Grand Theft Auto
| You gotta spin it to win it|
|Stop the presses!|
|We want pictures|
Grand Theft Auto, often abbreviated to GTA, is a popular series of
murder simulators open world, action-adventure video games, developed by British studio Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games, a subsidiary of large publisher Take-Two Interactive, in which the player takes the role of one or numerous criminals. These games take place in large, explorable cities, which is usually a spoof of a real-world location, such as Vice City being based off Miami or Los Santos based off Los Angeles. As one of the most successful entertainment franchises in history, GTA has drawn everything from praise to criticism and the antagonism of media giants, including former lawyer Jack Thompson.
- 1 Short introduction to GTA
- 2 Objectionable content
- 3 Grand Social Reaction
- 4 Side effects of GTA on behavior
- 5 See also
- 6 External links
- 7 Notes
- 8 References
Short introduction to GTA
The plots of each of the games usually follow conventional rags-to-riches stories for which crime films are commonly used as inspiration. The playable character starts out as a low-life thug and by accomplishing missions the main character can ascend through the criminal underworld of a given area to eventually become its Godfather. GTA fuses these stories with humor and is usually satirical about American society. The attempts at satire have received mixed receptions however.
The gameplay focuses on a third-person action-adventure game in an open world. The series' initial standout feature was to steal and drive any car the player desired, hence the title. This concept of real-world impunity of carrying out crimes is largely followed in other aspects of the games, most notably the ability to kill nearly every non-playable character. However not every gameplay feature is morally reprehensible as it's possible to drive taxis, save people by escorting them to a hospital via an ambulance, extinguish fires, deliver pizzas, play golf, give money to the homeless, partake in races (which are peaceful and legal as long as the player doesn't run over pedestrians as traffic rules do not apply in the games), even become a cop and be on the right side for once and capture criminals (which need to be killed however), or simply just cruising around on the huge maps.
Due to the gameplay's violent and adult nature, the GTA series is the "go-to bad example" of what is wrong with video games in general and its allegedly bad effects on children (who shouldn't be playing the game in the first place, but still do anyway, despite the adult rating in front of the damn box being designed to keep parents from accidentally buying these games for their kids) and society alike.
The series has been controversial from the beginning as the first installment already included many of the series' trademark features. However it came to light that much of its initial controversy was manufactured by a PR agent because, let's be honest, a pixelated game played from a high bird's-eye view wouldn't cause much outrage except for shoving the explicit content into someone's face. This changed with the third game, which switched to a behind-the-back camera, brought a noticeable graphical and gameplay improvement, and a lot of controversy with it.
Prostitution and rape
Starting with GTA III, players can pay prostitutes in exchange for having a good time. More curious gamers may see that the player and the prostitute simply sit in a car. This looks so innocent that it could easily be used for an abstinence PSA if it wasn't for the shaking car. In the dawn of more powerful hardware, the interaction with prostitutes has become graphically more explicit. What makes this feature highly controversial is the option to kill the prostitute to get the money back, which many consider rape (instead of what it actually is, an especially reprehensible form of robbery and murder). It should be noted though that the player doesn't have to interact with prostitutes, and if the player does, is also not forced to kill the prostitute after she has finished her "service."
Cuban-American and Haitian-American civil rights groups in Florida accused Rockstar Games of inciting violence towards people from those two nations in GTA Vice City, claiming that the game "advocates the killing of Haitians as entertainment." The group in question was referring to a rival drug trafficking group, which were called the "Cubans" and the "Haitians" respectively. After they threatened Rockstar Games with a lawsuit, the company reacted and edited out lines of dialogue which has largely appeased both of the organizations.
Hot Coffee Mod
Rockstar Games created a video game series for giving everyone the ability to live their dreams as sadistic video game criminals, but why not go even one step further? In GTA San Andreas (and later GTA IV) the player can date multiple girlfriends, which lets minors or incels finally experience a one-dimensional romantic relationship.
In all of the released versions of GTA SA, you can pick up a virtual girlfriend and engage in various activities like going to a restaurant, dancing and even drinking a hot coffee at
your the playable character's girlfriend's crib.
