Saturday, October 22, 2011

Grand Theft Auto 3: Leaving Behind A Trail Of Controversy.

As some of you probably know, the 10-year anniversary of the release of Grand Theft Auto 3 is upon us. If you didn't know, Rockstar's official twitter has no doubt made it very well known to you. When we look back on this very, very influential game we see two very distinct ways that this title impacted gaming. The first, and most obvious, is mechanically. This game literally created a subgenre, innovated in ways that many influential games can hardly dream of. And then, of course, one remembers the controversy surrounding this game.

One of the best articles I found regarding this whole legacy of controversy was from a controversial news site, Kotaku ( Not only does this article do a fine job of highlighting one of the earliest instances of someone blaming GTA for being objectionable, it also points out that the very objectionable content the mainstream media points to really doesn't exist. The article points out that the crimes committed in the game's narrative were not any worse than what has been observed in many crime movies, and many crimes are actually avoidable. Also, it mentions the ever-apparent fact that the game was not marketed toward young children. THERE'S AN M FOR MATURE ON THE BOX. No one's trying to sell the next Grand Theft Auto to little Billy.  

I think this anniversary of GTA is a good time to be reminded of how games are still portrayed by the mainstream media. If the fiasco with Bulletstorm was any indication, the same unfounded prejudices present in 2001 exist today. Perhaps, because of the enhanced graphics and gameplay, these harmful stereotypes are more present then ever. When well-animated brains spray out of people's heads in many popular games, it's easy enough for FOX or MSNBC or CNN to take all the sophistication behind games like GTA or even Bulletstorm away (because they can) and conclude that they are nothing more than toys that aren't even appropriate for kids. And, as long as people eat up these misconceptions like first-class ribs, there is no reason for these news agencies to stop printing and reporting falsehoods about an industry that's very, very promising and is trying to find it's footing throughout the world.

Since when was it "acceptable" for large news sources to blatantly lie about topics that are important to many people (such as game devs who need to sell enough of a game to keep a job for themselves and their families) because it increases ratings? It's a sick practice, and I hope some day we can stop all the media manipulation of facts.

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