Grand Theft Auto 5 Sparks Controversy

By Joe Russell

Rockstar Games released the fifth installment to the popular and controversial game series Grand Theft Auto (GTA), on September 17. The first day of its release, GTA V made over $800 million, the most money made from any entertainment release, including movies, in a single day.

Among Tam students who like the game is Junior Alex Finci. “I like the game because the world is huge. There’s just so much stuff to do,” Finci Said.

Senior Dylan DeCotis agrees. “The game has stuff that so many things to do that I probably won’t do half of it. I never get bored,” DeCotis said.

The game takes place in Los Santos, a satire of modern-day Los Angeles. It has industrial districts, ghettos, mansions, urban areas, and massive mountains. All the different regions contain different cars, people, and activities. It is a free-roam game, meaning you can explore the map however you like, and complete missions whenever you like. The story follows three main characters: Michael, a rich, retired bank robber; Trevor, who worked with Michael, and is now a meth dealer; and Franklin, a gangster trying to escape the ghetto and make it big. All three characters work together to perform heists and robberies. The graphics have been upgraded, and the game-play is smoother and more responsive since the last game

According to critic reviews, the long anticipated game is “one of the most amazing and awe-inspiring games of this generation,” (, and “not only a preposterously enjoyable video game, but also an intelligent and sharp-tongued satire of contemporary America,” (IGN). Rockstar claims it is “the biggest, most dynamic and most diverse open world ever created,” and that it includes “incredible attention to detail and Grand Theft Auto’s darkly humorous take on modern culture.”

While most seem to praise the game across the boards, Grand Theft Auto V has already sparked controversy amongst players. Within the first few hours of game-play, there is a mission that forces the player to take control by torturing a suspected terrorist in order to get information. They must choose their method and tool of torture, and then watch it happen.

In an interview with the Guardian, Freedom From Torture executive Keith Best said “Rockstar North has crossed a line by effectively forcing people to take on the role of a torturer and perform a series of unspeakable acts if they want to achieve success in the game…. Torture is a reality, not a game and glamorizing it in popular culture undoes the work of organizations like Freedom from Torture and survivor activists to campaign against it.”

Though there may be much concern over how graphic games are, many Tam students have bought the game without any discomfort. “There have been some graphic things in the game, but graphic things don’t really affect me that much. I could definitely see how someone could have a problem with it though.” DeCotis said.

“I never really feel uncomfortable playing these games because I knew what I was getting into when I got it. Sometimes they can go overboard on the blood, but usually they don’t,” Finci said.

“I would never want to see my kid playing something that is relate able to real life situations or doing things to another person, or behaving a certain way,” John Layman, father of two gamers and one Tam student said. “Realistic violence, sex, or things like that.”

Many people feel that violent video games can make a person violent, and with reasonable evidence. Many school shootings have been caused by the shooter playing multiple hours of shooting video games a day. The Sandy Hook shooter “had cocooned himself in front of electronic game consoles in the basement of their home, playing warfare games”, according to a New York Times article written by N. R. Kleinfield, Ray Rivera, and Serge F. Kovaleski.

To others, though, it doesn’t matter. “I can tell that what happens in these games is completely fake,” Finci said. “I can’t apply anything that I’ve done in these games into the real world because I know it’s not real.”

Layman believes it should be legal to play these games. “As long as there is open conversation with parents and it is very regulated,” Layman said “You need to ask your kids questions about playing these games and know how they feel about them.”

Some people and organizations feel so strongly about it that they have tried to ban the sales of Grand Theft Auto in the United States. Jack Thomson is one of many famous lawyers who have filed numerous lawsuits against Rockstar in hope that it will be harder for people to obtain these games. “I think it is everyone’s own opinion, but I think that you should just let people do what they want. As long as its not influencing someone a lot, I don’t think video games are that much a problem,” DeCotis said.

“I don’t think there’s any point in doing something like that because if the parents are buying the games for their kids, then they must know what they are getting them into,” Finci said. “Making it illegal won’t stop people from getting their hands on it.”

Despite the controversy with the series, Grand Theft Auto is played almost everywhere. Many Tam students have bought or played the game without any problems. “These games are very theatrical, and it’s just like your going to the movies,” Layman said.