Criticizing GTA V as a Media Medium.
GTA V... a Good Medium?
When considering a media to criticize, nothing comes to mind more than the video game Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V). Grand Theft Auto V is a console-based video game that allows its players to free roam a Los Angeles styled city and do hundreds of different activities. From customizing cars, to playing tennis, to going hunting, the options are almost endless. One of the pros/positive angles of this kind of media/video game is the boundary-pushing advancement in free roam gaming. A con/negative angle to this media item is the abundance of misogynistic ideals and murky politics involved in the gameplay.
Personally, I like this video game because it allows the player to choose what they want to do. I have never liked games that have everything for you to do set out in a linear sequence of events. Grand Theft Auto is known for it’s pushing the limits in the actions the player is allowed to do. Grand Theft Auto V is Rockstar’s apex game pushing their game franchise father than it has ever been before. For this reason, I love delving into the world of GTA V and exploring its vast array of activities.
A positive angle to discuss about Grand Theft Auto V is addressed in this New York Times article, Grand Theft Auto V Is a Return to the Comedy of Violence, written by Chris Suellentrop. This article reviews the video game and the kind of audiences targeted. Suellentrop references Grand Theft Auto V as, “the most immersive spectacle in interactive entertainment.” Grand Theft Auto V broke launch sale records by accumulating over $1 billion in three days (Suellentrop). This claims the record over any other form of entertainment (Suellentrop). Why has the game received such a great response from the people? It targets the correct audience. This game is designed to be bought by the largest buyer of console based video games, males who are of almost any age. One example where we can see this evident is Rockstar’s (the company that created GTA V) use of three main characters.
There are three controllable characters instead of only one: Franklin, a repo man on the make, loses his job; Michael, a witness-protection retiree, miscalculates after finding his wife cheating on him with her tennis instructor; and Trevor, an oddly lovable psychopathic meth dealer and gun runner, learns that Michael, his onetime partner, faked his death 10 years ago (Suellentrop).
Using these three characters with very different lifestyles, Rockstar is able to make a game that appeals to a lot of different people, and bring them all into one game as a united bunch. Advertising the game as one that includes three different people as the main characters definitely helps promote it to a larger audience. Also, many attributes of the game appeal to the same audience. Radio stations, paparazzi, political groups, and fake websites resembling iconic media items such as Facebook, Twitter, and Call of Duty are all examples of things put into the game to draw the attention of this group of people (Suellentrop). Using these appealing aspects of the game as well as their signature free-mode gameplay with unlimited options of things to do, chosen by the player, Rockstar was able to this audience of console gamers. This is why Grand Theft Auto V had so much success and why it continues to be considered one of the greatest games in the past few years and potentially the years to come (Suellentrop).
A negative angle to discuss about Grand Theft Auto V is addressed in a review done by Matt Peckham of Time Magazine titled, Grand Theft Auto V: Everything Rockstar’s Learned About Open-World Design, Refined. This review discussed how the identity of women is conveyed throughout the game. Matt Peckham brings up what he believes to be one of the strongest negatives of this game. He doesn’t like the portrayal of women throughout the game. He explains, “Forget the partial nudity and softcore sex you’ve maybe heard about, … [the uncomfortable thing is] the way the game often portrays women, from the perspective of adolescent or misogynistic men, as sexual objects” (Peckham). Peckham continues to critique the game by displaying his opinion that, rather than this being a satirical action intentionally placed in the game by Rockstar for its audience to question, he believes it is simply an objectification of women. He believes it to be “exploitative” rather than “calculated burlesque” (Peckham). While the game does have lots of good graphics and activities for the players to do, there is very little inclusion of women in these activities other than as strippers or over-the-top feminists meant to be laughed at (Peckham). When Los Santos (the in-game island based off Los Angeles) is supposed to represent a real life city, shouldn’t women play a more involved and realistic role (Peckham)?
So, Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto V is a game known for its incredible sights and almost unlimited array of activities. These activities and elements of the game peak the interest of the majority group of console gamers. The use of lots of elements popular to this area of gamers increased this media item’s growth and sales. While these things are good, Peckham explains that its inexcusable portrayal of women should not be tolerated. Only giving them roles that exploit them as sexual objects is not a satirical symbol, but rather a defaming and objectifying point. While I like this game for its beautiful sceneries and outstanding landscape that allow for so many different ways to run around and explore the world of open-design, console based video games, I agree with Peckham’s critique about the objectifying feeling towards women. For these two reasons, Grand Theft Auto V has been greatly criticized.
Peckham, Matt. "Grand Theft Auto V Review: Everything Rockstar’s Learned About Open-World Design, Refined." Time Magazine. (2013): n. page. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.
Suellentrop, Chris. "Grand Theft Auto V Is a Return to the Comedy of Violence." New York Times. (2013): n. page. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.