prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!


Posted by prof e on April 29, 2008

GTA Video GameGrand Theft Auto, version IV, is out today and according to early reports is expected to break a few records (perhaps $200 million in US sales the first week). USA Today reports that the video game industry is already on a roll, with revenues up every month for the past 2 years and last year reporting record sales of $18 billion. BTW, that’s more than the film industry. Video game critics are also suggesting that the rich narratives and increasingly realistic visual effects of games like GTA are making video games the ultimate replacement for feature films. Why just watch a film when you can control one?! GTA highlights the power of interactive media to engage the player while creating a world in which anything…and in this case it really is anything…can happen. Will Wright, the renowned game designer, calls this the game’s “possibility space.”

Of course there are always social issues that accompany any new technology and the related mass media phenomena. Rockstar Games, maker of GTA, has been in hot water since the “Hot Coffee” scandal when an earlier version of GTA had hidden content that was, a) not very well hidden, and b) clearly Adult Only in nature. I won’t get into the raging controversy about the effects of video game play right now, but if you’er interested, check out this audio podcast from On the Media.  Or, if you want, take a look at the extended trailer and you’ll get a hint of what the debate is about. Be forewarned, it is rated Mature, and some of the content is clearly not appropriate for the younger teen crowd.


28 Responses to “GTA IV”

  1. Kenneth Moses said

    Since the fisrt time this game has came out there has always been an issue with the amount of vilionce that is in this video game.In class we discused movies and and the visual impact that they can have on kids. Also in class we had a discussion about images that kids see on t.v and i feel that this game should be rated R only from kids who 18 and over. In our discussion in class the lady in front of me has two kids, and from what she said i agree with her totally. Young kids are easly influced by people and i feel that people should take that into consideration when it comes to video games like this.

  2. marcellus williams said

    when this game first came out and i played it for the first time i thought the game was the best game ive ever played since you could do all the stuff u cant do on other games, but not once did i ever think about doing the stuff that was going on on the game. we talked about this in class also and the arguement was that little kids are easily influenced by violence and that may be true for some, but i figure if people dont want their kids to play games like that then dont allow it in your house hold. The rating of the game is fine to me. people are influenced by everyday life.

  3. Brittny Thompson said

    I agree with what Kenneth mentioned. Young children are so impressionable. They soak up all the informtaion that is presented to them. Video games like GTA are becoming more violent and with young children being able to play them so easily allows them to soak up what is happening in the game. Whats to stop a child who plays the game and thinks its ok to do these acts from going out and acting just like the game?

  4. Ira Negron said

    The game Grand Theft Auto has always been a top seller, in the video game world, as long as I could remember. This installment of GTA IV should be on of the best in their collection because it is the first of the sequel to be on available on the next generation systems, Sony Playstation 3 and Microsoft XBOX360. I haven’t seen the new game but after seeing the past few games and how ahead of the competition the graphics were, I could only imagine how this game takes video game graphics to another level. If the newest GTA IV game breaks video game sales records I wouldn’t be surprised, because over the years this game has built up a strong fan base that is now only growing.

    Growing up I was into playing video games, but as I got older now I usually spend my time watching movies. I can defiantly see where the normal trend now a day comes from where people play interactive video games instead of watching movies or watching television. So in that sense video games should be viewed in the same light as movies. If video games where treated like movies are then the rating given to game would justify everything that would be seen or heard playing the game, so when something obscene is shown in a game then people would expect it and wont put up a fuss because of how the game is.

  5. Devin Alfonso said

    As new Grand Theft Auto games have come out, they have gotten more violent and mature. While there is a lot of mature content in this game, as well as many others, I think people may tend to make too big a deal out of it. Children are very impressionable and I do not think they should be playing games such as this. But at the same time, I feel it is the parents’ responsibilty to control and monitor what their kids are doing and playing. Of course, parents cannot be around 24/7, but it is still their job. And any kid that has a good upbringing should be able to tell the difference between real life and their video games.

  6. Zane Stockbridge said

    Since the first GTA came out the games have only become more complicated. At first it was all about sex and violence and how well they sell. It seems that each GTA game tries to take your attention away from that by saying there is an actual plot to the game. I enjoy playing violent video games as much as anyone, but I’m not fooled by the fact that you can simply go postal and try to kill as many people as possible and be was as many women in game as you want.

    Popular games like Mario and Halo have a story behind them. The people who want the violence usually don’t bother with story modes and go straight to multiplayer. GTA is all about the violence which is what the trailer even admits, though not directly. “Cut scene, some guy has done me wrong, they must pay” is how the trailer described most of the objectives. Meaning most of what you do is gunning down someone and try to get away. You don’t really care if the main character lives, YOU just don’t want to die in the game and start the mission over. Which is the opposite of Mario, where you don’t want Bowser to get away with kidnapping Princess Peach.

