- By David Van Dyk
- Published: October 1st, 2013
Carjacking, murder, torture and cannibalism are just a few of the violent actions gamers can perform via characters
When I played massive multiplayer games online within limitless worlds, I often was amazed at the depth and creativity of the game. I remember marveling at all the options that the game made available and how I could become almost anything.
Most of us have spent days, maybe months, sadly years, playing these huge “alternate reality” games. The newest game in the genre of first-person-shooter action is the much-anticipated Grand Theft Auto V.
As I look at the newest game to grace the screens of living rooms, dorm rooms and bedrooms, I cannot help but ask a question that demands an answer — why?
Why are we filling our free time with dark, disturbing content? Why do we waste these countless amounts of time that we can never replace? Why is humanity so fascinated with death and destruction?
Leigh Alexander, a writer for the video game review site Gamasutra, gave an interesting perspective on the game. It included a look into the game itself, with some opinion strewn throughout. But it was his comment at the end that made me think.
“It’s dark, maybe, but it’s not brave,” Alexander said. “It’s not that funny. It’s not a power fantasy, it’s not your escape. It’s just sad.”
I look around, and I see people who are desperately trying to find an escape from the chaos and confusion of reality. They try to find meaning and purpose, yet end up worse than before they started seeking answers.
So why not sit down, pick up a controller, and delve into something that seems less confusing? See a car you like? Go ahead and take it. Want to pilot an armed helicopter and blow up buildings? Go ahead, and while you are at it, pilot a submarine.
I have had the unfortunate experience of watching people dive headfirst into games like Grand Theft Auto, simply because they do not want to deal with something more difficult: the real world.
But the truth is that fiction will never become reality. The alarm clock will eventually ring, reminding us that, unfortunately, we still have to face reality.
Do not get me wrong — everyone loves a good story, especially me. I relish the opportunity to play a video game or watch a movie with a story so convincing that it could happen.
And, no doubt, Grand Theft Auto V is good at it. Reading and watching reviews, there is no question that this ever-expansive world is a true marvel of video game engineering.
But do we really want this story of murder, theft, lies, backstabbing, and running-over-pedestrians-with-your-sports-car mania to come to life? In all honesty, absolutely not.
Jack Rivlin, editor of The Tab, an online tabloid for students, commented on the record-setting game.
“There are still gloomy puritans like Peter Hitchens claiming the game is the devil’s work, but the vast majority of reviews now read like first-year sociology essays, applauding Rockstar for ‘holding up a mirror to the world,’ and ‘parodying post-modern living,’ as if that is a great artistic achievement, rather than total nihilism,” Rivlin said.
It is an interesting thing when you think about it. When Grand Theft Auto had come out, particularly the third installment, more controversy was heaped upon the landmark game than the amount of guns within the game itself. GameSpy was noted as saying that it was not only offensive, but reprehensible.
Now, according to Forbes, the game has raked in more than $1 billion, and the critics are raving. What was that about holding up a mirror to the world? But then again, it is only a video game.