More than a year after its release, controversial best seller Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is still stirring up controversy. Most recently, various Haitian-American groups leveled charges of racism at the game and at Take-Two Interactive, parent of Vice City's publisher, Rockstar Games.
At issue was the part of the game where Tommy Vercetti, its criminal protagonist, is hired by the Cuban gang to take out their rivals, the Haitians. At the beginning of the level, a title card appears that urges Vercetti to "Kill all the Haitians!" Shortly afterward, a group of heavily armed Haitians attack him en masse, forcing him to respond with a fusillade of bullets. Rockstar has repeatedly insisted the statement should be taken within the context of the game, which is rife with violence toward every ethnic group.
However, New York City's Haitian-American community, which has seen several of its members shot by police in recent years, appealed to Mayor Michael Bloomberg to take action against Take-Two, which is headquartered in the city. Yesterday, Bloomberg threatened the company with legal action if the phrase was not removed. "If I don't get a decent response, we are going to do everything we possibly can," said Bloomberg.
Today, Bloomberg got his response. Take-Two issued a statement this afternoon promising to "remove the objectionable statements from future copies of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City." It did not mention the millions of copies of Vice City already on the market that already contain the statement.
The publisher also apologized for the "hurt and anger" the statement had caused Haitian-Americans and hoped the move would "mend" relations between the two groups. It blamed a recent media frenzy for creating the controversy, noting the game was released in October 2002.
Take-Two also defended its right to create a "realistic" game for an adult audience. The statement reminded the public that the game was rated "M" for mature, saying, "it must be recognized that video games have evolved as an adult medium, not unlike literature, movies and music."