What is Grand Theft Auto V.
Grand Theft Auto (GTA) V.
Like its predecessors, the fifth part of the Grand Theft Auto series is peppered with cultural, social and political references. Those who do not know these and do not speak English will only experience a technically appealing, but very violent action game, in which this time the gangster career of three protagonists in the wide world around the metropolis of Los Santos is themed.
Video game as a cultural mirror
No matter how many times successfully the plumber Mario will free his princess Peach from the clutches of Bowser. Lara Croft can discover all the treasures in the world. And again and again, mostly American heroes will single-handedly save the world from villains. Despite all the successes in ratings and sales, most video games remained just a cultural side note. Only the fourth part of the video game series Grand Theft Auto (assessment of Grand Theft Auto IV) initiated a paradigm shift. Not only were the virtual acts of violence or the immense success of the game discussed. For the first time, leading media looked under the facade of a video game and recognized an intelligent, if exaggerated, reflection of American society. An immigrant from ex-Yugoslavia with a war criminal past emigrates to the USA and caricatures the American dream of rags-to-riches to millionaire by shooting himself up from petty criminal to gangster. Video game opponents saw a possible brutalization of the youth and denounced the virtual violence. Others, on the other hand, recognized the game as a satire or even criticism of predatory capitalism, as a modern form of Darwinism. The fifth part of the series also retains this pattern and also caused all kinds of criticism and discussion about the explicit patterns of violence before and after publication.
The GTA principle
Grand Theft Auto V is an open world game. Although there is a background story that leads the player from mission to mission, the various opportunities to work outside the narrative thread are the special attraction of the series. The main occupation, as the title suggests, is car theft. All vehicles and aircraft available in GTA can be used. One press of the triangle button is enough and the character pulls the driver out of the car and rushes to the next mission. Or players can drift and cruise or fly through the large and lively world of Los Santos. During the journey, several radio stations play well-known rock, pop and rap tracks. The crimes committed are discussed in radio news or allusions to real events are made.
The game world is designed to be very varied. In rich areas, mansions, suits, SUVs and sports cars are part of the external appearance. Less well-heeled neighborhoods have a more industrial character. The surrounding area offers forests, mountains and deserts. Weather changes, times of day and night are created dynamically. For example, it might rain during a mission or it might get dark while the city lights come on. This contributes to an appealing atmosphere and conveys a realistic exposure.
The Heists are excitingly staged. These are robberies that the trio has to organize in advance. More professionals are hired, alarm systems are switched off, getaway vehicles are procured. Another steals a submarine or procures chemicals. You can switch between the three protagonists at any time. In the case of some heists, the end of the game can also decide whether to proceed silently or whether they want to shoot their way with assault rifles. Shootings then ensure that more and more law enforcement officers, including special units, attack the gangsters. Then the only thing left to do is to steal a fast car and run away. Unfortunately, almost like tanks, the vehicles can withstand too many accidents.
As mentioned, good to very good knowledge of English and a certain general education are necessary in order to be able to see and understand the many details of the game. There are allusions to popular TV series, films and video games, social injustice, Steve Jobs, Facebook, the war on terrorism, the beauty craze, the machinations of the financial world and much more.
GTA as a prestige object
In terms of content, the game is pure adult entertainment and has no place in the hands of minors. However, most, especially teenage boys, will indicate when asked that they have played GTA before. Whether this is the case or whether you have to say it out of coolness as a male youth is an open question. GTA does offer a story mode, but free play is often more attractive, especially for adolescents. Here you can explore the boundaries of a world - in many respects. What is technically possible, i.e. can you jump from a skyscraper into an airplane with a car? Where are the coolest places in town, where can you find the most expensive cars?
In addition, the player in "GTA V" has the opportunity to visit the fictional nightclubs. Half-naked strippers dance on poles in these and the player can pay them for a personal lap dance. Depending on how high the dancer's sympathy factor increases (by touching and complimenting), she offers the player to go home with her. At some street corners the player can also find prostitutes and ask them to get in by sounding the horn. The players also have the opportunity to act out the sexuality of the protagonists.
But the limits of the game can also be tested with regard to violence: Where can I get the most powerful weapons and what can I do with them? Even more so than in the story mode with its existing level of reflection, the free mode represents the risk of lasting impairment for children and young people. The sanction system is too weak, the characters who move at gunpoint through a realistically reproduced city are too cool. Without the story's cultural references, what often remains is a violent sandpit in which young people can live out their fantasies of omnipotence in a realistic setting. Adult players are given the necessary maturity to correctly classify the framework and what is happening on the screen.
Torture in a video game
There is a violent mission in the story that went too far even for experienced players and was controversially discussed. One of the main characters, the crazy Trevor, is supposed to be commissioned by the FIB! torturing a witness. Electric shocks, kneecaps, pulling teeth and classic waterboarding are available. Gamers are denied an alternative here. They are forced to actively perform the multi-level torture. For example, it is not enough to press a button to pull a tooth from the witness. Players have to make circular movements with the analog stick while the figure squirms in pain. This is tough stuff and rightly leaves the player and viewer with an uncomfortable feeling, which at first glance seems strange. Because up to the torture scene, countless figures were shot, run over or blown up without remorse. But it was only during this mission that many gamers dealt with real existing torture and thus real violence against people. Here the violence emerges from a stereotypical setting and can be experienced in the facial features of an individual character who is also completely defenseless and exposed to the actions of the player. The publisher is walking on a very thin tightrope, because on the one hand such scenes can of course trigger reflections in the player about his actions, on the other hand it seems extremely implausible if a psychopath expresses himself critically about his own torture activity in retrospect.
Reality influences fiction and is a source of inspiration for books, films and video games. For a number of years it has been increasingly observed that torture is a main topic of discussion in films and series. Presumably, the wave of torture films, so-called "Torture Porns", such as the SAW or hostel series, was only initiated by the events in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. It therefore seems obvious that video games with a cinematic narrative structure also take up and process real events. The discussion about the increasing acceptance of torture in society (for example this article), however, must also face the medium of games with such an abbreviated presentation, especially the consequences of torture.
GTA V scores with a wide, Los Angeles-oriented game world, as well as a cinematic staging with realistic dialogues and varied missions. However, it is particularly the depictions of violence and sexual content that more than justify an age rating of 18 and over. The protagonists are all presented very exaggerated and could convey false values, especially with younger players as identification figures. It takes a certain degree of maturity within reflection in order to be able to classify the satirical translations correctly. The torture scene justifiably diverges opinions. Torture was also discussed in video games before, but due to the high degree of interactivity, the representation of torture rightly causes an emotional discomfort in the player. GTA V is definitely only suitable for adults and does not belong in the hands of children and teenagers.
In 2014 the game was released for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One with revised graphics. The publication for the PC followed in 2015, which is particularly suitable for mods (mostly free and privately developed extensions or changes to a game). The PC version also contains new content for the online game mode.
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