NYC to GTA: Get Out of Our Town

The video game publisher that has made a financial killing off its most popular game title, “Grand Theft Auto” (GTA), is in hot water just one week after restructuring its board of directors and promising to increase its “exceptional brands and creative resources.”

The latest version of Take-Two’s popular run-and-gun video game, in which players in previous versions have earned points for injuring or killing police officers, has struck a chord with New York City officials — it takes place in a virtual world strikingly similar to that of the real Gotham.

City Sights in Sites

Trailers of the latest game, released Thursday on Take-Two’s Web site, show images of the Statue of Liberty, the Brooklyn Bridge and Coney Island’s Cyclone roller coaster.

A voice-over of the game’s central character guides the city tour saying:

“Life is complicated. I killed people, smuggled people, sold people. Perhaps here, things will be different.”

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg does not support games where players are rewarded for killing police officers, according to a spokesperson.

“It’s despicable to glamorize violence in games like these, regardless of how far-fetched the setting may be,” said the city’s top cop, Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

Safeguarding an Image

Big city politicians are always tough when it comes to safeguarding their domain’s image. However, a world-class city like New York, which in the past has struggled with image problems, is especially prone to criticizing entertainment firms that suggest the city might be a place where one finds wanton and gratuitous violence.

However, politicians disproportionately attack video games over any other medium, Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, told TechNewsWorld.

“They treat video games like a second-class citizen,” he added. “There are tons of movies, books and TV shows that use as a setting for stories. You don’t see the mayor complaining about that.”

The city brings in a hefty sum each year from permits that it sells to movie studios and television production companies that use the Big Apple as a location.

“It is a lack of respect and understanding,” noted Della Rocca, who pointed out that that much like the movie industry, video games have a rating system. In addition, he said, the average age of these video game users is approximately 30.

Happening All Over

New York — and the U.S. in general — is not alone in complaining about video games. Tom Clancy’s “Rainbow Six” is partially set in New York, where city officials tried to ban the game.

In addition, the recently banned “Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter 2” because the game depicts missions that deal with American troops engaging Mexican rebels and mercenaries.

“That wouldn’t happen if it was a movie from Hollywood,” Della Rocca stated.

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