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GTA V actors reject accusations of encouraging violence

GTA V actors reject accusations of encouraging violence

Fri 04 Oct 2013 7:49am GMT / 3:49am EDT / 12:49am PDT
PoliticsPeople

Parents should take more control and stop being hypocritical, say stars

GTA's main voice actors have rallied around to defend the game from accusations that it encourages violent behaviour in children, calling the criticisms "hypocritical" and a "misconception".

Ned Luke voices middle aged career criminal Michael in the blockbuster, and believes that he does anything but glamourise his violent lifestyle.

"Anyone who has any conception at all about the games and hasn't played them should go play the games before they open their mouths," Luke told PC Advisor.

"The biggest misconception is that it glamorizes violence. It really doesn't. If you look at my character, Michael, he's rich, but he's a miserable man. Even in the commercials you see that. This is a guy who's struggling with his life's decisions.

"If you want to take something out the game, take out of it that here's a guy who loves his family, who's kind of lost. He's trying to hold it together. He's trying to become a good guy, but he can't. He just has all these demons that he's battling. It's the struggle. Take that and look at how he loves his family even though he wants to kill them and that's what it is. Look for the relationships. Look for the humor. Look for the irony and the satire in the game. That's another big misconception. What, do they think we're serious?

"GTA allows you to tap into everything that you can't do in real life," he continues. "In real life, you don't get to go out and rampage and do all these bad things. Gangster movies have been huge forever - Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas, all the way back to Jimmy Cagney. People lose themselves in the bad boy. And there isn't anybody badder than the dudes in GTA. That's why they're so popular. You get to actually go out and do all these horrible things.

"It's not for the kids to go get. It's for Mature audiences only. If kids get it, then that's on their parents."

Shawn Fonteno - voice actor for Franklin Clinton

"As an actor, I got to go out and do all these crazy things and then go back home to my wife and my son and go out in the back yard and throw a baseball around like a normal all-American dad. I think that's what these games are. People who take them too seriously and go, 'Oh, this is life.' No, this isn't life. This is imagination. It's just fun. You definitely don't want GTA raising your children. But it's not a bad release from them, when you need to get away."

Steven Ogg, the actor who plays sociopathic Canuck Trevor Phillips, says that detractors should compare GTA to other mediums before they pass judgement, arguing that nothing depicted in the game is any worse that what's often shown on TV or in cinema, and that there are other, much bigger, contributors to social violence than video games.

"The hypocrisy drives me crazy, it just sets the wrong focus. Why not talk about gun control? Why not talk about parenting? Why not talk of lack of family values? There are so many other things to talk about. Look at what's on TV. Breaking Bad had that episode where ******** got his face blown off. There's a lot of intense stuff out there. Video games are just an easy scapegoat. My nephew plays this game. I asked my sister if she was worried because there's some pretty nasty stuff in there and she said, 'I know he's not going to go to school tomorrow with a gun. He's not like that.'"

Franklin's voice actor, an ex-gang member called Shawn Fonteno, has a different perspective on the criticism, but one that comes from experience which most of the game's opponents will never have.

"I know a few people that live that kind of (violent) lifestyle and when they play GTA they can relate to it," Fonteno explained. "It has an impact to the point that they're happy that they can just play it in the game and not have to relive it in real life. And that's the big key thing with this, man. It's just a video game. And people that have lived that life and have done them things, as I did, can just have fun with it in a game. You can leave it there and nobody's getting hurt and you're just having fun.

"People already have it in their mind that GTA is for kids because it's a game. Then they hear about the violence and they're instantly going to attack because it's a game. Now, if it was a movie it would be a different story and these same people would be out there supporting it. GTA V is like a movie. Once they get the game in their hands, they'll see. It says it big as day -Mature. It's not for the kids to go get. It's for Mature audiences only. If kids get it, then that's on their parents."

17 Comments

Kevin Danaher Associate Producer, EA Mobile

45 62 1.4
Popular Comment
I like the way the ex gang member put it. It's doing these things in a game but also no one is really getting hurt. Also, his major point which I agree with "It says it as big as day - Mature"

People in the industry keep saying we have to "educate" parents to buy the right (age appropriate) games for their kids. If by educate them you mean a huge slap upside the head then yes we do! It happens with every release of a GTA game, news reports of 10 year olds jumping for joy with a copy of GTA in their hand. Why don't they point the camera at the parent instead and say "So you bought your kid an intensely violent and disturbing video game made for adults, why did you do that? Do you also let your child watch splatterhouse movies and porn at home?"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kevin Danaher on 4th October 2013 4:40pm

Posted:A year ago

#1

Tyler Moore Game Designer & Unity Developer

52 14 0.3
I feel like the vocal minority is driving these complaints, the same people that seem to be allergic to responsibility and think that everyone but them is responsible for their child's behavior. The game isn't for kids, it's mature content, end of story.

