never any discernible injury detail and it is not possible to inflict post-mortem injuries, although there is considerable ragdolling as dead bodies are shot.”


Click through to see the whole BBFC report, and don’t worry, sections that contain spoilers must be expanded to be read.

|Via EuroGamer|
 

18 comments

Media Coalition Gets Behind Game Biz Lawsuit Against Chicago Transit Authority

July 23, 2009 -

As GamePolitics reported yesterday, the Entertainment Software Association has filed suit against the Chicago Transit Authority. The video game publishers' lobbying group hopes to overturn the CTA's ban on ads for M and AO-rated games on its vehicles and facilities.

The Media Coalition, an association that defends the First Amendment rights of producers and consumers of First Amendment protected material, has issued a press release announcing its support for the ESA in the case. Executive Director David Horowitz commented on the situation:

Ex-[Illinois] Governor Blagojevich spent hundreds of thousands of dollars unsuccessfully to defend a law that barred minors from buy or renting similar video games before it was struck down as unconstitutional. The Chicago Transit Authority should repeal this ill-conceived ordinance rather than using scarce resources to fight this in court and get the same result.

The ESA, which represents U.S. video game publishers, is a Media Coalition member as is the Entertainment Merchants Association, which represents video game retailers.

The Entertainment Consumers Association, which represents the interests of gamers, is also a Media Coalition member.

FULL DISCLOSURE DEPT: The ECA is the parent company of GamePolitics.

ESA Sues Chicago Transit Authority over Ban on M-Rated Game Ads

July 22, 2009 -

The Entertainment Software Association has filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Transit Authority, challenging a 2009 CTA ordinance which prohibits ads for games rated M (17+) or AO (18+) from appearing on its vehicles and facilities. 

GamePolitics readers may recall that in April, 2008 the CTA ordered ads for Grand Theft Auto IV removed from buses even before the game was released. The CTA action followed local news coverage of a rash of shootings in Chicago.

Shortly thereafter, GTA IV publisher Take-Two Interactive sued the CTA, charging that the agency had broken a $300,000 contract for the campaign. The parties settled the case later in 2008, with the CTA granting T2 a six-week GTA IV ad run. However, CTA officials moved to block future ads for M-rated games by passing the new ordinance, which took effect on January 1st and prompted today's legal action by the ESA.

ESA boss Mike Gallagher commented on the lawsuit in a press release: 

The CTA’s ordinance constitutes a clear violation of the constitutional rights of the entertainment software industry. Courts across the United States, including those in the CTA’s own backyard, have ruled consistently that video games are entitled to the same First Amendment protections as other forms of entertainment. The CTA appears unwilling to recognize this established fact, and has shown a remarkable ignorance of the dynamism, creativity and expressive nature of computer and video games. The ESA will not sit idly by when the creative freedoms of our industry are threatened.

The press release also explains some of the legal rationale behind the suit:

The ESA’s suit contends this new ordinance unconstitutionally “restricts speech in a public forum that is otherwise open to all speakers without a compelling interest for doing so.” In addition, the Complaint argues that the ordinance impermissibly discriminates on the basis of viewpoint and ignores less restrictive means of achieving the supposed ends of the ordinance.  

The ESA also stated that the CTA’s ordinance is unnecessary because game-related marketing is already subject to the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s Advertising Review Council (ARC), which strictly regulates computer and video game advertisements that are seen by the general public.  The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) assigns content ratings to computer and video games, which, in turn, are displayed on the advertisements for those games.

As GamePolitics has reported, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has a similar ban on M-rated game ads, likening them to X-rated movies. It is unclear at this time whether the ESA will pursue a similar action against the MBTA.

While the lawsuit also encompasses AO-rated games, as a practical matter, such titles are virtually non-existent in the U.S. market.

DOCUMENT DUMP: Grab a copy of the lawsuit here (70-page PDF)...

Little Big Planet's Sacktue of Liberty

July 3, 2009 -

Via fidgit we've been clued into Sackboy, done up in patriotic style as the Sacktue of Liberty...

...which reminds us that Hillary Clinton's face appeared on the Statue of Happiness in Grand Theft Auto IV.

