GTA V is the latest instalment of the popular household video game Grand theft Auto. GTA as it is popularly called has enjoyed a wide range of success since its first release in 1997 till date. With popularity ranging across continents, it has featured popular artists such as Michael Madsen, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Ricky Gervais, Danny Trejo, Gary Busey, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Penn and Phil Collins as voice actors.
The primary objective of the game, summarily, is to live a life of crime. Players are meant to take on a life of crime and see how ‘big’ a criminal they can be in their lifetime. The game romanticizes crime, it makes crime look ‘cool’. The game is very much popular, and the 150 million copies sold worldwide as at September 2013 is a testament to that.
GTA V was released in September 2013 and to say it’s flying off the shelves doesn’t quite capture the commercial success of this game. It’s basically flown and is still flying off the shelves. What is fascinating though is not and cannot be the issue of contention. Success after all is no crime. What is an issue however is the content of a material that seems to have a far reaching impact on so many.
GTA V like all other versions of GTA does to general crime what Miami Vice does to organized drug crime. GTA is often set in a normal society environment. With normal human beings who drive normal cars and obey normal traffic rules. In this environment, the player is then meant to get in the face of normalcy as much as possible. The player snatches cars, gets in fights, kills and obviously, needless to say, disobeys traffic rules.
Now, the bone of contention becomes whether it is right or can even be right for children to have an option to play such a game. We complain of a drop in moral values. We complain of an increase in the crime rates. We say the children of nowadays seem have less value for what is right and more affiliated with what is wrong. Is it really any surprise we seem to be under the cosh of moral decay when we term and glorify doing wrong as entertainment? Promoting such brute in the name of fun surely has to be questioned.
GTA V, as a game, going viral speaks ill not just of the game but of those who play it. It doesn’t speak as bad of the game as it does of the world that fuels it and gives it a market. Blood, gore, murder, crime and all packaged into one is not a thing we now condemn anymore in all senses of its appearance but we make excuses for it being harmless as long as it is well packaged and rightly labelled. Have we suddenly forgotten how influential video games can be on the minds of the younger ones? If surely the children are our future, how are we positioning them? And even the society at large, are now accepting crime as normal in a virtual world and getting the thrill out of it. GTA V might be called fun by some and immoral by others it sure is making the line between moral and immoral harder to see.
By Olajide Jatto