A TV station in Savannah, Ga. is out doing what Crecente and I commonly referred to as the "gratuitous local." In other words, it's a national story that doesn't have any impact specific to your locality, but you sure can dream up some because it's the kind of story that's real easy to assign. The Grand Theft Auto IV Drunk Driving story fits perfectly, and we will see versions of this for two months, if not more.
Now, you stick a camera on a cop and ask him about drunk driving, real or virtual, and what the hell do you think he's gonna say? WSAV-TV does just that and the results are predictable.
But I'm going to try to see the good here.
This is from Lt. Scott Simpkins, a traffic commander in Savannah's police department.
"Some people are going to say it can be used as an education as well as a game, this is just a game, you know you have to pick and choose your battles. Well, I'm here to tell you, Scott Simpkins as a father, I'm picking and choosing this battle," said Simpkins [who has two sons, 10 and 12 years old]
That's legit. That's fair. And if what he's saying is, any drunk driving component, no matter how secondary or nonessential to the gameplay, is another reason children under 17 shouldn't be allowed to play the game, I have absolutely no argument. It's an M-rated game.
And to its credit, the station went to online forums for gamer comment:
One says: "to anyone who hasn't driven drunk, it exaggerates the effects to a degree that i'm sure would scare someone from ever trying to really drive drunk, so it's actually helping their cause."
"Immediately, I think well good, that's the kind of response I'd hope to see, but I think that's going to be a small number," says Simpkins.
Well, rather than being cynical about it, why not say something like, "Great. For the adults who play this game, I hope this gives them an idea of how stupid and self-destructive it is to drink and drive."
Why is it valid to assume that all bad acts realistically portrayed in a game will be imitated in the real world, but it's out of the realm of possibility that those same bad acts cannot also deliver a deterrent message?
Latest Version of Violent Video Game Lets Players Drive Drunk [KSAV-TV Savannah, Ga. via GamePolitics]