Bleats

Rockstar Used Right-Wing Outrage To Trick You All Into Buying Grand Theft Auto

Might as well lean into the outrage Grand Theft Auto was going to cause anyway.

Ever since the Grand Theft Auto series came into existence in 1997, it has quickly become one of the most successful video game franchises of all-time thanks to its pioneering approach to open-world gaming, freedom to kill nearly anyone you want, and the whole novelty of stealing cars and running over prostitutes with them.

Now this sort of thing would barely make a ripple in the video game world these days, but it was a huge deal back in 1997 and controversial gameplay elements like those could potentially sink a game before it had even come out.

After finishing work on the very first Grand Theft Auto back in 1997, Rockstar Games – which was known back then as BMG Interactive – were left with the dilemma of trying to market it. How on earth were they going to sell a game that was guaranteed to stir outrage due to all the violence and crime that’s in it?

BMG decided to hire notorious publicist, Max Clifford, to market GTA and it was an unheard of move at the time as he was known a s**t-stirrer in the music business. Now the dude is an awful, awful human being on so many levels (which is a story for another time) but his idea to sell GTA was genius.

His plan was simple: embrace the game’s criminality in all its filthy glory,lean right into the outrage and get the right people talking about it. Literally.

Clifford fed stories about an “utterly despicable” game that was developed in Scotland into the ear of some right-wing lord and encouraged them to speak out about it. And lo and behold, his plan worked despite some understandable skepticism from BMG.

The conservative-leaning Lord Campbell of Croy ended up speaking publicly about Grand Theft Auto on May 20, 1997, in the House of Lords in the UK. He tried to warn everyone that the game was filled with awful things like hit and runs, carjacking and police chases, saying that “there would be nothing to stop children from buying it.”

Next thing you know, headlines about this “deplorable” game started coming up everywhere, particularly in right-wing media. Soon every morally outraged parent and activist were clutching at their pearl necklaces over Grand Theft Auto, which at this point in the timeline hadn’t even come out yet.

To keep the controversy fire blazing, Clifford and BMG launched a then-unusual campaign that included radio ads that included excerpts of Lord Campbell denouncing the game, leaving fake parking tickets on cars during video game conventions and promotional posters promising, ahem: “Murder, drug busts, hijacking, smuggling, bank raids, police bribes, road rage, bribery, extortion, armed robbery, unlawful carnal knowledge, adultery, pimping, petty thievery, and double parking!


According to WIRED, the campaign got to the point where a writer for Grand Theft Auto, Brian Baglow, got into a minor car accident and Clifford had bright idea of milking the ever living hell out of it for the game by planting sensational headlines like “Sick car game boss was banned from driving!” in the news.

All this manufactured right-wing outrage was ridiculous to say the least but Clifford’s campaign was deceptively brilliant as it reached “12 to 13 million people” and Grand Theft Auto ended up welling ridiculously well (for 1997). The series took off like a freight train since that 1997 campaign and hasn’t looked back since. The latest title in the franchise, Grand Theft Auto V, has sold over 100 million copies and is the third best-selling game of all time.

So the moral of this story is, uh, if you want to sell an excessively violent game like Grand Theft Auto, get right-wingers to do it for you by making them super mad. But hey, whatever works.

If TV And Social Media Are Making You Sad, Video Games May Be The Answer For You

Insta stalk less, game more.

Whether it’s a TV, computer monitor, or your phone, most of us stare at a screen of sorts every day. So it’s probably no surprise that all this digital screen time is wrecking havoc on our mental health, particularly among teenagers.

Researchers at Montreal’s Sainte-Justine Hospital conducted a four-year study into the link between depression and exposure to different types of screen time among adolescents studying the media consumption of over 3,800 young people from 31 Montreal schools.

The results don’t paint the rosiest of filtered pictures as the researchers found that those who consumed social media and TV the most had an increase in “depressive symptoms.”

Nope.

The study found that young people who were on social media platforms like Instagram had increased symptoms of depression because they’re likely to compare themselves to all the glitz and glamour being promoted in their feeds.

Lead researcher Patricia Conrod says that social media “exposes young people to images that promote upward social comparison and makes them feel bad about themselves” and constant exposure to those platforms are “echo chambers” that “promote or reinforce” depression.

While social media and TV was found to do a number on young people’s mental health, the results interestingly showed that playing video games didn’t have the same effect.

In fact, the opposite effect is more likely as the study suggested that the average gamer wasn’t the stereotypical basement-dwelling loner but in fact a functioning human being who enjoyed playing games with others online or in person.

Nothing negative to be found here.

That being said, it’s still early days into this subject. Conrad’s colleague, Elroy Boers, says that the topic isn’t widely studied despite it being very common among young people but the results of the study is an indication that more research is needed, saying that the current level of knowledge is akin to what we knew about smoking in the 1970s.

“I would almost compare it to smoking in the 1970s, where the very negative effects are still relatively unknown,” said Boers.

“What we found is quite worrisome and needs further investigation.”

You Can Be A Murderous Hacker Granny In The New Watch Dogs Game Because, Why TF Not?

Watch Dogs Legion is a frontrunner for 2020's Game of the Year for this feature alone.

We’re still a while away before 2020 arrives but we have a frontrunner already for the prestigious Game Of The Year accolade in the form of Ubisoft’s upcoming Watch Dogs Legion.

It’s the second sequel in the mega popular hacking/open-world video game franchise and while this entry features new innovations – such as a post-Brexit setting and multiple protagonists – that shake up its tried and true formula, the best feature is the ability to play as literally any character if you want.

Some chap named Jeremy who is drowning his sorrows at the bar? Yep. A 28-year-old animator named Lisa who works too hard and is paid too little? Totally. Helen, the retired old granny who just wants to feed ducks at the park in peace? Oh most definitely.

“I’ll scold you with this English breakfast in a chipped mug.”

That is not a joke, you can literally play as a granny in Watch Dogs Legion and turn them from simple folk who just want to offer you butterscotch lollies to badass hackers and assassins. This is due to the game’s new recruitment mechanic and setting. Allow me to try and explain.

You see, the game revolves around a group of hacktavists called DedSec, who aim to be the modern day Robin Hood of sorts by bringing justice to ordinary Londoners who have been hit by the harsh post-Brexit times, as well as doing their part to overthrow an oppressive government. In order to do said justice, you need to recruit people and the game’s new “recruitment” system allows you to “hack” and play as any character, including Helen.

Now Helen may be old but her asskicking credentials are top-notch as she is apparently a retired assassin who is seemingly brought back into the fold for “one last job”.

Unsurprisingly, Helen is already a big hit with the internet and is quickly rising up the ranks as everyone’s favourite new video game character.

Look, there’s a bunch of other interesting things in Watch Dogs Legion but the prospect of playing as grandma Helen is more than enough reason to get the game.

As for when you get to do old people stuff, like scream at people to get off your lawn before shooting them in the face and hacking into their bank account, Watch Dogs Legion is scheduled for release on March 6th, 2020.

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