Opinion: Grand Theft Misconceptions

When you hear the words 'grand theft auto', what do you think of? While it’s possible that your first response is “should’ve taken the T,” more than likely you think of Rockstar’s massively controversial and successful game series, Grand Theft Auto.

Today, Rockstar released Grand Theft Auto V, amidst many different criticisms and reactions. One of the most prevalent reactions being, “isn’t that the game where you steal cars and hurt innocent people?” Although the game does allow for such debaucheries, it does have a greater value. Do not misconceive GTA as a pointless and violent game. In reality, it is so much more.

Grand Theft Auto games actually do, in fact, have storylines! The game provides full-fledged, holistic, enthralling adventures that let you see the perspective of someone else, a person who is dealing with issues that you may never have to face. Grand Theft Auto IV’s core storyline involves a man named Niko Bellic. Upon hearing tales of immense riches from a not-so-trustworthy cousin, he decides to move to a place called Liberty City. He starts off with low-level jobs in an attempt to make money and almost immediately becomes involved with shady characters and sketchy deals. He moves up in the world, but it doesn’t come easily, or legally. Characters develop further, relationships flourish, and decisions either pay off or come to haunt Niko. Who wouldn’t want to feel what it’s like to be a poor, downtrodden immigrant who must turn to crime in order to make a living? The story isn’t short-lived, either. GTA IV has 80,000 lines of dialogue, a numerical value more than our tuition.

Image via Taylor Marie/Pintres There are so many gameplay options!

Image via Taylor Marie/Pintres
There are so many gameplay options!

GTA IV is a remarkable plot, in line with most of Rockstar’s projects. As for any claim of repetition, Grand Theft Auto V will not simply be round 5 of the prior installments. Rockstar seeks to diversify the players’ experience by creating 3 separate main characters and stories that intertwine in various ways.  I cannot speak on behalf of the game releasing today, but if the prior narratives prove anything, the newest arrival will also provide hours of complexity and enjoyment.

A huge part of Grand Theft Auto games is the staggering amount of recreational activities to participate in. You can go out to get groceries, but then you end up giving a homeless man a lift. I recall going into prior Rockstar games with a specific agenda, and not getting even one thing done that I had originally intended. I might run into a man who needs help, or perhaps stop for a game of pool or bowling - a far cry from focusing on stealing cars and hurting civilians.

Yes, you can go around stealing cars all day. But why would you? Grand Theft Auto V has golf to be played, planes to be flown, jet skis to be raced with, skydiving points to be… skydived from. And apart from the countless recreational activities, just the fact that such a beautifully crafted world has come into existence through graphics and hard work is without a doubt art in itself. It is supposedly larger than all their prior games added together, totaling almost 49 virtual square miles.

What’s more than everything mentioned above? Rockstar has added a unique online world that players can experience with friends, packed with even more stories, challenges, and fun. In all honesty, the development team could have dedicated their time solely to the online portion, and it would be a standalone game in itself.

Image via Grand Theft Auto V Facebook It may look bad at first glance, but there is more than what meets the eye.

Image via Grand Theft Auto V Facebook
It may look bad at first glance, but there is more than what meets the eye.

It’s one thing if videogames aren’t your forte, or another if you don’t have interest in stories that focus on troubled main characters that often find themselves committing crimes for various personal reasons. But it is unjust to undermine Rockstar and the amount of time they have invested in their projects by simply calling them “naughty games." Grand Theft Auto V has cost their team 137 million dollars and has been in production for several years. That’s more time and money than many large-scale motion pictures.

Grand Theft Auto V releases today, which means there is a good chance that it will come up in conversation at least once. It might not be your favorite topic, and you may even prefer to chat about the broken soap dispenser in your bathroom. You still can’t deny that Grand Theft Auto is so much more than bad choices and hookers. Maybe this can help turn your conversation from an uninformed tornado of accusations into an intelligent discussion about an intricate work of art.

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