Grand Theft Auto V cover art

Source: Wikipedia

Even if you don’t play video games, I’m sure that, by this point, you’ve heard of Grand Theft Auto. I wouldn’t be surprised if the teachers in this course have heard their students abuzz about the latest entry in the series, GTAV, which released Tuesday. Though it’s only been on the market for about a week, it’s already throttled into the forfront of popular culture, with gamers, critics and the media each taking their turn at contributing to the discussion of its legacy not just on video games, but on society, as well.

First, some perspective. Grand Theft Auto V earned $800 million in its first 24 hours on sale and crossed the billion dollar mark shortly after, making it the most lucrative entertainment launch in media history, including movies; movies like Marvel’s The Avengers and Avatar didn’t even reach figures that high until their third week at the box office.

Because so many people are playing it, there are conversations all over the web about what the game says about fans, issues on mysogyny, race, gun violence and a host of others issues.

Here’s an editorial of a video game retailer sales associate lamenting the alarming amount of copies of GTAV parents purchased for their young children. Now, here’s a kid who is so happy that his parents bought the game for him that he weeps tears of joy. Here, you can watch two Polygon editors debate whether Grand Theft Auto is the most influential video game franchise, and here you can read one Guardian contributor’s take on the problematic representations of women in the game. Everywhere on the web, fans and mildy-curious observers of game culture are putting in their two cents on the game. It’s so big, even The New York Times and late nite host Conan O’Brien can’t ignore it.

And this is just the beginning. Next month, Rockstar, the developer behind the franchise, will release an online component to the game to complement the single-player narrative, allowing players to collaborate their own heists and turf wars. If (and perhaps when) the game ever comes to PC, the game will explode even further thanks to the mod community who’ve been tinkering with the GTAIV code for the past few years (for example, here’s a guy who coded Iron Man to be the protagonist).

With the holidays drawing near and outlets looking to begin nominating Game of the Year candidates, GTAV isn’t going away any time soon. Personally, I can’t wait to dive into multiplayer and cause mayhem in Los Santos with the millions of other players online.

Written with StackEdit.


Join the conversation! 2 Comments

  1. Was it Picasso who said, “Good taste is the enemy of great art?”

    I loved the GTA franchise since it was a top-down view game for the first PlayStation. It never really seemed to take itself seriously. Playing a Grand Theft Auto game evokes the same feelings as reading Anthony Bourdain, or even Robert E. Howard’s “Conan” stories. Its Punch and Judy for the digital age, a throwback to the mindlessness of Tom and Jerry.

    Does it teach us anything? Hell no. Its a visceral experience. Its for us grown-ups who know the frustration of back-to-back traffic on Route 295 South at 5:00PM on a Friday, or the soul-crushing mundania of your 9-to-5 job. Play GTA, or drink cheap bourbon while listening to Tom Waits.

    Maybe western culture needs it. For the guys who don’t go to the gym, or jog, or find more constructive ways to deal with their place in the world.

    • Perfect quote, Mike.
      I must be really missing out here, because I do not get the hype over this game. I remember in high school playing old school GTA on PS1 when you had that half aerial view of pixelated men throwing people out of their cars. And I didn’t even really like the game then. Does anyone remember the outcry over the code you could put in to make your character go down an side street and sleep with a prostitute? Heaven forbid.
      Whether you are into the GTA or not, video games are cheap thrills – not meant to display the heights of evolution – they don’t illustrate the depths and beauty of the human condition, they are an escape from it. Watch one hour of tv and you will see all of the sexism, racism, and whatever else has gotten people’s undies in a twist over this game. Why throw video games under the social microscope and give everything else a pass?
      Maybe I am just bitter because I could not imagine having a spare 24 hours in my day for make believe violence, larceny, and sexual crimes. Oh man, I miss high school.


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