GTA V: A Look Into Gaming Violence and Its Hype

PHOTO: Grand Theft Auto VRockstar Games
Grant Theft Auto V

Anyone who’s even a casual “gamer” didn’t miss Grand Theft Auto V’s release on Tuesday, which racked up $800 million on its first day. So, if you’re interested, you can read multiple reviews of the actual violence-laden game online today, but it’s the hype and the hatred behind its popularity that’s turning out to be most intriguing.

Among the stories that have popped up are one of an Australian store that supposedly sold lines of cocaine with every game purchased. The other involves the “stabbing and robbing,” of a 23-year-old British male in the U.K. who had just purchased a copy.

These are just the type of stories that computer-game haters embrace as concrete examples of how today’s youth has become too immersed in fantastical violent worlds.

Of course, another view is that there are troubled people out there, and they would act out regardless of specific focus.

So rather than just go, “OMG look what happened around this release,” lets break down these two events.

Story 1: Free line of cocaine with the pre-orders of Grand Theft Auto V At EB Games, Australia

Source: Reddit

Reality: This may or may not have happened. Reddit seems to think that it did, and that lines were offered. However, EB Games released a statement apologizing for the “Cocaine” and calling it candy. "The display included a white, powdery substance that appeared to be some form of an illegal drug,'' the company said in a statement.

"We can confirm that the powdery substance was sherbet, a type of fizzy candy, and at no point did the store attempt to give any of the fizzy candy away.”

On the surface it looks like the store manager was attempting to build up hype, even if it didn’t pan out.

Reddit user Xchn said:

“People that don't fully understand the depths of drug abuse and how destructive can be, combined with the average age of the GTA 5 end user/cultural paradigm of that age group, are more inclined to run around their high school peer group saying drugs are cool. This store manager, associate, whatever, is making a connection in his brain that those teenage or college end users are going to think this is cool and generate more sales. That's my guess at least -- or he's just an idiot and wanted to pretend cocaine was all over the counter.”

To that I say, some cocaine/ fake powder in one isolated shop in Australia does not a “serious drug epidemic make.” But it’s also not the most solid marketing plan.

Story 2: Grand Theft Auto Fan Hit with a Brick after buying Game

Source: Liveleak. Headline, Daily Mail

The real deal: One man was mugged on his way home. Then stabbed.

They took his GTA V copy and his cell phone. The Daily Mail suggested his cell was stolen so he couldn’t call for help.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: 'A 23-year-old man was shopping, and then on his way back home he was hit with a brick and stabbed. He was robbed of items he had bought from a nearby Asda supermarket including a copy of Grand Theft Auto.”

OK, so one man was mugged on the eve that the game was sold. While we totally sympathize with him and his family, again, this isolated incident is just that. ISOLATED.

You can read multiple reports of “experts” who talk about violent games causing violent behavior, but a lot of the studies are flawed or contain too many variables.

In a study done by the Springer Institute on 1st August 2013 in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence about videogame violence and children, there was no correlation between violent video game playing and increased delinquent or criminal behavior. Researchers Ferguson and Olson also found no association between the playing of violent video games and increased delinquency criminality or bullying.

Naturally, another study contradicts this.

In the Journal of Experimental Psychology a study had 70 students play violent and non-violent games every day and their reactions were measured for aggression. The results suggested that players who played the violent games had increased aggressive reactions, but those who played non violent games had no change.

"After playing a violent video game, we found that people expect others to behave aggressively. That expectation may make them more defensive and more likely to respond with aggression themselves, as we saw in this study and in other studies we have conducted," said researcher Dr. Bushman.

So what’s the takeaway here?

Games, including Grand Theft Auto V, are not exactly family friendly. After all, water boarding and kneecap smashing is hardly nice, right. But this is a GAME. If you don’t agree then think of it this way: When you read “50 Shades of Grey” you don’t turn into a Dungeon master.

Perspective is a beautiful thing right?