April 29 will be an important day for Take-Two Interactive software, maker of the upcoming “Grand Theft Auto IV,” the latest edition of the very adult series. With its solid reputation for violence and vulgarity, Take-Two braces for reaction to it’s newest release. While previous releases have been surrounded by controversy—they’ve also been wildly successful. Chances are, they’ll face another round of both, and judging from an e-mail comment by the Entertainment Software Association’s chief executive, Mike Gallagher, they know it.” High-profile titles provide a unique opportunity to underscore our goal to empower parents with information and tools so they can make the right choices for their families.” Mr. Gallagher said.

Gaming rushes into the mainstream with something for everyone…

The introduction of GTA IV will be interesting to watch. But by no means is it the only anticipated upcoming release. April 27 is the debut date for Mario Kart Wii—decidedly at the other end of the violence spectrum. Clearly, the content is broadening, with interactive experiences for an ever-growing list of interests and fantasies and one can only wonder how interactive gaming will scale and evolve in coming years. New releases like Sony’s Gran Turismo 5 Prologue (Playstation) features the most sophisticated racing simulation we’ve ever seen and Wii Fit delivers interactive fitness regiments.

…as Take-Two braces for a backlash

But in the end, Grand Theft Auto IV will be the big story. The past five releases have sold more than 70 million copies and from the early reviews and spy reports, we understand that the latest Grand Theft Auto will ratchet-up the violence and sexual content—thus creating a firestorm—and a boatload of profit. This franchise is a gold mine. It’s not surprising that Electronic Arts, a company that once shied away from mature-rated games, has targeted Take-Two for a takeover.

Like traditional artforms, gaming will inescapably reflect life. Especially if there’s money to be made.

Grand Theft Auto IV

San Jose Mercury News, AP