  7. Rachel Stewart said

    I’m not sure about this whole debate. Im on the fence because its a first amendment thing-if you dont like it or dont want your kids watching it-dont and dont let them. Its just like movies and music. I just hope tat it doesnt take over films because that is my medium and i’d die without movies!

  8. Caitlyn Jewell said

    There is a variety of people who contribute to the success of the video gaming industry ranging from kids to adults. Watching the “trailer” I can see the many issues that arise. Operant learning is a psychology term, which individuals learn by watching someone they model or look up to. This video GTA should be rated for mature audiences only. We continually discuss how the media industry influences kids. When kids play this game and the certain characters become their role models it causes problems with violence and sex. Also, it is simply a video game that someone can be constantly occupied by, which leads to another major issue of obesity.

  9. ryro said

    This game is one of the many reasons that we are struggling to protect our youth. So many are confused about what they should let their kid watch or play and this game is a difficult one to say it is ok for kids to play. In class we discussed what kids should be monitored from and Grand Theft Auto is full of adult content. The fact that you can shoot a random person on the street, steal a car, or pick a a prostitute makes its so controversial. It is rated M for mature but how many stores are monitoring who they sell games to. We won’t sell cigarettes to kids under 18 but are we selling violent video games to them?

  10. Niccollo Lopez said

    I first would like to discuss the idea of video games taking the place of movies. Back in September there was a significant decrease in ticket sales and the movie industry blamed it on the release of Halo 3. But if you look at both sides of the argument, there were not any good movies out. Now, with the release of GTA IV and the blockbuster Ironman movie in the same week, critics are saying ticket sales will suffer again. I think this is absurd. I find it hard to believe that some one could not put down the controller for 2 or 3 hours. The movie industry is just looking for a scapegoat for their decline in sales. I think the decline in revenue probably has something to do with home theaters and services like Netflix. Why go to the theater where you have no control of your surroundings, when you could stay at home and have the best experience.
    Now to talk about GTA as a game. I do believe Rockstar has made mistakes. The “Hotcoffee” incident shouldn’t have happen. But it also wasn’t something any one could access right off the bat. It took an experienced modder/hacker/coder (which ever you perfer) to unlock this content. Most people playing the game would have never known this existed. Rockstar knew they were in the wrong and ended up offering the customers money back for the game. And finally, yes GTA IV should not be played by kids. It clearly states on the box 17 and up. If you are a parent considering buying this for your child, ask yourself if you would let them watch Scarface or other movies of that caliber. If not don’t buy it for your child. Video games are no longer for children. As stated in the original post, the video game industry is the fastest grow entertainment industry. There are movies for children and games for children. Now, today, there are movies for adults and games for adults.

  11. Dave Winchell said

    The gaming industry along with other industries will constantly be put under scrutiny, such as tobacco, alcohol and fire arms, for the maturity content that is associated with the product. In this case we see a gaming company simply looking to gain an edge over its competition games such as “True Street Crimes of L.A.” or “The Godfather” both very similar to GTA and both wearing the badge of MATURE AUDIENCES ONLY. But clearly the problem at hand here is that more and more younger audiences are attracted to this game; simply in my opinion of “monkey see, monkey do.” Why do we blame the gaming industry for polluting the shelves with violent, graphic and adult games; when its the parents who are not watching what their children are consuming mentally. Now obviously parents cannot be constantly monitoring their kids, but in some retrospect here I feel that parents should be more involved with what thier children are playing. I am reminded of a time when I was younger and certain video games such as “Mortal Kombat” and “Street Fighter” were considered seriously graphic or mature and if I couldnt get mom and dad to purchase it, I would ask my older cousin to but it. And to the defense of those gaming companies there was a mode of “Bloodless” where the gamer could still get the benefit of the game with a slightly less graphic approach. maybe there could be an answer within the control of the videogame and the limits that players are confined to.
    This topic will always go hand in hand with the filtration of Music and the kids who are allowed to puchase “explicit materical” content. If they couldnt seal up that, then i doubt very seriously people will be gaining much ground on this matter. I doubt very seriously a jury will find someone innocent or not guilty of a crime due to the fact that they had committed acts in a video game that they assumed were legal.

  12. Rachel Espinoza said

    We discussed in class how children are easily influenced and this game is not good for children but accepted in our society. People get points for killing or stealing which isn’t good for kids because GTA is setting an example that it is okay.

  13. Steve Titus said

    Video Games will continue to be sold like this until the end of time. Odds are they have a high priced lobbyist supporting their each and every move in Washington. There was a great example yesterday I heard if a pharmaceutical company would find a way to make a pill to commit suicide odds are Congress would approve such a bill because of the power that the lobby has in Washington. It goes without saying those with money can and will get anything they want. A sad truth. Nothing will ever change with video games, no one has died yet have they?

