Grand Theft Auto V

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Grand Theft Auto V
Genre Action-Adventure,Shooter
Gamming Style First-Person, Third-Person
Platform Playstation 3, XBox 360, Playstation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
Release Date 2007-Present
Developer Rockstar North
Publisher Rockstar Games
Website Grand Theft Auto V-Rockstar Games
rand Theft Auto V
(commonly known as GTA V) is an action-adventure video game developed by Scotland-based video game company Rockstar North and published by American video game publisher Rockstar Games. It is the fifth installment of the Grand Theft Auto Series, and was released on September 17, 2013 for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, and in a remastered format over a year later on November 18, 2014 for the Xbox One and Playstation 4.[1] The game is located in the fictional state of San Andreas, set to resemble Southern California. Players can freely travel throughout San Andreas from rural Sandy Shores to the City of Los Santos, based on Los Angeles. The single-player story follows three protagonist criminals as they complete intersecting missions and heists. The open-world design of the game allows for characters to explore the map freely when they are not completing missions.

There are many controversies surrounding the Grand Theft Auto Series due to its extremely graphic content. Its release was accompanied with unprecedented commercial success. The game has broken 7 Guinness World Records, including the best-selling video game in 24 hours and fastest entertainment property to generate $1 billion.[2] The game's distributor, Take-Two Interactive, reported $800 million in global first day sales. [3] As of February 7, 2017, Rockstar Games has shipped a total of 75 million copies worldwide, with approximately 15 million copies shipped in the past year, three years after its initial release.[4]


Grand Theft Auto V can be played from first-person or third-person point of view. Players complete missions to progress through the story and unlock content. The map of San Andreas is expansive, and appears in island form. After completing a brief prologue, players are introduced to the open-world of San Andreas and are able to navigate as they please via foot or vehicle. Players can run, jump, swim, and have the ability to drive and fly. Weapons can be acquired by picking them up or purchasing them at any Ammu-Nation store (marked by a symbol of a target on the interactive map) and accessed using a weapon wheel that allows users to switch weapon-type.[5] Due to the map's large-scale size, different methods of transportation are available, ranging from speed boats to fighter jets. [6]

Opposed to the past games in the series, where players would control one character throughout,[7] players can alternate between characters for the first time in Grand Theft Auto V. As the player progresses through the story, they unlock all three characters: Michael De Santa, Trevor Phillips, and Franklin Clinton. Players can freely switch between characters at any point in the game. Each character has a set of 8 different skills that can be improved by completing certain actions. The skills consist of stamina, shooting, strength, stealth, flying, driving, and lung capacity. At the beginning of the game, skills vary by character. Additionally, each character has their own unique special ability. Michael's Marksman ability is capable of slowing down time while aiming at a target, Trevor's Rampage special ability has the ability to receive double damage for a limited period of time, and Franklin holds the Wheelman ability to slow time down while driving to maintain speed during erratic turns .[8] Players can accumulate money by completing heists, assassinations, and even investing in the stock market. Money can be used for expenses like weapons, vehicle modifications, and services, as well as to purchase properties that can provide the character of your choosing with a source of income.[9]


The story follows the characters of Michael De Santa, Trevor Phillips, and Franklin Clinton. Michael is a retired bank robber who moved to Los Santos to escape his past and start a new life. He is in the witness protection program after making a deal with the FIB (GTA's version of the FBI), under the name "Michael Townley". Trevor Phillips was a trained military pilot before he was discharged after being declared mentally unfit. He has a long history with Michael De Santa, including a series of bank jobs. Trevor was led to believe Michael died from a gunshot wound in a failed heist in North Yankton. Trevor Phillips Enterprises is the name of his drug smuggling business and he is at war with The Lost motorcycle gang. Franklin Clinton is a "gangbanger" from South Los Santos with aspirations of making it out of his hood. His friend Lamar and him complete odd jobs for an Armenian car dealer named Simeon Yetarian.[10]

