Grand Theft Auto: Sex, Drugs and A Whole Lotta Controversy

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.


Who Owns the Media: Do we really care?

This question can be answered depending on the demographic that you fit in with society. Most people don’t really care who owns the media, as long as they have something to watch while eating their meals, something to read while catching the train or something to listen to on the way to work.

You’ll discover that most young people fit in this demographic. They only care if their favourite piece of media is available to them, not worrying about the political stance that the media owner takes or in fact who owns the media. If you asked who owned Facebook, most young people will know that its Mark Zuckerberg, but if you ask them who owned the Daily Telegraph or who owned Channel Seven, most of this demographic will not have a clue. So the real question here is why is it that most young people know that Mark Zuckerberg is the owner of Facebook and not know that Kerry Stokes is the owner of Channel Seven?

Well, the answer is quite simple. There was a FaceBook movie, and there was not a movie about Kerry Stokes and Channel Seven. Also take into consideration that there is 1.9 billion active FaceBook users as of February 2015, so more people are likely going to watch a movie about the FaceBook creator than a news outlet and it’s millionaire owner.

But we also need to take into consideration how we connect to the world. Mobile phones have become a part of our lifestyle since its creation. We cannot go anywhere without having that connection to our phones. Our phones serve as an easy access platform to connect with the world. The creation of social media sites and their adaptation to mobile phones has strengthened the bond between the user and their device. This would demonstrate that the younger demographic only gains information through these social media outlets, and would not be interested in who owns the media.

However, those individuals who fit outside the demographic, do indeed care about who owns the media. Especially those who care about politics and the effect that an owner’s political stance has on the medium. For example Rupert Murdoch’s political stance has seen the Daily Telegraph and the Australian publish content that favours the right wing Liberals. Obviously this has created some controversy as this is seen as “influencing people” and not allowing for a neutral view but in fact a bias one.

So should we care about who owns the media? Well, it’s really up to you. If you’re the type of person who enjoys watching television, listening to the radio or reading the newspaper while emerging yourself in daily lifestyle activities, then you really wouldn’t care. But if you are the person who has a strong interest in politics or believes in fairness in media organisations and their content, well, you would care. Tell me what you think?

Our Eyes Are The Windows To The World

“Open your eyes” was a series of advertisements that came about from the teaming up of Canadian web browser Sympatico and MSN in 2008. This partnership would allow MSN to use the Sympatico web browser to provide consumers the ability to shop, interact with news from social to political and to be able to purchase and play games.

The image is an extreme close-up of an eye and has been edited to include a variety of small images such as poker cards and board games, people and shopping signs. The vibrant colours within the eye, brings the viewers attention to what is inside the eye and causes the viewer to look deeper within the eye, to see what exactly is reflected in the eye.  The viewers attention is then shifted down to the bold, white writing that reads “open your eyes” followed by three simple words that explain the purpose of the site either it be “autos, finance, news” or “lifestyle, games, shopping” . Finally, the viewer is left with the website’s URL, simplified so that the everyday person could be able to type it into the search bar, and a small mouse clicker symbolising the computer and the new reality it brings to consumers.

The connotation of the image is to reflect what the website is offering through the reflection of the eye. It’s incorporation of a variety of images ranging from poker cards to cars to sale signs, demonstrates that the website can provide almost everything that fulfils an individuals life but now in the convenience of one website. However, the variety of advertisements can be read in multiple ways, and depending on the individual’s view, allows for more than one way of comprehending the images.

My personal reading of the advertisements is the shift into the technological world. It demonstrates that everyday activities such as shopping, gaming and even watching movies was whittled down to a few websites and now has become a global powerhouse. In 2008, social networks grew such as Twitter and Facebook, meaning people could interact conveniently, and lessened the need for personal interaction. Along with these social networks came the introduction of the iPhone apps which allowed users to download these social networks and websites into convenient ways of accessing them. This almost seems like a last ditch effort by Microsoft to try and win back the market that they lost to Apple. But the advertisement does demonstrate the wonderful world of the internet to those who might not have been associated with a computer, and with the speed of internet increasing and the removal of dial up internet, increased the chances of consumers using their website for the variety of purposes it advertises.

I’d be interested to hear what many other’s think about this advertisement and how they interpret the image. Do you see it just as an advertisement? Or do you have a view that is completely different and outside the box? Comment below and tell me what you think.

Video Games Cause Violence: The Controversies & Anxieties

Video games have become a new medium for producers and creators to manufacture a storyline or alternate reality, similar to other medium’s such as novels, television and film. Unlike the interaction an individual has with a movie, television show or novel, video games involve a more physical interaction to the medium where a player controls the actions of the character. Due to this ability to control the character and their actions, video games have been at the centre of various studies regarding the player’s interaction with the game and their behaviour in real life.

Either it be content within the games or the resultant behaviour from playing these games, the Call of Duty series as well as the Grand Theft Auto series have been the centre of video game related media concerns. The violent nature of the games have caused an outpour of criticism from those not involved in the “gaming community”.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 has come under massive scrutiny over it’s inclusion of the depiction of a massacre carried out in a Russian airport. In 2011, Anders Behring Breivik claims in his manifesto that he used Modern Warfare 2 to perpetuate the Norway Attacks that occurred on July 22nd. This ultimately lead to the removing of the game from Norwegian retail chain Coop Norway’s shelves.

Grand Theft Auto has copped a lot of criticism for its inclusion of drink driving in Grand Theft Auto IV and V, as well a torture scene in Grand Theft Auto V, and over all sexism across the series. There have also been a number of cases in which families have held Grand Theft Auto accountable for the deaths of their loved ones.

In 2005, a lawsuit was brought upon the makers and distributors of the Grand Theft Auto series claiming the games caused a teenager to shoot and kill three members of the Alabama police force. Dylan Moore, 17 at the time, had stolen a police gun and killed three police officers, then fled in a police car. Lawyer Jack Thompson, claimed it was Grand Theft Auto ’ s graphic nature—with his constant playing time—that caused Moore to commit the murders, and Moore’s family agrees. However, on March 2006, the case was dismissed after Thompson attempted to sought damages from Sony, game publisher Take-Two Interactive, Game Stop and Walmart.

Personally, I believe that its the individual or player and their personal upbringing that causes the actions, and that the video game is merely being blamed as the central cause of behavioural changes. In 2011, Maria von Salisch had conducted a study on youth in Germany and found that aggressive children tend to select more violent video games but found no evidence that video games cause aggression in children. I do believe that purchasing violent video games may further violent ideas, but those ideas that were already contained in the player.