Grand Theft Auto is renown for it’s controversy of adult content that it contains within it’s games, and how easily accessible it is for younger people, especially those in pre teen years that can have an effect on their growing up. In my last blog ‘Video Games Cause Violence’, I explored the common misconception backed with various studies and that it really didn’t have a real effect on the individual playing the game. However, the Grand Theft Auto series still faces controversies brought up by various mother groups and has caused quite a stir in the ‘public sphere’.
Grand Theft Auto’s list of controversies is quite large, no seriously, have a look. It’s ability to allow players to have sex with prostitutes, take drugs and murder everything in sight has had seen a large uproar, which in turn caused Target to remove the game from its shelves. It has sparked many debates within the public sphere, such as ethnic discrimination in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, drink driving in Grand Theft Auto IV and sexism in Grand Theft Auto V.
In 2002, Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and received rave reviews across the gaming community for its gameplay and soundtrack. However, along with its rave reviews came its controversial reception, especially from Cuban-American and Haitian-American civil rights organisations which believed the game “invited players to harm immigrants from those two nations.” Rockstar believed that the groups were blowing the issue out of proportion, but later changed the dialogue to satisfy the groups. The groups providing that racism is being taught to younger people playing the game, which has had a lasting effect on the mediated public sphere, as racism has been a social issue dating back decades.
Grand Theft Auto’s introduction of drink driving in the 2008 game ‘Grand Theft Auto IV’ had again caused a stir, which caused famous figure Hillary Clinton to come out and criticise the game. Mothers Against Drunk Driving had asked the ESRB to change the “M” rating of the game to “Adults Only” due to the drink driving introduced to the game. Drink driving being another current social issue that has affected many families, and allowing children and young people to replicate this behaviour has caused a large outcry from those in outside the gaming community.
GameSpot journalist Carolyn Petit had reviewed the 2013 Grand Theft Auto V as ‘misogynistic’ for its depiction of women and the ability for the player to inflict violence towards women in the game. Lindsay Lohan and television personality Karen Graven even sued Rockstar, alleging that Rockstar had used their likenesses to base characters off. A petition had been started in Australia about the violence in the game which resulted in Target removing the game from 300 stores, which was followed by Kmart who also removed the game from their stores.
So Grand Theft Auto has explored modern social issues but has however come under scrutiny for allowing the players the ability to interact with this issues, a game that has caused much a debate in the mediated public sphere.