The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Popular violence sells video games with escapism

Viewpoint by Kirsten Mahon/multimedia editor

The mixture of drug use, theft, bad language, prostitution and violence of Grand Theft Auto V makes its overwhelming success one of the most controversial and record-breaking.

What consumers may not have understood before is that game players aren’t necessarily hungry for violence and filth.

Escapism sells.

The perfect game takes a spectacular setting and an unforgettable story that’s somehow relatable. A majority of audiences attend school and work long hours. Unfortunately, they don’t slay dragons. They don’t steal cars. They don’t run around with cocked, loaded guns in hand.

GTA 5 is a parent’s worst nightmare and an adult’s favorite getaway game. It isn’t complicated, and the possibilities are endless in a free-roam game where the players die only if they want to. They steal cars from anyone. They escape the cops easily.

In this video game, gamers immerse themselves in a life they never asked for because they can, easily. It’s exciting, it’s silly and it’s painless.

It isn’t a force for evil.

Controversially, children love the game. The game is forbidden to anyone under 17, which makes it even more desirable for younger ones, and it’s a game where players rarely lose. It’s not about becoming a violent, car stealing, prostitute-slinging junkie. 

Parents and legislators practically outlawed violent games like GTA because they thought it promoted violent behaviors in children and perhaps the crime rates would grow in the future. Sixteen years later, with the release of the fifth installment, those children haven’t joined a blood-thirsty army of violent hooligans. They’re simply standing in line picking up their next copy at GameStop. They have lives they need to escape from every now and then too.

Today, the latest trend is finding the bad guy and killing him. But while realism grows in media, the concept stays the same. Shooting at targets has been a practice for decades, generations before modern gamers shot down toy ducks with fake rifles, when the brutality was buried beneath an innocuous, cartoony approach to violence.

It’s not about the blood and guts or the shoot to kill. Instead, it’s relatability and also the fascination with graphics and technology. Without those real effects, it would be much harder to immerse oneself in a video game. The cutting edge feel of something new that’s virtual but looks real is a feast for the eyes and food for the imagination.

Challenge without risk is relieving.

Games like Call of Duty and Halo do well because they invite groups of friends to play together – or against each other. A game with friends invites the best challenges.

GTA 5 has broken 7 Guinness records already, after just over a month of life. Its sales might not beat the Halo or Call of Duty series, but it flew off the shelves faster than any game ever has.

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