Grand Theft Auto IV controversies

Grand Theft Auto IV controversies

"Grand Theft Auto IV" (often abbreviated to "GTA IV" and "GTA 4") is a sandbox-style action-adventure video game developed by Rockstar North. ["Grand Theft Auto IV": "GamePro" is the first to play the biggest game of 2008," "GamePro" 235 (April 2008): 50-51.] It is the ninth title in the "Grand Theft Auto" series and the first in its fourth generation. "Grand Theft Auto IV" was released worldwide (except Japan)cite web| last = Tanaka| first = John| title = GTAIV Heads to Japan| work = IGN| publisher = | date = 2008-04-22| url =| accessdate = 2008-04-25] on 29 April 2008 for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360.

Prior to and since its release, the game has been subject to a great deal of controversy.

Jack Thompson

In 2007, Jack Thompson, a Florida lawyer who had previously campaigned against other "Grand Theft Auto" games, stated he would take various measures to prevent the sale of the game by Rockstar to minors. [cite web|last=Graft|first= Kris|date=2007-01-03|url=|title=Thompson Rallies Against GTA IV|publisher=Future US|accessdate=2007-04-01] On 14 March 2007, Rockstar's parent company, Take-Two Interactive, filed a lawsuit [cite web|title=Case 07-80238||date=2007-03-13|url=|format=PDF|accessdate=2007-09-05] against Thompson in Florida in an attempt to pre-emptively block him from trying to declare its games a public nuisance. It would be a crime to sell games declared to be a public nuisance, effectively banning such games, which they believe would be a violation of First Amendment rights. [Game Politics Staff (2007-04-01) [ BREAKING: Take-Two Sues Jack Thompson over "Manhunt 2", "GTA4"] , ""] Thompson responded by filing a countersuit, [cite web|title=CASE NO. 07-20693-CIV-ALTONAGA||date=2007-03-21|url=|format=PDF|accessdate=2007-09-05] accusing Take-Two of violating federal RICO statutes (the charge was later dropped), committing perjury, obstruction of justice, and conspiring against him with third parties to deprive him of his civil rights. [Game Politics Staff (2007-03-22) [ In Countersuit, Thompson Claims Take-Two at Center of Vast RICO Conspiracy] , ""] [Sinclair, Brendan (21 March 2007) [;title;1 Thompson Countersues Take-Two] , ""]

Both parties reached a settlement on 20 April 2007, [cite web|title=Case No. 07-20693-CIV-Altonaga/Turnoff||date=18 April 2007|url=|format=PDF|accessdate=2007-09-05] and agreed to drop their respective lawsuits. Under the terms of the settlement Thompson is barred from suing to block the sale or distribution of any future games published by Take-Two or any of its subsidiaries. He will be restricted to communicating through Take-Two's attorneys on any future matters. Thompson will still be able to maintain his outspoken stance against the publisher's titles, as well as still being allowed to act as counsel in lawsuits brought against Take-Two by other parties. For their part, Take-Two agreed to drop its contempt of court lawsuit against Thompson regarding alleged improper conduct during the "Bully" court hearings in Florida, [Game Politics Staff (23 October, 2006) [ Could Jack Thompson Be Jailed Over "Bully" Case?] , ""] [Dodson, Jason (23 October 2006) [ Report: Jack Thompson May Face Contempt Charge] , ""] which, if found to be in contempt, could have resulted in Thompson seeing jail time. [Game Politics Staff (20 April 2007) [ GTA Publisher, Jack Thompson Settle Lawsuit] , ""] [Seff, Micah (20 April 2007) [ Jack Thompson and Take-Two Bury the Hatchet] , ""] [Xbox Users Group (20 April 2007) [ GTA Publisher, Jack Thompson Settle Lawsuit] , ""]

Thompson filed a document with a federal court in Florida on 18 September 2007, [Thompson, Jack (18 September 2007) [ Case 1:07-cv-21256-AJ Document 12-2] (PDF), ""] that claims that the assassination target of a mission in "GTA IV" is a lawyer character based upon himself. When the main protagonist enters his office and pulls a gun on him, the lawyer yells "Guns don't kill people! Video games do!" Thompson has threatened that unless the similarities to himself are removed from the game he will "take necessary and proper means to stop release of the game". [cite web|title=Jack Thompson Says GTA 4 Mission Target is Him; Threatens to Block Release||date=18 September 2007|url=|accessdate= 2007-09-18]

