Stress has to be vented somehow and Grand Theft Auto (GTA) games can help enthusiastic players pop out stress like venting machines, which could be partly why the latest GTA V video and extra online mode clinched a speed record cashing $1 billion sales in three days when it hit the market Sept. 17. Players can escape into a brutal, unstoppable crime machine moving through three protagonists: Michael, Franklin Clinton and Trevor Philips.
Texas A & M researchers are proposing that video games may be effective in reducing stress. Professor Gutierrez-Osuna is proposing that “stress management in the form of a video game would be more effective than other techniques such as meditation because of its nature: a video game is fun, does not entail self-discipline, and diverts the player’s stress.”
In discussion forums, supportive players talked about why GTA V releases aggression, in spite of stark controversies questioning the legitimacy of its violence: “You get to take your anger out on the world in a non-violent way,” said one, while another described relief of revenge: “I was riding round on my Pegassi Vacca when some jerk in an SUV starting giving me abuse and waving out the window, so I waited till the next junction and shot him dead. It’s all very good stress relief.” Another gamer added “There is a different point in each of the grand theft auto games. Usually it is about someone taking your money and you having to get it back by a killing spree. It’s actually a fun game. You get a lot of freedom.”
The game lets players explore whatever they want to without forcing them into a linear format where they have to either win a fight, acquire the best score, or murder the other villains. Instead GTA gives players the ability to run around a scenic terrain outside of the real Los Angeles and select trips that go along with a narrative unraveling as GTA V players execute shots.
Another GTA V gamer said, “Some grand theft auto games are more advanced than others but a lot of people just like the ability to roam around and do whatever you want. But if you’re looking to complete the games there is a story line of missions and other things to do that will end up being like a movie until you beat story mode and reach 100% completion of the game.”
The GTA V has raging critics who are venting their stress because of bullets popping out violently, and characters killing prostitutes, assaulting gang members, breaking into jewelry stores, and killing policemen like massive crime machines. Critics say that GTA V vents too much rampage and bloodshed for many who swear that the game goes too far. They claim that GTA is tantalizing players to extend violent behaviors to police and others, which has created several law suits.
Yet Grand Theft Auto has driven home massive sales since its original version hitting the market in 1997, and because of that GTA V has an enormous following. In a culture that pours money into video gaming for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, GTA V storms ahead of the crowd.
In a 2011 Entertainment Software Association study, it showed that average video players are 37 and that 42 percent of video game players are female, which means that GTA V, despite its masculine approach and content, has a fair share of female players.
GTA V has been applauded for the superb graphics, narrative twists, imaginative quality, and close scrutiny to detail. Dan Houser, cofounder of Rockstar Games and developer of the video game, said GTA V includes over 100 hours of gaming, and describes how he and his associates spent 100 days in Los Angeles conducting research to design the game elements. The team talked to FBI agents, Mafia investigators, gang members, cops and all sorts of strange people and even went to a prison, describing it as “eye-openingly depressing.”
GTA V is out headfirst in the gaming market, spewing stress like vending machines through every “vroom,” “whiz,” “pop,” and “crash,” while others stand in horror at this criminal escapism.
By Danelle Cheney