Grand Theft Auto V Slams into Controversy with Gratuitous Torture Scene

The newest chapter of the notorious franchise irks human rights groups with gruesome episode

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Mike Blake / Reuters

Game enthusiasts purchase the latest release of "Grand Theft Auto Five" after the game went on sale at the Game Stop store in Encinitas, California September 17, 2013.

Human rights advocates have slammed the latest installment of the Grand Theft Auto franchise thanks to the inclusion of a graphic torture scene. During the grisly episode, players are allowed to pick their own instruments of cruelty, which includes sledgehammers and electric cables, as they’re instructed by an FBI agent to torture a suspected terrorist. As the sadistic scene unfolds, players are also given the option to inject the suspect with adrenaline in the event that his heart stops.

“Rockstar North has crossed a line by effectively forcing people to take on the role of a torturer and perform a series of unspeakable acts if they want to achieve success in the game,” Freedom from Torture chief executive Keith Best told the Guardian.

On Tuesday night, the game came out all guns blazing and has racked up more than $800 million in sales in just 24 hours .

(MORE: Grand Theft Auto V Review: Everything Rockstar’s Learned About Open-World Design, Refined)

Famous for its sensational portrayal of epic urban landscapes riddled with crime — with gamers able to solicit sex workers, ignite racially motivated violence and peddle narcotics — the latest edition seems to have been adjusted for modern sensibilities. In GTA V, players are now able to participate in reckless investment schemes and capture personal moments with selfies.

The fifth installment of the franchise, which has been in the works for five years, has been deemed the most expensive video game of all time — costing an estimated $250 million to develop and market.

[Guardian]

MORE: The History of Video Game Consoles – Full

22 comments
TrajanSaldana
TrajanSaldana

$800 million in 24 hours..."human rights advocates" pick your battles

OmarSantiago
OmarSantiago

... Is no one going to point out it wasn't an FBI agent?

j95lee
j95lee

When a critic questions whether a game, movie or tv show crossed a certain line, you can expect a wave of "but it happens in real life" sort of cookie cutter response. It's a knee jerk reaction from fanboys whose main objective is to defend the work they adore and characterize the critic as unreasonable or prudish.

Rape, children dying from chemical and decapitation by terrorists are also a reality. Is it appropriate for games to sensationalize such acts or brutality long as the context is proper? We're not talking about players controlling protagonists who can shoot down terrorists or mobs who are shown to engage in subhuman activities. In games like this, you are the monster, and you're the torturer. And video games are a more interactive experience than watching a movie or reading a book.


WillCox
WillCox

You are SUPPOSED to be revolted. It's trying very intentionally to make you feel bad about what you're doing while being ordered to do it... That's the entire point, and it's backed up completely by the speech that follows... It's a very effective scene, and if it makes you angry or disgusted, then aim it towards the real world acts it is highlighting. Remember this game was being created over the last 5 years... They have a lot to say about things that we're already getting comfortable with ignoring. 

draph91
draph91

after watching a YouTube Video, I'm afraid I'll have to agree with this article, Rockstar went too far with that

please don't hurt me.....

JamonDeVeaux
JamonDeVeaux

Even if the scene is absurd that doesnt compare to what the US government does to people at Guantanamo. Instead of being pissed off at a video game be pissed at something real. 

nickcummings1994
nickcummings1994

WRONG!!!!!!!!!!! there are no sledgehammers in that scene....

TimTindall
TimTindall

Human rights advocates" If anything shouldn't it be "digital rights advocates" because this is a game, and isn't real? They should go after real people who do real things. The government just admitted they torture people. and i'm guessing it's 100x worse than what is in this game. 

People know what is real, and what is fake. What you can do in real life, and what you shouldn't. If you are messed up in the head, then you are going to do crazy things. A game won't make you do bad things. What did Jack the Ripper play? super mario brothers? What did Albert Fish, or Ed Gein play? Tic tac toe? 