On 25 April 2008, it was reported in "Metro" that Jack Thompson had written a letter to the mother of Strauss Zelnick, Director of Take-Two Interactive. In the letter, which strongly criticised the game, Zelnick, and his mother, Thompson called "Grand Theft Auto" a "murder simulator". He went on to say that "The pornography and violence that your son traffickssic in is the kind of stuff that most mothers would be ashamed to see their son putting into the hands of other mothers' children". Thompson then questions Strauss Zelnick's upbringing and says that his mother should be ashamed of herself, and that she "...sparedsic the rod and spoiled the child. That would explain why he has brought you, by the way he presently acts, to shame." He finishes by saying "Happy Mothers' Day, Mrs Zelnick, which this year is May 11, two weeks after your son unleashes porn and violence upon other mothers' boys. I'm sure you're very proud." Neither Take-Two interactive nor Rockstar Games have made any comment regarding the matter. [cite web|title=Jack Thompson hounds Rockstar boss'... MOTHER||date=25 April 2008|url=|accessdate= 2008-04-25] Thompson subsequently claimed he sent the letter to Zelnick's lawyer, not his mother, and that the letter was formulated as a parody intended to induce feelings of "shame" in Zelnick. [cite web|title=Jack Thompson's Open Letter to Take-Two CEO's Mother||date=2008-04-22|url=|accessdate= 2008-04-22]

Thompson is currently facing permanent disbarment and a $43,675.35 fine by the Florida Bar Association. [ retrieved on 2008-07-09] This ruling was reached by the Florida Supreme Court because of egregious ethics violations, some of which are related to Thompson's multiple suits aimed at Grand Theft Auto. [cite web| title = Corrected final report of referee Thompson| date = 2008-07-09| url =| format = PDF| accessdate = 2008-07-09]

Glenn Beck

Glenn Beck, a conservative US talk-radio host, said on his program on CNN's Headline News about the game: "We are training our kids to be killers, and we are training our sons to treat women like whores." Glenn Beck said the US military have never considered videogames to be harmless fun. Beck spoke of soldiers refusing to shoot their rifles in WWI. Beck said "Senior officers found if they trained the soldiers by putting a human silhouette on the bullseye during target practice, they could actually condition men to shoot more easily. The technology progressed, so did the training techniques. Paper targets evolved into electronic simulations and welcome to the great-great-grandfather of the videogame developed by The Pentagon." Beck said the method was so successful that the firing rate of soldiers who had to shoot another human being for the first time went from 15% in WWII to 55% in the Korean War to over 90% in Vietnam and "now that number is almost one hundred." (See killology) Beck also said the "Journal of the American Medical Association" said the introduction of television in the 1950s caused a doubling of the homicide rate in America. [ [ CNN Headline News - Grand Theft Morality Pt.1] . YouTube. Retrieved 2008-05-07]

In the second segment of the show, Beck spoke to Jack Thompson via satellite, as well as Gavin McKiernan, national grassroots director for the Parents Television Council. Thompson called the game "a murder simulator." He said "What makes the sale of this game a criminal act, which Take-Two knows is a criminal act, is the incredible levels of simulated sex in the game. You can go into an adult strip club, have oral and anal sex, S&M between women in the club (it should be noted that none of this is possible to perform in the game). And indeed to sell this to a minor [...] is a criminal act." McKiernan said "This is really an adult product we're talking about [...] Thirty years of medical research has shown over and over again in thousands of studies the potential effect for violent media to have on children, on the developing mind as you grow. And common sense tells you and the medical profession has backed up, there is definitely a difference between casually watching a two-hour movie with horrific acts and participating [...] and not for two hours but you can spend seventy or eighty hours on "Grand Theft Auto" just to finish the game and that's if you're good at it." Thompson said the game should be rated Adults Only, saying "the sex in the game was taken out so it could even be sold to adults in Australia." Thompson said "because Best Buy, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Target, so forth will not sell an Adults Only game, the ESRB comes up with a phony rating [...] Therefore it is being sold to teens. This is criminal act which is in violation of 47 states and the federal jurisdiction's laws regarding sexual material harmful to minors." [ [ CNN Headline News - Grand Theft Morality Pt.2] YouTube. Retrieved 2008-05-07]

