Grand Theft Auto 5 was released on September 16th to mass excitement, lines of people waiting at game shops for midnight openings, and piles of articles and reports deploring the game’s violent image. With this fifth installment, the outrage is nothing new to GTA fans, but do the anti GTA campaigners have a point?
This time around, there has been plenty of backlash against the game. It has been branded racist, misogynistic, and teachers amongst others have come out to decry a particularly violent torture scene. There is no denying that GTA 5, just like it’s predecessors, is loud, brash, and unashamed in what it portrays.
There are some valid points raised in these discussions. One interesting debate has been the role of women in the story. Stephen Totilo wrote about the role of a minor character named Taliana Martinez, and how he wondered what the game would have been like with her as a main character, instead of the three males leading GTA 5. In fact, he describes her as the only ‘respectable female character’ in the game.
Also, there has been the usual reports of violence following a GTA release. This time, a fan in North London was stabbed and mugged of his copy on launch night as he walked home from his nearby Asda. This, of course, adds fuel to the argument that GTA games encourage violence.
But is this really true? There is no conclusive answer to this, despite all the debate and controversy the game has caused over the year. Rockstar, the developers of the game, made £500 million on the game in just 24 hours, and they know that controversy sells. It has been revealed that with their first release, PR guru Max Clifford whipped up controversy himself by targeting senior figures who were already against violent games.
While we can’t say conclusively that GTA causes violence, it’s obvious that Rockstar will play up to their controversial image in order to ramp up sales. When they toe the line so closely as iot is though, how soon will it be before they cross over it?