You may not be familiar if you live outside of Japan, but Sega's Yakuza franchise is one of the most well received and popular franchises in the industry. You might have heard about comparisons between this series and Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto , though.
While none of the Yakuza titles give you the huge range of freedom and immense size of the environments, there's still an underlying theme of almost unlimited exploration within the city in question. Even so, Sega designer Toshihiro Nagoshi doesn't really like the comparison; even though he sees the benefit of player choice, he does think it might be borderline dangerous. According to Kotaku , Nagoshi was talking in a recent forum in regards to GTA, and referred to the experiences as allowing the player to "kill people or do whatever." But there are deeper issues at hand:
"This game [referring to GTA]…I thought one day someone is going to have to make something like this. Personally, because I think you must think about the influence games have on people, I would never think about wanting to make a game like this. However, because of this moral issues in this game, I think we should have a healthy debate.
In gaming, if you make a decision, there is a reaction, and it's the most stimulating form of media, I think. And thus, it can asked if it's the most dangerous media… Depending on what you make, perhaps."
Oh, there's no question that something like GTA has always been controversial. The only reason this controversy hasn't touched Yakuza is because you really don't have the option of killing whoever you see, or doing whatever you want. You can still go just about anywhere you wish, but your actions are limited so technically, it's less "dangerous." But the debate is bound to continue for years to come as games become more advanced, and players find themselves in the virtual driver's seat more than ever before.