With Rockstar Games’ GTA V or Grand Theft Auto V mere hours of being available, the media backlash has already begun as UK national tabloid newspaper, The Mirror posts a news story about the game this morning. It claims the game has been condemned by teachers no less, despite being clearly rated 18.
The Mirror highlights one graphical scene in which a victim is gruesomely tortured – although this is nothing new as adults can see similar imagery in a number of movies (the infamous Reservoir Dogs ear cutting scene featuring Michael Madson anyone). Alison Sheratt who thinks the GTA V torture scene is a “step too far” and holds position of president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers is quoted as saying:
“Children are displaying more violence and they are viewing games like GTA. They don’t understand the difference between reality and fiction because it’s so graphic and real. And they do copy it.”
Labour MP Keith Vaz has also chipped in saying he was “astonished” by the torture scenes.
Two points. How did these people get hold of GTA V pre-release, and secondly, video games are not causing our youth to be more violent to the extent that our newspapers are filled with reports of child on child torture and suchlike. Most normal kids can distinguish fact and reality, and the truth is, GTA V is rated 18 and shouldn’t be anywhere near minors in the first place – perhaps the work of Dr Tanya Byron has failed then. The only high profile case we’ve seen over the years was the unfortunate and horrific killing of Jamie Bulger in 1993 although at the time, the murder was potentially linked to scenes depicted in the movie Child’s Play, not video games. We’re not hearing stories of torture in our schools as a result of video games or any other influences, whereas we are hearing sad tales of children committing suicide through online bullying via social media websites. Perhaps teachers and MPs should place their focus there rather than attempting to apportion blame on video games (once again). The games industry and most likely GTA V can expect more media hype and hatred towards video games in the coming days and weeks – something the industry is very used to now, and in a way, it’s this
publicity attention that actually aids the promotion of the game.
Interestingly, The Mirror newspaper is today in the same issue as their damning story running a half page advert for GTA V at UK retailer Argos on Page 27.