Earlier this week, I found myself at a Target, looking for something. I can’t recall what the hell it was, and I think I have to go back. In the interim, I was killing time before picking up some food and decided to go into nearby shops. I ran into MovieStop, sifting through leftover Labor Day Blu-ray specials and finding a lot of nothing. Next door was GameStop.
GameStop should be wildly familiar to most. Its presence infects strip malls and mixed-used developments everywhere, offering new and used video games and accessories and of course, pre-orders. No one really likes GameStop, yet it is a place some must go. Namely, there are some sweet offers when you pre-order. If you pre-order FIFA 14 at GameStop, you can get extra…celebrations. When I was there, customers were picking up Rockstar’s latest, Grand Theft Auto V. i
If you’re not familiar, the GTA series (at least since the third installment) is a “sandbox” game where you guide the main character through an expansive world and have the ability to do just about anything. Given the title of the game, “almost anything” does include stealing cars. You can also murder people, steal from you, steal from me. With key elements such as this, I’ve always felt uneasy about the game.
I don’t think video games cause people to commit crimes. This is ludicrous. If that were true, the $800 million GTA V made would have translated into a rash of crimes you would have heard about by now. Personally, it’s the cognitive dissonance of the whole thing for me.
My stance on guns is pretty hard line, wishing for more stringent background checks, the assault weapons ban, and the closing of the gun show loophole. As a supporter of media (we are not having a video games are art discussion) exploration, I believe any idea should be covered, even the ugly parts. I don’t think I’m alone in this.
What makes someone feel the need to commit to a life of crime (granted in video game form) yet disavow this in real life is somehow not completely active in me. Have I played games with guns in them and enjoyed it? Yes, of course, including the millenial staple Goldeneye 64. As I’ve grown older and more fully realized the power of weapons, I’ve become more disgusted. GTA V is another game where I feel like I’m somehow implicit in gun advocacy by simply picking the title up. I’m aware this is not true, yet I can’t remove myself from it.
Grand Theft Auto V is an expansive, ambitious project in the profitable world of video game sequels. Yet, I feel like it’s another way for Americans to fetishize guns and crime instead of doing something about it. The worst part? I’m not doing anything myself.