Grand Theft Auto has always been a franchise that loves to bathe itself in controversy, shower itself off in heated debate and deodorize in wild accusations. Whether it is the intentionally amoral gameplay or the amazingly unsexy “hot coffee” debacle, GTA has proved time and time again that there’s no such thing as bad publicity.
Gamers on both the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are eagerly awaiting the most recent instalment in the GTA series later this season, and when the real sequel to GTA III, the amazingly-named GTA IV launches (there have now been several spin-offs since GTA III, such as for example Liberty City Stories, etc). The net was alive with downloaders recently when RockStar finally allowed gamers their first peak at the overall game in the design of an intro trailer.
Within hours though, while gamers dissected the footage, politicians leapt in to criticize. What were they criticizing? The fictional setting, Liberty City, which resembles New York. A lot. City politicians were aghast at the notion of a piece of fiction portraying violence on the streets on New York, apparently being ignorant of pretty much the whole work of Martin Scorsese.
“Setting Grand Theft Auto in the safest big city in America will be like setting Halo in Disneyland,” said City Councilman Peter Vallone, chairman of the Council’s Public Safety Committee to The New York Daily News. He’s not alone to really have a go, either. GTA San Andreas Torrent Spotting an opportunity to look good, a spokesman for the mayor had a spin too: “The mayor does not support any game where you earn points for injuring or killing police officers.”
Oddly though, New York City hasn’t seemed to possess had a trouble with movie companies setting their violent and action thrillers in the town, with roads closed for the Die Hard 3 film, for example. Had RockStar resulted in with countless dollars in order to shoot the town for textures for the games, would there has been praise galore for the realism the overall game offered?
This criticism, needless to say, ignore the entire “it’s fiction” nature of the overall game leading to the question of whether future novelists, film makers, animators, artists and games companies will be asked not showing the town with any violence in it. Because fiction has to reflect reality apparently, somewhat destroying the point of fiction.
As to the trailer itself, there’s not a hint of violence. It’s undeniable that the overall game features a fictionalised version of NYC. As the GTA IV preview in P3Zine, the free PlayStation 3 magazine shows, but already game commentators are theorizing that GTA IV will feature more realism and less violence without repercussions, as RockStar has supposedly been conversing with ex-cops about simply how much harder organised crime is to obtain away with these days.
RockStar has repeatedly pushed GTA IV with the tagline “Things will be different” a term echoed by the key character in the trailer, but it appears that criticism of the franchise isn’t likely to any different this time around, starting before the overall game has even appeared. It’s unlikely to damage sales. Even yet in NYC.