Remember the thrill six years ago when you stopped a car in the middle of the road, tossed the unsuspecting driver out and then ran him over with nothing but a big grin across your face? Everybody who played the first installment of Grand Theft Auto knows this exhilarating feeling very intimately.
The UK franchise series produced by Rockstar has now reached its fifth sequel and pre-sales are set to break gaming records by a mile. Grand Theft Auto 5 is projected to sell 25m copies and generate roughly US$1.6bn within the first year, but for one customer in London the content of the game, ironically, became a brutal reality.
A 23-year-old man got a taste of the game in real life when three adolescents aged 15, 17, and 18 attacked him from behind, stabbed him twice and hit him over the head with a brick. The victim, who was recovering in hospital and said to be in stable condition, was stripped of his mobile phone, watch, and the copy of GTA 5 he had just purchased.
The highly anticipated game went on sale at midnight as September 17, 2013, turned into 18. Several stores across the country opened their doors especially for fans that had been standing in line outside for hours.
Reviewers of the game are pretty much unanimous – GTA 5 may very well be the best video game ever. The violence in the game has been described as “orgiastic” and “exciting” and if you’re into pulling people’s teeth out with pliers, waterboarding them with flammable liquid, or simply making them scream from electrocution before kneecapping them with a heavy tool, then you’re in for a treat.
However, the real-life robbery in London will most certainly raise the debate of whether violence in video games leads to violent actions in the street. The attack on the 23-year-old has given those who oppose savage content in games some serious ammunition. It’s just a matter of time before soccer moms and religious zealots around the world unite to protest.
Speaking about the attack, Alison Sherratt, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said she was worried about the impact on children: “Until now, we’ve been warning of the dangers of children seeing these games, but saying it’s the parents responsibility to keep children away from them. But this scene takes things a step too far and the games makers need to consider what they are producing.”
In the world of GTA 5 you take control of three characters: Michael, Trevor and Franklin – one more psychotic than the other. The object of the game is to rise to the top as the most notorious gangster in the city of Los Santos. There are plenty of missions to complete but there’s also the possibility of simply roaming around and killing civilians in countless ways. Either way, you will eventually rise to the top.