GTA IV out soon, controversy expected (duh!)

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The time that thousands (way to underestimate, eh?) of gamers have been waiting for is roughly a month away. Yes, a new Grand Theft Auto game will soon drive its way straight to our hearts. But while we, the gamers, are waiting to play the game for entertainment, you can bet that others are waiting on it for different reasons.

Controversy is something that has gone with the GTA games since roughly GTA III. When that game first came out, I can remember the evening news filled with headlines about how outrageous it was because it let you shoot police officers, sleep with prostitutes, and then beat them and take their money. GTA Vice City was pretty much more of the same, except in a 80s setting. And GTA San Andreas was when the biggest controversy hit as people discovered the “Hot Coffee” sex mini-game, and more outraged parents and politicians wanted the game banned then ever before.

But despite all of this, Rockstar still continues to pump out these games. Two PSP games and two ports of those PSP games later, we finally have the next numerical sequel, with high definition graphics and potentially stunning gameplay. While no doubt the game will be a lot of fun for all the reasons people have grown to love the series, there are plenty of new additions to the game, one of which jumped out at me – a drunk driving mini-game.

Seriously? A drunk driving mini-game? Is Rockstar purposely painting a target on themselves? While I and no doubt many of you don’t see this mini-game as a big deal, this is fodder for all the angry politicians and parents to get riled up. Just like GTA III was called a “cop killer simulator”, I imagine that GTA IV may be referred to as a “drunk driving simulator.” Maybe I’m just thinking too much about this, but once people find out that you can “simulate” drunk driving in the game, some heads are bound to be turned.

This can work both ways for any game of course. I remember a friend who didn’t bother with GTA San Andreas, but then suddenly NEEDED to have it once he found out about “Hot Coffee.” Go figure. I also knew people back in high school that couldn’t get any GTA games because their parents said it would turn them into psychotic killers. So all the Jack Thompson’s out there have certainly done their part.

Rockstar isn’t new to the controversy game, and that’s probably part of the franchise’s success. I just wish it would stop showing up in the evening news and stop providing ammunition for anti-videogame activists who can’t tell the difference between a videogame and reality.

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