Articles on the release of The Warriors gang-violence video game

Free Radical news release: Rockstar Toronto cashes in on gang violence with "The Warriors"


The Warriors re-released amid violence

October 7, 2005
Toronto Sun
By Mark Bonokoski

Here, in the Year of the Gun, the body count in Greater Toronto has become onerous if one opts to care -- 61 murders and presumably counting, 41 victims thus far cut down by bullets, and with so many of these dead being young black men who had steeped their lives in the violent culture of the street gang.

No one seems to have a firm handle on the causes of this vicious circle of black-oriented fratricide, just as no one seems to have a firm handle on the cures.

In the end, it comes down to the rhetoric of left vs. right and right vs. left, and these are twains that rarely meet.

The easiest out is to become desensitized -- as if life were a video game, and the dead body lying on the street can be re-booted and live to be re-killed another day.

There are no funeral homes in PlayStation 2, or Xbox.

There is only distance from reality.

It would seem apropos, therefore, and no surprise considering the profit motive, that a 1979 cult movie called The Warriors is being re-released on DVD, and then quickly turned into a video game developed by Rockstar Games, creators of the uber-violent Grand Theft Auto series, which is slated to hit the shelves at Blockbuster et al on Oct. 18 -- all this while Toronto is undergoing a number of gang wars of its own.

If director Walter Hill had anything, he had vision.

The Warriors had a comic-book feel from virtually the first shot and, despite the fact that the advent of the now-prehistoric PacMan was still a year away, it retrospectively had video game written all over it.

While this neon-reflected backdrop of gangland warfare in New York may seem tame by today's ultra-violent standards, it was so real back in 1979 that it set off copycat fights -- including two homicides -- in the theatres where it was shown, prompting Paramount Pictures to cancel advertising and send out a telegram to theatre owners releasing them from their contractual obligation to show the film.

According to Toronto activist Valerie Smith, author of A Strategic Blueprint for Reducing Exposure to Media Violence in Canada, which was published by Ontario's Office for Victims of Crime, one only has to "look to the past for a glimpse of the future."

"This gang stuff is no longer hypothetical in our city. It's real," says Smith, who saw it all from her home in Scarborough before the police put a dent in the gang violence last year by busting the notorious Malvern Crew.

"Each video game, and each movie, that celebrates the gang culture only puts another nail in the coffin of bringing a resolution to the gang problem.

"These videos and these movies are like a huge propaganda machine," she says. "Kids are being raised on them -- from cradle to Kingston Penitentiary, to worse."

Smith, by the by, was also in the news this week after launching a public complaint against HMV for selling gangsta' rap, the focus being denigration of women.

Back in March, the link between video games and tragic outcome hit prime time when the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes aired a story about the legal battle between the families of slain Alabama police officers and the makers and sellers of the Grand Theft Auto series.

Its focus was on the deaths of three Fayette County cops who were killed by a teen who claimed his inspiration for the murders came from that gangland-style game.

In that story, 18-year-old Devin Moore, charged with the shootings after being arrested for stealing a car, allegedly had these words to say after being caught.

"Life is like a video game," he reportedly said. "You've got to die sometime."

The video game version of The Warriors was developed by Rockstar Toronto -- which is actually located in the quieter confines of Oakville -- but it is out of Rockstar New York where all the public relations is conducted.

Phone messages and e-mails were left with Devin Bennett, cited by Rockstar New York as the only company publicist who could answer questions regarding The Warriors.

None was returned.

Instead, it was Rockstar New York's Rodney Walker who finally called back -- more to interrogate me as to this column's potential content than to answer questions about his company's latest video hyping street gang violence.

"Let me get back to you," he finally said.

But he never did.


Playing for keeps

August 22, 2005
Cable Pulse 24/City TV

First there was Grand Theft Auto, with its excessive violence and encouragement to break the law.

Then came Manhunt, a contest that encouraged players to kill and maim as many virtual opponents as possible.

And now the company responsible for both of those video games is creating new controversy with its soon to be released latest entry: The Warriors.