So, are there other Statue of Liberty appearances in gaming? Gotta be...

21 comments

More Lists of Patriotic Video Games

July 3, 2009 -

Here are a few more lists of allegedly patriotic games for your July 4th weekend perusal. Some choices seem spot-on, others a bit of a stretch.

1up (2008): Top 5 Insanely Patriotic Video Games

  • Fugitive Hunter
  • The Sims 2: IKEA Expansion
  • Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty
  • Operation Secret Storm
  • Metal Wolf Chaos

RipTen (2008): Top Five Patriotic Games of All Time

  • Independence Day
  • America's Army
  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Oregon Trail
  • Bad Dudes

GamesRadar (2008): 20 Most Rabidly Patriotic Video Games

  • America's Army
  • 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
  • Patriotic Pinball
  • Frontlines: Fuel of War
  • Christian Founders 3D Computer Game
  • 18 Wheels of Steel: American Long Haul
  • America: The Game
  • Freedom Fighters
  • Desert Strike/Jungle Strike/Urban Strike
  • Metal Wolf Chaos
  • Tycoon games
  • Terrorist Takedown
  • GRAW 2
  • Political Machine 2008
  • Oregon Trail
  • NARC
  • American Gladiators
  • Fugitive Hunter
  • Halo
  • FDNY: American Hero - Fire Fighter

GP: If we spot new lists, we'll update.

34 comments

BBFC Says It Investigated Crystal Meth Recipe in GTA IV

June 22, 2009 -

The British Board of Film Classification, which last week lost the battle for control of U.K. video game ratings to industry-favored rival PEGI, once investigated whether Grand Theft Auto IV contained a genuine recipe for manufacturing crystal meth.

The Times reports that the discovery prompted "crisis talks" with developer Rockstar. In testimony last year before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons, BBFC head David Cooke discussed his organization's review of GTA IV:

We did examine [GTA IV] extremely thoroughly and we are the only regulator I know of who looked, for instance, at the particular issue where... there was a concern about whether you were being given instructional information about how to make the drug crystal meth.

 

We actually took independent advice on the point and eventually were able to satisfy ourselves that some of the crucial ingredients and techniques were missing so it was not a genuine cause for concern.

UPDATE: College News (leave it to those crazy college kids) explains where the so-called crystal meth recipe can be found in GTA IV:

The suspected recipe for crystal meth can be discovered in the video game as a posting on the fictional Web site Craplist --a parody of the popular real life Web site Craigslist.

27 comments

ABC News: 9 Video Games That Went Too Far

June 4, 2009 -

ABC News has posted a web feature on controversial games, listing nine titles "that went too far." The games chosen by ABC's Ki Mae Huessner are:

  • Rendition: Guantanamo
  • Six Days in Fallujah
  • Faith Fighter
  • RapeLay
  • Miss Bimbo
  • GTA IV
  • Manhunt 2
  • Super Columbine Massacre RPG
  • JFK Reloaded

Although Ki Mae interviewed me for the piece, I'm not clear as to the criteria she used to narrow her final list down to nine. Still, it's a thought-provoking article and should serve as a good starting point to discuss what makes a game controversial.

Jack Thompson Threatens to "Proceed" Against Utah Attorney General

March 30, 2009 -

In the fallout from his latest, apparently unsuccessful attempt to legislate video games in Utah, disbarred Miami attorney Jack Thompson has issued a vague legal threat to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. The popular Republican is serving his third term as Utah's top law enforcement officer.

On Friday the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Shurtleff had expressed concerns about the legality of HB 353, the Thompson-conceived video game bill which was vetoed by Gov. Jon Huntsman last week.

Thompson, clearly, was not thrilled with the news. He referred to Shurtleff as "dead meat" in the header of an e-mail forwarded to GamePolitics later on Friday.

A Sunday e-mail from Thompson to Salt Lake Tribune reporter Robert Gehrke (and cc:'d to GP) threatens to "proceed" against Shurtleff if the A.G. doesn't move against major retailers for what Thompson claims is "the distribution of pornography to minors in violation of state law." By way of defining porn, Thompson attached links to strip club and hooker scenes from Grand Theft Auto IV. However, while certainly not intended for younger buyers, GTA IV has not been declared obscene in any U.S. jurisdiction.