Eventually San Andreas was released for Windows and as virtually any PC game's code is dissected and reverse-engineered by hackers, a mini-game was found which is disabled in all versions which were released.
Promptly a patch was released to enable the mini-game. It turned out that hot coffee was merely a code word for sex and players could sexually interact with the girlfriends. Instead of only going inside the house and hear funny human sounds, the game now shows the girlfriend's bedroom. At first the girlfriend performs something that some people might identify as oral sex, and afterwards Carl proceeds to dry hump the girlfriend in which the player is asked to move up and down in "rhythm" (depending on your kinkiness, there's also the option to change positions). After both Carl and the girlfriend are finished writhing, the latter will say that she loves the former, presumably because Carl is so manly to make her reach an orgasm without actually having any physical contact with her genitals.
Reasons for creation and reasons for partial deletion
Rockstar's original goals were to include all possible sexual content beyond the missionary position into San Andreas as a way to push the boundaries of the art form, where Rockstar was naive enough to believe that they could find a way to make it "work" without upping the age-rating and thus having the game available at retail without any issue. Initially Sam Houser, co-founder of Rockstar Games, wasn't even afraid to become embroiled in a potential media turmoil "when [the US is] bombing the hell out of people in Operation Enduring Freedom" Shortly before the release of the game, the higher echelons at Rockstar Games came to the realization that the graphic sexual content had to be cut if they wanted to avert the game getting an adults-only rating. Houser was angered that his artistic vision had to be sacrificed "at the behest of psychotic, mormon, capitalist retailers." As Rockstar was only eight weeks away of shipping the game to stores, it was decided in an emergency meeting to simply make the mini-game inaccessible by regular means because it is expensive and time-consuming to determine the necessity of every single line of code and asset and subsequently test if a removal makes a game unplayable, especially in this short time-frame. Also Rockstar would have possibly missed the lucrative Christmas shopping season in the end.
However Rockstar wasn't completely giving up on the mini-game as there had been plans to release two separate PC versions, the previously released version and the other where all the content was included in a special adults-only-edition, the way it was originally envisioned.
When the patch was released, Sam Houser was embarrassed that a "crude initial implementation" of the sex-game went public because he wanted it to be "more stylish, [...] more romantic, more chic, a little bit more Barry White."
Rockstar got in contact with the modder who released the patch, arguably one of the biggest GTA fans in the world, only to backstab him by telling the public that the person who created the raunchy content was “not within the company” and that it was "the work of a determined group of hackers who have gone to significant trouble to alter scenes in the official version of the game." The mod's creator immediately defended himself, claiming that he merely found the content on the disk and Rockstar was proven wrong not much later, when multiple ways were discovered to activate the mini-game by either editing the save file of the unmodifiable PS2 version, or modifying the RAM contents of the PS2 therefore proving that the mini-game was indeed always present on the game's disc.
There are actually people who are so deluded to believe that the controversy was intentionally created by Rockstar Games or the ESRB (the latter only rates video games in accordance to their age-appropriateness; they do not have any hand in video game development) to incite media attention, which absolutely makes no sense as it would make the ESRB look incapable in issuing correct age warning labels (possibly threatening its existence) or that Rockstar Games would be so ridiculously stupid in risking their major game franchise being removed from the shelves of Walmart. Totally plausible.
In the end Rockstar was still forced to remove the problematic portions completely and recall any copy from stores which still featured them, which cost the company $25 million.
Grand Theft Auto IV and Grand Theft Auto V allows characters to drive while they are drunk, which heavily impairs their navigational and driving abilities. Niko, the main character in Grand Theft Auto IV, if he steps into a vehicle while drunk, will admit that driving while drunk is not a good idea. Additionally, the in-game hints discourage players to drive while drunk, giving players alternate ways to get around the city such as taking a cab or waiting for the effects to wear off. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has taken issue against the drunk driving in Grand Theft Auto IV, described that drunk driving is "not a game, and it is not a joke." and has demanded that the game change its rating from M for Mature to AO for Adults Only. Rockstar has issued a reply to MADD, disagreeing with their assertions and believing that the game's audience is mature enough to understand the consequences of real life drunk driving.
