Take-Two has defended Mafia II against backlash over the game’s portrayal of Italian-Americans.
UNICO National, one of the largest Italian-American service organisations in the US, called the game a “pile of racist nonsense” and has demanded the game be withheld from release.
The organisation’s president Andre DiMino wrote a letter to Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick, claiming Mafia II is inappropriate, insulting and furthers the “denigrating stereotype of organised crime being the exclusive domain of Italians and Italian-Amercians”, according to Gamasutra.
Zelnick responded with a statement, claiming Mafia II’s portrayal of Italian-Americans is justified by the story and artistry of the product, and that steps were taken to avoid stereotyping. He stated that he is “fully behind” the game.
He said: “Mafia II tells a compelling story about organised crime in America – a subject that for decades has been featured in movies, television shows and novels.
“At Take-Two, we balance our right to free expression with what we believe is a thoughtful and responsible approach to creating and marketing our products. We aim to distinguish creative and compelling storytelling that advances artistic expression from subject matter that gratuitously exploits or glorifies violence or stereotypes.
“I fully and completely stand behind our creative teams and products, including Mafia II.”
In his original complaint, DiMino wrote: “Why would [Take-Two] foist a game on their targeted audience of young people wherein they will indoctrinate a new generation into directly associating Italians and Italian-Americans with violent, murderous organised crime, to the exclusion of all of the other ‘mafias’ run by other ethnic and racial groups?.
“Take-Two is directly, blatantly and unfairly discriminating and demeaning one group to the exclusion of all others. We are demanding they halt release of the game and cleanse it of all references to Italian and Italian.”
Mafia II is due for release in the UK on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC on August 27th.