Does GTA IV promote drunk driving?

Rockstar just can’t help themselves, it seems. As well as all the SORDID HARD SEX (i.e, some strippers and dry humping) and the REALISTIC MURDER SIMULATIONS (i.e, being able to work a sniper rifle without any prior experience, just like real life), Grand Theft Auto IV also promotes another great sin … drunk driving?

Yes, both Mothers Against Drunk Driving and, more recently, the police force, have expressed their concerns over the fact that main character Niko Bellic can get himself half-cut and then attempt to drive a car. Funnily enough, I never even thought of the outrage it would cause when I first saw the sequence, although to be fair, I was too busy trying to make Niko walk straight.

Because of the sequence, MADD wants to have GTA IV re-classified as an Adults Only game — an unrealistic goal, of course. “Drunk driving is not a game and it is not a joke,” states the group. “Drunk driving is a choice, a violent crime and it is also 100 percent preventable.” Furthermore, the traffic commander of the Savannah-Chatham Police Department, Lt. Scott Simpkins is worried that the game will encourage drunk driving:

How many people are going to go ‘hey if I can master this, I can go out and instead of having a glass of wine or a beer with dinner, I can have 2 or 3 because I’ve been training how to drive intoxicated’?

Personally, this reminds me of the idiots who believe Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas encourages people to use drugs more. Just like Fear & Loathing, GTA IV does not make the portrayed act look like fun in the least. Since I had my first taste of drunk driving in GTA, I have not currently done it again — it’s frustrating, it’s aggravating, and the cops get on your case in no time. I personally feel that Rockstar made drunk driving look pretty stupid. That said, sometimes I think the developer is just begging for trouble.

Jim Sterling