Depiction and playability of torture in GTA V
In one mission the player, in the shoes of GTA V's notorious sociopath Trevor Philips, is forced by the FIB (GTA's ingame equivalent to the FBI) to torture a Middle Eastern man named Kerimov who has ties to an alleged terrorist. Available torture methods include electroshocking, pulling teeth and waterboarding. If the involuntary informant should die, the player has the option to revive him up to three times. Afterwards as the valuable information is extracted, which is used to identify and kill the target, the FIB agent orders Trevor to kill Kerimov as he's useless from now on. Trevor decides to free the tortured man and drives him to the airport. During the ride, Trevor goes on to philosophize about
Rockstar Games's his view on torture where he says that it's "useless as a means of getting information" because the torture victim would have told them the information anyway if they'd just kept asking him questions and maybe given him a cup of coffee.
As is expected, the mission has been heavily criticized by the media, as many noted that the mission failed as a critique of torture done by the US government due to the sheer fact that the player had to engage in the torture as a means to advance in the game.
Grand Social Reaction
Jack Thompson's unhealthy obsession
Very early on, (now former) lawyer Jack Thompson has set his sights on the GTA franchise and has been embroiled in a long feud with Rockstar Games and its publisher Take-Two which spans more than a decade.
GTA IV release
“”Grand Theft Auto IV is the gravest assault upon children in this country since polio. We now have vaccines for that virus… The 'vaccine' that must be administered by the United States government to deal with this virtual virus of violence and sexual depravity is criminal prosecutions of those who have conspired to do this.
The imminent release of GTA IV was a reason for Jack Thompson to put all his eggs into one basket as an attempt to finally destroy his arch-nemeses Take-Two and Rockstar Games.
- In January 2007, Thompson urged Bill Gates to stop a GTA IV release on Microsoft's XBox 360 game console which possibly landed on deaf ears as Gates hasn't been the CEO of Microsoft since 2000 and he became a part-time worker for the company in 2006.
- He accused the developer of creating a character which was allegedly based on him, which the player needs to kill to advance. The character is a lawyer which holds views opposing video games. To be fair to Thompson, he might not be wrong about this one.
- Thompson was outraged when gaming news site IGN posted a video titled "Ladies of Liberty City" showing the main character Niko committing violent and sexist actions towards strippers and sex workers. To be fair again to Thompson, the video was so unapologetic in its sexism that even GTA's defenders thought it was unacceptable and IGN subsequently pulled the video, realizing themselves that they had crossed a line.
- If you thought Thompson couldn't stoop any lower, he sent a letter to the lawyers of Strauss Zelnick, the CEO of Take-Two, in which he directly addresses Zelnick's mother, letting her know that her son unleashes pornography and violence into the world, further questioning the upbringing of Zelnick, and ended his letter with "'Happy Mothers' Day, Mrs Zelnick, which this year is May 11, two weeks after your son unleashes porn and violence upon other mothers' boys. I'm sure you're very proud." Thompson made clear that the letter wasn't necessarily meant to be read by Zelnick's mother, but to make him feel ashamed of his work.
Jack Thompson's cry from oblivion during GTA V release
Now reduced to a non-threatening barking puppy as he has been disbarred, Jack Thompson, still hell-bent on completing his mission to eradicate moral depravity, found himself in the media again when GTA V was released. He claimed that losing his "law license is a very small price to pay in order to stand against this evil" and that everyone enjoying GTA has blood on their hands for "killing real people", stressing that he actually doesn't mean "virtual people." However at this point, with Thompson's power reduced to a shambles, his diatribes have far less impact compared to his earlier outbursts of defending society from the wicked and evil ways of Rockstar Games.
