Grand Theft Auto has always been a franchise to court controversy and there is no doubt that Rockstar really don't seem to care. They have never shown an interest in being politically correct, or even fitting into what many people deem as ‘acceptable'.
There is also no doubt that Grand Theft Auto 5 is an amazing game, I have spent 20 hours at this point with the latest title on the Playstation 3 and in my humble opinion it is the best game they have ever produced. Some mainstream journalists are horrified however.
A lot of the fun with Grand Theft Auto 5 is the fact that you can rob banks, get involved in gunfights, and take control of a multitude of vehicles, ranging from a simple Harley motorbike clone to a high powered jet aircraft. The thing is that most of us know that this is all pure escapism. I can't remember playing Grand Theft Auto and ever thinking it would be a cool idea to get hold of a shotgun and head out on my local streets and shoot policemen and pedestrians in equal measure.
If you have lived in the United Kingdom for any length of time then you will already be aware of The Daily Mail newspaper on some level. While they employ some great journalists they do tend to take the moral high ground and can even appear to be lecturing their readers on how they feel they should be living their lives. I really don't need a newspaper to tell me what is wrong or right, I have a firm grasp on this myself.
Those people who should be getting an education on moral issues aren't likely to be reading the Daily Mail anyway.
While I was playing GTA5 I was aware that several scenes would be up for some severe criticism. The torture of a man with the help of the FIB (yes, they mean the FBI) was reasonably graphic but would this make you want to hunt out a car battery and attach it to someone's nipples? I can safely say the thought never crossed my mind.
There are actually some areas of Grand Theft Auto 5 which are a rather intelligent look at modern life. The developers focus on the fixation with reality TV shows, with one of the main protagonists daughters fighting hard to make a name for herself by attending auditions and removing a lot of her clothes in order to do so. Sure it is sad, but it is rather entertaining and all because it does actually reflect the truth – watch any audition for the X Factor (or similar) and you will see hundreds of talentless wannabee stars striving to make an impression. It is embarrassing, but it is a fact of life in 2013.
Writer James Delingpole who wrote an online piece for the Daily Mail has certainly sensationalised his article on Grand Theft Auto 5 for their readers. James said that he wasn't a great fan of Grand Theft Auto, he had a go with his stepson's copy in 1997 but didn't like it that much. He had problems “driving around motorways and I crashed so often I kept failing in the missions the characters were supposed to carry out.”
In GTA5 he said that he robbed a bank, beat up an ‘elderly security guard' and shot dead 15 policemen, then stole fast cars, drove on the wrong side of the road, mowed down pedestrians and killed more police by ramming into them. He “Then went home for a change of clothes, a nap, a beer and a joint before getting into my stolen vehicle to wreak more mayhem, pausing briefly to enjoy the services of a prostitute.”
Sounds like he has improved his gameplay skill since struggling with simply driving in 1997. Kudos.
James adds “You variously inhabit the bodies of three different characters — all of them bad. There’s Michael, a foul-mouthed, middle-aged gangster; Trevor, a sociopath who makes the devastating drug crystal meth in the desert; and Franklin, a ghetto kid who’ll do anything for money.”
Without ruining the game for anyone who has yet to play it, I do think that is a rather two dimensional view of the characters.
Michael is actually a middle aged man who knows he has problems. He paid for his crimes before and entered into a new life – tried to make a new start with his shallow self obsessed daughter and his unhappy, mentally challenged son (who likes pot – just like millions of Americans today) and dominating, angry wife.
I feel Michael is actually based in many ways on Tony Soprano – he comes across as a fully fledged three dimensional person with a huge array of faults and weaknesses. Sure he is ‘bad', but is he really any worse than the much loved Tony Soprano who invaded our screens for many years to critical acclaim? Michael tries hard to change, but struggles with his life and gets drawn back into the world of crime. I know that I felt sorry for the guy more than once, especially when he was dealing with corrupt individuals in the government who want him to do their bidding. Again, we know this is based on truth.
Trevor is undoubtedly the star of the show – and his character reminded me of Jack Nicholson's portrayal of Jack Torrance in Stephen King's The Shining. I was sure Trevor was going to shout ‘Here's Johnny!' at one point or another. There is no doubt that Trevor is a sociopath killer – but it is such a caricature of one, that you can't help but laugh at his actions. Bad taste? sure! Fun? yes, of course it is. No one will take it seriously – but if you see some people with a tattoo of ‘cut here' and a dotted line along their neck then please do slap them for me.
James from the Daily Mail adds “As a middle-aged parent, I like to think I’m mature enough to be able to appreciate the game’s cartoonish, ugly, misogynistic, ultraviolent, pornographic worldview with a certain wry detachment.But whether the game’s teenage target market is so readily capable of making such distinctions, I’m not nearly so sure.”
This is why the Daily Mail get so much negative press themselves – they believe that gamers are not able to make a distinction between right and wrong. I don't know a single gamer (and I know thousands) who has said to me “Man did you play Grand Theft Auto? It really made me want to go out and kill people, or run over them with my car!'.
Remember this game is rated 18, if parents let their 12 year old developing child play this game then that can hardly be the fault of Rockstar. Same with 18 rated movies – it is no different, yet the press always focus on games. I wonder has James Delingpole seen the Hostel series of films or other ‘torture porn' titles which are much more graphic than Grand Theft Auto 5, but have the same 18 rating? Should they be blamed for real life violence too?
James finishes his article with “What troubles me about Grand Theft Auto V — which has an 18 rating that will be ignored by thousands of younger teenagers — is not just the message it sends out to youngsters (drugs are cool; crime pays; violence is fun), but what it says about the coarsening, the decadence and the hopelessness of our modern culture.
It’s the electronic equivalent of those gladiatorial contests the Romans used to stage in the dying days of their empire, involving ever more exotic beasts and ever more elaborate sets.
It may be entertaining, particularly to young men with a penchant for such nihilistic spectacle, but the sensibility to which it appeals is warped, jaded and riddled with the deepest, blackest despair.
The fact that this is the most popular computer game on the market should make us all shudder, and pray that the violence on the screen doesn’t bleed into Britain’s streets.”
This just proves how behind the times The Daily Mail are. The violence in Grand Theft Auto 5 is not a guideline on how to kill people or wreck havoc in the real world, it is a tongue in cheek, exaggerated form of art to allow people to unwind after a hard day's work. If young children are playing the game, then it is the parents fault and the same principle applies to 18 rated torture porn movies – they shouldn't be watching them either.
Don't blame games for problems in society today, blame bad parenting, a floundering economy and ingrained mental problems which will find a trigger at some point.
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Kitguru says: The negative article at the Daily Mail is one of many that will drive more sales for the game, a point which many journalists often miss. Rockstar must be smiling.