Gamers who just can't get enough daytime television justice will want to keep an eye on Mathis "Detroit" Street Judge, a new game being co-designed by Judge Greg Mathis in which players live the thug life, complete with guns, cars, crime and, apparently, prison rape.
Players will step into the shoes of La-Ron Washington, a convicted felon on the streets of Detroit who received an early release from prison due to overcrowding. But the local mob believes La-Ron is responsible for the murder of a crime boss and wants him dead, and complicating matters further is the fact that he has two strikes against him already. La-Ron must "stay out of trouble, perform community services and avoid negative street influences and temptations."
"I know that the most popular game out there is Grand Theft Auto IV and I know that a lot of young videogame players like the [virtual] action of criminal activity," said Mathis. "In this game, we're giving them that action and adding the option of living a mainstream, successful life. They have the combination of an action-packed criminal activity, as well as the opportunity to turn their lives around and pursue a level of success, as I did after leaving my background in the world of crime."
Mathis, who says he's a gamer himself and enjoys playing games including Rockstar's hit Grand Theft Auto IV, said violent games like GTA are here to stay because they let players taste the "glamorous thug life" without actually indulging in it in real life. His idea is to add to that the option of choosing a normal life and the rewards that come with it.
"Giving these young gamers the choice between good and bad through in-game video sequences and narration, the Judge will be the source of reason for gamers," said Matty Rich, Mathis' partner in the endeavor, who's best known for the 1991 film Straight Out of Brooklyn and the 2005 videogame 187 Ride or Die. "The wonderful thing about working with the judge is that he knows the streets, but he also knows what it takes to get out of the slums of Detroit - hard work, education, determination."
Born in Detroit in 1960, Mathis became embroiled in gang life and was arrested numerous times for drug use and criminal behavior. He eventually escaped that lifestyle with the help of a sympathetic judge and family friends, and went on to attend Eastern Michigan University, after which he found employment at Detroit City Hall and eventually became the youngest person in the state to be elected as a superior court judge. He has become well known to daytime television audiences through his Judge Mathis television show.
"The main difference between our game and Grand Theft Auto is that players will have to deal with the justice system and consequences for their actions," Mathis said. Included on that list of consequences is surprise bum sex, which the judge made a point of mentioning as one of the possible downsides of going to prison. ""When you go to prison, you gain credibility when you come back on the streets. On the other hand, when you go to prison you can also be raped. So take your chances," he said. "We may see young people who make the wrong choice and go to prison and are assaulted repeatedly [in this game]."