Grand Theft Auto: Rothbury

I love tabloids. I find them so very, very entertaining. Much in the same way that one would find a clown funny, as opposed to say Bill Hicks' style of entertainment.

The Daily Star is the epitome of such guilty pleasures, a shitty little snot rag that does not deserve to be called a paper. The Sun has more journalistic integrity that farce. However, it’s still worth picking it up every so often (don’t ever pay for it though, dear God they don’t need encouraging) and leafing through it.

You will not find such a magnificent collection of human stupidity outside of the Darwin Awards. Everything that’s wrong with the country is the fault of Islam. Nick Clegg is a 20 foot tall fire breathing lizard who will destroy what Islam leaves behind. Your taxes are being used… TO PAY FOR THINGS! Non white people are living in Britain and raping our women! WOMEN HAVE THE VOTE!

Okay, I’m exaggerating a little here, but not by much. I suppose you’re wondering what this is doing on a videogames blog, and the answer to that is simple. The Daily Star recently published an ‘article’ concerning videogaming designed to inflame the slack jawed yobs that take this crap seriously.

If you live in Britain, you’ve probably heard of Raoul Moat. He recently led the police and army on a manhunt that lasted several days after shooting several people including his former partner and her current lover. You can read the exact details over on the BBC. Now, given that this has only just started to blow over (at least on a national level), what would your first assumption be on seeing this image while browsing the internet?

Whatever you assumed, I’m guessing you didn’t think it was actually real. For one Daily Star journalist though, this was the first thought to cross his mind. Jerry Lawton, I salute you. You’ve managed to take a poor taste joke and turn it into a national phenomenon. He actually took this seriously and wrote a piece on it, even going so far as to interview the grandmother of Moat’s former partner about this non existent game, adding extra grief and stress to what must already be one of the most traumatic experiences a person can go through. Smooth Jerry. Real smooth.

What amazes me is no one at the Daily Star, not even the editor looked at this for a moment and thought “Seriously… what professional multi million company would be sick enough to create something like that?” It would be business suicide. Rockstar are not that stupid, and while they create violent- adult games, they are not going to cash in on such a specific case. Yes they’ve made some very… risqué content, and some very violent games, but they have never targeted a specific incident or individual.

Too bad the Daily Star lacks their dignity.

To add to the farcical nature of this story, Jerry Lawton remains unrepentant about the whole affair, even after the Daily Star issued an official apology and retracted the story. From his Facebook page:

"Baffled by the fury of adult gamers, these are grown (?!?) men who sit around all day playing computer games with one another who've today chosen to enter the real world just long enough to complain about my story slamming a Raoul Moat version of Grand Theft Auto! You would think I'd denied the Holocaust!!! Think I'll challenge them to a virtual reality duel....stab....I win!!!"

Wow. What a twat. What a brain dead, out of touch twat. I think the quality of this tosser’s journalism speaks for itself in that he didn’t even bother to get a response from Rockstar about this ‘game’- something which could have saved him and his paper considerable embarrassment.

Still, at least he had the decency to refer to his horseshit as a ‘story’ rather than ‘news piece’ or ‘article’.

I’d be angry if this had occurred in anything other than the Daily Star. As it stand the fact this it did just compounds what I already know and what I opened this post with: The Daily Star is a total and utter pile of crap as a news paper. However, as a source of entertainment (and often left discarded in public cafés, especially supermarket ones), it’s tough to beat. So well done Mr Lawton, you’ve proven you have the journalistic ability of a chimp, degraded and embarrassed your paper even further and given me a bloody good laugh at just how incompetent you are.

On a serious note though, it does scare me how many people may have actually believed this. Would they have been as quick to accept if someone said they where making a big budget movie about Moat? Or a West End play? I doubt people would believe it right off the bat. There remains a lot of prejudice and simple ignorance regarding the role of videogames in society, and the type of people adult gamers are. This sort of crap only cements that, and that is something we should be worried about. I’ll leave you with that, and also Destructoid’s response to Lawton’s Facebook post:

Nice to see that Lawton conveniently left out the bit where he used a poorly doctored image that any idiot could have ascertained was fake, the bit where he used a 69-year-old grieving grandmother for his own ends, and the bit where he cobbled together a shitty little article full of lies that got taken down because it was a load of crap. Hilarious that he references the "real world" when his article was based in total fantasy to begin with. Maybe Lawton's the one who needs to step away from his computer and face reality.


2 Response to "Grand Theft Auto: Rothbury"

  1. Foxie says:

    "Think I'll challenge them to a virtual reality duel....stab....I win!!!"

    Idiot. Who brings a knife to a gun fight?

    I look forwards to his next story about how cats can now communicate in English, but their grammar is appalling. I suspect he'll blame immigrant cats for swamping the classrooms and over-whelming the teachers.

    Alan says:

    I'm baffled, appalled and a little amused that Lawton's Facebook post seems to indicate he still doesn't realise, even after an official retraction, that GTA Rothbury isn't actually real. Indeed, he appears to not care. I get the impression that what matters to Lawton isn't whether his 'story' is true but whether people believe it.

    The representation of gamers, however, is less amusing. This is something close to my heart. For three months or so, I had a housemate who was a total stranger. She once came into the kitchen and remarked that the rest of us just talk about games all the time. Would she have complained if we'd always talked about films, books or art? I doubt it. Similarly, I take flak in certain quarters for spending large chunks of my free time playing games - flak from people who spend just as much time watching TV. Gaming is no less valid than watching TV (indeed, probably more so since it involves working towards an objective and, increasingly, interacting with people) but it's immediately dismissed as inferior. This is insulting. I'm going to dare a little exaggeration and say it's like still claiming Led Zeppelin is just noise and we should all listen to some skiffle instead. We're way past the time when games were mainly played by children; indeed, we're into an age now where there are probably as many adults-only games as family-friendly ones, and in fact the high-quality games are mainly adult ones. Depictions of adult gamers as reclusive misfits or social failures are embarrassingly outdated. It's about time non-gaming people realised that games are not what they think.

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