  14. Courtney Teska said

    Most video games today all have the issue of whether or not our chldren should be playing them or not. It raises other issues beyond the obvious sex and drugs. It promotes violence and for young childrent o be exposed to that si not something our nation needs right now. Also, we already have a problem with teen pregnency in our world today, by showing female’s prostituting themselves in a video game that doesn’t set a very good example for our young women today, and finally drugs and alcohol, these have become an apparent issue over the years and children being exposed to this without the knwoledge of what is actaully going on can lead to serious effects. I think parents who let their children play these games either need to inform their children about sex,violence, drugs and alcohol, or simply not let them play these games at all. They also should have a rating for mature audiences only until our world is better educated.

  15. Danette Sheron said

    I loves video games, but this is one I don’t play. I like the Japanese made games, such as Final Fantasy, Tales series, Mario games, Pokemon games, along with some other titles. There are all either rated E or T. The only American games I play are PC games like Monopoly and Bejeweled. The M rated games, such as Grand Theft Auto, don’t grab my interest. Yes, kids shouldn’t be playing them, so parents shouldn’t buy these kinds of games for kinds. It’s an adult game marketed towards an adult audience. Since there many adult gamers now, they simply make games that appeal to their tastes. It may be violent and not give out the best message, but that’s fine for adults. The E rated games are great for kids, no vulger language, and limited violence. If there are games with swords (they kinds of games I love) fictional monsters are fought and simply disappear once defeated with no bloodshed at all. Those games are perfectly fine.

  16. Kimberly Finnie said

    I have always been one to believe that GTA is much too graphic in mature content for any child under the age of 14 to play. After listening to the interview, however, with Lawrence Kutner I feel like I am left questioning the argument that violent games breed violent children.
    An interesting point Kutner brings up is in the case of Seung-Hui Cho who was responsible in the Virginia Tech shootings. After the occurrence the media was quick to jump on and accuse him of being involved with playing too many violent video games, when infact he never enjoyed violent games and never participated in playing them. It brings up the opposite point that while many boys play these violent video games, the boys who actually DON’T play them are socially outcasted because they can’t relate to the others.
    I think while violent games may have some influence on a child, it is also a great scapegoat for the media. They ae so fast to blame violent video games, music and television anytime a child may act out in socially unacceptable ways. It greatly reminds me of the Columbine shootings when the media quickly jumped on the back of singer Marilyn Manson, blaming his music as a cause for the shooters to act out in violence. I think Kutner is right in questioning if we are really focusing on the real causes of violence or is this just an easy target?

    Kimberly Finnie
    June 3 2008

  17. Edward Garcia said

    There are will always be controversy around a game such as GTA IV. The idea that you can make a character run around and shoot at anything frightens some people. But this is the same thing that can be argued around violent films. In both cases, you are witnessing violent acts. Violence in a video game differs from a film. In a film, the violent act is usually portrayed realistically. The intensity of a scene from a film is not the same as in a game. In a game, violence is portrayed unrealistically. If you play the game and commit violent acts, the way they are portrayed is somewhat over exaggerated. The violent act is sometimes portrayed as realistically, but the graphical qualities of game will never compare to that of real life. It will always fall into the uncanny valley.

  18. Kraig Brownlow said

    Controversy is a very popular topic these days. As long as there’s something to argue about, people will do it, and GTA4 is a huge candidate. I personally love the game, and yes, it is directed towards the older crowd with the violence, and sex related material. It is simply though a game. It carries such a high entertainment factor, that it isn’t surprising that it surpasses box office blockbusters with the record sales it has raked in since its initial release. Video games are getting more and more advanced, which creates a larger audience for them. Why watch a film when you can live it is a good question. You’re not really driving the car off the jump in the game, but if you can do it yourself, and do it as often as you want, why would you want to only watch it on the bigscreen once or twice? There are so many other options available as well with video games that gives them much more reason for people to play, want, and to buy them. Especially with a game such as this. One that offers so much, and really does so in an incredibly entertaining way. I don’t see any reason to fork over 20 bucks for a new DVD when you can pay 50 for a video game that will last hours and hours. I dont play them very often, but i do enjoy video games, and controlling your own character is a very fun and entertaining thing to do.

  19. Marcus Hunter said

    Video games such as Grand Theft Auto 4 are undoubtedly inappropriate for a younger audience. However, I have played all of the Grand Theft Auto games along with my younger brother, and neither of us have commited any type of crime. Were so quick to point our fingers at the video games, or the music, when somebody commits a violent act. But what about the responsibility of the parents? Whatever happened to the parents raising their kid, and teaching them right from wrong? I’ve always believed this, and I continue to believe that blaming the media is just a way out for the parents. But I guess thats why we still argue “Nature vs. Nurture.”