Lieberman, a permanent fixture of opposing violence in video games, believes GTA games are either "awful" (because if anybody saw the games' content they would be "disgusted and outraged") and later "horrendous" as "the player is rewarded for attacking a woman, pushing her to the ground, kicking her repeatedly and then ultimately killing her, shooting her over and over again." David Adams of IGN defended the games by assuming it isn't clear how much time Lieberman has spent with the games but that there wasn't a particular reward for attacking women. All corpses do leave behind cash, however, but there is no specific reward for killing women.
After the cartoony crudely animated hint of what most people would consider actual sexual intercourse in Hot Coffee was revealed to the world, then-senator Hillary Clinton, with the help of Jack Thompson, took on GTA to bolster her credentials as a potential commander-in-chief by pandering to the conservative moral vote because the innocence of American children was at stake. She sought to introduce legislation to legally prohibit the sale of violent and sexually explicit games to minors as a way to keep "inappropriate videogame content out of the hands of young people," further calling GTA a "major threat" to morality.
Years after the controversy Rockstar had a special dedication to Clinton in the next game, by making the game's version of the Statue of Liberty (called the Statue of Happiness) holding a flaming cup of coffee and featuring a face with an uncanny resemblance to Clinton, even sporting her creepy trademark fake politician smile. Clinton has also largely been silent about video games since then.
Glenn Beck is startled at Grand Theft Auto's success and claims to not recognize American society any more because people are standing in line to purchase a game which allows them to have virtual sex with prostitutes that they are allowed to beat up. He believes it's impossible for people to distinguish between carrying out virtual crimes by pressing buttons on an abstract input device and killing people in the real world with tools which are handled completely different than a gamepad. According to him gamers would most likely start to act more in line with their playable characters after only short periods of time spent with the game.[note 1] Also the games will desensitize players by inhibiting their "natural tendencies to not squeeze the trigger" and cites a study by the Pentagon as evidence where military "virtual reality simulators" could successfully remove the natural reluctance to fire a gun to a "100 percent squeeze rate."
His reasoning fails for the simple reason that soldiers are conditioned to behave belligerently in a combat scenario because it is their job to complete their work satisfactorily and stay alive whereas GTA is not deliberately designed for altering a person's state of mind during warfare, and the majority of the game's players would only have an incentive to come in guns blazing if they found themselves in a firefight which could possibly never happen in their lifetimes. If his line of thinking had any merit we should be far more wary of any person serving in the military than an acne-faced teenager playing video games, because not only have they undergone training in "virtual reality simulators", they also have professional experience in handling firearms, both traits which are more beneficial in killing than tapping buttons in front of a screen and the inducement into fake masculine prowess.
National Rifle Association
After twelve people were killed and eight injured in the Washington Navy Yard shooting on 16 September 2013, Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, found a perfect scapegoat a day later to deflect from the indisputable fact that a firearm had been used in the rampage: Grand Theft Auto, even though no mice or keyboards were used in commission of the crime. He claimed that the killer "committed celebratory murders" over GTA V, its release being only a day away. Either that or he "was going on a ‘practice run’ in anticipation of playing this degraded piece of garbage," even going so far as calling Rockstar Games "heartless criminals." and that "[t]o point fingers at anything other than Grand Theft Auto V for this tragedy is morally irresponsible" Apparently it didn't cross his mind a single time that the shooter could have practised for the new game by playing the previous games as they are all mechanically similar.
LaPierre went on to outline his suggested measures on preventing future mass shootings: background checks, a psychological evaluation, and a five-day waiting period for anybody who would be a
gun GTA V owner. LaPierre failed to divulge why all these measures weren't necessary when the Navy Yard shooter, who had a history of misconduct, received the gun from the Navy, which he used to actually commit the mass murder.
A lowly NRA member agreed with LaPierre that video games were to blame because
pistols games and consoles were lying around in the open easily accessible to children. He was glad for a lift of the handgun ban in Washington, D.C. a few years prior because "otherwise it would have been even worse" without exactly explaining how and why that statement is even relevant aside from low-quality shilling.
The similarity of their arguments compared to the ones for opposing guns seems to be entirely lost on these delusional gun advocates. Even The Onion couldn't have written better satire.
