GTA V took $US800m in its opening weekend, doubling Harry Potter’s finale.
Breaking six world records for sales in the first 24 hours, Grand Theft Auto V sped past the $US1 billion mark on the third day – half of Avatar’s total box office. It is now the fastest-selling entertainment product of all time, including all games, films, music, and shows.
Yes, Grand Theft Auto V is a big deal.
The game still has a bad reputation. Many, the media included, believe it is nothing more than a game that promotes violence, shooting and running over innocent people, stealing cars and having sex with prostitutes.
Sure, that’s one part of it, but it’s a small part that gets blown out of proportion, Stephanie Bendixsen, host of ABC’s Good Game told the Newsroom.
“Unfortunately, the media tends to single out a game like GTA V and highlight a few elements which, when taken out of context, can be perceived quite negatively – and suddenly that interactive aspect becomes the ‘danger’,” she said.
“People aren’t often aware of the complex story lines and moral choice that players will get to participate in.”
The idea that a game can have a complex story line surprises most non-gamers who haven’t experienced the genius of creators who put as much thought into the production of a compelling and unique storyline as they did gameplay.
The new GTA not only allows you to steal and drive every kind of vehicle imaginable – both airborne and on the road – it follows the incredible story of three protagonists controlled by the player. The chemistry of the unlikely threesome, Michael, Franklin and Trevor, explodes into a mind-bogglingly frantic story. Ms Bendixsen says the choices players make often affect the outcome of the story or the fate of characters.
Those “choices” are often more wholesome than the media would have you believe, with options including playing sports such as tennis or yoga, going quad-bike riding or sky diving (these activities are interactive; options include competing against friends on the net and designing your own course) or acting as a policeman of sorts, solving crimes and retrieving stolen property. Your character can even work an honest job like driving a taxi.
GTA V is a simulator for life. You can build up your reputation in any way you please, as in the real world.
“It’s currently the most detailed, complex and vast open world ever created in a video game, and how the player chooses to behave within that setting will differ depending on the person,” Ms Bendixsen says.
Many games try to replicate this, adding as much detail and as many options as they can to create depth and variety and to make it realistic and engaging. Perhaps that’s why games have such a wide audience today. Here are some interesting facts: while gaming is often thought of as a hobby for kids and young men, statistics show the average age of gamers being 32 and 47 per cent of gamers in Australia being female.
For Keeley Mobsby, 18, a Sydney gamer, the game’s variety is awesome: “Me personally, I love that I can rob a liquor store. I enjoy stealing cars and motorbikes and driving around meaninglessly and killing people just cause I can.”
For 23-year-old Laneway Perrins, also of Sydney, it’s not just about killing and stealing. “GTA V I think is more diverse with the activities than any of the other games.”
In the same way Breaking Bad is not just about a guy cooking up some meth, Grand Theft Auto is not just about stealing cars and being a petty criminal. Defining it in those limited terms does it an injustice.
Those who play GTA V already know this. As for those who haven’t played it, well… what are you waiting for?
Other games to try:
The Last of Us: Set in post-apocalyptic USA, protagonist Joel is illegally transporting a girl through virus-infected restricted zones.
Red Dead Redemption: Set in the Wild West in 1911. John Marston, a former outlaw, is kidnapped by federal officers and blackmailed to capture old crew mates in exchange for immunity.
Bio Shock: A steampunk tale set in a dystopia disguises as a wonderland. An unpredictable story with many twists and turns.
Uncharted: Looking for adventure and mystery in the style of Indiana Jones? You’ve found your game. – Sion Weatherhead