Old 03-22-2007   #1
UnleadedPenguin
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The Inevitable Controversy

This is my first thread, so apologies if this is a repost or in an incorrect forum, but here goes:

The release of almost every major GTA game has had some form of controversy or moral uproar attached to it:

- GTA I, London '69 and GTA II were criticized for the violent content and the carjacking elements
- GTA III was released about a month after 9/11 and R* (allegedly) removed the character "Darkel" before release because some of the missions he sent you on involved aircraft-related terrorism
- Vice City had to be recalled and re-released (I think) after people from Haiti complained about the "Kill the Haitians" instructions in one of the missions (thanks Jimmy_86 for reminding me of that one)
- San Andreas was lambasted for the glorification of "gang culture" and, more damagingly, for the fact that R* failed to properly hide explicit sex scenes which they decided not to include just before release

My question is this: apart from the normal anti-violence campaigns, what controversy do you foresee happening around GTA IV?


Here are my ideas:

If the final game has an MMO element to it where players can form online gangs with real people then I reckon that will form the most controversial part of the game. Juvenile gang culture & knife/gun crime is a very hot topic at the moment and, particularly in Britain, any part of popular culture which appears to glorify or condone it is jumped upon by the moral brigade. Also, you might get people crying "unfair" if they get picked on in the MMO by a big gang of other players.

Also, R* have a habit of satirizing current events in the GTA games. Just enough time may have passed since 9/11, the Madrid bombings, and 7/7 that we may find some terrorism-related humour (or more likely satire) in the game which could get people's backs up.

Each successive GTA game also adds new activities or side-missions which cause controversy. So far in GTA games we've had carjackings, muggings, random violence, soliciting prostitution, gang-building, and sex scenes to name but a few (it's funny how no-one complains when you have to take people to hospital or deliver pizzas). What other side-missions or bonus activities do you see causing controversy in GTA IV?
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Old 03-22-2007   #2
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You missed out the hoohaa with the Haitians in Vice City.

As far as I can tell, Rockstar North don't intend to cause controversy/offence and the themes/content of their games has been covered in films/tv/ etc before. Whatever they do do in GTAIV, I'm sure someone somewhere will find something (other than the standard violence etc as you say) to complain about.


Quote:
Originally Posted by UnleadedPenguin
So far in GTA games we've had carjackings
I'd hope so...
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Old 03-22-2007   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy_86
You missed out the hoohaa with the Haitians in Vice City.
Thanks! I knew I was missing something out... *edits post*

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy_86
As far as I can tell, Rockstar North don't intend to cause controversy/offence and the themes/content of their games has been covered in films/tv/ etc before.
I quite agree - it's just that because GTA has such huge market penetration, even if it's going on everywhere else people always seem to notice the bad stuff in GTA first. Also I think they sort of think it's worse than TV and movies because the player is actually "doing" the bad deed in an interactive environment. But I honestly hope that there are no major controversies over GTA IV because the "Hot Coffee" incident nearly crippled Take Two.
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Old 03-22-2007   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy_86
As far as I can tell, Rockstar North don't intend to cause controversy/offence...
I disagree. Controversy sells. Be it games, movies, music, etc. You have to stand out if you want to sell and R* are always pushing the envelope.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy_86
...and the themes/content of their games has been covered in films/tv/ etc before.
Doesn't matter. Consumers of art/entertainment have notoriously short memories and bore very quickly. If you want a return on your investment you better bring your A Game and not disappoint. Plus, gamers are notoriously picky and hard to please, thus the "10%" comments. Do not be generic.

GTA is not, however, simply a shock game. The content is much deeper and that's why we keep coming back for more. But don't think that R* aren't using shock and contoversy to their advantage.
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Old 03-22-2007   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goat
I disagree. Controversy sells. Be it games, movies, music, etc. You have to stand out if you want to sell and R* are always pushing the envelope.
I'm not sure that's the case - I don't think that if something controversial happened in the news then R* would include it just to be popular, it's more like they make games about the things that they find cool and sometimes that offends people.

R* wanted to make a game about being a young boy fighting his way to the top of the playground pecking order, so they made Bully; they clearly didn't want to attract controversy because they changed the name to Canis Canem Edit in the UK. Another title which got rave reviews was Rockstar Table Tennis, a game which could surely vie for the title of "Least Controversial Game Ever" - R* made it because they liked the idea, not to cause uproar.

I agree they use shock and controversy to their advantage in marketing their games, but I really doubt they care about it when they're making them.
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Old 03-22-2007   #6
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I don't think R* intend to cause any particular offence when they bring out the GTA's, but with all the violence etc. I can expect some group of people to kick up about it.
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Old 03-22-2007   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UnleadedPenguin
Another title which got rave reviews was Rockstar Table Tennis, a game which could surely vie for the title of "Least Controversial Game Ever" - R* made it because they liked the idea, not to cause uproar.
Wait, you mean the table tennis balls aren't explosive? I was totally misinformed.
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Old 03-22-2007   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goat
I disagree. Controversy sells. Be it games, movies, music, etc. You have to stand out if you want to sell and R* are always pushing the envelope.
From interviews I've read with Sam & Dan Houser they say that they make the games they want to make, which as we've seen does include controversial elements, but not purely for the sake of sales.

Judging by this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goat
GTA is not, however, simply a shock game. The content is much deeper and that's why we keep coming back for more. But don't think that R* aren't using shock and contoversy to their advantage.
I think we're in agreement.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimmy_86
...and the themes/content of their games has been covered in films/tv/ etc before.
My point with this line was not about sales and producing a product that sells.

I was refering to the fact that when these "shock" things are in a GTA game it is controversial, but when it's in a Brian de Palma movie from 20 years ago there's no attempt to ban that.
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