Gamers hoping to be among the first to get hold of a copy of controversial video game Grand Theft Auto IV are expected to line up at several Edmonton stores several hours before the clock strikes midnight tonight.
Ryan Kolberg, an entertainment co-ordinator with the Future Shop on Calgary Trail, says he expects some fans could be lined up at his store’s launch party as early as 2 p.m. before staff can sell copies of the game one minute after midnight.
“This is Grand Theft Auto, anything can happen,” said Kolberg when asked if people will be seen camping outside stores.
The top-selling Grand Theft Auto series has always been known for its violence and explicit sexual content.
The game has a mature rating and can only be sold to people over the age of 17.
Critics, including the Calgary Police Service, have said the game promotes criminal behaviour and sets a bad example for those gamers younger than 17.
Michael Chettleburgh, a youth-gang crime expert, says the controversy surrounding the game is over-hyped by the media, since most people who play it are over the age of 25.
“If you actually go out and talk to young gang members about the top 10 reasons why they joined a gang, you will never hear them talk about the influences of hip hop, video games or media,” said Chettleburgh.
“It’s just not a primary driver of why kids join gangs.”
Future Shop staff will be patrolling all its lineups to ask for ID from anyone that looks under the age of 25.
Kolberg says the Grand Theft Auto series has become so popular because of its graphics and expansive virtual environments where gamers can go anywhere or do what they want in a large city.
“The games are always super high in production and they are always well-done,” said Kolberg.
The new game, slated for the Xbox 360 and the Playstation 3, is expected to eclipse sales records, said Kolberg.
The launch party at the south end Future Shop kicks off at 9 tonight.