Grand Theft Auto (GTA) Online has become a sex-saturated virtual dystopia in which hackers have modified or “modded” the game so they can “rape” other players who in real life can be as young as 12 or 13 years old. It’s a new low for the video games industry. Why doesn’t its developer, Rockstar Games, seem to care?
GTA, which rewards players with in-game currency for having sex with prostitutes, then killing them, is already a bit disturbed. You can’t help but feel it’s a game for frustrated beta males who can’t kill or shag anything in real life, so get their kicks doing it on a computer screen.
The details are too unpleasant to reprint in a family publication, but you can find them, together with videos in which bewildered young teenagers can be heard asking what’s happening to them while their avatars are sodomised, at US gaming news site Kotaku.
There’s no doubt violent games play a part in the deeds of some wackos, such as Elliot “killer virgin” Rodger. Rodger didn’t kill because the video games made violent, but the games did help to shape his violent fantasies. They provided a framework through which his online bloodlust turned into real-world slaughter.
As to whether a video game might make you any more likely to go out and commit a rape, the research says probably not. You were most likely going to do it anyway. But what’s new about GTA Online, the thing that leaves me scratching my head and thinking these people must have something a bit wrong with them, is that these dorky deviants aren’t just raping computer-generated characters, as has happened in some previous fames.
Because it’s an online game they’re modding, they get to rape other real-life players. Some of those other players are very young: GTA is rated 18, but has hundreds of thousands of teen addicts. Listen to the videos at Kotaku and judge for yourself how old some of the victims are.
The online version of the game, which had a chaotic launch plagued by technical snafus, has all but been abandoned by its developers, who are, I am told by those in the know, concentrating their efforts on the PC version and don’t seem to care what’s happening on their online platform.
But something tells me Rockstar wouldn’t much care even if it had the resources to clamp down on the modding craze which enables users to modify the games way outside the parameters of the original programmer’s vision. After all, this is a developer which itself launches games with secret shagging levels on them – then saturates future games with jokey references to the fact – and which hired Max Clifford to make sure its games caused the most outrage possible.
It’s that brazen, sociopathic, adolescent attitude from Rockstar – founded in Scotland – that most people will find grating, together with a reckless lack of care about games that depict violent, public rape in quite granular detail. Hijacked by nerd rapists, GTA Online is now not only somewhere you wouldn’t allow your children but it’s somewhere no normal adult would want to go either.
Personally, I don’t understand grown men wasting their lives playing computer games. It seems a bit sad to me. I mean, we’ve all been sucked in to a few rounds of Candy Crush, but if you want to shoot a gun, why not go to a rifle range? I suspect most people who play these games have never held a firearm in real life.
I’m more relaxed about violent video games than most, because it seems unlikely that they alone make people act out in real life. So what if they’re the last resort of the frustrated beta male? It’s not for me to legislate what weirdos in yellowing underpants get up to in their spare time.
But I think I’m right to be a bit disturbed by the whole culture around games like Grand Theft Auto. Not because I’m some hysterical activist worried about oppressive heteropatriarchal rape culture, but because I can’t for the life of me work out why anyone would want to behave this way. Is it me, or do these weirdos need therapy and their internet connections taken away by mum?