RobbDogg's Rips

Serving the online community to bring awareness to political and social issues affecting Liberals and Progressives. Podcasts are posted every Monday morning and original commentaries are posted throughout the week.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

My Op/Ed On Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas Lawsuit

This is another Op/Ed I wrote for both Radio News America and Unfiltered News Network. The text version will be posted on RNA later today, and the audio version will be part of a future UNN broadcast.

It's also the main reason why I didn't update the blog until an hour ago.

Opportunistic Bastards
Original Op/Ed by Robbie Michaels
June 28, 2005

I was expecting this. Seriously, I was. The only thing I find surprising with this case is that it wasn’t filed in Southern California, the land of the frivolous lawsuits.

Wednesday afternoon, an 85-year-old grandmother sued Rockstar Games and its parent company, New York-based Take Two Interactive Software Inc., for her own negligence. On behalf of consumers nationwide, Florence Cohen sued the manufacturer of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for engaging in false, misleading, and deceptive practices.

Before you pass judgment on this subject, let’s get a few facts straight about this case:
  • The practice of placing hidden scenes within video games is commonplace in the industry.
  • An adult in a position of authority purchased a product for a minor that is clearly intended for mature audiences.
  • No one has publicly stated whether or not the 14-year-old accessed the hidden scenes via a cheat code or any other type of game modification.

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here. The hell with it, I’ll play the devil himself.

This lawsuit stinks like a rotting fish exposed to oxygen and direct sunlight. We have a credibility issue here. First, the timing of the suit is questionable, especially since it comes on the heels of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-NY) request for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Rockstar Games.

And I’m going to ask the golden questions no one else will.

Why did someone in an obvious position of authority purchase a video game for a minor, when the package was clearly marked on the front “M”, as in, “For people age 17 and over”?

Since the game was clearly marked “M”, is it now possible that a district attorney could prosecute Florence Cohen, and other adults who purchased this game for their children, for contributing to the delinquency of a minor?

On behalf of today’s children, I’m telling you it’s time to tell their parents to take responsibility for their own actions and quit blaming others for their own mistakes!

Rockstar labeled the game appropriately upon its release last year. With the number of adults purchasing and playing video games increasing, the retailer selling the video game cannot determine if the person on the other side of the sales counter will actually play it or not.

Unless of course, the adult looks like an 85-year-old grandmother who may no longer have the dexterity to push a sequence of buttons and simultaneously maneuver a couple of joysticks with their thumbs.

What this class action lawsuit suffers from is the same problem that afflicts all class action lawsuits. Who wins here? The plaintiffs, who may split a headline grabbing, multi-million dollar settlement? The defendants, who may get to keep their profits from sales of the video game but pay up the nose in attorney fees in the process?

No. The attorneys will be the winners. They always win in class action lawsuits, regardless of the outcome.

While millions of consumers fight over their miniscule shares of the financial judgment, and Rockstar counts their blessings they reached an agreement to sweep everything under the rug, some Manhattan attorney who filed this lawsuit will be laughing all the way to the bank with the lion’s share of the settlement money at their expense.

And that’s why I call attorneys opportunistic bastards.


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