The Fallout From GTA V

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We live in a world where when something bad happens, we point the finger. When young girls dance like a stripper, parents blame Miley Cyrus. When young boys swear and cause mischief, they blame rappers. And when mass shootings occur, the world blames video games.Grand Theft Auto V (GTAV) is expected to be one of the most successful and profitable video games of all time. In just three days, the game made a billion dollars. That’s more than any movie has made during that time span. All this attention is going to lead to inevitable controversy.

Where’s the controversy? It’s what happens in the game and the potential message it could send that’s being questioned. If you haven’t played a GTA game before, players can do things like wield weapons to shoot and kill people, have sex with prostitutes, go to a strip club and rob gas stations.

Anybody who criticizes the message of a GTA game is ridiculous. It’s true that you partake in illegal actions throughout the game, but there’s so much more than that, especially in GTA V. The game chronicles the lives of three different men, all of which represent a different demographic in the United States. The stories and development you experience with the players make the game more than just “inappropriate” and “distasteful”. They shed light on the lives of real people living in the world.

GTA gamers aren’t going to rob their local gas station or shoot a stranger in broad daylight because they know, like in the game, they’ll be chased down by the police. GTA games definitely acknowledge that there are consequences to your actions.

The next time there’s a mass shooting in this country, don’t blame the game. Blame the gamer.

What are your thoughts? Is criticism of GTA justified? Let me know in the comments below.

PHOTO: A screenshot of one of the game’s main characters, Trevor, in a strip club. (Courtesy of Rockstar Games)

2 Comments

  1. I don’t know, Gabe. (By the way, long time no see!) GTA may just be a video game, but video games, like all media, are a part of our culture. GTA alone may not spur people to go out and commit violent acts, but it contributes to a culture of violence. What’s truly disturbing is the fact that games like this are sometimes– not at all infrequently–played by kids as young as six or seven. At this age, kids often don’t see the distinction between fiction and reality as clearly. They also search for role models, and anyone can be that whether they want to or not– even if they’re fictional. It’s the job of parents to keep games like this out of children’s hands, but it doesn’t always happen. Such is life. And finally, disadvantaged social, economic and/or ethnic groups don’t benefit from being portrayed as violent, sexually aggressive or otherwise shady. No matter what statistics and personal stories say, presenting these men as “normal,” which the game must to make them sympathetic, does nobody any favors.
    In terms of action, I respect Rockstar’s rights to publish such a game. I respect its designers’ right to make it, and its players’ rights to play it. I also don’t think less of people for playing or making it– it is, after all, just a game. But to call it flawless and blameless is a little too much of a blanket statement for me to get behind.

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