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Video Game Subject of Lawsuit

A popular video game that some groups assert threatens society and should be de-shelved will have its day in court—federal court.

“Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,” an immensely popular video game from Rockstar Games, asks players to “kill the Haitians,” assigning points for each corpse, according to a recent Associated Press article.

The Haitian-American Coalition of Palm Beach County, which is leading several other Haitian groups in protesting the game, seeks more than $15,000 in damages, even as it asks Rockstar Games to pull the game from shelves.

Rockstar Games has said it will delete the offending line from future versions of “Vice City,” but it won’t suspend the game.

The lawsuit, filed in a Florida state circuit court Dec. 23 and moved to federal court shortly thereafter, names Rockstar Games and its parent company, Take-Two Interactive Software, as well as Sony Computer Entertainment, Microsoft, and retailers Target, Best Buy and Wal-Mart, according to the AP article.

About 100 people protested the game at a Boynton Beach, Fla. Wal-Mart Dec. 13, according to a Palm Beach Post article.

Willie Jones, a lawyer attending the protest, told the Post that the game is “racist.”

“It’s inflammatory, it’s violent and it’s vulgar,” he was quoted as saying. “It’s an attempt to exploit the racial tension between Haitians and Cubans and we of the Haitian American Coalition find that intolerable.”

That protest came on the heels of complaints by Haitian and Cuban communities earlier in December. Those complaints prompted Take-Two Interactive Software to try to quell the controversy.

“Some statements made by fictional characters in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City have been taken out of context,” Take-Two representatives said, according to a CNN.com article. “There was no intention to offend any ethnic group.”

The “Vice City” Web site describes the game’s city as a “sociable place.”

“As a major gateway to South America and the Caribbean and attracting migrants, Vice City is brimming with diverse characters, so there’s a friend for everyone,” reads the Vice City Web site.

“Grand Theft Auto: Vice City” has sold more than 11 million copies since its 2002 debut. The game, rated “M” for mature, won numerous awards as best game of the year.

Cliff Vaughn is culture editor for EthicsDaily.com.