“GTA: San Andreas” draws its first criticisms.

Well, it didn’t take long for the pissing and moaning over the latest Grand Theft Auto to kick in:

The release of “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas,” a game that draws heavily upon gang culture and violence, has sparked the ire of the country’s embattled gang counselors and educators who say the game not only celebrates the gang lifestyle at a time when gang membership is rising nationwide, but makes a mockery of a tragedy that’s all too real.

“They’ve done a great job in portraying the negative,” said Jose Perez, a counselor who works with gang members in the San Francisco Bay Area.

While game players cheer the realism of “Grand Theft Auto,” that same realism is embraced by by street gang members and wannabes who see the game as not only fun but a validation of their lifestyle.

Sometimes the kids are able to look beyond the game and recognize the repercussions, said Cuthbertson. But other times they reveled in their ability to wield automatic weapons.

“The same technology used to train the military and law enforcement is going into games.  We are raising a society of natural born killers,” said Cuthbertson.

There’s a refrain we’ve heard too many times before. I suppose this means all those kids playing Madden 2005 will grow up to be natural-born football players.

Most of the counselors the reporter spoke with will admit that there’s nothing that guarantees that playing a game about being a gang banger will lead to someone becoming a gang banger, but the kids they deal with seem to think it validates their lifestyle. If you ask me, that’s more indicative of a problem with the kids than it is with the game. I’ve not gotten that far into the game as of yet, but what I have played in no way creates any desire in me to go out and emulate the game even setting aside the fact that I’m a middle-aged white guy solidly in the middle class. It’s not an attractive life by any stretch of the imagination. The main character comes home to find his mother has been killed as well as several of his friends in the time he was away and things get progressively worse from there.

I can see how the game could make the job of some of these counselors a lot harder if they’re dealing with kids who don’t have a well-formed concept of right and wrong, but I don’t think that Rockstar games is at fault for these kids having a messed up take on reality. I would think that a clever counselor might even find a way to use the game to illustrate why that sort of lifestyle isn’t the wisest choice for the kids they’re trying to reach. After all, life doesn’t have a reset switch.

15 thoughts on ““GTA: San Andreas” draws its first criticisms.

  1. I haven’t seen this yet, but I thought GTA3VC was the funniest thing I ever saw! I loved playing it, and one day I played it with a kid who I think liked it for all the wrong reasons. I can guarantee he will be able to go very very wrong in life all by himself, with or without help from GTA.

  2. Here’s a funny story…

    I let my son and his friend play GTA, they’re 10 years old and well exposed to some pretty foul language already so I figure WTF. They mostly just drive around and kill folks, you know – good clean fun like that there. Most of the really nasty stuff is in the “missions” anyway and they don’t have the patience for ‘em. So, last night they’re playing GTA while I’m down in my alcove rambling off my own set of obscenities to my underlings out in cyberspace when my son comes running down all excited about this new weapon they found – a purple balloon! I had not heard of any such deadly balloons in the game so I went up to see this new killer weapon. Sure enough, my little buddy’s buddy is clobbering people on the head with a long, purple, skinny, balloon looking thing. Doing pretty good damage with the thing I might add. I look a little closer and ask where they found this tool of destruction. They say in a shower room in the police station. Mrs. Spocko and I were nearly in tears trying not to laugh because that doubly-pronged weapon was no balloon, it was a dildo! shock

  3. …but what I have played in no way creates any desire in me to go out and emulate the game…

    I don’t know? In the morning, sitting in deadlock after a long night of GTA, I often feel the urge to whip out into oncoming traffic, jump curbs, and recklessly speed to that little pink circle that indicates my parking space.

    I don’t do it of course, but the desire is there!

  4. I wonder if the counsellors are being paid by the studio responsible for GTA-SA to make these remarks, because in the past these sort of complaints have only given games free air time.

    That would be an interesting marketing tactic, deliberatly stirring controversy.

  5. My nephew’s been playing GTA-SA since the day it came out.  Last night, while I was engaged in a detestable domestic chore (ironing), he was on a mission where he just flew a plane for a good 15 minutes or so, while listening to the radio.  I’ve gotta say, it was some of the most hilarious shit I’ve ever heard!  I was laughing so hard I almost pissed myself at the ramblings of “The Wild Traveler” (does anyone know if the voice is the same guy who does Stewie in “Family Guy?”), and the parody of a right-wing religious show.

    I hate games, but I might just have to try my hand at playing this one just to be able to listen to some more of those “radio shows.”  And I dunno, but being able to take out a few enemies with a killer dildo is just fucking priceless!  Any chance of taking out the AG with it? LOL

    All the pissing and moaning is ridiculous.  It’s ok to train soldiers with this technology, but only if it’s in a military context?  What bullshit.

  6. life imitating art imitating life?!

    only in a country that breeds lawyers with bad ideas on a regular basis do we get some of the most inane, moronic lawsuits flung all over the place like stones at a jerusalem prostitute… and many of these damn lawsuits are won! why? because people cannot separate fiction from reality! some of these people are already of an unstable mentality! if they cannot distinguish a video game from reality, then they are gonna do stupid shit like this anyway! if you’re that fucked up to begin with, then you shouldn’t be playing this! it’s not something that’s to be pinned on rockstar or anybody else that makes OR distributes video games of a controversial nature!

