Since its release on September 17, 2013 Rockstar Games GTA V has pulled in a record breaking $1 billion in sales. Proving that, for Rockstar Games at least, crime does pay. The series, debuted in 1997 and it could be played on the PC, PS1 and the Game Boy Color handheld. The original game was based in London, which made sense as the game itself was developed by two British developers David Jones and Mike Dailly (who is actually from Scotland). But this billion dollar baby is getting blamed for society’s ills. The ignorant are claiming that the game is a corrupting influence on youth of the world.
Later the game moved on to fictional areas of the United States. The game’s name and the premise, at least its main premise, was based on “vehicle theft” and it is set in an open world, almost a sandbox world of gameplay as the game grew. As the games have evolved, Dan and Sam Houser two Londoners who co-founded Rockstar Games, increased the amount of activity in the open world of GTA. It included more criminal activity than just boosting cars.
The series itself has won many awards and is considered among one of the most popular franchises of all time. Game sales figures back this statement up. While the gaming community itself can spend hours arguing that Metal Gear Solid, or CoD or other games hold the crown as most popular, in the end it is the revenue the games earn combined with reviewer’s scores that place GTA in the top spot.
It is also the game that gamers themselves “grew up on.” While non-gamers, folks who have never in their life held a controller in their lily-white and unsullied hands, continue to believe that the target demographic for video games are young teen boys, the truth is far different. They can be forgiven their ignorance, it does seem at times that the industry still believes the same thing.
If you go onto YouTube and expose yourself to the thousands, if not more, of gaming channels, you will discover a huge range in ages of devout gamers. Players who remember, with real nostalgic joy, playing Donkey Kong and Mario Bros “back in the day.” The same players who made the transition to Tomb Raider and GTA and other games that moved out of the “standard platformer” games on offer.
Video Games have evolved. They place more focus on story, characters and arcs. They are immersive. And in the case of GTA V they are wide open worlds where anything goes. Crime pays in Rockstars game verse. A verse, meant for adults. The rating, yes video games are rated, it does not matter how many prepubescent boys you encounter on a CoD multiplayer session, at 18 +. And like CoD, GTA V is for adults. Yet the hysterical naysayers insist that this billion dollar baby is to blame for all of society’s ills. Even though it was made for adult gamers.
Gamers who grew up with games and continue to play them. The adolescents of yesterday are now the target market. Why?
Because surprise, surprise, gamers grew up. As the first players in the video game verse got older, their love for the games that they played did not die. It evolved. Games developers don’t just suddenly fall off of the tree of life, they are made by the games they experienced. GTA V proves that crime pays with a $1 billion pay off in the first few days of the games release. Because gamers, even adult gamers, will pay for the privilege of playing this open world game of criminal fiction.
Despite all the hysterical finger-pointing from the ignorant who read “studies” conducted back in 2001 and believe the results as avidly as they trust the many different versions of the Bible, game playing does not and has not, created a race of violent sociopaths.
Some of these “potential” sociopaths have gamed since the industry’s infancy. Getting excited when Pong first came out, I was as enthralled as the next guy with the game’s limited ability to amuse me for hours. It was an easy step to then move on to Pacman, Space Invaders, Mario Bros, et al.
GTA V has been around since 1997. The theme of the game has always been the same. Law breaking; gasp. The games are meant to be a black humoured and almost cartoonish look at criminals, violence and the way that both are dealt with. One reviewer stated that “Rockstar has put the humour back in violence with GTA V.”
He was right. The game has been developed by adults for adults. It is the exact opposite of Trix breakfast cereal, made just for kids. To paraphrase the old television advert, “Silly rabbit, GTA is for adults.” While certain members of the world’s non-gaming community continue screaming that video games have caused mass murder to escalate and swear that children are driven to murder their siblings, parents, grandparents, or classmates because of a videogame is the worst sort of ignorance.
These same people who deny the logic that if “little Timmy” did not have access to a loaded weapon or had been parented properly, i.e. not allowed to play grown up games or, more importantly have access to loaded firearms, he may just not kill the next door neighbor.
Rockstar Games have proven, yet again, with almost perfect scores across the board that their crime based formula works well. It is not serious nor is it meant to be. It is a adult, sartorial and blackly comic look at “cartoon” violence. In GTA V crime pays, literally for the characters, along with Rockstar Games, and figuratively for the players.
For non-gamers to blame society’s ills on Rockstars billion dollar baby, is an attempt to destroy something that they don’t understand. But gamers, and those who develop games “get it.” All gamers ask is that if videogames are not your “cup of tea” fine, do what you like to do for amusement. But for the love of Pete, stop trying to take our “train set” away. If you don’t understand it, don’t knock it.
By Michael Smith