GTA V Review controversy
A reviewer for the video game news website Gamespot had the audacity to give the game only a score of 9 out of 10, technically telling its readers that the game is great. As many readers considered this an act of blasphemy, displeased gamers united, as an example of the proto-Gamergate movement, and set up a petition demanding the reviewer to be fired simply for stating a subjective opinion (which is the essence of any review for an entertainment product). According to the review aggregator website GameRankings, at least thirteen other websites gave the game an equal or lesser score. So why was this particular review singled out? Because the reviewer just so happened to be a trans-woman who dared to mention her displeasure with the game's negative portrayal of women.
Even though this uproar happened roughly a year before Gamergate formally existed as a
grassroots movement misogynist hate campaign giant ideological mess, this incidence was probably all about "ethics in video game journalism" like some harmless comments suggest:
Looking back, I felt like an idiot for defending this moron. The reason why you're giving this game a different score is because of violence against women? Can you think of a more bullshit excuse or did you actually play the game? Cause it sounds like you never played the game.
What you obviously don't get is that this reviewer did something completely unprofessional for any review, this person brought into a game review their social justice political views that have no place in game reviews or the gaming industry. You know there used to be a time where critics actually focused on reviewing games and not trying to be politically correct
Then you have other comments which will let you lose all faith in humanity from the blatantly hostile ones:
The proper pronoun is "it", in this case.
Never let women review games. They will give a low rating based on something retarded. I still think she has a penis.
to the really nasty ones:
just because i hate weirdo fucks like this reviewer .? thats why i act like im 7 ? no matter how much you argue or try to prove a point , its still "gay" or a guy . just because you cut your dick off , doesnt make you a women .
clearly he was messed up in the head if he wanted his penis chopped off. "it" lost her job because it was speaking about bs womens rights in this review like it has a right to defend women. just because he had a sex change dont make him a women . i will call it "IT" because this reviewer is neither male or female now.
But this outrage wouldn't be complete without at least one antisemitic comment:
This is the result of the Jewish-led degeneracy program that has penetrated our media. People like this would be placed in mental institutions in a healthy society.
Side effects of GTA on behavior
One study suggests that playing action games like GTA could improve decision-making skills, as judgements made by the gamer volunteers in the study outperformed the ones made by the non-gamers. Non-gamers who were forced to play action video games for 50 hours also got better at making informed decisions.
However there are conflicting studies on how much a game like GTA can change social behavior, where one study suggests that the game could lead teenagers into becoming reckless drivers. One study which attributes a positive influence was called out by Scientific American for sugar-coating and ignoring its negative side effects.
There are events which are claimed to have been inspired by the game either directly or indirectly.
Correlation where perpetrators imply causation
- In one relatively harmless instance Zachary Burgess, a young university lacrosse player in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, stole a truck, kidnapped the seated woman and rammed several parked cars before he was arrested. He cited that he wanted to know how it was really like to be a GTA character as a reason for his stupidity.
- On another occassion, Polwat Chino, a disillusioned teenager in Bangkok, wanted to know if it was as easy to rob a taxi as depicted in the games. He found out by killing a cab driver. What the ruthless idiot also found out is that he now faces the death penalty in the real world, an aftermath which isn't included in the games even if you should be caught during a six-star wanted level.
- Once while bored, teenagers William and Joshua Buckner decided to mimic their favorite video game GTA III by firing a .22 rifle at passing cars on the highwaay, killing a 45-year-old man and injuring a female. Jack Thompson represented
Rockstar'stheir victims in court.
In all of these cases it's impossible to determine if there has been a direct causation, because it's not implausible that all these young males are lying by claiming "GTA made me do it" in the hope of receiving a more lenient punishment.
Correlation, not necessarily causation
- An eight-year-old boy in Slaughter, Louisiana shot his 87-year-old grandmother to death after he played GTA IV and found a .38 caliber handgun at his home.
- Ryan Chinnery, a wigger (according to a picture of his), sexually assaulted two women whom he thought were prostitutes because apparently as long as a woman just looks like she takes money for sex, a man can do anything he pleases with her. It's said that he has been an avid GTA player... but also a binger, pothead and a massive consumer of pornography. Take your pick of what could have been the cause, including the possibility he's just a selfish asshole.
