From someone who knows nothing about video games, I’m trying my best to understand the fascination with the latest and by far most popular video game of the year, GTA V. I should probably have started by explaining that I’m what some would call a technophobe. I still sport a Samsung slider phone and refuse to use an Ipod any more advanced than your almost obsolete Ipod Nano. I may be A-technological, technologically impaired, so be it. I’m not ashamed of it. In fact, in some ways, I consider my old school mindset as a badge of honor. But coming from someone who seriously knows zilch about video games, what I can tell you is that GTA V has broken gaming records and has yielded joy and entertainment for millions of users.
The Rockstar North developed franchise GTA has enthralled gamers since its inception in 1997, providing players with an interactive game play which simulates the vulgar side of street life: gang violence, prostitution, and of course, grand theft auto. The game itself has become such a phenomenon, the term “Grand Theft Auto” itself is more associated with the video game than the crime itself.
So what’s the big deal? What makes GTA V such a hit among people of all ages? For one, the amount of preparation and money put into the development of such an in depth and interactive video game makes it a step ahead of its class, outselling some of the biggest video games including Halo and Call of Duty, not to mention outperforming some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters.
Fans of the franchise have had to wait a painstaking 5 years since the franchise’s last release of GTA IV, which was met with great fanfare and praise from critics alike. It is said that GTA V outsold its predecessor GTA IV in less than six weeks.
So seriously, what is going on? Why is GTA V such a big deal? Once again, I’m not a video gamer by any stretch of the imagination, but I am someone who delights himself in the study of human psychology, and if gory, violent and action packed Hollywood blockbusters are any indication for how much Americans love sex and violence, GTA V would most certainly provide the evidence necessary to conclude such an argument.
Not only does GTA V exploit the average person’s thirst for blood and violence, it allows them to vicariously live through the character shooting and exploding his way out of some action packed scenario. I mean, what’s the only thing better than being Bruce Willis in Die Hard? It’s being Bruce Willis in Die Hard.
Studies have shown that viewers who watch or play action packed violence oriented stimuli have a physiological reaction. A surge of adrenaline and dopamine fills the bloodstream, feeding the user a rush that is an addictive high. To top this off, the gamer can vent some stress through their virtual doppelganger in ways they couldn’t in reality. I mean, the last time I checked, it’s frowned upon to hijack an old woman’s car after beating her to a bloody pulp with a bat in broad daylight.
So there you have it. Coming from someone who knows nothing about video games, GTA V serves as not only a technological innovation in the world of gaming, but as a potential outlet for pent up stress, while allowing people to live vicariously as a murderous psychopath.
So maybe after all the sex and violence exploited by GTA V isn’t all that bad. That is, as long as it’s confined to the TV screen.
by John Amaruso