Hail to the king
The Grand Theft Auto series has accomplished a great deal over the past 16 years, smashing sales records and becoming a cultural phenomenon. But it may also be the most controversial video game series in existence. Politicians, media pundits, concerned watchdog groups, this fine individual, the NRA, and many, many others have lamented GTA as a corrupting force in our society. Its training our kids to be killers, some have said. Its selling violence against its own people, others have claimed.
While our natural instinct is to tease those who call for GTAs head, we at GamesRadar have decided to take a very nuanced and in-depth look at whether or not they just might have a point. To do this, weve carefully examined a number of real-life activities that can also be done in Grand Theft Auto, including the all-new GTA 5, and compared the actions necessary to complete them in virtual reality against the actions necessary to complete them in actual reality. Is GTA really a murder simulator?" The results just might shock you.
Shooting a person
How its done in real life: You need to come into the possession of a firearm, first and foremost. In the US, the legal way of doing this varies by state; generally speaking, you often need to obtain a permit or license that allows you to own a weapon. You need to spend money on actually buying the weapon as well. Obtaining the weapon illegally is, well, illegal on multiple levels, and could mean that a legal gun owner has been careless with his or her firearm. You then may need to clean the gun before it's fired. You need to know how to load the firearm, ensure that you are loading it with the correct ammunition, and know how to turn off the gun's safety switch. Finally, assuming you aren't acting out of self-defense, you have to forego (or be absent of) your senses of morality, empathy, and basic human decency, because you'll be causing potentially life-threatening harm to a fellow human being.
How its done in GTA: With a gun equipped, you press the Right Trigger button on your controller--you can press the Left Trigger button to aim as well. Don't have a gun? Just go kill a gangster and take his.
Stealing a vehicle
How its done in real life: There are numerous ways to do this, but each one involves illegally taking away an expensive, valuable, and sometimes necessary possession from another person. Stealing a car may involve physically assaulting its owner until he/she is too intimidated or injured to fight back, or it may involve stalking a particular vehicle's owner in order to figure out a time in which you can steal the car with minimal confrontation. You may need to learn how to pick a car's lock, perhaps with a bobby pin, coat hanger, or other long metal rod such as a "Slim Jim." If the car's keys are not present, you may need to know how to "hotwire" the vehicle in order to start its ignition, although this presents a substantial risk of electrical shock.
How its done in GTA: When near any vehicle, you press the Triangle / Y button.
Evading the police
How its done in real life: After committing a crime of varying degrees, you usually have to lay low and avoid doing most of the activities you would normally do in your life. You likely have to find a new place to stay, discard your usual clothing, lose your cell phone and other possessions, and stop making contact with the people you frequently talk to. Assuming a new identity, moving to a new country, or changing your appearance entirely may also be necessary, depending on the severity of your crime. Police evasion attempts are usually futile, and often result in extended jail time.
How its done in GTA: In GTA 4, Niko can drive outside of the cops search radius on your mini-map for a few minutes. Once your characters Wanted Level is gone, hes free to go about his day.
Soliciting a prostitute
How its done in real life: While the legality of soliciting a prostitute differs from country to country, it generally requires you to attain a level of sexual appetite that compels you to pay another person (oftentimes a stranger) to perform sexual services for you. In areas where the practice is illegal, it may require you to sneak to an area where you and your prostitute can have sex without being spotted by law enforcement officials. You may also need to go to a region in which prostitutes perform more frequently, perhaps doing so in a vehicle that cannot be traced back to your identity. In regions where the profession is illegal, those who have sex with prostitutes face jail time, and are typically frowned upon by society at large--not to mention the increased risk of contracting an STD.
How its done in GTA: When the in-game clock reaches a time between roughly 20:00 and 6:00, you can drive to a segment of the city where there are Prostitutes, which are female character models dressed in suggestive clothing. You can then stop your vehicle by holding the Left Trigger button, which will prompt the Prostitute to enter your vehicle. Your character and the Prostitute will then simulate sex while staying fully clothed, refilling a portion of your health bar in the process.
Drinking and driving
How its done in real life: You have to drink an amount of alcohol that goes beyond your tolerance level, then get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Legally speaking, it is a crime to drive in the US when your blood alcohol concentration is at or above 0.08%. Excessive drinking may be done by your lonesome or in a communal, party setting. Either way, those who drink and drive break state laws and ignore countless PSAs. They also put the lives of anyone who happens to be in the vehicle with them at risk. In most US states, convicted offenders of drunk driving laws spend time in prison, and are required to install ignition interlocks that prevent them from driving their vehicles if their BAC is deemed too high.
How its done in GTA: In GTA 4, Niko can complete the Drinking activity with his in-game friends and girlfriend(s). This shows a cutscene in which Niko and his friend walk into a bar, before cutting back to outside. When virtually intoxicated, you can still get into a car by pressing the Triangle / Y button. In this state, the screen becomes blurry, your DualShock or Xbox 360 controller rumbles, and the game becomes harder to control. Police will chase you if Niko is seen driving while intoxicated, until he loses his Wanted Level. If he is captured, he's released within a few seconds.
Going the bathroom
How its done in real life: You need to consume an adequate amount of food and/or beverages, and then let your body's digestive system run its course. Once your body prompts you to relieve yourself, you ideally need to find a restroom or private area of some sort to do so. Failing to do so in time risks social ridicule and the loss of friends.
How its done in GTA: You can't.
Okay, so we're fooling around a bit. But while there may be an obvious and distinct disconnect between performing an atrocious act in Grand Theft Auto and doing the same thing in reality, we'd be remiss if we didn't recognize that there is at least some argument to be made concerning violent video games and actual violence. Numerous studies--and the fact that the overwhelming majority of GTA players aren't murderers--suggest that GTA isn't quite training its players to become sociopaths. But the game is rated M for a reason, and the sense of aggression behind its more morally depraved acts could have an effect on impressionable minds. And let's be honest, it might be a little disconcerting to see people get so giddy about causing mayhem, whether it's real or not. GTA isnt harmless, but it just might not be as harmful as some people contend. Agreed?