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Vice City 'racism' sparks protests

More controversy hits Rockstar North's magnum opus.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Activists from the US Haitian community have joined in a protest against Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto: Vice City at New York's City Hall, claiming that the title "advocates the killing of Haitians as entertainment."

The protests follow a feature run by American station CBS in a section called "Shame On You", which alleged that Vice City is a game with an "ugly, racist twist" and accused Rockstar Games and its president, Sam Houser, of "cashing in on racism and violence".

"Players are instructed to exterminate an entire ethnic group," howled the report, referring to a section in the game's dialogue which states "I hate those Haitians. We'll take them out, we'll take these Haitians down."

"To kill the Haitians like beasts, like nothing, you are attacking our self-esteem, our respect and everything that we have," commented Dr Henry Frank, director of the Haitian Centers Council. "You don't know where you are going to get some crazy mind who will apply exactly what they have seen on the game."

To back this up, the report helpfully drags up a self-confessed Vice City addict who told CBS that "I think you have to have a strong mind to be able to play this game and not want to go out and kill people."

Now the controversy over the portrayal of the ethnic minority group in Vice City has reached a new level, with protests at New York's City Hall, and a statement released yesterday by the Haitian Centers Council and Haitian Americans for Human Rights which condemned "a cultural attack on the millions of Haitians living in the United States."

The Haitian organisations are expected to announce actions to be taken against Rockstar Games in the near future.

Of course, the fact that the group referred to as "the Haitians" in the game is in fact a rival drug trafficking group, rather than being a generic term for an entire ethnic group, doesn't seem to have been considered. Never let it be said that the American conservative media would let the facts get in the way of a good dose of outrage.

After all, that area of the media has been getting good mileage out of Grand Theft Auto recently. Only weeks ago, the game was widely condemned after two teenagers who shot and killed a driver on a local highway stated that they had been influenced by scenes in the game. The family of the murdered man is now suing publisher Take 2 Interactive in a $100 million lawsuit.

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