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Master Bates
12-01-2009, 08:49 AM
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A COMPUTER game featuring drugs and gangland killing has become the first title to be handed an adults-only rating so it can be sold for the family-friendly Nintendo DS console.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars was awarded the 18+ certificate by the British Board of Film Classification on Friday.

It is made by a Leeds-based studio owned by US firm Rockstar, and will now go on sale on March 20.

On its website, the regulator advises it contains “very strong language and drug references” while packaging for the adventure - the latest in the controversial Grand Theft Auto series - shows images of guns, knives and swords.

Sam Houser, founder of Rockstar Games, said: "We are incredibly excited to share this enormous and uncompromising Grand Theft Auto experience with DS fans."

But its arrival on the Nintendo DS marks a major change for the handheld device.

It had previously been lauded for its universal appeal with everyone from young children to pensioners.

The vast majority of its games are suitable for under-12s and in 2008, sales of its titles in Britain rose by 28 per cent to 19.1 million.

The increase was thanks partly to the huge popularity of games which use puzzles and problem solving to enhance life skills, for example Professor Layton or the Brain Training series.

According to the BBFC's report, makers Rockstar did not need to make any cuts to the game after the finished product was submitted for classification, unlike the firm's previous release Manhunt 2.

It was twice refused a certificate by the BBFC before a compromise was found and it finally went into shops late last year.

But speaking about Chinatown Wars in September, Rockstar's co-founder Dan Houser told Edge magazine: "It can't be softened to make it family-friendly – that's not the game we're making. We've never not done well by sticking to our guns."

He added: "Nintendo wanted us to make GTA, and we wanted to make a game on their platform. They didn't want us to make a GTA for kids, and we weren't interested in making a game we wouldn't normally make.