Oh, and there's a deadline for Shurtleff to act: 5:00 P.M. today.

As GamePolitics has previously reported, Thompson called for Shurtleff's impeachment in 2007 when the A.G. suggested that a piece of Thompson-authored video game legislation then before the Utah House was unconstitutional.

GamePolitics has requested comment on Thompson's threat from Rep. Mike Morley, the sponsor of HB 353, as well as from Gayle Ruzicka, the politically-powerful Thompson ally who heads the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum. We have also asked Shurtleff's office to comment. We'll post any comments that we receive.

UPDATE: Apparently unable to wait for his own 5:00 P.M. deadline, Thompson has written to Utah's Obscenity and Pornography Complaints Ombudsman... Except that the person he addressed his letter to is a law enforcement director in Utah A.G.'s Office. The "porn czar" position was eliminated in 2003 for budgetary reasons - which may be an indication of how serious Thompson is about all of this.

UPDATE 2: Rep. Morley has commented to GamePolitics on Thompson's threat to "proceed" against Shurtleff: "I know nothing about that."

Hit the jump for Thompson's Sunday letter to Shurtleff, the "dead meat" e-mail and the new letter to the porn ombudsman:

207 comments | Read more

16-Year Old GTA IV Gamer Charged with Grisly S&M Murder of NYC Newsman

March 25, 2009 -

A 16-year old New York youth has confessed to the stabbing murder of a veteran New York City radio newscaster, according to a report in the New York Daily News.

The suspect is an avid video gamer who lists Rockstar's controversial Grand Theft Auto IV as his favorite title.

The NYPD has charged John Katehis (left) with repeatedly stabbing George Weber, 47, last Friday. The pair met after Weber posted a Craigslist ad offering to pay for violent sex. Katehis was to earn $60 for the sleazy encounter at which alcohol and cocaine were reportedly used. Weber, apparently as part of his sado-masochistic fantasy, supplied the knife with which Katehis eventually killed him.

That's not to say that Katehis was a stranger to edged weapons. The New York Daily News, which refers to Katehis as "emotionally disturbed," displays a picture of the teen posing with his exotic knife and sword collection.

Gawker has posted Katehis's MySpace profile, in which says the suspect wrotes:

I enjoy long conversations, drinking, bike riding, hanging out, roof hopping, hanging off trains, any type of Parkour exercise. Extreme violence (chaos, anarchy, etc.) Video Games, Violent Movies and listening to my ipod...

 

I like to do crazy and wild things. I am like an adrenaline junkie. I'm a big risk taker and like to live life on the edge...

The MySpace profile references an account on ibeatyou.com. At that site, Katehis lists Grand Theft Auto IV as the "Hottest PS3 or Xbox 360 Game You've Ever Played" and includes a picture of himself holding a copy of the PlayStation 3 version. Katehis holds up Far Cry 2 in a separate photo.

Additional coverage: Gawker

GP: There are just so many dysfunctional pieces to this story, but video games will certainly be blamed in some quarters.

109 comments

Meet Rockstar's Motion Capture Studio

February 26, 2009 -

The Long Island Business News has a feature on Perspectives Studio of Glen Cove, New York.

Described as "the largest 'motion capture' studio on the East Coast," Perspectives did the mocaps for Grand Theft Auto IV:

If you don’t know what motion capture, or “mocap,” is, then think of the Grand Theft Auto video game series, said Nelson, studio supervisor for Perspectives. The eerily lifelike movements in the phenomenally successful games... were shot at the Glen Cove studios.

The mocap process begins with actors and stunt people rehearsing scenes... including highly choreographed fights with guns, knives, whips and other objects... The real people are then dressed head to toe in what looks like Velcro wetsuits where silver markers, about the size of gumballs, are stuck to 53 locations on the suits...

