GAME 'GLAMORIZES' DRUGS
Computer Title Features Police Using Crack, Pot
Acomputer game in which players use crack cocaine, ecstasy and cannabis to give themselves a "power boost" was condemned Saturday as irresponsible by anti-drug campaigners.
Critics said the game, called Narc, would glamorize drug-taking and undermine respect for the police, who are depicted in the game as taking the drugs to help them to catch criminals.
In the game, which will be released in the United States this week and in Britain in May, the players are elite undercover narcotics officers whose aim is to eliminate an international drug cartel.
Two police characters take drugs from the dealers and can use them to give themselves a "power boost" to help them to face "tough challenges."
A spokesman for Sony Playstation in London said: "If an officer finds himself in an extremely difficult or dangerous situation, say surrounded by violent enemies, he can take drugs and that can give him the power to take them on and win."
Each drug has a different effect. If the officer takes a digital ecstasy tablet, for example, it creates a mellow atmosphere that can pacify aggressive enemies.
An electronic puff of marijuana temporarily slows the action of the game like a sports action-replay. The use of crack momentarily makes the player a top marksman -- a "crack" shot.
The aim of the game, which can be played by one or more players on a Playstation or Xbox console, is to "bust" drug dealers until they capture the "Mr. Big" of the underworld.
"I don't approve of a game that has people taking drugs," said Dr. Ken Checinski, a senior lecturer at St George's Hospital medical school in London and an authority on addictive behaviour.
"There is a risk that it will glamorize drug-taking and send out the wrong message to young, impressionable people. It could also send out a dangerous moral message -- that two wrongs make a right: corrupt officers take illicit drugs while working and it helps them to arrest criminals."
A spokesman for Drugscope, an anti-drug charity, said: "It is totally wrong to suggest that people can do their jobs better while under the influence of drugs."
Sony defended the game, which will receive an adult classification.
"It's a classic good versus evil game that shows the destructive power of drugs," a spokesman said.
A spokesman for Midway, Narc's publisher, said: "This subject is something that nobody else has tackled in computer games and we felt it was time to do it."