Rockstar Games, a subsidiary of Take – Two Interactive, created a series of video games in 1997 called Grand Theft Auto (GTA). Multiple games in the series have been made, each one becoming a more ridiculous depiction of the life of a criminal. The gamer plays the role of the criminal, wreaking havoc on cities that bear striking resemblances to New York City, Las Vegas, Miami, among others. I’ve played these games since 2001 and, along with many people I know, enjoy playing them a lot. However, there are numerous aspects to the games that many people find disturbing and inappropriate to be included in something that is made for gamers; the majority of gamers (especially when these GTA games reached their peak) are usually adolescents and younger.
The biggest controversies Rockstar, and subsequently Take – Two Interactive, had with GTA were the multiple lawsuits that arose from the GTA games being extremely violent. There were some cases that sued Rockstar and Take – Two, claiming the GTA games influenced children to shoot classmates, or policemen. The game’s ruthless nature no doubt was a cause for concern for many parents. There was even a minigame included in one of the GTA games that enabled users to have sex with in game girlfriends and even record sex tapes. There was a point where retailers refused to carry the controversial game because of all the bad press the game was getting. As of right now, none of the lawsuits were able to be established well, and most were dismissed. But it exposed the series of games to the public in a very negative way. There’s no doubt that the game has some questionable content: picking up hookers, unrestricted killing sprees, and rampant cursing are just a few of the games’ controversial aspects.
This takes us to the views of Rockstar and Take – Two. How have they responded? Rockstar and Take – Two issued a joint statement during one of the court cases explaining how the various events and ideas in the games, as well as any alleged psychological effects from them, are protected under the First Amendment. However, in some instances where public outrage was higher, Take – Two agreed to censor some of the game in copies of the game would be released in the future. This sequence of events has happened a few times with a few different games for Take – Two and Rockstar. It appears that these companies are rather indifferent to public opinion and choose to keep producing games with controversial content, some of which is profane is clearly racist. While Take – Two and Rockstar have done small things to help quell the public outcry, it seems as if they’ve put band aids on problems that are huge lacerations. Interestingly, the games have all had widespread success and nearly always receive extraordinary praise from critics. The games have sold tens of millions of copies around the world and have received multiple awards; these games are loved in the gaming community.
I chose to write about the Grand Theft Auto series because of how polar it is. It sells so well yet hated by so many. As video game consoles have become more popular in the last decade, there has been an increase in people who play video games. More gamers means more demand, and when the boundaries have been stretched the way they have with Rockstar and Take – Two, the copies have flown off the shelf into millions and millions of households. Rockstar and Take – Two, while making some minor changes to previous games post – production, still are trying to capitalize on the success of the series and doing so will require more controversy, no doubt. Below is a trailer that recently came out for the fifth installment of the series:
This will surely be a game filled with more illegal and immoral antics, but the anticipation in the gaming community has been as strong as ever. Take – Two and Rockstar may not approve of these actions in the real world, but they’ve included in it their video games because frankly, it’s fun to be the bad guy sometimes. The list of those offended, though, goes on…