How I Ruined Grand Theft Auto


GTAV promo art


There comes a time in all of our lives when we have to look deep inside of ourselves and confront the darkness within. To stare unflinchingly at the places in our minds where our humanity no longer exists and the Freudian id reigns king without the cushion of pesky morals. For me, that time came a few weeks ago, sitting with friends in one of their dorm rooms, when I was given two choices.

“Do you want to?” One of my friends asked. I swallowed, not having any excuse. Besides, I heard that it was fun, even if I’d seen the way the addiction was already growing in two of our friends.

“Sure.” I nodded and she handed over…a video game controller. However, this was no ordinary video game controller. This was a video game controller attached to Grand Theft Auto, one of the most infamous video games ever to come out on the market.

I don’t really play console video games. The last time I even touched one was when I played the Wii, and I wasn’t so much using the Wiimote as I was flailing my hands around, hoping that something would happen. However, for Grand Theft Auto, the game that I’d heard so much about from my friends for the past week, I was willing to make an exception. Two of our friends played it night and day and were practically addicted, crowing over their various achievements, which tended to be, well, theft and murder.  Everyone claimed that it was incredibly fun, that you could let your dark side out in a socially acceptable setting.

I had already witnessed that darkness being unleashed when one of my friends, perhaps the sweetest person that I know, carjacked three people in the game and murdered them in about five minutes all the while giggling and beaming. I was intrigued. What would happen when I started to play? Would I become incredibly violent? Would I go on a murder spree? If this game could make one of the nicest people I know go on a carjacking spree, what could it do to boring old me?

I took the controller, put on my game face as my friends looked on in approval, and let my inner darkness take over. Who would be my first victim? What would be my first crime? It was time to let the deepest and darkest parts of my subconscious out. I looked deep inside of myself and found…

I found out that I am just as wimpy on the inside as I am on the outside. I spent about ten minutes exploring an empty warehouse and the surrounding empty woods, getting used to the controls and my character, Trevor. Then, when I finally found civilization, I may or may not have rented a bike. Despite having a full arsenal of weapons that would make stealing a car the simplest thing in the world, I’m pretty sure I rented a racing bike, much to the displeased groans of my friends.

From then on, Trevor and I were off on his little bike, peddling haphazardly down the road. I say haphazardly because I was absolutely awful at steering and was half certain that a cop would pull up and arrest me for public intoxication. It was even worse once I got on the highway. I peddled to the side but I still weaved into oncoming traffic every few moments.

“Come on, Raine. Do something fun. Try to stop and steal one of those cars,” my friends groaned, but I couldn’tand not simply because I lacked the motor skills to do much more than almost get run over by every car on the highway. No, in the fifteen minutes I had control of the game, I’d bonded with Trevor and decided that he would be going on the straight and narrow. No murdering people for their cars for Trevor and me!

Eventually, I did manage to steal an empty car that was on the side of the road and make my way to a city. My ability to steer the car was even worse than with the bike, and it resulted in so many fender benders that I could almost hear the in-game car’s insurance go up. It was after I parked the car (in a parking space, thank you) that it all went downhill.

Two factory workers started insulting Trevor, and I was going to just have him walk away, but my friends insisted that I fight the guy. I thought, oh, sure, why not? Just a little fight. So I punched the guy and he went down. And he stayed down. Had I just killed him? No, that was ridiculous. I just punched him in the face. No, no, he wasn’t breathing and someone was calling the cops.

I was a murderer! His cyber blood was on my hands. Then his friend attacked me and I had to fight back and oh Lord, I killed him too. He made me do it—I didn’t mean to. Who was going to tell their virtual families? I was a monster.

I tried to make Trevor run from the scene of the crime, but, as I was getting into my (legally parked) car, the cops showed up and shot me dead. I nodded my head, handed over the controller, and decided that perhaps it was better that I just watch someone else play.

I do understand the appeal of Grand Theft Auto, of being able to act without consequence on darker impulses, not actually hurting anyone and having a wonderful time. I really do.  However, after playing the game, after wandering around on a rented bicycle and then suddenly killing two guys with a grand total of four punches, I had to accept the facts: I, Raine Palmer, should not be allowed to play this game. Ever.

Raine Palmer About Raine Palmer

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