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10:42am on Tuesday, 17th September, 2013:



Grand Theft Auto V launched today. It's billed as the most expensive computer game ever made (although I think Star Wars: the Old Republic beats it) and is a major, major entertainment product.

Here's what the Daily Mirror had to say about it:

What the crazy? Don't you know videogame players read your newspaper?!

So "teachers" are condemning this one scene in a vast game which, because of the embargo, we know they haven't played? This is like condemning the teeth-drilling scene in the John Schlesinger movie Marathon Man without having seen it. Furthermore, although from an objective perspective, waterboarding, kneecapping and electric shocks are pretty bad (I think the use of "shocking" in the headline may be an accidental pun), did the head-in-a-vice torture scene from the Martin Scorsese movie Casino cause similar "fury"? Or did, you know, watching the movie mean it made subjective sense in context?

As for "Children are displaying more violence and they are viewing games like GTA", well firstly, that should be GTA (it's a published creative work: italicise its name) and secondly read the opening of the second paragraph back there. This is an 18-rated game. Children should not be viewing it, any more than they should be viewing Marathon Man (which is only a 15-rated movie) or Casino or anything else with an older-than-they-are certificate.

If "children don't understand the difference between reality and fiction" that's probably actually a good thing: they may think actual real-life news is fiction, rather than fact, so not get upset by it. That might perhaps explain why it's OK for the Daily Mirror to fill the page-and-a-half immediately next to its GTA V article with a graphic feature about the shootings at the naval base in Washington DC yesterday. Surely they wouldn't want to be suggesting some kind of unstated link between videogames and mass shootings?

Other news sources are wising up. The BBC piece is pretty balanced. The Guardian review is hugely positive, although I don't know if it appears in the printed edition. It's a shame that the Mirror doesn't yet see the world the way it actually is — especially as in the 1980s it owned Mirrorsoft, which happily published games such as Mean Streak. Damned hypocrites...

I wonder how Labour MP Keith Vaz managed to get his pre-release review copy of GTA V in order to be astonished by the torture scenes?

No, I haven't played GTA V, but I have read today's Daily Mirror...

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Copyright © 2013 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).