A group representing the Italian American community has declared victory over Take-Two Interactive for turning a planned Mafia II launch party in New York into a "dismal failure."
Earlier this month, Italian American organization Unico National harshly criticized the action-adventure crime game Mafia II, calling it "a pile of racist nonsense" that perpetuates the stereotype of the Italian Mafioso and demanding that all references to Italians be removed from the game before its release. Take-Two Chairman Strauss Zelnick pointed out in response that nobody from Unico had played or even seen Mafia II, that the game is rated for mature audiences and that historically-based stories about organized crime in the U.S. are hardly something new.
The game release went ahead as planned but coalition leader Andre DiMino nonetheless claimed the group's efforts are bearing fruit. A Mafia II party in New York "fizzled," he said, because the group "pounded away" at the 92nd Street Y, which hosted the event, for more than week in order to convince it to cancel. The party took place anyway but attendance was reportedly very poor; a "sparse group of mostly young people trudged in" but Unico claimed that Take-Two executives, most notably Zelnick himself, were entirely absent.
"I have no doubt our efforts resulted in the Mafia II Launch Party... being a dismal failure," DiMino said. "When we first heard about this marketing event only recently, we went into action, using our resolve to challenge an event whose purpose was to mock the Italian American community by promoting the new video game Mafia II."
"I believe the combined result of our activities was that, without acknowledging our efforts, both Take-Two and the 92nd Street Y became very hesitant to heavily promote ethnic bashing in this very public way," he continued. "The lack of media coverage for the launch party is another indicator that they pulled back on promoting this event."
DiMino also noted that this isn't the end of Unico's planned action, saying, "This is one small, satisfying victory in a much longer, more sophisticated campaign within the Italian American community opposed to Mafia II specifically, and the continued misrepresentation of the Italian American community, generally. Take-Two and its major investors, and the entertainment industry in general, will be hearing further and forcefully from us."
Mafia II is out now for the PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.