West Texas Controversy Over Popular Game

By Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

The must have video game: Grand Theft Auto IV. It's sparking controversy all over the U.S. and right here in West Texas. Players can hijack cars, earn cash for criminal activity, and drive drunk.
It's got people in West Texas talking.

The fourth edition of Grand Theft Auto came out on Tuesday. It's labeled with the mature rating, so no one under 17 should be able to buy it. 

We spoke with one local organization who says it shouldn't even be on the shelves.

"Personally, I think it should be off the shelf," Charles Hodges, with Stop DWI, INC, said.

During the most the controversial part of the game, you've got the choice of visiting a bar, then driving under the influence. At that point, the screen is blurred and the controls are harder to use. The game also gives you the choice of walking or hailing a taxi.  After a few minutes, the intoxication effect wears off.

"Let's face it, young people do have access to it, although it's an adult game, and it's teaching them things they don't want to be involved in," Hodges said.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving are calling on the publisher and developer to stop distribution, a game that is expected to sell nine million copies, making over $400 million.

In a statement to the media, the developer, Rockstar Games, says, "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, for the same reason that you can't judge an entire film or television program by a single scene, you can't judge 'Grand Theft Auto IV' by a small aspect of the game."

Here in the Permian Basin, Stop DWI, Incorporated has joined with M.A.D.D. in getting their message across.

"I would like to see this company take back this module, and its availability even to an adult," Hodges said.

Stop DWI plans to take action. They'll go from store to store around West Texas explaining to managers why the game is a bad idea, and ask them to remove it from the shelf. 

It's a method, they say, has had great success in the past.