Correlation and definite causation
Another side effect has been the release of shameless cookie-cutter GTA ripoffs by other video game publishers. Some have the good humor to acknowledge their inspirations (such as the Saints Row games, which evolved from a straight ripoff of GTA to a parody of the series), others tried to put a spin on the formula (putting you on the side of law enforcement, having you play as an Old West outlaw), and still others basically rehashed what they thought made the GTA series successful. What they all have in common is that they are far less successful (in one case even a disastrous flop), even if they try their hardest to be more offensive than the blueprint. The term "GTA clone" was even coined to describe the glut of violent open-world action games in the 2000s, though with open worlds becoming a much greater part of the gaming landscape, the term has since fallen from use.
Rockstar themselves banked heavily on the reputation of GTA in the 2000s with the other games that they made. Their games typically met better fates than those of the competition, with most of them winning praise from critics, selling quite well, and whipping up their own controversies.
- Manhunt, released in 2003, was a survival horror/stealth action title in which you play as a death row inmate dropped into a snuff film operation by a disgraced former Hollywood director, who forces you to brutally murder a bunch of criminals and psychopaths across the run-down Rust Belt dump of Carcer City. Immediately notorious for shocking violence far in excess of anything in the GTA games, the main controversy around Manhunt came in the UK when, in 2004, it was connected to the murder of a 14-year-old boy named Stefan Pakeerah by his friend. Police argued that the murder was a gang-related robbery gone wrong (in truth, it was Pakeerah who had played Manhunt, not his killer), but that didn't stop some of the UK's largest games retailers from voluntarily pulling the game from shelves to avoid outcry and boycotts. The game was also banned in New Zealand and refused classification in Australia, effectively making it illegal to sell. The sequel, Manhunt 2, wasn't released in the UK until 2008, a full year after its American release, due to battles with the British Board of Film Classification. On both sides of the Atlantic, the game had to be heavily censored in order to avoid an AO rating in the US (a kiss of death, as retailers will not stock games rated AO and video game console manufacturers will not allow them to be released on their platforms) and refusal of classification in the UK, particularly where the much-ballyhooed execution sequences were concerned.
- Bully, released in 2006, can be seen as an epic troll job on the part of Rockstar. When it was announced that Rockstar would be making a GTA-esque open world adventure game set in a high school, their critics immediately feared the worst, with Jack Thompson calling it a "Columbine simulator" sight unseen. The actual game, however, turned out to be a lighthearted homage to '80s teen comedies that was deemed worthy of only a T rating in the US and a 15 rating in the UK, the protagonist using weapons like a slingshot, stink bombs, and a potato cannon and essentially being a video game version of Bart Simpson. That said, they did have to change the title to Canis Canem Edit (Latin for "dog eat dog") for the initial PAL release due to fears that it would be seen as glamorizing school bullying.
- Red Dead Redemption, released in 2010, can be summed up as "Grand Theft Horse", an open-world game in the GTA mold set in the Wild West in which you wield Colt revolvers and Winchester repeaters from horseback as you fight outlaws and lawmen alike. Often ranked as a rival to the GTA games as Rockstar's masterpiece. It later received a prequel in 2018, to similar acclaim. The only controversy around either game seems to relate to things that happened behind the scenes, specifically long hours and grueling work conditions at Rockstar's studios — issues that are, sadly, not at all unique to Rockstar within the games industry. It's likely that the Old West setting silenced anybody trying to raise a stink about the violence, lest Rockstar and its defenders point to not only the decades' worth of Westerns (especially the violent and gritty "spaghetti Westerns" of the 1960s and '70s) that the game homaged, but also the general mythologization of that time period in American culture.
- A feminist review of GTA V's story and characters, complete with the usual comments.
- GTA IV review by
Jack ThompsonSomething Awful
- Whether this means players of Pokémon begin to battle their pets with others and pick up animals out of tall grass is currently unknown.
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- dumb YouTube comment
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