No one ever said it didn’t deserve its Mature rating, but “Grand Theft Auto 5” makes it possible for players to engage in entirely new levels of criminal behavior by simulating first-person sex with a prostitute. And if that weren’t enough, the game, the latest in the popular video game series from Rockstar, also lets players brutally murder the women with a hatchet or by graphically stomping on their head. Not exactly “Pong,” is it?
The newest update for the game became available Tuesday, adding new sexual and violent elements to a title that has already sold 33 million copies (or approximately $1.98 billion, according to the developer’s 2014 fiscal report). It's now available on the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4, as well.
The “Grand Theft Auto” franchise started making headlines in 2005 when “GTA III” added a feature allowing players to pull their car up next to a prostitute and, moments later, watch as the vehicle quietly began to rock back and forth. Seems pretty innocent compared to the scenes in newer editions where gamers can watch in the first person as a pixelated prostitute performs a variety of sex acts for money.
The new feature isn’t integral to a gamer’s success in “Grand Theft Auto V;” in fact, it costs them money, when the supposed objective of the game is to become a wealthy crime lord. Yet the graphic content has helped Rockstar Games market itself with a wave of headlines while people who spend their lives trying to help prostitutes look on in horror. Cassie Rodenberg is one of them, she’s a teacher in the Bronx who explained in the Guardian that many of her students walk by real-world prostitutes on their way home to the game.
“Many Bronx students, mostly males, many of whom live in shelters or subsist in the foster care system, play ‘GTA V’ and laugh, she wrote in a column last year. “They play a game advertised to them, one that insidiously belittles their world, giving them lessons on what to mock about it. These teenagers have the power to reign over those whores. Game and real women merge.”