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Grand Theft Auto - Problematic to the Core



I have always been conflicted on how I feel about Grand Theft Auto, one of the world’s bestselling videogames. As a person who loves playing videogames, I cannot deny the fact that this game is fun to play with its various features, wide ranging options, and open world aspect where you can go wherever you want and do whatever you want. However, at the same time, it is also important to not just acknowledge but also highlight the intensely problematic aspects of this game, especially considering many children around the world play it.


We’re talking about a game here that not only allows but encourages its players to lie, steal, and kill. This is a game based on all sorts of violence, where violence against people, especially women is glorified. It allows players to have sex with and kill prostitutes, to commit as many crimes as possible, to beat people, and so much more. This game involves crude language and scenes of graphic nudity, violence, sexual activity. It involves scenes of sexual violence and women are hyper-sexualized throughout the game. The way women are portrayed and treated in the game as sexual objects to be used and discarded is horribly problematic and offensive.


While the game is rated 18+ and not for children, many households around the world have children who are actively playing this game and being exposed to such narratives at an age where they are highly impressionable and easily influenced. When people spend hours playing a game from a first person’s perspective that is rooted around crime and violence, it begins to normalize a lot of problematic stuff for them. Their minds become desensitized to the problematic content and may even make them more prone to it in real life, especially when we consider young children with impressionable minds.

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I've also grown up as a fan of the game and I cannot deny the problematic aspects of it, but I think what's more important is the unrestricted access to these games, for young people, in countries like ours. I think the issue is worse, for instance, in the Pakistani context, where I have never seen a shopkeeper ask for a buyer's age for a videogame or a movie. I feel this is due to a lack of accountability which is probably caused by an absence of rules that would prohibit such exposure to kids.

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I agree with your analysis and it is quite obvious, the things that are problematic with these kinds of video games. But there is also another side to this where the game developers would argue that they're simply exercising their freedom of expression through what they are creating, in this case the GTA series. There are also a lot of R rated films of this genre which do have similar themes, albeit lacking the interactive nature, and if I were a game developer working on such a game, I would just argue how films from directors like Quentin Tarantino also exist and aren't problematized that much, then why video games? Where the duty to regulate under aged children playing them…

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They do make one feel quite uneasy, especially GTA V, the latest one where I remember there was this mission where we have to torture a poor guy to extract information. There are all these tools available to us, as the players, ranging from pliers and hammers to God knows what else. Now I've been into videogames a lot since my childhood and have played multiple violent ones, but this specific mission was just too much for me lol. I honestly couldn't wait for it to be over so I could get back to aimlessly flying around in a fighter jet I had stolen from the military base :P


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Iqra you have raised a really important issue. I too used to play it at the age of ten or lesser. And yes I agree that this is a super problematic game especially for children. Glad you pointed this out.

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Whenever I saw my brothers play GTA, I always thought how they are being so exposed to violence and the fact that it was made fun?! Games should have knowledgeable features and should help develop a child’s character.

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yes exactly! i remember finding out my 10 year old cousin was playing the game and having played it myself i know that it is no game that a child should be exposed to

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