Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is coming in for some prerelease pressure from groups who claim the graffiti-infused title will prompt an outbreak of similar activity on the part of gamers seeking to emulate the game's pixilated characters.
The groups worry that gamers will mimic Getting Up's main character, Trane, who uses his skills as a graffiti artist to gain respect and standing on the mean streets of NYC-like New Radius.
"The idea that the main character in this game is some sort of hero is simply Atari's ridiculous way to try to put a positive spin on a game that is about destroying property," said Timothy Kephart, a self-professed graffiti expert, in a statement today.
Adding his voice to the fray, Ray Empson, president of Keep America Beautiful, takes Atari to task in the area of how the publisher is promoting the still-unrated title. He claims Atari is to blame for touting the game as one that glorifies a "graffiti artist with the street smarts, athletic prowess and vision to become an 'All City King'--the most reputable of all graffiti artists."
"The promotion clearly attempts to make criminal and dangerous behavior enticing to children," Empson said today.
Keep America Beautiful, and the National Council to Prevent Delinquency, are warning mayors, city council members, and police officers to look for "increased property crime by juveniles" when the game is released. The PlayStation 2 version of Getting Up is due in mid-September.
The two groups are asking the Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) to give the game "the most restrictive rating possible" and have also asked that the ESRB's Advertising Review Council "sanction Atari for its advertising practices on the grounds that the game violates the ARC principle that 'all advertisements should be created with a sense of responsibility toward the public.'"
[UPDATE] Today, Atari corporate reacted to the critics, reminding them that, in as many words, Getting Up is a game and not a manifesto for mischief.
"Marc Ecko’s Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure provides fun, innovative, and challenging game-play," the statement read.
As for the game acting as an endorsement to engage in illegal activities, Atari reminded naysayers that "the focus of the game is on expression through art; the hero is typically equipped with only paint, and never guns."
And doing its best to reason with critics, the statement even tried its hand at logic: "Just as popular films and television shows present fictionalized entertainment depicting stories, cultures, characters and actions that may be exaggerated versions of 'real-life' people or events, video games such as Getting Up provide amusement and escape in a fantasy world where players can vicariously experience different lifestyles and mock activities."