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GTA V: Best-Selling Violence or Escapism


GTA V has recently been picked as the bestselling game in 2013, with 7 nominations for Dice Awards. This high-profile video game contains complexly detailed towns and complex, violent scenarios filled with corrupt characters that will do anything they can to get ahead.

Since its debut in 1997, it has become one of the most brutal video games imaginable, making it exceptionally popular to teen boys and young men.  With so much concern among parents and organizations such as Mothers Against Video Addiction and Violence (MAVAV), there was forewarning by experts that there would be real-life carnage.

A psychologist from the National Safety Council expressed to the New York Times that “in this game a player takes the first step to creating violence.”

Without a doubt, Grand Theft Auto 5 is besieged in crime. There is the expectancy to be ruthless. The game’s intent has a sardonic and darkly humored interpretation on culture in society. Even though it is stylized reality, it pushes boundaries. The game fundamentally teaches players that violence and force get you what you want. Nevertheless, does it cause real-life violence?

Since the 1980s, studies have been conducted to establish if video games like Grand Theft Auto trigger real life aggression and violence. However, while studies continue to grow more complex, findings continue to be mixed, refuting one another.

Always following mass shootings such as Columbine, the Newtown massacre or Sandy Hook, there’s a recurring call to censure video games. After all, Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter, was said to be fanatical with video games.  Shortly after Sandy Hook, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre broke his silence. He diverted gun control controversy by targeting blame to a “corrupt and corrupting shadow industry.” He reproached the industry for selling brutal video games such as Grand Theft Auto.

Even though there hasn’t been any conclusive evidence that violent games are directly related to real-world violence, there have been government proposals to curtail the sale of games such as Grand Theft Auto V. Representative Jim Matheson and Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey both recommended a federal bill to penalize the Entertainment Software Rating Board’s rating system with the “weight of the law.” They want to make it unlawful to sell minors M-rated games. Senator Jay Rockefeller pushed the necessity to study the effects of violent video games on children.

Fans, in contrast, will deny that the game has any ill effects. To the gaming majority, it’s adrenaline-rush entertainment; a diversion. If there is a direct correlation between violent video games and real-world violence, that would indicate that the latest Grand Theft Auto 5, with 29 million copies sold, could unleash an equal number of violent murders into society. How many gamers have actually stolen a car, robbed a bank or committed a violent crime? Could one violent game conceivably bring down a society?

When it comes to gun violence, countries such as South Korea and the Netherlands are the safest in the world, yet they have the highest per capita spending on video games.

Video games as the root of violence is a complex concern that touches on many factors including what type of influence repeated simulated violence could have on an individual, especially one with borderline mental health issues. Parents have an obligation to take notice in what they allow their children to play, in order to know whether or not video games, such as GTA V, are suitable or not.

Ultimately, the GTA V experience is a personal one. A player’s participation can be as gritty and immoral as he wishes, with a complete disregard for human life. Players have the control to murder, torture, fire at will, devastate or filch anything at any time. While the debate over violent games like GTA V battles on,  hopefully the gamers that do play them see them for what they are – escapism.

by Dawn Levesque




Mother Jones

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