Monday, September 29, 2008

[News] Drug Dealing in Grand Theft Auto

Earlier this week, news broke that Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars the forthcoming DS rendition of Rockstar's immensely popular crime series -- would feature a drug-selling mini-game, where players could earn money peddling six different kinds of narcotics around town.

Unsurprisingly, this isn't going over very well with anti-drug organizations. GamePolitics reports that in a story by the British tabloid The Sun, a member of the charity Drugsline condemns Rockstar's use of illegal narcotics.

"Anything using drug-dealing as entertainment is sending out the wrong message," said Darren Gold, on behalf of the Drugsline organization. "Glamorization doesn't help our work trying to educate kids of the dangers of substance misuse."

In Chinatown Wars, players will sell weed, cocaine, ecstasy, heroin, acid, and downers. Speaking to Edge magazine (via Pocket Gamer), Rockstar vice president Dan Houser explained why they included this feature in the game. "We wanted to have a drug-dealing mini-game in lots of the GTA games," Houser said. "We played with it a little in Vice City Stories, because it worked really well juxtaposed with the main story. It works well with what GTA is, with driving around the map, and it gives you another thing to think about -- another layer or piece of the puzzle to keep you motivated... It does intersect with the main story and things you learn from it work with the story, but it mostly runs on its own."

Whether or not the game will actually glamorize drug-dealing, as Gold suggests, remains to be seen -- but based on past GTA games, Rockstar doesn't always go out of their way to emphasize stark consequences for in-game law-breaking. Still, the developer -- which is no stranger to controversy -- probably expected this feature to be met with backlash from anti-drug organizations. In fact, they were probably hoping for it. After all, controversy certainly helps get your game in the news, doesn't it?