Take-Two agrees to edit Vice City

Symbolic gesture.

Publisher Take Two Interactive has announced that it is to remove several contentious phrases from future copies of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, following an ultimatum from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Bloomberg became involved in a debate over the portrayal of the Haitian community in the game following protests at New York's City Hall, with Haitian-Americans - spurred on by sensationalist media reporting - claiming that the game encouraged racist violence.

The main objection of the groups is to a mission in the game where the central character is instructed to "Kill all the Haitians" - a statement made in reference to a Haitian drug cartel, rather than Haitians in general, but which has been taken entirely out of context by both the US media and the Haitian community groups.

Matters reached a head earlier this week when Mayor Bloomberg threatened Take Two with legal action if it did not remove the phrase from the game, stating that "if I don't get a decent response, we are going to do everything we possibly can."

In a statement responding to the mayor's threat, Take Two defended the game, pointing out that it was rated Mature and saying that "it must be recognised that video games have evolved as an adult medium, not unlike literature, movies and music," while blaming the media for creating this most recent controversy over the year-old title.

However, the company also apologised for the "hurt and anger" caused to the Haitian-American community, and agreed that it would remove the statements in question from future copies of the game.

This is something of a token gesture on Take Two's part, since the game is already one of the best selling games of all time, and obviously nothing can be done about the content of the millions of copies of the title already in circulation - making the company's promise seem somewhat ridiculous. Then again, the complaint which led to this action was ridiculous in the first place - so hopefully Take Two's statement will put a lid on this ludicrous situation at last, at least until the next time that a media outlet needs a filler item and decides to run the old "games are evil" chestnut again...

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