Grand Theft Auto IV Rage

It’s been a historic week for gamers: Marvel Comics’ “Iron Man” had stellar box office performance, clocking in an estimated $100.8 million in tickets in North America, while Take-Two Interactive’s Grand Theft Auto IV sold six million copies during its first week of sales, raking in an astounding $500 million.

One of my editors pointed out to me the sharp contrast of the two
numbers: videogames are kicking movie studios’ butts. And Take-Two’s
stellar success with its violent video game franchise is not going
unnoticed; industry heavyweight Electronic Arts is in the midst of a $2
billion hostile takeover effort (which will most likely increase given
Auto IV’s success).

To me what’s more striking than the videogame vs. movie battle is
the disturbing sociological implications (and commentary) of 6 million
consumers and their friends flocking to plasma screens across the
country simulating violent gang battles, hate crimes, and bloody
murders. Call me puritanical, but I find it incredibly disturbing to
see mass enthusiasm around acting out gruesome crimes, and can only
wonder, scientifically speaking, how virtually repeating these actions
over and over again will actually rewire the brains of those 6
million-plus folks.

Personally, I’m fed up with our culture’s hypocrisy. We have no
tolerance for our children to glimpse Janet Jackson’s nipple–yet we’re
fine sticking electronic guns and machetes in their hands. I’m all for
free speech, technology and creativity, but why does violence always
seem to get a free pass in our entertainment culture?