Eidos' 25 to Life is the latest violent videogame to boil the bile of a politician, with a US senator claiming that the gang-based shooter "lowers common decency" and should be banned.
Charles Shumer, Democratic senator for the state of New York, began his crusade against 25 to Life in the New York Daily News over the weekend. "It makes Grand Theft Auto look like 'Romper Room'," he told the newspaper, referring to a popular American kids TV show.
Shumer takes exception to the PS2, Xbox and PC game's premise, which casts you as a gang member who must kill other gang members to take over their turf and battle against police in order to survive. The game also has an online 'versus' mode in which teams of cops and gangsters face off against each other.
"To sell a video game that denigrates the value [of the police] is simply unacceptable," Schumer said. "When you make sport of behaviour that is dangerous and destructive you reinforce it. The last thing we need here in New York is to reinforce a destructive culture of violence and disrespect for the law."
Eidos has reacted to Shumer's accusations by pointing out that games such as 25 to Life are not aimed at children. "Eidos believes that video games are a creative art form and we produce a wide range of content aimed at various age groups including games specifically targeted for the over-18 player," said a spokesperson for the UK-based publisher.
But Shumer went further, urging Microsoft and Sony to cancel the game's release for their consoles. "Little Johnny should be learning how to read, not how to kill cops," he said. "The bottom line is that games that are aimed and marketed at kids shouldn't desensitise them to death and destruction."
But Microsoft hit back at Shumer's suggestions in a statement this morning. "25 to Life was developed for a mature audience and has been rated so it will be sold only to the appropriate audiences," the statement read.
Sony has yet to comment on the matter.
Both Microsoft and Eidos also pointed to the strong age restrictions given to violent videogames in the UK and Europe. "On the issue of who should be allowed to purchase our products," said the Eidos spokesperson, "we have a very strict two tier rating system in the UK to send a clear signal to both customers and retailers as to the appropriate audience for each game. 25 to Life will have a BBFC 18+ rating, which means that it is illegal to sell it to anyone under that age; retailers face a £5,000 fine and up to six months in prison if they do so."
In the States, however, age ratings on videogames are not legally binding but up to the discretion of the retailer.
25 to Life is due for release this August on PS2, Xbox and PC. No doubt all this publicity will give its sales a good shot in the arm...