Grand Theft Auto (GTA) offers such a big freedom of choice that allows the gamer to become spoilt with it, and as a result, make him more aggressive. This virtual world communicates about stealing, robbing, kidnapping, killing and committing other immoral acts that are directly related to breaking the law in order to make money and become the successful villain. The purpose of the research paper is to explore the danger of one of the most provocative and controversial games in the history of video games – GTA.
The Origins of Simulation
The beginning of the GTA era started in 1997. The company of the development and creation of video games “DMA Design” (now it is called “Rockstar North”) decided to create the unexpected and original twist in the industry of computer games. Their goal was to make a boom in the world of computer entertaining, and they have successfully achieved it. According to Robert Workman, “…originally designed by DMA Design, the first Grand Theft Auto put the objectives into motion, requiring you to earn points throughout each of the three cities by completing tasks for the local crime syndicate. If that meant running over a few people in the process – or outrunning the law – so be it.”
People would encounter with GTA when they saw it on the shelves in the stores of video games or even at home of their relatives or friends who had a computer or “Playstation One” console. Over the years, the game designers have released a number of sequels. The last series to this day remains “Grand Theft Auto V”.
The Features and Consequences of GTA
For some people after the release of DMA Design’s new product, it was already understandable that developers have begun the new era of video games not oriented on young audiences. This genre quickly became very popular because people always liked simulation games. Justine Cassell in his work Body Language: Lessons from the Near-Humanasserted that “…the simulation, like many scientific instruments, taken on a life of its own – almost literally in this instance – as the virtual human has come to be a playmate for children, a teaching device for soldiers, and a companion on cell phones, a mode of interacting with computers as well as a simulation that runs on computers (Dormans).
The complete history of Grand Theft Auto quotes the early TIME magazine which said that it “will force us to realize that video games aren’t toys anymore; they’re sophisticated, thought-provoking entertainment for grownups. At their best, they’re art”.
With each series of GTA, it became more aggressive, exciting and accepted by consumers. Even though it was created for mature audiences and later it had an age restriction, developers still might have relied on young kids as their main target. They might have counted on the possibility that children will find a way to get this forbidden product, and it could probably help them to hold the decent market share. Also, it made sense to count on young ones, as in the beginning of the series the graphics of the game looked very much like a cartoon. Visually, it helped to create an image of something childish. For this reason, parents might not pay too much attention to the action that happens on the screen. But eventually, technological progress allowed developers to create a series of the games with such a high graphic that made it look not for children at all. Moreover, many adults can feel discomfort while watching how others play it because it looks very realistic and violent.
According to Joris Dormans, “Realism remains a prominent topic in game design and industry research; yet, a strong academic case can be made that games are anything, but realistic” (Dormans).
To a certain extent, this video game structures a way of seeing and knowing. But in most cases, it can form the false understanding of the consequences of all those crimes in the real world. For example, if a young gamer is reckless with his driving during the playing, and hit somebody on the pedestrian sidewalk near the policeman, he will be chased by police until he escapes, gets arrested or loses his consciousness due to injuries caused by bullets. But if he does the same thing in the place where there will be no public authority, he will be able to avoid those deplorable consequences for himself. It can serve as a motive to try it when the young gamer will be driving a real car.
Another thing that children can understand erroneously is that if they cannot be killed in GTA they cannot be killed in real life. After getting a lot of bullet wounds, the character loses consciousness and wakes up in the nearest hospital full of health and strength. Thus, kids might be convinced that they will be as lucky as their favorite antihero, and it can make them not care much about themselves and people around them.
Moreover, this simulator of the thug can make a gamer mistakenly believe in what is wrong and what is right, and in what can and cannot happen in the real life. That is why this game can be so dangerous for someone with younger age.
It is fair to say that the designers of the game have made certain ideological commitments expressed in GTA virtual reality. Almost everything comes down to the fact that to survive, it is necessary to be a dangerous, fearless, cold-blooded, risky and highly respected among violent people criminal. It is impossible to complete the game without committing a certain type of crimes. Interaction with simulator requires such main crimes as theft, breaking the rules of the traffic, and the worst of them – murdering the people. The possible ways of killing can be done by through using cold arms, such as brass knuckles, baseball bat, golf clubs, knives, katanas and the most horrible – chainsaw. The arsenal of firearms includes the weapons like pistols, shotguns, machine guns, rifles, automatic weapons, grenades, Molotov cocktails and even bazookas, flamethrowers and rocket launchers (Weapons List).
All the injuries inflicted by the player to other characters are accompanied by bloodshed, which many parents will find devastating, provoking and shocking. And vice versa, their children may find it very thrilling, attractive, intriguing and interesting. It is sad because the psyche of many children can be formed under the influence of the scenes. And with age, they may become mentally disordered. According to Sherry Tuckle,
Today’s adults grew up in a psychological culture that equated the idea of a unitary self with psychological health and in a scientific culture that taught that when a discipline achieves maturity, it has a unifying theory. When adults find themselves cycling through varying perspectives on themselves (“I am my chemicals” to “I am my history” to “I am my genes”), they usually become uncomfortable. But such alternations may strike the generation of cyborg children who are growing up today as “just the way things are.”
As the storyline of GTA progresses, the person that controls the actions of his character gains a lot of enemies, from whom he should get rid of in horrible ways. And the thing that matters is that in some cases not all of the enemies of the gamer are bad people. There are many situations when innocent civilians get into cross-fire and die because of the purpose of the mission. Moreover, they die due to the inaccuracy of the gamers during the shooting or driving, or even because of their desire to assert themselves by doing these horrible things.
