Grand Theft Auto is a series of fifteen game titles, playable on computers and gaming stations, based in fictional cities similar to cities in American, with an open world themed gameplay allowing the playable character to roam around the city and attempt different kinds of missions. Grand Theft Auto series, popularly known as GTA, has a gameplay based on street gangs and mafia, with game plays varying from territorial wars to rescue and kill missions. The gameplay is strewn with adult compatible material and violence.
Violence and adult material in video gaming has always been a matter of concern for parents, whose children are addicted to gaming. Video games are an increasingly absorbing form of activity that provides visual and audio experiences to add appeal. Some video games are known to increase the mental ability of their patrons but not always. Video gaming has become a tremendously popular form of activity for children and adolescents. The video gaming industry and popular gaming titles like Grand Theft Auto form a multi-billion dollar revenue industry. The most worrisome part of such games are inclusion of gameplays with killing people or animals, abuse of drugs, alcohol, smoking, sexually explicit and violent behavior, glorification of criminal and disrespectful behavior, racism and gender stereotypes and so on (AACAP).
In a detailed study of elementary school gamers by a group of researchers led by Nobuko Ihori of Ochanomizu University, boys who played violent video games showed decreased social mixing and negative social behavior, a matter of great concern for both teachers and parents alike. These children and adolescents prefer staying indoors, focusing on solving building scores or finishing story plots of games like Grand Theft Auto, with decreased interaction with peer group and the outside world. The increase of cognitive power through video gaming in such a case no longer remains an effectively valid reason to continue playing such games.
2003 onwards, cases have been reported where the culprit, usually teenage patrons of Grand Theft Auto, are inspired by the game to shoot and kill people, drive away cars etc. In a well-known case that surfaced in June 2003, a teenager by the name of Devin Moore shot and killed three police officers and fled with the police car the policemen were travelling in. This incident ensued. The family and the police attorney agreed on the fact that it was GTAs violent and graphic nature that obsessed Moore to commit such an act of crime (ABC News).
The Guinness World Records 2008 and 2009 Gamer's Edition announced that the Grand Theft Auto series was the most controversial game series in history, with more than 4,000 articles issued on its subject and material. Almost all of these articles included accusations of corrupting gamers, glamorizing violence, and directly linking crimes in the GTA gaming world to real life crimes. Accusations on GTA series range from drug abuse, sexual content to witness torture in the latest installment of the series the Grand Theft Auto V.
What remains a bitter truth is the popularity of this game series and how it is still sold out to minors and adolescents openly. Not just this, there are series that actually emulate the Grand Theft Auto theme, creating a genre of games titled the GTA clones. It seems as the gaming community needs to understand and exercise discretion in their choice or games like these may remain in circulation polluting young minds with criminal like tendencies. As a personal evaluation, the gaming title should be subject to discretionary distribution and discretion on the part of the gamer as well as the family to not bring the activities done in the game to real life.
AACAP. Children and Video Games: Playing with Violence. Facts for Families Pages. American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. March, 2011. Accessed 29 Sept, 2013.
Guinness World Records. Guinness World Records 2009 Gamer's Edition. pp. 108–109. ISBN 1-904994-45-8. 2009. Accessed 29 Sept, 2013.
Ihori, Nobuko, Akira Sakamoto, Akiko Shibuya and Shintaro Yukawa. Effect of Video Games on Children’s Aggressive Behavior and Pro-social Behavior: A Panel Study with Elementary School Students. Ochanomizu University. 2007. Accessed 29 Sept, 2013.