November 27, 2007 / 11:33 AM / 12 years ago

Take-Two chairman defends game violence

Strauss Zelnick, chairman of Take-Two Interactive Software, speaks at the Reuters Media Summit in New York, November 26, 2007. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid (UNITED STATES)

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The chairman of Take-Two said on Monday games and other media do not encourage real-life violence and that the graphic behavior depicted in games “Grand Theft Auto” and “Manhunt 2” could be found more easily by kids on the Web or in books.

“Do we really believe that people get instructed on being murderers? I don’t believe those are created by any form of entertainment,” Take-Two Interactive Software Inc (TTWO.O) Chairman Strauss Zelnick told the Reuters Media Summit in New York.

Zelnick, who took over as Take Two chairman in March and has worked in the movie and music businesses as well, had no plans to alter the creative direction of the controversial company whose hit “Grand Theft Auto” games take players on crime sprees that include murder, prostitution and drug sales.

“I think it’s possible to be controversial and edgy and also to act appropriately and that’s what they aim to do,” he said. “I think what is not appropriate in any way is for consumers to be misled.”

While encouraging game developers to “push the envelope,” Zelnick said he was also pushing Take-Two to be “pristinely compliant” with the video game industry’s ratings system.

The system, which mandates an “M” rating for mature games, is “more robust” in preventing minors from seeing graphic content than other forms of entertainment, he said.

“It is still much easier to get into an R-rated movie than to buy an M-rated video game,” he said. “At the same time that same consumer could go on the Internet ... and you can see the most graphic, craven images of sex and violence that you can see,” said Zelnick, who testified before a congressional subcommittee looking into game violence in September.

“The topic of what’s readily available on the Internet did not even come up,” Zelnick said. “I could send my 9-year-old daughter to a book store and she can buy any book in Barnes and Noble no matter how vivid the content is.”

(Click here to see Reuters MediaFile blog)

Reporting by Gina Keating; Editing by Braden Reddall

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