Monday, September 1, 2014

Crime Without Punishment

Grand Theft Auto Five is a popular video game that was released in fall of 2013. It is the fifth game in the appraised Grand Theft Auto series, where the player attempts to be the most successful criminal he can be (the pronoun “he” is used because there is no option to play as a female character in the game). According to, Grand Theft Auto Five (GTAV) has sold more than 33 million copies, which indicates that it has a wide influence over American culture. Because the player is basically given free reign over what they choose to do in the game, be it robbing a convenience store, stealing cars and helicopters, or beating up and killing people in the street, the game promotes the idea that being a criminal is cool or “badass.”

This is also shown in the game because the player is handsomely rewarded for breaking the law. Between robbing banks, selling drugs or simply mugging innocent people, the player can amass a hefty fortune, enabling them to buy fancy race cars and deluxe apartments. There is also a humorous element to the game, which encourages the player to think that breaking laws, often violently, is funny. For example, one of the radio ads within the game encourages players to, “vote YES to Proposition 208 and legalize medical cocaine.” Violent humor is seen when characters in the game do things like gun people down from a lawn mower or mock people whom they are beating up.

The game additionally allows one to do so much more than commit crime. Players can throw darts, take yoga classes, go sailing, go for a swim, ride roller coasters, invest in the stock market, and even watch TV. The fact that there are so many “normal” activities in the game promotes the idea that normal people can lead criminal lives, often with no negative repercussions. For example, even if one does get killed during a crime spree, the player re-spawns outside a hospital, still retaining all of their possessions. The combination of humorous violence and rewards for felonious acts throughout this game idealizes the life of a criminal and pushes the often younger demographic of players to think that a crime not only makes one cool, but also rich.

Below is the link to the game's trailer video released on This trailer includes a swear and some scenes with violence, so please watch with discretion. This video is important to include because it shows the general attitude towards crime within the game. The music in the background combined with the montage of explosions and firefights is exciting and enticing, drawing players into the world of crime and fast-paced living.



  1. I agree completely. Violence in video games has gone out of control, and better and better graphics make games feel more realistic, possible blurring the line between real and digital violence. Although the games can seem harmless, they definitely affect the player's life in both consciously and unconsciously.

  2. I also agree, I think this post makes some valid points. The extreme violence mixed with complete disregard for the police and other people's safety displayed in GTA V could have a negative effect on people in real life and make them less empathetic to the world around them. Great post!

  3. Though violent video games may be damaging to society, they are successful for a reason. Most people live mundane lives and go through the same routines everyday. Playing a game like GTA V allows them to escape the ordinary and do something exciting. Trying to escape swarms of police is much more exciting than balancing a checkbook.If video games were an accurate portrayal of real life, few people would buy them

  4. I completely agree, the world is so dependent on violence in media that game developers have strayed from many of the types of genres that were found 10 years ago.

  5. Although it is a very controversial issue, I think that video games have great influence, and are a huge part of pop culture. Especially in GTA, a game that depicts sexism and racism in such a blatantly obvious way, helps encourage these vices. I do think, however that unless you are a person with violent tendencies (or you are very easily influenced), games like GTA and CoD do little in the way of making people violent. While you are actually REQUIRED to do some pretty horrific things to progress with the game in story mode AND multiplayer, it will not convince people that crime is okay.