Yet more Grand Theft Auto IV news today, only this time it’s not associated with tantalising advance media or rumoured downloadable content – but rather with the reception the latest edition of Rockstar’s contentious gaming series will receive in a legal sense when it arrives on April 29.
And, when we say ‘legal sense,’ we of course mean Miami-based lawyer and long-time videogame activist Jack Thompson who, it would appear, is preparing for yet another assault against the critically acclaimed sandbox franchise.
According to Game Politics, Thompson issued a notice at the tail end of last week outlining that "unspecified legal and political mayhem" awaits publisher Take-Two Interactive when Niko’s criminal adventures in Liberty City finally hit retailers across the globe.
While noting that Take-Two has enjoyed a 12 percent share boost on the back of GTA IV’s confirmed retail release date, Thompson warns that the market should also factor in "the downside risk coming Take-Two’s way with the sale of this "Mature" game to kids, which is a murder simulator for violence against women, cops, and innocent bystanders…"
In a move to continue his mission to prevent retailers – specifically those in the United States – from selling Grand Theft Auto IV to consumers below the age of seventeen (the ‘M for Mature’ threshold), Thompson says he will be "contacting state and federal officials" to prevent the improper sale of Grand Theft Auto IV by retailers as any such sales "violate state and federal fraudulent and deceptive trade practices statutes."
It’s interesting to note that Thompson’s latest drive against the Grand Theft Auto series focuses solely on the one mandate he always stands firmly behind while shooting in a variety of different directions – underage sales of videogame content clearly labelled for a mature audience. No screaming from the rooftops for Rockstar or Take-Two’s blood on this occasion, just a call for retailers to be held accountable for sales of violent videogames to children below the age of 17.
While Thompson’s recent Florida Bar trial (where he faces several charges of misconduct) has perhaps kept the controversial lawyer’s often venomous attentions elsewhere, underage sales is the one area of his relentless videogame campaigning where M&C Gaming thoroughly agrees with his standpoint.
Specifically, the ratings system utilised in the UK by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) holds retailers legally responsible for the sale of media to children below the ages of ‘15,’ and ‘18’. This applies to all forms of media, be it videogames, music, or DVDs.
However, the US ratings system provided by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) and printed on the packaging of videogames remains but a guideline for retailers, who, while tasked with asking for ID from consumers, are not held legally responsible for any underage sales – something Thompson has always sought to change.
Source: Monster & Critics