8:36am Friday 25th May 2012
By Rachel Blundy
A computer science student who created a Streatham version of the cult video game Grand Theft Auto is hoping to use his home town for a new gaming project.
Anthony Staines, 23, developed his own take on the violent game, which critics claim glorifies drugs and prostitution on some of America’s grittiest streets, after friends suggested the two-mile stretch of Streatham High Road would be the perfect setting for high-speed car chases.
He spent thousands of painstaking hours constructing individual buildings – including Caesars, Streatham ice rink and Megabowl – to develop a three-dimensional plan of the town centre.
The Kingston University student now hopes to use the map in a game based on another popular car racing format, Need for Speed.
He said: “[Streatham] is like the ultimate race track because of the dual carriageway.”
About 100 gaming addicts have been downloading his take on GTA every month since its launch in 2010 and a preview of it on YouTube has received more than 11,000 hits.
Mr Staines’ mum suggested selling the custom-made map to developers after several people expressed interest in buying it, but he said he was concerned about copyright issues, adding he might get into “a lot of trouble” for trading on the game’s name.
Despite having a few frustrating moments with the game’s coding, the former Hitherfield Primary pupil insists he rarely gets bored with the process of mapping out Streatham.
He said: “I am someone who does not really get impatient.
“I do not think of it as work. It is more of a hobby. I just sit down to have fun when I’m designing.”
But Mr Staines, who hopes to work as a computer hardware engineer after university, dismissed suggestions his game celebrates Streatham’s crime-ridden streets.
In 2008, a poster advertising Grand Theft Auto depicting a young black girl carrying a gun situated yards from where James Andre Smartt-Ford and Gary Guthrie were shot dead, was removed from Streatham High Road after residents complained.
Mr Staines said: “I do not glorify violence one bit. My game does not have any drugs and knives. It is just about running around and driving.”
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