CNN logo
Message Boards 

CNN Networks 

Quick News 
Video Vault 
News Quiz 

Pathfinder/Warner Bros

Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble


Hijacking hi-jinx: Computer game drives controversy

By Marc Saltzman

March 31, 1998
Web posted at: 2:21 PM EST (1421 GMT)

(CNN) -- A new, uncontrollable crime wave is sweeping across the Unites States. But this time around, it's happening on computer monitors instead of city streets. No, this is not another news piece about some 14-year-old hacker breaking into the Pentagon's mainframe again, this is about a new game that makes "Boyz in the Hood" look like an after-school Disney special.

In "Grand Theft Auto," a PC CD-ROM recently published by ASC Games, players assume the role of a "gansta" or "psycho bitch" and must perform various felonies to climb up the ranks of the Mob world. But it doesn't stop with just jacking cars either -- the player must also shoot and drive over police officers and innocent pedestrians, engage in bank robberies, pimping, drug smuggling, murder, police bribes, and other "jobs" to impress the most powerful crime syndicate in the city.

"Grand Theft Auto" (GTA) was released last week to eager North American consumers, but the game has been out since last December in Europe and South American countries, and has obviously garnished its fair share of controversy. In fact, the French, German and British governments have condemned the video game, and Brazil recently banned GTA due to its adult and "immoral" content, claiming that it "could incite younger players to violence" (Reuters).

Sharon Wood, executive VP of marketing at ASC Games, agrees the game is risquŽ but feels it is a tongue-in-cheek look at crime and shouldn't be taken too seriously.

"'Grand Theft Auto' is cartoonish and campy by its very nature. It's a parody on crime; even the dialogue was meant to be comedic," insists Wood. "The game has a 'Mature' rating on the box so consumers must be 17 and older to purchase GTA."

Naturally, ASC Games welcomes this media attention, and with over a half million units sold in Europe under BMG Interactive's distribution, they are targeting their market efforts along similar lines here in North America. ASC has even bought radio advertisements during the Howard Stern show, endorsed by live reads from the shock jock himself. Talk about hitting your demographic ...

In terms of gameplay, GTA contains over 200 missions throughout 6,000 city miles of simulated driving. It supports the latest 3Dfx graphic accelerator cards. Virtual mobsters can hook up for some heated multiplayer action as well, competing over the Internet, modem-to-modem, a serial link hook-up, or via a local area network. The game was created by England's DMA Design Ltd., and retails at a suggested price of $49.99.

Consider this fair notice for those easily offended -- "Grand Theft Auto" is the new "bad boy" of computer games.


Related stories:


Related sites:

Infoseek search  


Watch Science & Technology Week on CNN for more sci-tech stories.

Message Boards Sound off on our
message boards & chat

Back to the top

© 1998 Cable News Network, Inc.
A Time Warner Company
All Rights Reserved.

Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.