Grand Theft Auto Online

In an interview with Rockstar North president Leslie Benzies on GTA Online, she stated the original concept came into fruition during the development of GTA III. However, according to Benzies, due to the combination between the lack of man-power and tech-power, they were not able to create an online GTA experience. With improvements in the game's engine, this once far fetched concept has become a reality. GTA Online was developed simultaneously as single-player mode, and was conceived as a separate experience to be played in a continually evolving world, with constant updates and add-ins.[11]

Grand Theft Auto Online was launched two weeks after GTA V's initial release on October 1, 2013.[12] In this game mode, players are allowed to customize their character, buy cars and other forms of transportation, apartments, and mansions, and complete story missions with friends.[13] These reward can all be bought with real-world money,[14] and many players have complained about the staggering amount of micro-transactions present throughout the game.[15]

Ethical Issues

Grand Theft Auto V is rated Mature 17+ for instances of blood and gore, intense violence, use of drugs and alcohol, and nudity.[16] Its depiction of gender, race, and sexuality has been argued as problematic.[17] Rap artist and producer, Daz Dillinger, sent a cease-and-desist letter to Take-Two Interactive and Rockstar Games shortly after the game's original release in 2013 for musical copyright infringement. Dillinger accused them of using two of his songs, "C-Walk" and "Nothin' But the Cavi Hit", without compensation. [18]


One mission that has drawn negative attention, "By the Book", requires the player to use torture methods to retrieve information on the appearance of an assassination target. Trevor has been assigned to torturing a man to gain the identity, location, and description of the target, while Michael waits for his shot.[19] In order to achieve a gold rating for the mission, the player must use all four weapons without killing the hostage. The weapons include a jerrycan, pliers, a wrench, and electric clamps. If the hostage's heart-rate begins to flatline, the player is capable of administering an adrenaline shot.[20] The scene has received backlash from anti-torture groups, such as Freedom from Torture, who stated: "Torture is a reality, not a game...this adds insult to injury for survivors who are left physically and emotionally scarred by torture in the real world. [21]

Depiction of Women

The "GTA bikini girl"[4]

The series has received scrutiny for its depiction of women and prostitution. Prostitute service falls under the category of a Miscellaneous Activity in which players may pick up women and pay for various sexual acts. These escorts can be found throughout San Andreas and offer three services for $50, $70, and $100.[22] They can only be found at night and typically linger at street corners and in rundown areas. Once finished, players can retrieve their money from the prostitute by killing them. There may be incentive for the player to kill a prostitute in the game.[23] Polygon has proclaimed that misogyny is a problem in the game and the killing of sex workers "reinforces hard ideas about the worthlessness of prostitutes, in a way that is unique to this class of characters in the game."[24] Target Australia pulled the game from its stores due to consumer feedback on the depiction of violence against women." On December 3, 2014, an petition was signed by over 40,000 people calling for Target to withdraw sales of GTA V from their stores in Australia. [25] With much backlash from Polygon and other sources, Rockstar Games responded by saying "If you don't like it, don't buy it." [26] Depictions of women in the game can be considered revealing and sexual. The front cover of the game features a cartoon woman based on the image of bikini model Shelby Welinder, who was contracted by Rockstar.[27] In her review of GTA V, Carolyn Petit of Gamespot remarks: "Characters constantly spout lines that glorify male sexuality while demeaning women… these are exaggerations of misogynistic undercurrents in our own society, but not satirical ones. With nothing in the narrative to underscore how insane and wrong this is, all the game does is reinforce and celebrate sexism."[28]

Acts of Terrorism

"Rampage Four", a Stranger and Freaks mission for Trevor, involves combat with the U.S. military. Following an argument with a group of soldiers, Trevor enters Rampage mode and kills as many soldiers as possible with a grenade launcher while being ambushed by squadrons of soldiers and tanks. To achieve 100% Gold Completion, Trevor is required to get 45 kills, 6 headshots, and destroy 2 tanks [29]. On top of this, the game features numerous missions that involve antagonistic confrontation with the police or the military that result in what could be called acts of terrorism.