New York City officials

After the release of the first trailer for the game, New York City officials were appalled with the choice of their city as the inspiration for the setting of "Grand Theft Auto IV", and said that a game like "GTA" does not represent the city's crime levels accurately. [cite web|url=|title=New York appalled with GTA IV setting|publisher=Future Publishing|accessdate=2007-04-01] A spokesperson for Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "The mayor does not support any video game where you earn points for injuring or killing police officers," although no points are awarded for killing or injuring police officers in the game. [cite web|last=Gendar|first=Alison|coauthors=Pereira, Ivan; Saul, Michael|date=2007-03-31|url=|title=Pols rage as vid game takes shot at city||accessdate=2007-04-01] As a response, Jason Della Rocca, executive director of the International Game Developers Association, accused New York City officials of double standards, for criticising video games but not other forms of entertainment, such as books, films and television shows, which use New York City as the setting. [cite web|author=Millard, Elizabeth||date=2007-04-02|url=|title=New York Balks at Next Grand Theft Auto|format=html]

Edited release

While there is no official confirmation as to what was removed in the edited version of the game, unofficial reports claim that when picking a prostitute, you can no longer select the 'service' you want [ [ What Was Cut? Australian And Unmodified GTA IV Compared | Kotaku Australia ] ] and that all sex animations have been replaced with a view of the back car bumper [] and blood pooling has been removed [] . There is also a noticeable decrease of swearing while playing the gameFact|date=September 2008.


Despite confirmation in February 2008 that the Australian version of "Grand Theft Auto IV" would not be edited in any way,cite web |url= |title=Aussie version of GTA IV completely uncensored |accessdate=2008-04-06 |last=Van Leuveren |first=Luke |date=2008-02-04 |work=PALGN] Rockstar later told "The Sydney Morning Herald" journalist Jason Hill that the Australian version would be edited.cite web |url= |title=GTA IV edited for Australia |accessdate=2008-04-05 |last=Hill |first=Jason |date=2008-04-04 |work=The Sydney Morning Herald]

"Grand Theft Auto IV" was awarded an MA15+ rating on 11 December 2007. In a post on his blog, Jason Hill stated that a Rockstar spokesperson confirmed to "The Sydney Morning Herald"'s video game section, Screenplay, that the company had produced a special version of "Grand Theft Auto IV" to comply with the Australian classification system. The spokesperson would not comment on what has been cut from the game.

New Zealand

It was announced on 15 April 2008, and subsequently reported across the Internet, that the New Zealand release would be receiving the edited Australian versioncite web |url= |title=New Zealand version of GTA IV also cut |accessdate=2008-04-16 |] with Take-Two Interactive Support Team citing "time scales and logistical reasons" as the reasonTake-Two Interactive Support Question #080418-000003] . Later, on 5 May 2008, it was confirmed the original version of the game had been submitted to the OFLCcite web |url= |title=“Uncut” GTA IV Submitted to OFLC for New Zealand Classification |accessdate=2008-05-05] . On 21 May 2008, the original and uncut game was now officially classified by the New Zealand OFLC thus legal to sell in the country.cite web|url= | title="GTA IV Uncut Hits New Zealand Streets" | accessdate=2008-05-21]

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

The organisation Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) sharply criticized an in-game option that allows players to drive while intoxicated and called for a stricter rating on the game that would effectively ban its sale in the United States. "Drunk driving is not a game and it is not a joke," MADD said. "Drunk driving is a choice, a violent crime, and it is also 100 percent preventable." MADD is asking the Entertainment Software Rating Board to bump "Grand Theft Auto IV"'s rating up to AO for Adults Only from M for Mature and calling for Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games to consider stopping distribution out of a sense of social responsibility, or out of respect for those who've been hurt or killed by drunk drivers.cite news |url=;title;3|title=Mothers against GTAIV's drunk driving |date=2008-04-30|first=Brendan|last=Sinclair|publisher=GameSpot] The ESRB describes that the game includes "Use of drugs and Alcohol" [ [ Mother take on GTA 4] ] Rockstar issued a statement to the Associated Press. "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."cite news|url=|title=MADD attacks 'Grand Theft Auto IV' |date=2008-04-30|first=Derrik|last=Lang|publisher=Associated Press] When attempting to enter a car while drunk in the game, the main character, Niko Bellic, will remark that he shouldn't drive drunk, and the player is encouraged to call a taxi instead. In addition to being extremely difficult to drive a car while intoxicated, in-game police will pursue the player if they are seen driving while intoxicated.

