MSP John Lamont has invited the producers of the computer game Grand Theft Auto 5 to visit Hawick, after naming a ‘drug addict’ district after the town.
Edinburgh-based game designers Rockstar North are expected to sell 25milion copies of the latest game in the popular series which was released this week – but it’s for their use of the name Hawick in relation to an area described as having ‘a disaffected drug addict hipster vibe’, which has made the headlines.
Criticising the decision for a game which includes car chases, drive-by shootings and drug-dealing, Mr Lamont stated: “I was shocked to hear that the name of the town had been used in Grand Theft Auto V.
“While some may take the view that any publicity is good publicity, I am sure that many local residents will see this as an insensitive move from Rockstar North.”
The company is well known for putting in Scottish references to their 18-rated franchise, and ‘tongue-in-cheek’ humour - with the latest version including a Saltire flying over Vespucci beach in Los Santos. But Mr Lamont says reference to a virtual Hawick as a crime-ridden megalopolis of Los Santos, has caused upset since it was launched on Tuesday. And as a result, he has issued a challenge to its producers. “The game undoubtedly portrays Hawick in a bad light and is likely to sell tens of millions of copies over the next year”, he stated. “It is unfortunate that a Scottish company has chosen to portray this fine Borders town in such a bad light. They clearly do not know Hawick well, and that is why I have invited them to meet with me at my office on the High Street.”
Mr Lamont says he would like to discuss the anger which Rockstar North’s move has caused, as well show them what the town has to offer.
He added: “Hawick is one of the most beautiful towns in Scotland, and I am sure that by showing them the town and telling them of its proud history, they will realise the mistake they have made.”
Provost Stuart Marshall has also strongly criticised the makers of the game, stating: “It’s very sad when people try and show Hawick in a less flattering and uncomplimentary way.”
But outlining how different their portrayal is to the real Hawick, he added: “Clearly those who choose to do so have never been to our town to see for themselves how welcoming the folk are, nor have they seen the excellent work being carried out by some many voluntary groups whose only goal is to make our town even better than it is.”
The Hawick News contacted Rockstar North, but at the time of going to press they had failed to respond.
Stores across the UK opened their doors at midnight on Monday for the launch of Grand Theft Auto V, with online seller Amazon already sold out. It reportedly cost around £170million to make and market, and retails at £35.