The Way I See It

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CONTROVERSIAL? It seems is far too strong a word to describe the debate which divided Teries this week. Yet, some deemed Hawick’s inclusion in smash-hit video game Grand Theft Auto V as just that.

Okay, so by the time this column is uploaded it will no doubt be old news that Rockstar North, the creators of GTA V, have cheekily named a suburb in the game’s fictional city of Los Santos after Hawick. The Hawick of Los Santos is described as having a “drug-addict hipster vibe” and this has incensed local councillors and politicians alike.

Personally, I don’t think Hawick’s inclusion will have a negative impact on the town at all. But judjing by the furore which took hold on Tuesday, there’s plenty who don’t agree with me.

The Scotsman, which was first to run the story (news must have been thin on the ground on Tuesday), quoted Hawick Councillor Davie Paterson as being “horrified that they have put Hawick in a game like that”. A touch melodramatic, Mr Paterson, wouldn’t you say?

However, I do have a bit of sympathy for the councillor, as let’s face it, if he had done cart wheels along the High Street and said it was fantastic that Hawick had been included – then I’m sure he would have received just as much stick for advocating the use of town’s name in such a violent video game. Sometimes you just can’t win.

Hawick MSP John Lamont has also voiced his concerns and has even invited the producers of the iconic game to visit the town in an attempt to show Rockstar North the error of its ways. To me, this seems altogether silly and pointless. Whether the games producers were to visit the town or not, it doesn’t really matter, there isn’t going to be a mass recall so amendments can be made and the drug-riddled area renamed something else.

What seems a far more sensible suggestion is that rather than waste time on an innocuous matter, efforts be directed towards more pressing problems.

Many of the arguments made against the use of Hawick’s name in GTA V are based on the fact that the game’s violence and drugs is a far cry from the realities of our town. Of course, Hawick is a fantastic place, full of great people embodied by a great community spirit. But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its problems, just like any other town. Only last week, the Hawick News ran a story in which Howdenbank residents claimed that their housing scheme was like a “war zone”.

But a war zone? Really?

However, it is antisocial problems such as the latter issue which should be grabbing the attention of the town’s officials. Along with the continuing deterioration of the High Street, the lack of jobs, and the growing drug problem, which seldom hits the news but is very much in existence.

These are the priorities, in my opinion, not some video game designed for people with far too much time on their hands. Hawick is renowned for its association with the knitwear industry, its yearly traditions of the Common-Riding, and its long-established rugby club. A little tomfoolery on a computer game isn’t going to change all that.