40 cameras set along the studio walls at various heights record the action, picking up points of light from the markers attached to the suits. The movements are then mapped onto a digitized 3-D model, and a skeleton of every character and object in motion is created. Later physical features, clothes and backgrounds are filled in to create animated sequences.

Since Perspectives has an exclusive relationship with Rockstar for GTA games, naturally  we can't help but wonder whether the infamous Hot Coffee scenes were shot there...?

“We’ve done sex. Simulated, of course.”

Bingo!

6 comments

Singapore Okays GTA IV Expansion's Full Frontal

February 21, 2009 -

Government censors in Singapore have cleared Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, despite the game's well-publicized snippet of male nudity.

The Straits Times reports that Singapore's Media Development Authority reviewed the game:

Mr Ernest Khoo, head of video games and media content at MDA, said that whether full-frontal male nudity is allowed depends on the context in which it occurs.

In this expansion pack, he said, the depiction is 'non-sexual and can hence fall within the M18 rating', which is also the rating given to the original GTA IV. He added that with the M18 rating, only those 18 years old and above will be buying the game and its expansion pack.

Going by the video game classification system MDA introduced last year, games for online download do not need to be sent for classification before sale here.

Okaying GTA IV L&D is another indication that Singapore has loosened its approach to game content since briefly banning Mass Effect in 2007.

19 comments

Common Sense Media Criticizes Full Frontal Nudity in GTA IV Expansion

February 20, 2009 -

The mainstream is beginning to react to the news that GTA IV add-on The Lost and Damned features a moment of full frontal male nudity.

Watchdog group Common Sense Media has now weighed in on the controversy:

It is even more controversial than its predecessors because this game has full frontal male nudity. The game lets you lead a life of crime as part of a motorcycle gang with plenty of gang violence... relentless foul language, drugs and alcohol, and sexual references...

Families can talk about why Rockstar likes to push the envelope and garner controversy over its games? Why did they have to put full-frontal nudity in the game if it's not integral to the story? Do they correlate media outrage with extraordinary game sales? Do players expect Rockstar to stir up controversy with each of its titles, including the Manhunt and Bully series?...

 

56 comments

Report: Australian Rating Board Under Fire Over GTA IV Lost & Damned

February 18, 2009 -

According to Edge Online, the Australian Board of Classification is "under heavy fire from critics" over the MA15+ rating granted to GTA IV expansion The Lost and Damned.

EO describes the situation Down Under:

Critics say that the strong similarities between GTAIV and The Lost and Damned add-on casts light on the disparity at the Australian classification group,‭ ‬a body which had initially refused classification for a number of high profile games such as Silent Hill:‭ ‬Homecoming and Fallout‭ ‬3.

Yet the Board's handling of the matter may be advocated by the fact that its GTA IV‭ ‬information page clearly shows that the title hasn't ever been refused classification.‭ ‬Rockstar had censored the content before showing it to the classification board,‭ ‬and the game was granted submission on its first attempt.‭

13 comments

Full Frontal in GTA IV Lost & Damned

February 16, 2009 -

When I ponder the things that I'd like to see in video games someday, a fully nekkid Congressman is not high on the list.

Nonetheless, Kotaku reports that a cut scene in GTA IV: The Lost and Damned, scheduled to release tomorrow, features a male character displayed with full frontal nudity:

[Congressman] Stubbs, in his first meeting with lead character Johnny Klebbitz, is receiving a massage at the private gentleman's club Jousters when we meet him. The Congressman, dressed in nothing but a towel, quickly becomes pretty comfortable with his new biker friend, choosing to deliver his monologue in the buff...

The ESRB rating for the game—which is "M" for Mature—does make mention of the gratuitous digital d*ck on display, noting that the game has "Nudity" in its content. The original Grand Theft Auto IV is listed as having only "Partial nudity."

PC Version of GTA IV Installs Resource Draining App

January 17, 2009 -

It seems that the PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV not only installs SecuROM, but loads the resource-hungry Rockstar Social Club app as well.

Kieron Gillen runs this issue down in the current PC Gamer:

Playing GTA IV's excellent multiplayer means suffering a certain level of upfront irritation.You'll first need a Games for Windows Live account. If you don't have one, the web-forms for creating this are almost incomprehensible, and the site often breaks.

