Grand Theft Auto, the gaming world’s most consistently controversial franchise, is once again attracting scathing criticism following news that the latest series entrant, Chinatown Wars, has been targeted by a UK-based anti-drugs charity.
Specifically, Darren Gold of Drugsline has slammed the pro-drug gameplay open to players during Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown War, which enables them to earn copious amounts of in-game cash by becoming a proficient wheeler and dealer of illegal substances.
“Anything using drug-dealing as entertainment is sending out the wrong message,” said Gold, while also labelling Chinatown Wars of being guilt of glamorising drug use.
In criticising the new game, Gold said that such glamorisation only serves to damage the work of charities such as Drugsline in their efforts to educate children as to the dangers of substance abuse.
Revealed in the latest edition of EDGE magazine, Chinatown Wars will enable players to deal in six different types of drug, including acid, cocaine, downers, ecstasy, heroin, and marijuana in order to build cash that is then used to purchase progressively more effective armour and weaponry -- another staple element of the Grand Theft Auto series.
While each release in the popular videogame series seems to attract a degree of condemnation given the recurring go-anywhere and do anything structure that leaves players free to steal vehicles, mow down pedestrians, and have sex with prostitutes, it’s possible that Chinatown Wars’ sole placement on the family-oriented Nintendo DS platform is likely to further concentrate the attentions of critics.
However, in leaping to the defence of its game, Edinburgh-based developer Rockstar Games said that the DS entrant can not be softened to make it family-friendly on the grounds that “that’s not the game we’re making.”
Outlining that the drug-dealing aspect is only one contributing mini-game element of the entire Chinatown Wars experience, Rockstar vice president Dan Houser explained to EDGE that its inclusion “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.”
Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars is expected to hit retail before the turn of spring. It presently does not have an official age rating from either the U.S. ESRB or U.K. BBFC.