Chicago Transit Authority lawsuit

Take-Two has filed a lawsuit in response to the Chicago Transit Authority pulling ads promoting "GTA IV" from their property, violating a contract for the ads to go until June 2008. [cite web |url = |title = "Grand Theft Auto" publisher sues over pulled ads |accessdate = 2008-05-08 |author = Kearney, Christine; Trotta, Daniel; Eastham, Todd |date = 2008-05-05 |publisher = Reuters ] A CTA representative said that the ads were removed due to complaints in 2004 surrounding the ad campaign for "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas". [cite web |url = |title = GTAIV ads pulled because of San Andreas flap |accessdate = 2008-05-08 |author = Sinclair, Brendan |date = 2008-04-28 |publisher = GameSpot ] Miami-Dade Transit might also be facing a similar lawsuit due to similar circumstances.

Little Lacy Surprise Pageant

On 16 June 2008 British newspaper The Sun reported the presence of an in-game internet resource called "Little Lacy Surprise Pageant" available on the in-game internet. [cite web |url = |title = Video game has spoof perv site |accessdate = 2008-06-16 |author = Weinberg, Jonathan |date = 2008-06-16 |publisher = The Sun ] The fake site – – displays a message from virtual authorities saying it has been closed down. It warns that anyone caught looking at it will be investigated and features the warning: “We see it all, we know it all," which is similar to the quote "Don't think you can't get caught. You are not anonymous." found at The player's Wanted level immediately jumps to 5 stars, resulting in both police and FIB (Federal Investigation Bureau) involvement in their arrest.

The domain name address is just one of dozens of fake sites in "GTA IV". Typing it into a real internet browser takes users to the official website for the game.

No missions in the game allow players to act out the role of a paedophile , and neither Rockstar Games nor Take-Two Interactive have issued a statement regarding the inclusion of this content in the title.

New Hyde Park Crime Spree

On 27 June 2008, police arrested six teenagers who went on a crime spree in the town of New Hyde Park, New York. The group mugged a man, knocking his teeth out, attempted to carjack a woman driving a BMW and smashed a passing van with a bat. According to the Nassau County Police, the teens were inspired by Niko Bellic perpetrating violent crimes in "Grand Theft Auto IV". [cite web |url =,0,701634.story |title = 6 teens arrested in NY crime spree |accessdate = 2008-06-27|date = 2008-06-26 |publisher = Newsday ] [cite web |url =,0,4494415.story |title = Cops: Grand Theft Auto video game inspired teen crimes |accessdate = 2008-06-27 |author = Chayes, Matthew |date = 2008-06-27 |publisher = Newsday ]

Thailand Taxi Driver Murder

On 4 August 2008, BBC Newsbeat reported that an 18 year-old student had been arrested in Bangkok, Thailand after he killed a taxi driver while attempting to steal it. Bangkok police captain Veerarit Pipatanasak stated "He wanted to find out if it was as easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was in the game." [cite web|url=| |title=Thai retailer pulls GTAIV| accessdate=2008-08-05| author=Gamespot | date=2008-08-04| publisher=Gamespot Blog] According to local sources, the student was playing the game in an arcade and wanted to rob the taxi driver to get money to continue playing the game. [cite web|url= |title=Teenager imitates online game, kills taxi driver |accessdate=2008-08-13| author= Ngamkham, Wasssayos | date=2008-08-04 | publisher=Bangkok Post]

As a result of this incident, the game was subsequently banned in Thailand. [cite web |url= |title=Thailand bans Grand Theft Auto IV |accessdate=2008-08-04 |author=Reed, Jim |date=2008-08-04 |publisher=BBC Newsbeat ]

ee also

*Grand Theft Auto IV
*Liberty City
*List of characters in Grand Theft Auto IV
*Grand Theft Auto IV soundtrack
*Marketing for Grand Theft Auto IV


External links

* [] , "Grand Theft Auto IV" Official website

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