Intense violence, blood and gore, nudity, mature humor, strong language, strong sexual content and the use of drugs and alcohol is what gives the highly anticipated Grand Theft Auto V videogame its “mature” rating from the MPAA.
Though known for its controversial elements and gameplay, Grand Theft Auto is one of the highest rated franchises of this generation. A 98/100 on metacritic.com, a 10/10 on IGN.com and a 10/10 on Gamespot.com are few of the many reviews praising Grand Theft Auto V’s predecessors.
Positive reviews and record-breaking sales allowed Rockstar Games to grant the highly anticipated sequel a budget of $265 million dollars to develop (CinemaBlend.com).
Grand Theft Auto V is expected to be played by many with pre-order numbers breaking 7 million (vgchartz.com).
The game portrays a cinematic plot structure based on three main characters in southern California.
Rockstar’s co-writer Dan Houser defended the structure of the game in an interview with The Guardian last Tuesday.
“There’s a believability to (the game) – these characters aren’t superheroes, they have this griminess to them, these nuances,” Hauser said. “That’s something we wanted to build with Michael, Trevor and Franklin. What are they doing when they’re not being action anti-heroes? That’s a real strength of the game, a strength of the world and potentially a strength of games in general when they move away from trying to just portray larger-than-life übermensches.”
This raises an important question: Can a game with such graphic elements be enjoyed without it interfering with our Christian and Benedictine beliefs/values? Or would playing a game like this negatively affect our spiritual life?
SJU sophomore Kyle Blackley is in support of the game.
“Yeah, of course this game can be played. Playing and enjoying a violent videogame does not reflect your views and or personality,” Blackley said.
Kyle believes that what is acted out in the game will not be put to practice by the player.
“People who think violent game users are going against Benedictine beliefs and values need to realize that actions in videogames won’t be acted out in daily life,” Blackley said. “Just because I run over masses of people with a car in Grand Theft Auto, doesn’t mean I’m planning on doing it this weekend.”
Blackley plans to purchase the new game himself.
“I have played Grand Theft Auto since I was five and I turned out alright. I will be getting the new one,” Blackley said.
Other students, such as CSB sophomore Tina Ayodele, disagreed.
“I believe the game’s elements are contradictory to the player’s Christian and Benedictine values, but it is not reality,” Adyodele said. “They are not actually practicing these virtual elements so it’s not negatively affecting their spiritual life. So it is ok to play these games. I don’t think it positively affects someone’s spiritual life either, but it isn’t harmful.”
Brother Dennis Beach, a member of the St. John’s Abbey and a faculty resident on Tommy 3, has had much experience watching his students play videogames of this nature.
“Obviously this won’t make you a better Christian,” Beach said.
Beach emphasized that it isn’t easy to distinguish what is acceptable and unacceptable. “There is not a complete black and white of what actions are tolerable and intolerable”.
Beach commented about the amount of time one plays a game with these traits.
“What you do and do frequently shapes who you are. So a concern of mine would be the amount of time one plays this,” Beach said.
He said that the main issue would be to make sure players divide their fictional videogame actions and real life actions.
“I would have some cautions on how well players can compartmentalize,” Beach said. “Do these elements creep out of the game and into real life? Is there any bleed over from fictional life to real life?”
He hopes that players that are drawn to this game do not only play for the graphic content, but possibly competition, exploration and other positive elements.
“I don’t think it means you are a bad person if you play a game such as this, but it may make you a worse person than you could possibly be,” Beach said.