One of the main reasons of not allowing children to play this simulator is the fact, that it represents the nightlife from the adult world. From time to time, during the missions, the player will meet prostitutes, pimps, strippers in the clubs, and find sex toys and bondage suits, which directly refer to BDSM. In addition, the game has the function of paying money to a prostitute for service of sexual intercourse in the stolen car. Everything aforesaid can seriously change the mentality and perception of the child. Furthermore, it can turn a child into a pervert or even potential rapist who will have to answer for his immoral acts before the court to the jury in the courtroom. And most likely, they will not consider any computer game as a powerful argument of his behavior.
Besides, that game has so much-forbidden activity for children; it is constantly accompanied by unintelligent dialogs and a lot of swearing words, which can form an unacceptable vocabulary for the audience of any age.
There were many cases when the fans from many countries committed the crimes they saw on the screen of their computers or TVs connected to the console, playing GTA. The main motive for doing this was their desire to experience how exciting it is in the real life.
The most recent incident inspired by GTA happened on September 24, 2013. The twenty-year-old college student has stolen a car with a passenger and smashed nine cars due to reckless driving on the road. He slammed into the fence near one house, and it led him to crashing into its wall. People say, “he failed to separate fantasy from reality” (ABC News). And as a result of his failure, two civilians went to the hospital, at the time when he was delivered to the jail by the officers of the local police department.
The viewpoint of Fan Base and Supporters of GTA and Firefight Games
People who appear to be the loyal supporters of GTA for many years have their own, different, and very strange point of view on these types of “gaming entertaining”. They claim that it has nothing to do with making people more unpredictable, vicious, brutal, cruel, violent or evil.
Additionally, the fans of GTA truly believe that it is one of the best ways of getting rid of the aggression accumulated throughout the daily routine. They blame parents instead of the company that creates a new series of the game. And they also criticize people who were influenced to make the real crimes after playing GTA.
However, the Assistant Professor of English, Corey Mead, in his work called War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict states, that such luxury of the computer games can be helpful and it can also can make the IQ of the militaries much higher (Mead). He is convinced that this type of training is very effective because it helps in the development of logical and tactical thinking of the soldier on the battlefield. This skill can save his life and the life of his comrades-in-arms as well. The author is wrong because a real world has nothing in common with virtual. It is easier to think sitting on a cozy sofa and holding gamepad in hands when you are in no danger, rather that sitting undercover with the real weapon in hands during the enemy shoots with real bullets.
Measures That Must Be Taken
Despite the fact that the game remains controversial, dangerous and extremely popular, there are still many ways of modifications that should be implemented in this simulation. First of all, the characters in the storyline should be heroes instead of villains. The main character must be someone who can show an example of being a useful public servant. It can be a policeman who is battling against the corrupted criminals who theft auto, rob banks, kill innocent people and commit other terrible types of crime. Over the dialogues throughout the game he should mention such themes as justice, honesty and fairness so that if the game is being played by a teenager, he can understand the main principles of being a good person from an early age.
The game should also have the option that allows to switch-off the blood and foul language. Moreover, it should not contain any signs of material for adults.
Furthermore, if the young age audience wants to play this game, they must be allowed to do it only under the supervision of parents. That is why the access to this game should be controlled by parents or guardians of the child.
In addition, the game must have the option of entering a password before the starting. Only those who are supervising the child while he is playing the game must know and enter this password. The thing that is important is that if youngster plays it with his father sitting right next to him, it will be a great educational moment because his father is the authority for him. He is a man who can always lucidly explain his son who is a villain in the game and who is not, what is good and what is bad.
What is more, the process of purchasing this product should be modified as well. It should be illegal for workers of the video game store to sell it to clients who do not have a driving license, ID, or to those who are younger than the age restrictions.
Due to the fact that we live in the information society, it is also obligatory to change the conditions of purchasing the game online. The website of “Rockstar Games” should have strict terms of registration. The user must enter his ID or passport number so that he can verify his age. While the administration of the site must check the authenticity of the information with serviceable and the corresponding reality database.
These are the measures that ought to be taken in order to maintain a healthy psyche of the audiences. Of course, it will slightly reduce the amount of profit for creators of the series, but it will also decrease the numbers of the crimes motivated by video games.
Overall, GTA is very dangerous to the minds of the youth. It can influence the attitude of children and teenager so much that they can grow as criminals. Many people find this simulator extremely exciting, important and necessary. The first series of GTA was released in 1997. Throughout the years it had many sequels, various storylines, and different antihero characters.
People like the sense of danger and the feeling of thrill that this game can provide and this is what attracts them. The company has been able to make numerous million dollars results. Their products make people less intelligent after playing the game and more aggressive and dangerous for society in the real life.
- ABC News. “’Grand Theft Auto’ Inspires Crime Spree, Man Wanted to See If ‘GTA’ Antics Were ‘Fun in Real Life.’” Online video clip. YouTube. Youtube, 24 Sept. 2013. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
- Cassell, Justine. “Body Language: Lessons from the Near-Human.” Genesis Redux: Essays in the History & Philosophy of Artificial Life. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007. Print.
- Dormans, Joris. “Beyond Iconic Simulation.” Simulation & Gaming. 42.5 (2011): 610-631. Print.
- Mead, Corey. War Play: Video Games and the Future of Armed Conflict. New York, NY: Eamon Dolan, 2013. Print.
- The Complete History of Grand Theft Auto. Gamesradar. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
- Turkle, Sherry. Cyborg Babies and Cy-Dough-Plasm: Ideas about Self and Life in the Culture of Simulation. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
- Weapons List. GTA San Andreas. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.
- Workman, Robert. The History of Grand Theft Auto. Primagames. Web. 15 Dec. 2014.