  20. Ben Igberaese said

    Generally the GTA frtanchise has been on the cutting edge of video gaming technology, esp. when it comes to the consumers perspective, obviously such zeal requires breaking a couple of rules and pushing the envelope. In this case the envelope is the the question of how appropriate is the content of the product, and this ‘problem’ can easily be rectified with the games rating.

  21. Joseph Foley said

    The grand theft auto series has been a very successful video game franchise that is justified by the amount of money they made by releasing this past video game. I do agree though that the games are violent and have explicit scenes. Those scenes are definitely only intended for an audience that is mature and understands that it is just a video game. I don’t believe everyone who plays the game will try and imitate the actions but I can see to a point where they could get ideas. It’s then up to the parents to teach them the rights from wrongs.

  22. Vincent House said

    I feel that is game and the rating and controversy it obtains is unfair, but i do understand the argument against it. when people bring up that kid are influenced easy, i feel that first the parents or who ever bought them the game should know what the game has to offer. this game is meant for adults its not a game for young underage kids. Other than that the game has been doing well since it was created and it show that the video game industry is going in the right direction.

  23. Deandra said

    Of course children are influenced easily. If you’re an adult you’re supposed to have already learned right and wrong but as a child you’re still figuring all that out. I personally don’t see the appeal to these games. How in the world do they keep selling? I don’t know. People I guess, like to do on their video games what they can’t do in real life. I can see why there’s the controversy over the rating of this game.

  24. charles cruz said

    Games like GTA have the Mature rating for a reason and sell the numbers they do because a lot of people like the game. Whether or not kids are impressionable doesn’t stop the fact games rated M for Mature require you to be 18 to buy. So if any parents are worried about GTA messing up their kids, they better get their remote out and block CNN and all news stations out asap and while they’re at it better cancel the subscription to the local newspaper. The fact is violence is a part of life or so the news shows and as a part of life it should be known to be wrong. But it’s nice to see that the video game industry is alive and strong.

  25. Vanessa Emerson said

    I can’t complain about developed video games that children buy and I say this because their parents are the ones with the money for children to buy it. The care that is taken in developing the GTA seems so in-depth and hard hitting. Parents are the only ones that can grant their child the ability to have this type of entertainment. As an adult any shooting game s extreme to me and what you spend your money on is your business. Media does carry a lot weight on how well this video game is mainstream and that I blame to them in advertising and pushing such a violent game but I don’t believe by any means it should not be made. I see this as another creative form of artistry and I don’t feel that should be taken away. We only have so many forms of free speech and any of them being taken away is something I cannot agree with. The amount of money the game will make it amazing; I catch myself asking if the video game industry wants to look good and carry a good image they should be addressing this issue instead of always being in conflict with people that say they are hurting youth. The need to be a force of change adds need to try donating, create something to advocate something good to help the youth and society.

  26. Lee Meisner said

    This blog was posted over 3.5 years ago, but it feels like yesterday to me. I remember the week and the day Grand Theft Auto came out and I was so excited. I just graduated high school and was free for the summer. For me, video games are definitely a reflection of a high school “fad.” I remember skipping homework assignments and staying up late just to finish levels or achieve that next goal on my Xbox. I am amazed looking back of how quickly I abandoned video games and everything it entailed. Since coming to college I found myself focusing on more pertinent things, rather than being the best video gamer I could be. Looking back, I actually miss those days that I could spend hours in front of the TV and lose myself in a video game. I don’t know whether it is me, or just my circumstances that have changed my playing habits. I do not feel video games are a waste of time. I believe that video games are a trend for certain ages, and definitely a great escape from reality.

  27. Trent Snarich said

    I stumbled upon this blog and it doesnt even seem like this game came out that long ago. This game took so long to beat, to this day i still have not beat and i play every now and then. All of the Rockstar games that i have played are very violent but at the same time the storyline are always interesting. I agree with Lee since i’ve started college, time with video games have decreased.

  28. Melissa G. said

    Video gamers are in to new ideas and Rockstar has brought gaming to a new level. The Rockstar games like, Grand Theft Auto are very explicit when it comes to their graphic vulgarity. The game is not intended for children, but creates controversy when children are exposed to such content. The issue is that the games story line is not realistic; you play a convent or a hit man that goes on missions to buy things, steal and even kill. How do you expect our children to react? Children soak up what is seen, heard, and taught. When we create such games it puts our children at risk for developing these habits of injustice. The game is really too much to handle even for teens, they are subjected to anger and hostility.

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