 

Then, that account must be linked to Rockstar Social Club account. Annoyingly, the resource-hungry Rockstar Social Club application runs in your task bar, even when you're not playing (though it can be disabled) for no discernable reason.

There's more discussion on how to deal with the vagaries of the Rockstar Social Club app on GTAforums.

28 comments

NYC Street Artist Portrays Black-on-Black Violence Via GTA IV Billboard

December 29, 2008 -

In a provocative guerilla work, street artist TMNK uses a Grand Theft Auto IV billboard to make a point about black-on-black violence:

A perfectly legal Billboard advertisement promoting a video game where the participants commit acts of violence, for fun. And scrawled on it a message that is considered illegal, vandalism. One message paid for by a business who simply wants to make money, regardless of the cost. The other, written freely, in hopes of sounding an important alarm, despite it’s potential cost to the author...

There are more of US killing US, than terrorists killing us. And in my community there are more of US killing Us than Cops Killing US.

46 comments

TIME Names Top 10 Video Games of 2008

December 8, 2008 -

TIME has cranked out a feature which serves up Top 10 lists for just about everything you can think of (breakups, foot trends, open mic moments), including video games.

Lev Grossman penned TIME's list, which starts with GTA IV and ends with Spore. Here's what Grossman had to say about R*'s controversial, runaway hit:

It's ironic that GTA became a football in the debate over sex and violence in video games, because where it belongs is in the debate over whether video games count as art... It's a grade-A shoot-'em-up that doubles as an interactive novel and triples as a sly critique of American consumer culture.

Grossman's entire Top 10 list follows:

  • Grand Theft Auto IV
  • Braid (video at left)
  • Little Big Planet
  • Rock Band 2
  • Gears of War 2
  • Dead Space
  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
  • Hunted Forever (Flash)
  • Fieldrunners (iPhone app)
  • Spore
32 comments

"Morally Responsible" Investment Firm Goes Gay Bashing in Games

December 2, 2008 -

The Timothy Plan, a Florida investment firm which bills itself as "conservative Christian," is warning holiday-shopping parents away from what it calls the 30 "most offensive" video games.

While the usual suspects (GTA IV, Saints Row 2, Blitz the League II) make the list, there are some surprises as well, including the T-rated Bully: Scholarship Edition and World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.

In its game rankings, the organization displays an obvious anti-gay bias. While it evaluates titles for sex and nudity, a gay/lesbian rating is also included, meaning that a game with a gay sexual encounter might get a double whammy when compared to a game where the sex is of the straight variety. This effect, for instance, pushes Fable II onto the group's most offensive list. Along that line a report prepared by the Timothy Plan contains this rather bizarre comment:

Army of Two: Homosexual Encounters: ...Somewhat homo-erotic undertones between the two main characters are present.

WoW made it onto the dirty thirty, thanks to a high "addiction" rating as well as a high rating for alcohol use (curse you, Noggenfogger elixir!).

How the group determined the addiction rank is really quite unfathomable. WoW received a 3, for example, the worst possible rating, while Lord of the Rings Online got a 1 and Age of Conan a 2. In fact, all of the MMOs were tagged for addiction as well as some multiplayer games like Halo 3. A few games (The Darkness, Devil May Cry 4) were punished for "demonic" references.

Timothy Plan president Art Ally (left) comments:

Many, if not most, parents who buy their kids video games really don't know the extent of sex and violence imbedded in them. From drug use, prostitution, murder and mayhem to vulgar profanity and blasphemy these games have become a powerfully negative influence on our kids...

 

I believe, if parents would take a moment to look at the report we've created, their game selections would be quite different.

The group maintains a corporate "hall of shame" which includes game publishers EA, Take-Two and Microsoft. The Timothy Plan also offers to screen your portfolio to see if any of your mutual funds have investments in shameful companies.

So helpful!

Document Dump: Get the Timothy Plan's game score card here. The group's press release with holiday shopping warnings is here.

Report: PC Version of GTA IV Won't Be Edited for Aussie Market ...But?