It's based on the 1979 movie, and features a youth gang being pursued by thousands of other enemies wearing different colours. The object: make it across town, taking out as many of your foes as you can.

The game, by a company called Rockstar, is set to be released in Toronto just as the city is undergoing a gang war of its own. And that's sparked new outrage before it even hits store shelves.

"It's a Toronto company coming out with a gang war video game in the middle of a gang war," sputters outraged community activist Val Smith. "I'm just incredulous at their lack of social responsibility."

Smith has been studying what she insists is the negative effects of violent video games for the last 14 years. She's sure this one will only encourage more trouble.

"When you make games about things like that it just validates their lifestyle, it encourages them," she contends.

Toronto has had 31 gun related murders this year and police are blaming most of them on gang violence. Many adults share Smith's concern about introducing yet another such contest into the marketplace.

"I'd say it's a little bit inappropriate given all that we have going on today. I think a little more sensitivity is required," agrees Chris Morrison.

But some avid gamers don't buy it - although they might buy the game itself.

"It relieves stress," argues 18-year-old Danny Spence. "After a hard day at school or work, you come home. You just play some of that. You just feel better sometimes. Not all the time but sometimes."

Rockstar Toronto had no comment on the controversy, referring all inquires to its parent company in New York, which didn't return CityNews' phone calls.

"The Warriors" will be in stores in October. It's expected to get an "M" rating, which means it can only be sold to players over 18.

Video Game Ratings

EC: Early Childhood have content that may be suitable for ages 3 and older. Contains no material that parents would find inappropriate

E: Everyone have content that may be suitable for persons ages 6 and older. Titles in this category may contain minimal violence, some comic mischief and/or mild language.

T: Teen have content that may be suitable for persons ages 13 and older. May contain violent content, mild or strong language, and/or suggestive themes.

AO: Adults Only have content suitable only for adults. Titles in this category may include graphic depictions of sex and/or violence. Adult Only products are not intended for persons under the age of 18.

M:- Mature have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. Titles in this category may contain mature sexual themes, more intense violence and/or strong language.

RP: Rating Pending have been submitted to the Entertainment Software Rating Board and are awaiting final rating.


The Warriors

Developer: Rockstar Toronto
Publisher: Rockstar Games
Players: 1
Release: October 17, 2005
Previewer Jim Cordeira Date 7/20/2005, Gaming Age Online

A battle on the streets of New York. The armies of the night number 60,000 strong, and tonight they’re all after The Warriors-- a street gang wrongly accused of killing a rival gang leader. The Warriors must make their way from one end of New York to their turf on the other side of the city. All that stands between The Warriors and their survival are 20 miles and thousands of street gang members. The army of gangs owns the streets and there’s no turning back, they must fight for their lives and learn the meaning of loyalty as danger and uncertainty emerge from the city night.

The Film: A battle on the streets of New York. The armies of the night number 60,000 strong, and tonight they're all after The Warriors-- a street gang wrongly accused of killing a rival gang leader. The Warriors must make their way from one end of New York to their turf on the other side of the city. All that stands between The Warriors and their survival are 20 miles and thousands of street gang members. The army of gangs owns the streets and there's no turning back, they must fight for their lives and learn the meaning of loyalty as danger and uncertainty emerge from the city night.

The Game: Rockstar Games proudly presents The Warriors for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox based on the 1979 Paramount Pictures cult classic movie. Developed by Rockstar Toronto, The Warriors expands the stylized cinematic journey of the film into a gritty interactive experience set in 1970s New York.

Features: Rockstar has recreated and expanded on the storyline of the film to create a deep and compelling gameplay experience. Authentic New York environments were reproduced in great detail to maintain the sense of style and atmosphere of The Warriors film.

For example, Ferris wheel cars swing on the Wonder Wheel, and there are highly detailed textures for buildings and city streets. Play as each of the nine Warriors throughout the game - Cleon, Ajax, Swan, Snow, Cochise, Cowboy, Rembrandt, Vermin and Fox. Each will serve as the leader of different missions in the game.

