Grand Theft Auto has always been a video game that has received both love and hate from critics. Whether you play it in PC or GTA 5 mods ps3 or ps4, there will always be two sides of the game – the good and the bad. Most people loved the idea that a video game was built on the platform that the player could go anywhere, do anything, and did not have a time limit or point goal to achieve. At the same time, many people did not love the idea that the player could use these freedoms to steal cars, kill cops, and solicit prostitutes.
With its release on April 29th, Grand Theft Auto IV was able to put the series back into the spotlight, both for its gaming prowess and the level of gratuitous sin that comes with it. Most critics of the game will comment that there are children who are playing the game and could be negatively influenced by its mature themes. The Parent Television Council has even petitioned stores do not stock the game on their shelves. The fact of the matter is the game is rated Mature, which means no one under 17 can purchase the game, and is no worse than any R rated movie or HBO original series, so why is the game treated any differently than the Sopranos.
It is hard to understand that a video game could become such a target of controversy over censorship and content considering most video game reviewers have given rave reviews to each game in the Grand Theft Auto series, citing both the innovation and artistic design of the games to be superb. The artistic innovation and gameplay seem to be the video game equivalent to “The Godfather” in movies, and maybe something like Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”(or Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” if you’re into rap) in music. The problem seems to be that most people haven’t decided if they really are ready to consider video games as a form of art.
Video games have always been seen as a toy, and a children’s plaything, which is probably why parents and protest groups seem to think that even though the game can only be sold legally to anyone over the age of 17, everyone that will be playing the game will be a child. R rated movies are the other form of entertainment that requires the patron to be 17, but almost never are their controversies over films beings two violent or vulgar in nature, and in movies, real people are simulating the killing and real people are simulating the sex.
The game is based on mature themes, and probably should not be played by most kids under the age of 17, but is not it really the parents job to make sure that their child has the ability to be able to play a game, and not go out and steal a car or solicit a prostitute (however most people would just look at a 15-year-old kid trying to open their door and drive away like he was crazy, and prostitutes don’t solicit to 15-year-olds, at least I hope not).
Variety Magazine has projected that “Grand Theft Auto IV” will sell more copies than any other video game ever in its opening weekend, a stat that will surely stir the controversy up to a new peak. A google search of “Grand Theft Auto Controversy” returned about 180,000 hits, which was a lot more than “Hasselhoff Controversy” (a shocking 120,000), but less than Miley Cyrus (200,000), so the game is obviously rising on the nations importance radar.
Even though the game is based on a very mature subject matter, and involves a lot of moral flexibility, nothing can take away from the artistic achievement and innovation that is Grand Theft Auto IV. Perhaps the game will change everything and this will finally be the game that crosses video games over from toys to art.