December 1, 2008 -

There's a confusing story on GameSpot this morning which reports that the PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV will be released in the Australian market with no content edits.

It's odd because earlier this year Australian censors refused to issue a rating to the console versions of GTA IV until some of the game's animated hooker sex scenes were chopped. An unnanmed Australian Rockstar spokesperson told GameSpot:

Grand Theft Auto IV PC has been rated MA15+ strong violence, sex scenes, coarse language, and drug references by the Australian Classification Office. The PC game is unedited in any way and identical in content to the international version.

So... does this mean that Australia's Office of Film and Literature Classification is no longer concerned about the hooker animations? Or that it is - for some reason - less concerned about them in the PC version? 

Is it possible that R* left the animations out of the PC version? Will future shipments of the console version to Australia add the sex scenes back in?

Something doesn't add up on this one.

20 comments

PC Version of GTA IV to be Saddled with SecuROM

November 29, 2008 -

Say it ain't so, Houser Bros.

IGN reports that the upcoming PC flavor of Grand Theft Auto IV will install the dreaded SecuROM 7 copy protection on gamers' computers.

On an up note, however, the number of times that the game can be installed will not be subject to a limit. GamePolitics readers will recall that EA's much-awaited Spore came with a three-install limit. At least, it did until a gamer revolt prompted EA to relax the resrtiction.

Regarding GTA IV's SecuROM, an unnamed Rockstar spokesperson told IGN:

Having copy protection allows us to protect the integrity or our titles and future investments, but at the same time we have worked very hard to ensure that our solutions do not persecute the legitimate players of our games. Implemented correctly, SecuROM is the most effective form of disc based copy protection and allows us to manage authenticity on a global level for Grand Theft Auto IV...

 

GTA IV PC uses SecuROM for protecting our EXE until street date has passed, to ensure the retail disk is in the computer drive... Product Activation is a one time only online authentication when installing the game. GTA IV has no install limits for the retail disc version... and that version can be installed on an unlimited number of PCs by the retail disk owner... All versions of the game will use SecuROM for Product Activation. Downloadable versions of the game will have additional code if the vendor requires it, such as Valve's Steam program.

Rockstar also warned that pirated versions would not function properly:

Aside from the fact that warez are a great place to pick up a Trojan or key logger, using a cracked copy of GTA IV PC will result in varying changes to the game experience. These can range from comical to game-progress-halting changes.

60 comments

GTA IV Ads Back on Chicago Buses, But Future M-Rated Game Ads Banned

November 19, 2008 -

Shortly before the April 29th Grand Theft Auto IV launch, the Chicago Transit Authority pulled ads for the game from its vehicles and facilities. Prompting the move was a rash of unrelated shootings in Chicago and a Fox News hit piece that linked GTA IV to the violence, even though the game hadn't yet been released.

Just a week later, Take-Two warmed the hearts of censorship opponents by suing the CTA in U.S. District Court for breaching its $300,000 contract. The case dragged on through the summer, but in late September GamePolitics reported that the parties were nearing a settlement.

Chicago Breaking News is now reporting that, as part of that settlement, GTA IV ads will appear on CTA buses for the next six weeks, which should give T2 a little boost for the holiday season. CTA spokesperson Noelle Gaffney explained:

The CTA made the earlier decision to remove the ads from the system following some violence in the city. The CTA felt that, based on the circumstances, it was in the best interest of our customers to remove the ads and further review the circumstances.

But wait - the CTA dropped some discouraging news as well, saying that it will accept no further ads for M-rated games once it works off its GTA IV debt. Here, the agency employs some highly questionable - read: highly political - logic:

Last week, the CTA board voted to ban advertising for video games rated "M" and above. The ordinance, which takes effect Jan. 1, cites a "demonstrable correlation" between intensely violent video games and violent or aggressive behavior.

Thus, Chicago joins Boston among major U.S. cities in which public transit systems will not accept M-rated game ads. Miami also yanked its GTA IV ads after now-disbarred attorney Jack Thompson raised a stink.

