MP demands ban on video hoons

Road safety authorities are trying to pull the plug on a new computer game that encourages players to hoon through the streets of Sydney.

"Burn up a storm past famous landmarks such as the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge," says the promotional material for Project Gotham Racing 2, by Xbox.

State Labor MP Paul Gibson, chairman of the Staysafe Committee, intends to take the matter up with the Office of Film and Literature Classification, which approves such games for sale in Australia, and which issued a G rating to Project Gotham Racing 2.

"This game sends the wrong message to young people. It is actually glorifying speed and power," Mr Gibson said. "It is clearly an inappropriate depiction of speed behaviour. If I had my way I would ban it."

There is no research into how racing games affect the attitudes of young drivers. But, Mr Gibson said, there is enough research into risk-taking behaviour for there to be a concern.

"Games like this and things like car-surfing in film clips and in movies are undoing a lot of the effort authorities are putting into road safety."

Xbox marketing manager Nick Segger said: "There are plenty of games like this, I don't think it would be fair to single us out." Xbox has sold more than 50,000 copies of the original game in Australia over the past two years "and not had one complaint", he said.

"It is not about driving on the streets, it is purely a racing game. The streets are blocked from other traffic and there are no pedestrians. All we are doing is taking the geography of Sydney and turning it into a race track." And, he said, there are disclaimers at the start of each game.

Game designers visited Sydney 18 months ago and took 15,000 digital photos of The Rocks and Circular Quay to replicate the streets and buildings.

The game, which goes on sale in a fortnight, is the only opportunity to sample locally the fastest and most expensive Ferrari ever built. The $2 million Enzo cannot be registered for road use in Australia but anyone with enough money for a $100 computer game and its $300 console can get behind the joystick of the car.

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