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How GTA IV made the world go crazy

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Hooo boy, haven't had a media overload like this since September aught 7, when Halo 3 buffeted the planet with a seemingly unending parade of puffy quotes and junky merchandise. But where Master Chief toys and Burger King tie-ins surrounded Halo's arrival, idiotic press coverage and city-swallowing murals circle Grand Theft Auto IV before it's even sold one copy.

Take this 10-gallon jug of crazy right here: Jack Thompson, the most arrogantly persistent lawyer in the US and the world's least favorite anything has now descended into an all-new level of GTA bashing. He actually sent a letter to the mother of Rockstar boss Strauss Zelnick. HIS MOTHER.

Thompson's track record is so disruptive to everyday business that he's facing disbarment, so we certainly expect him to spout a bit of nonsense concerning GTA IV. But sending letters to parents? He may be nearing 60 but his actions reek of an attention-starved 6-year-old.

Crazy and FOX News go hand in hand; that's why they're busily scraping for ways to challenge the game before anyone in their offices have even played it. The weekend of April 18-20 saw a wave of brutal shootings in Chicago that killed at least four and wounded close to 30 others. Most outlets reported an excess of guns was to blame - FOX, on a slow, lazy Sunday, pointed out there were GTA IV ads on buses and they're part of the problem. Cue the clueless pedestrians who fulfill the story's blatantly slanted view.

Follow the link above for a video report so biased, discriminatory and devoid of purpose that it comes across as a joke, a satirical segment of the Daily Show shockingly come true. The scariest thing is, they're blaming this stuff with zero knowledge, with nothing to go on at all. They manufactured this story to fill time. What terrors will they conjure up once there's actual gameplay to pick apart?

Above: CA State Senator Leland Yee's website image. He totally cares!

Such questions are meaningless to opportunistic California State Senator Leland Yee. Friday he implored parents not to buy GTA IV for their kids. Perhaps if he were attending his own four children instead of policing everyone else he would have noticed the ESRB has been around since 1994. A few GamesRadar staffers got their start in retail many years ago and can personally vouch for the amount of signage the ESRB provides for M-rated titles. It's not Rockstar's fault some inattentive parent can't be bothered to read the package; they don't care what goes in a Big Mac, why would they care about Intense Violence and Blood?

Yee also doesn't seem to acknowledge the double standard he sets with every scapegoat-seeking breath. He pushed legislation that prohibits censorship of college newspapers and broadcasts, then turns around and champions a bill that "protects children from the harmful effects of video games." So some media deserves protection (ie the kind he grew up with and understands) and others need constant federal scrutiny (ie the kind he had no effing clue about)? Then there's the matter of the "harmful effects" - that phrase doesn't mean anything and can't be proven in any scientific sense.

Friday also yielded this gem from the Calgary police: a warning that GTA IV is about to go on sale and could find its way into the hands of helpless, doe-eyed children everywhere.

"In some cases, those very games may be training grounds for people to commit criminal activity," said spokesperson Kevin Brookwell. "From the Calgary Police Service perspective, we see these types of video games as a grave concern."

All this because the release date draws near. No singular point, no evidence of any wrongdoing, nothing to point fingers at, just a simple release date. Let's all imagine, for just a moment, how wonderfully easier gaming will be once this entire generation dies off and leaves the next in control, one that knows Link's name isn’t Zelda, Pikachu isn't Pokemon and Mass Effect isn't a galactic rape simulator. What a dream.

Meanwhile, as these lunatics try to instigate mass hysteria over bus ads the size of an office desk, others are popping up all over the country - and they're 12 stories tall.

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