GP: Even though many M-rated games are fantastic examples of the creative arts, the transit agencies are essentially equating such games with smut. The industry needs to stand up for itself on this issue. Take-Two was right to sue the CTA over its GTA IV case, but the larger ban on M-rated games in general needs to be addressed by the ESA.

42 comments

Take-Two Nearing GTA IV Ad Settlement with Chicago Bus Company

September 30, 2008 -

A settlement has apparently been reached between Grand Theft Auto IV publisher Take-Two Interactive and the Chicago Transit Authority over the agency's removal of ads for the controversial game from its vehicles and facilities.

GamePolitics readers may recall that during GTA IV's launch week, the CTA yanked the ads following a Fox News report which sought to relate the popular crime game to a rash of local shootings.

Take-Two filed suit shortly thereafter, accusing the CTA and sales agent Titan Outdoor, LLC with breaching a $300,000 contract. A document filed by the defendants with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan last week indicates that a settlement is imminent, although no details are provided.

Take-Two declined to comment on the case.

9 comments

New Zealand Govt. Rejects Watchdog Group's GTA IV Ban Bid

September 29, 2008 -

In July GamePolitics reported that the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards, a watchdog group based in New Zealand had petitioned the government to reconsider its R18 rating for Grand Theft Auto IV. The SPCS hoped to see the controversial game banned, instead.

Kiwi game site Button Masher is now reporting that the group's effort has failed and that GTA IV will remain available to gamers in New Zealand:

In a victory for personal freedom (and common sense), the Film and Literature Board of Review has reconfirmed the earlier decision of the Office of Film and Literature Classification to grant the "uncut" version of GTA IV an R18 classification in New Zealand (contains violence, offensive language, and sex scenes). The Society for the Promotion of Community Standards had earlier this year applied for a review of the classification.

 

13 comments

French Lad Torches Cars, GTA IV Blamed, But...

September 22, 2008 -

The Daily Mail reports that a 13-year-old French boy is under arrest in Lyon, charged with committing arson against several cars.

A Lyon police spokesman told the newspaper:

He said he played the game for a few hours, then wanted to go out and what it felt like to burn out some cars. This kind of entertainment is clearly having a negative effect on some young people.

There's an obvious accuracy problem in the story, however. See if you can spot it:

The 13-year-old schoolboy used petrol to set light to three vehicles after playing on the violent GTA 4: Liberty City game on his home PC.
 

If you said, "Wait, the PC version of GTA IV doesn't even ship until November 21st in Europe," go to the head of the class.

GP: Thanks to reader NovaBlack for tipping us to this story in Shoutbox.

105 comments

Singapore Politician: Why Isn't GTA IV Banned?

September 18, 2008 -

A member of Singapore's Parliament has questioned why Grand Theft Auto IV is permitted to be sold there.

As reported by The Electric New Paper, Christopher de Souza (left) suggested that underage players would get their hands on the game and questioned how the life of crime portrayed in the game fit in with government efforts to discourage drug use, crime and gangs:

The question ought really to be if this game should enter the market in the first place.

By way of response, Minister for Information Communications and the Arts Dr Lee Boon Yang pointed out that GTA IV's rating was consistent with that found in the United States, U.K., Australia and Japan:

When rating the game, the MDA [Media Development Authority] took careful consideration of the content, themes and storyline found in the game, recognising that adults are better equipped to discern fact from fiction.

43 comments

GTA IV Radio Station Prompts Music Copyright Lawsuit

September 10, 2008 -

A Jamaican man who claims that he co-wrote a pair of reggae songs featured on one of Grand Theft Auto IV's radio stations filed suit over the issue against Rockstar Games and Take-Two Interactive in July.

The suit was dropped yesterday in federal court in Manhattan.

In his complaint, Linton White alleged that he co-wrote Last Night with David Brooks, aka Mavado. White also claims co-authorship of Bullet Proof Skin with Rodney Basil Price, who performs as Bounty Killer. Like the plaintiff, Brooks and Price are also from Jamaica.

Both songs named in the suit appear on the playlist of GTA IV's reggae-themed Massive B Sound System 96.9 station, which can be heard as players drive around the game's expansive setting in an assortment of virtual vehicles.

