We’re a few years past laughing at media’s reporting on video games, partly because we just don’t care anymore, partly because they’ve (for the most part) improved their game. This hilarious story from Australia’s Channel 7, though, is just too good/terrible to ignore.
To get an idea of what we’re dealing with here, while they at least explain (eventually) that is a Grand Theft Auto V mod, and not a standalone game, they explain to the handful of pensioners watching that the mod is the work of “underground computer geeks”, and that “the online world is virtually lawless”.
Cue interviews with a psychologist and the New South Wales Police Minister that could have been lifted from Tipper Gore’s playbook, followed by a vague threat the NSW Police plan to “take action against the designers”.
For reference, commercial (ie, non-cable) television in Australia is circling the drain, hence this kind of sensationalized “current affairs” style hyperbole appearing in an actual news program broadcast.
Oh, and if you’re wondering about the mod itself, it appears to be LSPDFR—using Australian vehicle and uniform skins—which lets you play as a cop instead of a criminal. You can get it here.
UPDATE: Oh no it gets worse.
The creators of the LSPDFR mod have issued a statement about the Channel 7 report, which reads:
Over the past couple of days, we’ve noticed a flurry of activity on LSPDFR, seemingly sparked by some media coverage in Australia. The initial story, run by Channel 7 News was that our modification for GTA V, LSPD First Response, was being used by “underground geeks” to simulate the killing of Australian police officers. This is simply a gross misrepresentation of what we, as software developers, and our users, as passionate members of a diverse and overwhelmingly pro-law enforcement community, stand for. In reality, LSPDFR is a mode which allows you to play as a police officer within the game - players can make arrests, pull over speeding vehicles and respond to emergency situations. Indeed, if there’s any story here, it’s the story of how LSPDFR has actually empowered law enforcement, by playing host to tens of thousands of young people, from across the world, who would rather play as the good guys than the bad guys.