However, we can't be an industry that uses the reasoning "It's just a game" to defend the content, then demand legitimacy as at art form and medium for cultural commentary or change. There's a hypocrisy there that needs a closer look. Why does film get away with ridiculous (not a criticism, I loved Pacific Rim) movies sitting alongside Oscar bait?

Posted:A year ago

#2

Hugo Dubs Interactive Designer

163 24 0.1
Wow... once again? Everytime a GTA is released this is the same old story again. Back when Gta4 went out, the director said: why are you making so much noise about it when you don't say a word about tv shows and books where violence is depicted with so much details.

Last night I was watching an old expert's show and the first few minutes depicted a car trunk droping blood... so gore.
Inside were parts of a body of course.

That's true that games are different in the way you, as a player, are the actor of all the crimes, but this is no different than letting child ren watch the experts when it comes to being parents.

Posted:A year ago

#3
As said by many already, GTAV is an 18 (here in the UK), so it's content, violent or not, should be of no concern to parents really..!
We wouldn't have this issue if lazy parents were to stop using video games as a means of babysitting / child minding..

Not only that, but games lobbies would be a lot nicer place to be..

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Pete Thompson on 4th October 2013 5:36pm

Posted:A year ago

#4

Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer

1,269 941 0.7
Parents can be so stupid and is political correctness. They blame there kids behavior on other things when it really comes down to bad parenting. All they have to do is not buy the kid the damn game among other things. But all they do is buy these kids these games, and put them in front of a TV so they dont have to spend the time they should with them.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

472 480 1.0
Thousands of years ago people sat down and debated these issues. What causes a man to think the way he does? What is right and wrong anyway? And can it even be defined?

Somehow we've taken a giant leap backwards, and rather than discuss it in a conducive manner we have slap bang headlines and side takers.

The simple facts of the matter is that a mind is influenced in many different ways by many different things. For a parent there are a multitude of ways their decisions can have positive and negative consequences. There is no holy grail to parenting so "bad parenting" isn't the only reason for people behaving badly. "Effective parenting", perhaps, though we don't live in a vacuum.

As for GTA: it's an 18 so in theory it shouldn't need to be scrutinised. Though let's not kid ourselves, the kids are playing it. So then what does that mean? Should the adult's experience be diluted so that it can be safely delivered to children? Would it be a good idea to package a child friendly version of the game? What is so special about GTA that makes kids feel that they need to play it. And finally, how many kids are actually playing it? because it would be pointless talking about the impact of GTA on children if hardly any of them are actually playing it.

Now as for people 18+, the one thought that comes to my mind is Breaking Bad. The producers made an effort not to display real procedures for making crystal meth (although you can easily obtain instructions on the Internet). They didn't need to do that but they felt that was the responsible way for them to present the show. It never detracted from the show (unless of course, you're a pedantic chemist or meth grower).

I don't think such a level responsible production decisions can be made with GTA, but having a sense of responsibility can lead to a whole new array of creative possibilities without impacting on the enjoyment factor of GTA. For example, what if making murders more realistic discouraged people from committing them in real life? Now wouldn't that be interesting! Personally I found that the realism of GTA4 made the killing of pedestrians feel a little uncomfortable because it was like running over a real person (but maybe it's just me).

Posted:A year ago

#6

Tim Ogul Illustrator

335 467 1.4
South Park got it right.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Bonnie Patterson Freelance Narrative Designer

196 545 2.8
Bleh - psychologists hashed this whole issue out during the whole James Bulger affair. The conclusion that held most credence at the end was that it wasn't video games and horror movies that made it OK to kill a toddler in the minds of the two juvenile perpetrators.. It was the lack of almost any other content or context in their lives to teach them that making those fantasies reality is wrong.

Posted:A year ago

#8

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,196 1,176 0.5
I'm sure Ed Gein wasn't playing video games back when he was up to his little serial spree. These studies and idiot politicians and media and parent groups such always neglect to look at the pre-gaming era and it's assorted terrible crimes aren't doing themselves any favors blaming each new GTA for vile acts some commit even when there's not a new game in the series to whine about...

Oh, I also cracked up that the Breaking Bad Season 4 finale spoiler as to who got their face blown off is censored in the article above. That's pretty damn hilarious. But I see why it was done... ;^P

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 5th October 2013 6:08am

Posted:A year ago

#9

Gareth Eckley Commercial Analyst

88 68 0.8
Doesn't GTA V already have enough advertising?

I mean, this is all that this article is, right? More free advertising, like EVERY time a GTA is released.

