There’s a secret formula here. Rockstar delivers the satire and subversive message to you along with all of the extreme game play so that you’ll laugh it off.
The crime is fun in this game because there are so many ways to perpetrate it. You can use such weapons as sticky bombs and sniper rifles to take out your targets. You can enlist your dog to hunt down your enemies. You can escape from a crime in a yellow submarine or a jet ski. You can fly helicopters and airplanes. You can even fly a biplane into the backside of a cargo plane in order to hijack it. You won’t get bored with the exquisitely planned heists of jewelry stores and banks.
Should you play it?
This seems like a dumb question, as the sales suggest that every adult hardcore gamer is going to play this game. You have to figure out your own ethics of game playing when it comes to Grand Theft Auto V. I’m not here to absolve you of the guilt of playing something that is a guilty pleasure. I think you should dwell upon that guilt and think about it.
You might justify playing the game because of its high quality. I wouldn’t go so far as to declare Grand Theft Auto V a work of art, as I have with titles like BioShock Infinite, The Last of Us, and Alan Wake. Sometimes, it seems that the writing in the game is silly, and so much worse than fine mobster shows like The Sopranos. The beginning of the game puts you into the midst of a big heist. But the climax of that prologue, which takes place a decade before the action of the game, is a pretty big letdown. The ending left me with a similar feeling of disappointment. I felt like better writing would have made it a lot more interesting.
Grand Theft Auto V will make every person think about whether it’s OK to explore the limits of human behavior. It will let you do an experiment by committing crimes and then seeing the consequences play out. As you do so, the humor and satire will work on your mind. Sometimes the black humor is right on target, and often it is just puerile. If you pay attention to the subtle digs, you’ll come out of the experience wiser, and less trusting of authority.
Is this game OK for you to play? Only you can answer that question. Don’t play it just because everybody else is. And don’t let your kid play it because their friends are playing it. That’s a cop-out. If you can laugh at racist and sexist jokes, you will like it. If you don’t, you may hate it. Would you play it with your mother watching you? Nope. Should women play it? I wouldn’t make assumptions about what women like or don’t like when it comes to this game. Would you play it in front of your little boys or girls? Nope. Should your four-year-old son play it? Nope.
This really is a game you should only play in adult company, and that company should be desensitized to the violence in the game. That narrows down the audience for GTAV significantly. But apparently, just about every person in this adult male hardcore gamer demographic is going to play this game. Of course, you know that a lot of parents aren’t paying attention, and they’re buying this game for their kids. Rockstar can take that to the bank.
Rockstar’s Dan Houser has said that the company doesn’t design games based on focus groups. If it did so, it would wind up with nice, safe content like Disney material. But Grand Theft Auto V is a success. Rather, it’s a masterpiece, because it was created by people who don’t care about what anybody else thinks. It was created by people who are single-minded about what they consider to be fun. And, indeed. I’ve played game. It’s fun.