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Italian Government Criticizes Mafia Video Game

Unlike the Sopranos, which received a positive response from Italian critics and audiences, the "Mafia: the City of Lost Heaven." videogame was immediately criticized.

Although I was disappointed by the Italian acceptance of "The Sopranos",  I am pleased by their reaction to this Video game. I am however puzzled by the distinction they draw.

Mafia: The City Of Lost Heaven

"City of Lost Heaven does not appear to be yet available in the US, but is in the process of being "Americanized".

Creative, Distribution, and Parent Company Information listed below.

Protesting the Mafia Game
Italian authorities came out against an unreleased videogame called "Mafia: the City of Lost Heaven." Players take on the role of Tommy, taxi driver cum-gangster, in a make-believe American town of the 1930s.

"In a spell-bounding story of human hunger for power, they will live through everything taking place in underworld during this stormy period: mad car chases, bootlegging, assassinations and bank robberies," says the company site. The game, planned for release in March, is the work of US company Illusion Softworks.

Unlike the Sopranos, which received a positive response from Italian critics and audiences, the Mafia videogame was immediately criticized, even though it hasn't been released. "I'll do whatever I can to ban it," said Roberto Centaro, head of the National Antimafia Commission. "It's really a training manual for aspiring Mafia members."

The game is also sure to spark controversy for stereotyping Italian Americans. In the question and answer section, game makers promise to use the "authentic" New York and Chicago accents of those with a "strong Italian background."

Italians maintain the game is no laughing matter: "There is no way to joke about the Mafia, ever," commented Carlo Taormina former undersecretary for Internal Affairs. "Games like this shouldn't exist."

The Best Contact Source Appears to be "Take Two" Other Info is provided to recognize the "connection".

Illusion Software:
Web Page: Homepage:
Creative Team, May be located in the Czech Republic Licenses it's product in the US to:

Talonsoft: North American publisher and distributor
<< >> In Baltimore, Maryland
Subsidiary of Take-Two Interactive
Take2 Interactive <<>>
Nasdaq Stock Symbol: TTWO
TTWO designs, develops, publishes, markets and distributes interactive software games for use on multimedia personal computer and video game console platforms Take-Two Interactive Sft.,575 Broadway,New York, NY 10012, Phone: (212) 334-6633, Fax: (212) 941-3566, OFFICERS: Ryan A. Brant, Chmn., Kelly Sumner, CEO, Paul Eibeler, Pres., James H. David Jr., CFO, Larry Muller, Exec. VP.

European Distribution Company Information Not Available for our Friends in Italy.

Italian Police Poised to Shoot Down Computer Game "Mafia"
By Vladimir Kuchar, Prague Business Journal

March 18, 2002 - -A computer game Mafia: City of Lost Heaven, developed by Brno-based Illusion Softworks, has raised the ire of the Italian police who say that it's nothing less than a manual for becoming a criminal.

Italian police are trying to ban the game, which Illusion Softworks is preparing for worldwide launch by the end of this month. President of the national anti-mafia police section Roberto Centaro told the national newspaper Il Giornale: "I'll do anything I can to ban the sale of the game in Italy. This is a proper instruction book for wannabe Mafiosi."

Former interior minister Carlo Taormina said: "When it comes to Mafia, one simply cannot take it as a game. There's really nothing to joke about here."

The game, set in the 1930s takes place in Lost Heaven, a fictional American city loosely based on New York. It tells the story of a taxi driver who becomes a member of a mafia family. The cabbie enters the world of bootlegging, racketeering and bloody mafia infighting as depicted in the series of screenshots.

Although only the game's developers have had a chance to play the game so far, the problem in Italy arose from the headline on the packaging for the Italian market, which says: "The instruction manual for wannabe Mafiosi."

But the distributor of the game in Italy, the company Cidiverte, says that police are simply taking the game too seriously. "The video game is aimed at adults, who should be capable of distinguishing between reality and fiction," said Pietro Vago, head of the company. "We think that there has been an overreaction from the politicians."

Mafia will hit U.K. stores at the end of March. "We are unaware of any problems internationally with the game, and we've got no issues with it whatsoever," said spokesman for Mafia's U.K. distributor Take 2.

Illusion Softworks expect the game to be an even bigger seller than its previous hit, Hidden & Dangerous, which sold over 400,000 copies.

As for the controversy, Illusion Softworks representatives in Brno shrugged it off.

"Only someone who hasn't seen the game yet and doesn't know what it's all about can say that. Mafia isn't promotion or a manual—this is absolutely outlandish," said Daniel Vavra, the game's lead designer. Vavra also confirmed, that the slogan on the box that has drawn so much criticism was created by the local Italian distributor and that the international slogan for the game's packaging hadn't been decided upon.

"I admit that the title of our game could be problematic in Italy. There is a strict embargo on the word 'Mafia.' We can easily rename the game, for example, to Cosa Nostra," said Petr Vochozka, CEO and co-owner of Illusion Softworks.

But, he admitted, "Italian politicians are providing us with excellent advertising, surely worth millions of crowns."

It's not the first time computer game developers have run into problems related to their products.

The game Return to Castle Wolfenstein, for example, faced a ban in Germany because it included Nazi symbols. The ban was avoided when the game developer, Activision, altered the symbols.

Czech game developer Bohemia Interactive Studios sold over a million copies of Operation Flashpoint, which depicts armed conflict at the end of the Cold War. It had to change the game for the German market because of tough regulations governing the depiction of violence, specifically blood, which had to be shown as green.

Prague Business Journal - Article

Required Reading for Italian-Americans...

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