Posted:A year ago

#10

James Prendergast Research Chemist

741 439 0.6
@Keldon - not to disparage your points (as I think they're mostly fine):

Thousands of years ago people sat down and debated these issues. What causes a man to think the way he does? What is right and wrong anyway? And can it even be defined?

Somehow we've taken a giant leap backwards, and rather than discuss it in a conducive manner we have slap bang headlines and side takers.


Don't confuse a few thinkers with the majority of society. Don't think that any of those questions were ever settled (because they are subjective) and don't think that we've taken a giant leap backwards when it's not the elite thinkers of sociology and psychology saying these things...

Posted:A year ago

#11
We don't need to educate parents. We just don't need to give a damn about these type of scare stories.

The behavior of people including children is due to their life circumstances. If kids are engadging in violent behavior it's probably a symptom of an unhappy home life.

I agree that this is just free marketing.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 5th October 2013 6:09pm

Posted:A year ago

#12

Adam Campbell Associate Producer, Miniclip Ltd

1,219 1,055 0.9
Its true. Why should actors in an adult production take accusations of encouraging violence?

Posted:A year ago

#13

Keldon Alleyne Handheld Developer, Avasopht Ltd

472 480 1.0
Don't confuse a few thinkers with the majority of society. Don't think that any of those questions were ever settled (because they are subjective) and don't think that we've taken a giant leap backwards when it's not the elite thinkers of sociology and psychology saying these things...
True, it wasn't the whole population so I guess it would be unfair for me to compare the majority today with the elite of yesteryear.
The behavior of people including children is due to their life circumstances. If kids are engadging in violent behavior it's probably a symptom of an unhappy home life.
Absolutely untrue. It's these generalisations that cause people to further ignore the real many causes of violence.

Take a look deeper into the idea of it being the home life. Those ideas are usually based around the idea that someone receiving love then goes on to act in particular ways, and that violent behaviour stems from receiving violence. Now that in itself is mostly true (and I say mostly true because people can act violently without ever receiving violence for a multitude of reasons). The problem is that we don't live in a vacuum. The environment is undoubtedly a factor too. It cannot be ignored.

Its true. Why should actors in an adult production take accusations of encouraging violence?
Perhaps the influence of other people has no effect on others, but we know that that is not true. So then the question is how we respond to that and take it into consideration. Just a reminder, advertising is a $16Bn industry, all because as it turns out people are influenced - and the product placement of Pottery Barn in the "One with the Apothecary Table" episode of friends had lasting effects.

I think it's all too easy to argue based on absolutes such as, "violent video games cause people to be violent". Of course that is entirely untrue and so if that is the depth of argument then the level of thinking will also be on par with that. Instead it makes more sense to acknowledge the small effects things have and consider what emerges from it. With understanding you can tweak parameters and incorporate an understanding without diluting the original idea.

There's nothing wrong with a little forethought and moderation, as I believe it would more than likely reduce complaints like this because when people play it, all of that forethought would have created a gaming experience that would not allow anyone to conclude what people are currently suggesting.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Keldon Alleyne on 6th October 2013 11:03am

Posted:A year ago

#14
I didn't say that it was because they came from a violent home, I said unhappy.

Offcourse I'm making a general point. Professional papers and theories have been written on this subject.

Your argument is the opposite of an absolute argument and equally wrong. No one denies everything has some sort of influence but overall specifically the power of a video game is negligible.

A video game just isn't a powerful enough influence to change a persons sense of morality in any meaningful way.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by John Owens on 6th October 2013 3:23pm

Posted:A year ago

#15

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,196 1,176 0.5
One other thing. I'd like to believe that after a decade or so of this, Rockstar is a bit tired of the SAME stories trotted out with each GTA release. I mean, does anyone expect a single copy of a GTA game to sell TODAY because it's "controversial"? That may have worked up to GTA III and perhaps San Andreas, but fans buy the games because they like them and anyone else won't buy in because they're led to believe they'll turn into a mass murderer and thief.

I'd say Rockstar would prefer people see GTA as a mature game for mature audiences that has a well-written story and characters they may not like, but at least are immorally true to themselves and the game world they inhabit. Bet you a penny they'd rather see recognition on that than the usual suspects coughing up their moldy bile every few years...

Posted:A year ago

#16

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

846 732 0.9
Before this it was movies and/or Marilyn Manson. Before that was TV, before Radio and before Books. It's the same story with a different test subject.

Funny thing is how this comes mostly from the US (Not the only place, but I think you understand my point). Games are blamed by media and some parents associations each time a violent outburst takes place in North American soil.

Being serious for a moment, three important points:
1. Violent video-games are sold worldwide.
2. Most of those shootings linked to video-games take places in the US.
3. "coincidentally" US is one of the countries in the world where is easier to get a gun.

Do we really need to say more?

Posted:A year ago

#17

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