White is listed as a producer on Mavado's 2007 Gangsta for Life album, which contains the disputed Last Night track. According to the suit, White alleges that his co-authorship of the disputed songs was not added to the Liberty City Guidebook which was packaged with GTA IV:

In the... Liberty City Guidebook... [Take-Two and Rockstar] designate D. Brooks and B. Konders as the writers of "Last Night." ...[Take-Two and Rockstar] designate D. Brooks and R. Price as the writers of Bullet Proof Skin." No designation is made of plaintiff as a writer.

Neither Brooks, Price or Konders are named as defendants. In his complaint, White demanded $150,000 plus punitive damages and other fees. In court filings, attorneys for Rockstar and Two-Two argued that White's claims lacked merit. It is unknown what - if anything - White received.

For its part, Take-Two refused to comment on the matter. White's attorney, Anthony Motta of New York, declined to say whether or not there had been a settlement.

15 comments

11-year-old Girl Saves Family, Credits GTA

September 4, 2008 -

Okay, so a pre-teen probably shouldn't be playing Grand Theft Auto.

But, as MyWebTimes reports, 11-year-old Audrey Plique's GTA gaming sessions may have saved her family's life after their car rolled over on the night of August 27th. Karen Norris, Audrey's mom, explains:

She just knew, from playing 'Grand Theft Auto.' She saw on there that when a car rolls over, it can blow up. She knew that could happen to us...

 

She showed the kind of bravery and courage you don't expect from an 11-year-old. She stayed composed. She sounded upset, but she knew the things she had to get done to help her parents and her siblings.

Audrey was just glad that she was able to save her family. It's unclear whether she saved her progress in GTA.

Via: Kotaku

GP: Thanks to several GP readers who pointed us toward this story. And, why yes, I do suck at PhotoShop...

128 comments

Actually, It's Good News: 10% of GTA IV Buyers Under 17, Says Nielsen

August 14, 2008 -

GameDaily reports on data released by Nielsen which holds that 17% of Grand Theft Auto IV buyers were under 17.

But in 39% of those cases someone else - typically a parent - actually purchased the game, which means that the actual number of unassisted underage buyers was about 10%.

While GameDaily and other outlets are finding alarm in these numbers, the 10% figure is actually twice as good as might have been expected.

Why?

In April the FTC released data showing that 20% of its underage secret shoppers successfully purchased M-rated content, the game industry's best result ever. The Nielsen data effectively doubles the game industry's ratings enforcement effectiveness. From the Nielsen report:

61% of these younger gamers indicated that they purchased the M-rated game themselves, with 39% of the young gamers responding that someone else bought the game for them," Nielsen said. "Interestingly enough, parents/guardians were pegged as the biggest facilitators for getting the controversial game into the hands of these young respondents, garnering 80% of the response. Friends, siblings and other relatives rounded out the other 20% of the response.

The GTA IV numbers also look pretty good when stacked up against a new Dartmouth study which says that 48% of minors have been exposed to R-rated movies.

GP: Obviously, you'd like to see zero sales to underage buyers, but we don't live in a perfect world. These results are a significant improvement over the 2008 FTC numbers, which were deemed extremely impressive when released.

It is great to see Nielsen providing this kind of data, as it gives context to the ratings enforcement issue. It's the kind of the data the industry ought to be providing on its own, however.

 

43 comments

PC Gamers Get Their Shot at GTA IV

August 6, 2008 -

Why should console gamers be the only ones with the opportunity to be corrupted by Grand Theft Auto IV?

According to a just-issued press release, PC gamers will get their own version of the hugely popular - and hugely controversial - game in November. The PC version of GTA IV will be released in North America on November 18th and in Europe on November 21st.

Rockstar Games founder Sam Houser is quoted in the press release:

We are very excited to be releasing the PC version of Grand Theft Auto IV. The whole team is dedicated to bringing an amazing gaming experience to the PC. The game looks and plays beautifully on PC and we can't wait for people to play it.
 

 

31 comments

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Poll

Is King right? Should all games adopt the free-to-play model?:

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician