Monday, August 04, 2008

Rated M for MADD

Think Robert Novack had a bootleg copy of Grand Theft Auto IV?

DRIVEN INSANE: Now that the year's biggest video game has arrived, it may be time to add a new feature to this column: Who's Mad at "Grand Theft Auto IV" This Week? For starters, we've heard protests from feminists, immigrant groups, New York City police and New York's mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Then there's the industry's most predictable critic, Florida attorney Jack Thompson, who called "GTA IV" ''the gravest assault upon children in this country since polio."

Amid the hubbub, there was one voice that's new to this debate. Mothers Against Drunk Driving protested a scenario in which you can get the main character intoxicated, then have him drive a car. "Drunk driving is not a game, and it is not a joke," MADD said in a statement. The group asked the Entertainment Software Rating Board to reclassify "GTA IV" as Adults-Only, a step up from its current Mature rating.

MADD's protest ignores one thing about the drunk-driving simulator: It's really difficult — and not much fun — to control your virtual car when your character is intoxicated. And much of the sober driving in "GTA IV' would be illegal and dangerous in real life.

"GTA IV" publisher Rockstar Games responded, "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." Expect to see any number of variations on this statement from Rockstar in the months ahead.

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