Three different fighting styles include: Street Fighting, Brawler, and Kung Fu. Deep fighting system includes diving and tackling, reversals, tandem attacks with other Warriors, beating opponents while pinning them on the ground, dragging and throwing enemies into fences and walls, finishing them off with a stomp while they're trying to crawl away, using grab attacks to cause serious damage, and much more.

Rage mode allows you the ability to do new massively powerful moves that will clear the area and cause tremendous damage. There will be varying degrees of progressive damage in the game, like facial lacerations and bloody clothing. Warriors can be cured by taking Flash.

The environments will be littered with objects that can be used as weapons against such as wood planks with nails, bricks, pipes, boxes, garbage bags, televisions, and more. There will also be multidimensional objects, such as bottles, which can be broken, then used as a stabbing weapon. Giving more freedom to the user than any other brawler before it, The Warriors can steal car stereos, mug pedestrians and loot stores to make money. They can also use spray paint to throw up the classic Warriors "W" over rival gang tags.

Full gang control allows the player to select War Chief commands, some of which include having your gang move quickly, hold up, or trash everything in sight. A variety of different gameplay mechanics allow the player to approach the levels however they choose-play it as a straight up brawler, or incorporate stealth techniques. Gangs from the game are pulled straight from the film, including the Gramercy Riffs, Turnbull AC's, and The Orphans.

Based on the 1979 Paramount Pictures film, directed by Walter Hill, adapted from the 1965 novel by Sol Yurick. Coming to PlayStation 2 and Xbox October 18, 2005 (USA) and October 21, 2005 (Europe and Australia).


Take-Two delivers The Warriors

Rockstar comes out to play-i-ay with new studio and The Warriors videogame

August 1, 2002
IGN.com
By IGN Staff

Take-Two Interactive today announced the formation of Rockstar Vancouver, through the acquisition of Barking Dog Studios, Ltd. Take-Two acquired Barking Dog for $3 million in cash, as well as 242,450 shares of restricted common stock.

Even more surprising, however, is that Rockstar Toronto, previously known as Rockstar Canada, is working on a project based on the old Paramount movie The Warriors, which tells the violent tale of warring urban gangs in New York. Specific systems and release dates have yet to be named. Rockstar Toronto developed the PlayStation 2 versions of Rockstar's Oni and Max Payne.

Barking Dog developed the popular PC game Homeworld: Cataclysm (the next game in the Homeworld series), Crave's and Electronic Arts' Global Operations, as well as participated as a developer on Counter-Strike Beta 5 as well, widely perceived as one of the best Counter-Strike versions ever. Founded in 1998 in Vancouver, British Columbia, by Brian Thalken, Peter Grant, Sean Thompson, Christopher Mair, Glenn Barnes and Michael Gyori, Barking Dog Studios is working on two new titles under the Rockstar brand. Though both games have yet to be announced, one is said to be a military game, and the other to be an original title.

"Barking Dog has a strong history of developing cutting edge technology and content, with a particular strength in military action," Sam Houser, president of Rockstar Games. "Going forward Rockstar will continue to look to its internal development studios...for the development of premier original entertainment software content."

"We are delighted to be joining the Rockstar team," said Brian Thalken, a founding member of Barking Dog. "We would not have considered selling our company to any other publisher. Rockstar makes the kind of cutting edge games that we love to play and that we have always dreamed of making. With our creative and technical talent and Rockstar's proven capability to produce, market, and promote their products, we expect to deliver world-class entertainment software for many years to come."

"We have experienced a great deal of success with the strategic expansion of Rockstar Games, and the addition of talented internal development teams," said Kelly Sumner, CEO of Take-Two. "As the entertainment software industry continues to expand...we are confident that the projects that will emerge from Rockstar Vancouver and The Warriors product in development at Rockstar Toronto, will match the outstanding creative accomplishments that Rockstar has achieved with its titles to date.

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