    WHAT THIS GAME DOES DO is enacts out fantasies that you would normal NEVER EVER DO, unless… nah!

    who is REALLY going to pick up a hooker, take her out to a secluded place, screw her, than kill her after she gets out of the car? seriously! who’s gonna kill cops and stay in the same place until the army comes after you? who’s really gonna keep stealing cars & trucks and drive them into a lake? who’s gonna go to a donkey show on a date? well, that’s not in the game (as far as i know)…

    now, onto something else. i love the radio stations, especially radio X! those were some of the funniest ads i’ve heard in a while, with the exception of this one ad i heard months ago making fun of all the spam email you get (like penile enlargement & web pages of rodeo clowns that take it in the ass)

    okay, i haven’t found the killer dildo yet, but i love beating the crap out of people with a bouquet of flowers….

  7. The dildos in the Los Santos police station in the locker room. It’s fun for the whole family.

  8. I have to wait until next summer when it comes out on PC.  🙁

    Anyhow, I can see the point of some of those counsellors….the pissing and moaning is annoying as I’ve been playing this shit for several years now, and my behaviour has improved instead of becoming worse.  But I was in Sonoma County for almost two years, in a boarding school for ‘at risk’ youth, where probably ninety percent of the students there were ex-gang members, put in there because of legal problems from their chosen life.  This was back when it was still the original overhead GTA games on PS1, but I remember them thinking it was pretty freaking cool being able to tear people up like that, and I can only imagine how it is with these new ones, though they’re probably banned from the school anyway if the rules for what’s acceptable and what’s not are anything like what they were when I was there (For the record, I wasn’t there for anything like that, I had anger problems, and my parents were to make a long story short, fed up with me; so they shipped me off.  )

    The ratings systems for the videogames are a dismal failure as well too.  I’m seventeen, so I’m technically old enough to play just about any M title (though I believe the GTA games have a 18+ label I’ve never seen on anything else), however compared to most of my peers, I look about fourteen……I walked right into a gaming store last week, purchased Far Cry, Doom 3, and both the previous GTA games for PC (3/Vice City)…..they didn’t say anything….didn’t ask for I.D. or nothing, just scanned them, I handed them my cash, and went on my merry way.  Though in their defense, I had a long chat with them about games, and as I usually do, I came off as quite intelligent, talking about computer upgrades, the pros and cons of the various gaming consoles and even handhelds in detail, etc.  So maybe they thought I was as old as I really am.  smile

  9. If GTA-SA inspires gang members to abandon their guns for purple dildos, I say more power to them.

    The alleged connection between violent games and violent behavior is a big issue here in Europe too.  I can’t remember where I read this (I’ll try to track it down), but in one study, the slight positive correlation between playing violent games and displaying violent behavior seems, on closer study, to be symptomatic rather than causal- in other words, those kids who had more violent dispositions in the first place (for whatever reason) were statistically more likely to be drawn to violent games.  Turning these results around and claiming that, say, Q3 (I admit it, it’s stupid but I like it- sue me) causes violence, is logically the same as saying marihuana is a stepping stone to hard drugs, whereas its simply the adventurous (or the fuckedup- take your pick) who are more likely to try marihuana, and then (maybe- never interested me) try something harder.

      My son, who is sixteen, loves GTA- Vice City, and he’s one of the most peaceloving people I know (except when it’s his turn to do the dishes).  When GTA-SA comes out for PC, I won’t think twice about letting him play it.

  10. Feh, my game collection actually has a fair bit of variety, and while I do love the good shoot ‘em up game, my favorite game in my collection is Beyond Good & Evil.  A whimsical but believable fantasy/sci-fi world filled with humanoid animals.  smile  I have somewhat of a temper…but considering the background of my family….it’s not all that bad.  That and it’s been in check for some number of years right now.  wink

  11. Humm, it seems I am a bit opposed to the general opinion here.

    I DO think that there’s a connection. Not in such a way that games should be banned, and in most cases they shouldn’t be censored either.

    BUT…

    I do believe that such things in some way lead the way to coarsen our though processes. Yes, you may laugh and say ‘who’s gonna mistake some pixels on a screen for reality’.

    What are you going to say in ten years, when people strap on virtual reality goggles, and (at least visually) won’t notice ANY difference to reaility anymore?

    No one here worried about a guy ‘training’ his reflexes by *executing* all the people in some virtual MacDo? With stereo screaming and pleading for their lives?

    who is REALLY going to pick up a hooker, take her out to a secluded place, screw her, than kill her after she gets out of the car?

    Mentally unstable, fucked up people. Read the news.

    seriously! who’s gonna kill cops and stay in the same place until the army comes after you?

    Mentally unstable people. People who have certain ‘scripts’ in their head about how such things are supposed to play out. Scripts they get from games and movies, to a large degree.

    So, thats my opinion on this.

    [Okay, does it make me a hyprocrite if I ordered Half-Life 2 from England, because the German version of the first one had all human opponents
    replaced by robot guys with tinny voices?]

  12. How do you pick up hookers on San Andreas? They just say, “Wanna a good time?” and they run away!

  13. people who pick up hookers and kill them are mentaly unstable people like someone else said, infact just this week someone in binhamton shot up a bunch of immigrants taking a citizenship test (13 to be exact) stayed there until the swat showed up, flooded the building with tear gas, he came running out all suicidal bursting with his ak-47 in one hand and a automatic pistol in the other randomly shooting he got shot about 17 times and killed a ton of civilians (all ready american.. yes) and about 5 cops/swat officers. And trust me that didnt happen b/c of GTA SA or GTA IV or any of them just because he was laid off, its disapoinments and bad upraising in my opinion that make people kill others and do stupid things, not pixels that form the shape of the human body, dropping f-bombs and shanking hookers.

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