Excessive Violence

The gameplay of Grand Theft Auto allows players to commit crimes including murder and theft. [30]. The implications of committing these actions for the player is gaining police notoriety in the form of "stars" with a maximum of a five star response including SWAT vans, road blocks, and police helicopters. [30] However, upon death in GTA5, also known as "Wasted" due to the message that appears on screen when one's HP drops to 0, the penalty is re-spawning at a hospital location and taking a small hit to one's in-game money. [30] In order to avoid the police, the player can commit these actions before hiding for a short period to lose all police notoriety and escape without consequence. [30] Ethical concerns have been raised as a result as a large body of research finds that depictions of violence in video games may prime players for aggressive behavior, in addition to desensitizing players' reactions to violence. [31] [32]

Misrepresentation of Los Angeles

There are several areas in Los Santos that resemble real life locations in Los Angeles County. Primary examples include Blaine County, Downtown, Little Seoul, South Los Santos, Vespucci Beach, and Rockford Hills which are based on real-life L.A. neighborhoods, such as Downtown Los Angeles, L.A.'s Koreatown, South Central, Venice Beach, and Beverly Hills, respectively. The Vinewood sign seen in the distant hills clearly pays homage to the Hollywood sign. According to the GTA V manual, the Vinewood sign is a "beacon of false hope for impressionable young hopefuls the worlds over, no visit to Los Santos is complete without a selfie at the Vinewood Sign."[33]

Claims of Racism

There have been several claims of racism and the misrepresentation of different peoples made against Grand Theft Auto V. In 2015, The Game Theorists [34]ran several in-game experiments to test these claims. The question tested was whether or not police NPCs (Non Playable Characters) reacted differently to the three characters; two of which are white, and one of which is African American. It was a video[35]depicting a seemingly harmless interaction between Franklin (the African American character) and police NPCs that suddenly turns violent, that spurred the experiment. The results of the test were inconclusive, with equal reactions from the police characters between Franklin and another white character [36]; but with the relevance of controversy surrounding police action against minority groups at the time of the games development, there is still question as to what types of values made their way into the game.

Age Limit

While the game is noted to be 17+ it is common to find thousands of underage users on the game. This is worrisome because the game is not intended for young minds, and with all of the other ethical issues surrounding violence and discrimination against women, the game can mislead the young audience into a false understanding of societal norms. When individuals go to purchase the game who are underage, either the store does not properly check for ID, an older friend purchases the game for them, or even parents of the underage individual will buy the game not knowing what the actual game contains. Safeguards to prevent this could be put into place, yet could be both costly and ineffective in their purpose. Age limits could be linked to accounts on Xbox, yet users could make new accounts with false information.

Modifications/Cheat Codes

Gta 5 cheats.jpg

Cheat codes are a very well-known and used tactic in the Grand Theft Auto series in order to obtain different vehicles, guns or unlock different features of the game in order to make completing missions easier. Plays can use cheat codes in order to increase or decrease the wanted level, meaning the difficulty at which the game is at in order to make it more interesting. The main form of cheating in GTA V are mods, programmed alterations and add-ons that change the gameplay or appearance of the video game. For example, in the picture to the right the user used a modification in the game in order to unlock a military tank in order to complete a mission more easily. Studies have shown that while some people view video games as ‘magic circles’ where morality and ethics are suspended, others view them as communities [37]. The use of cheat codes and modifications ruins the community that those who play Grand Theft Auto have by giving advantage to those who decided to cheat.

Exploding Galaxy Note 7:

A "Samsung Galaxy Note 7" explosive device wreaking havoc in the streets of Los Santos

Following the attention Samsung received after its Galaxy Note 7 product began catching on fire and exploding, a user named "sdaddy345" created a GTA V mod where the C4 model in the game was replaced with a replica of the Galaxy Note 7.[38] Therefore in this mod, players could stick, throw, and explode "Note 7s" as if they were C4 charges, clearly referencing the issues Samsung had with their product spontaneously combusting. The popularity and comedy related to the mod eventually reached Samsung, prompting them to file a DMCA and block the YouTube video (with over 1.5 million views) that displayed the explosive mod. After YouTube analyzed Samsung's claim, they reversed the ruling and un-banned the video stating that Samsung's suit "lacks one or more legally-required elements of a copyright takedown notice." Overall, Samsung's action in trying to bury videos displaying the Exploding Galaxy Note 7 mod actually drew more attention to their faulty product.[39]


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