The problem is everybody picks something easy to go after to feel good about themselves, instead of going for the real problems, because that would be too hard.

ThorShared
ThorShared

What about countries like the USA which actually implements torture on real people and says its not really torture. If you want to scream about a fictional game for adults. You should bloody well cause a riot for it happening in the real world.

KyleAtkins
KyleAtkins

What about the game "the punisher"? There was way more torture scenes in that video game.

ioOS
ioOS

Good. First off I love GTA, but I'm actually glad that a thing like this is being talked about. Maybe now these idiotic parents will stop buying their 9-year olds a MATURE 17+ RATED GAME!! I couldn’t even keep up with the number of children that I saw lined up next to their mommies and daddies at Gamestop, for the 12am release of all things. These same people will go out of their way to fight against bombings, gang violence, and rap lyrics, but will go out and buy a game like GRAND THEFT AUTO for their kid…News Flash: THIS HAS ALL OF THOSE THINGS AND MORE! Am I the only one that notices that there has been a different public outcry for damn near EVERY GTA game ever released? This isn’t the first time that this type of thing has been placed in the series, but I guess it's "who cares" when little Billy's happiness is at stake though, "because I love my child too much for him/her to not have this game", right? smh

BenCrites
BenCrites

all people will always do is whine and moan and complain about a video game when we really need to get this economy back on track and worry about that instead of one video game that has some violence and some sex if u don't want it in your house don't watch stuff or just don't order the game don't blame games on it for everything to use it to ruin it get over it

JohnWayneWestfaul
JohnWayneWestfaul

it wasnt a sledhammer, it was a big ass monkey wrench.... and stop with all the BITCHING!!!!

dellovich3
dellovich3

havnt played it yet but love it already..Keith Best said "Rockstar North has crossed a line by effectively forcing people to take on the role of a torturer and perform a series of unspeakable acts if they want to achieve success in the game"..we all know GTA has some hardcore so anyone who doesnt have the stomach for that sort of thing just dont buy or play.....

I LOVE GTA



ThomCat94
ThomCat94

It's not the fifth installment. It's like the 15th GTA game

brenro12
brenro12

Don't quite get why this is perfectly acceptable in movies but so shocking in an animated video game. A DVD is just as accessible to impressionable minds as a video game and the movie is live action and a great deal more realistic. The fact that it requires interaction to bring these scenes about is splitting hairs.

JoeyJordan
JoeyJordan

It is a VIDEOGAME. A fantasy world. Most people that play the game have morals that would restrict them from doing anything like what happens in the game.

aspidiske
aspidiske

This torture scene in video games isn't new. Sleeping Dogs, had the same gut-slicing action. There were lots of it as well too..

BBMaverick
BBMaverick

We're talking about a video game, right?

Kaitensatsuma
Kaitensatsuma

"Crossing the line" isn't exactly new for Rockstar Games, I'm surprised activists are so concerned over the treatment of digital non-player-characters when there are real-life people undergoing similar or worse treatment in the real world.

ThatSpeakerofTruth
ThatSpeakerofTruth

@WillCox Except the point is being entirely missed by anybody the point is worth reaching. You can make the argument that man-shooters try to make an actual point, it never sticks unless you shove it down the players' throats like the acclaimed Spec Ops: The Line.

 That's not to say gruesome things can't be done in media, and interactive media is a good way to put some weight and tangibility on them. But beyond anything, you will see a vast majority of players indulging on the scene enthusiastically and lightheartedly rather than grimly and seriously. And for the rest, all it's doing is throwing another log on the fire. For them, it's just an another obnoxious display of ugliness depicting serious issues half-facetiously on, again, a self-indulgent platform.

Next, you'll be telling us that killing civilians and police officers in the franchise is a cathartic lesson in social goodwill. Don't kid yourself. GTA started as a well-made piece of software, but still just as shallow as appealing to gamers' dark natures of bloodlust and freedom. You can put messages in them all you want, but it's as effective as a Nerf pistol with the way it delivers it to the audience it delivers it to.