GTA actors comment on video game violence and real world violence dispute.
In the wake of the GTA V release, controversy has risen once again between mature titles and their proposed link to real world bloodshed. Speaking with PC Advisor yesterday, GTA V’s voice stars spoke out against the notion, recommending people “play the games” before jumping to such conclusions.
“Anyone who has any misconception at all about [GTA games] and hasn’t played them should go play the games before they open their mouths,” said Ned Luke, the actor who portrays Michael de Santa in GTA V. “The biggest misconception is that it glamorizes violence,” he notes.
Rather than focusing on the free will of debauchery employed by GTA’s sandbox world, Luke encourages people to look deeper into the character. “If you look at my character, Michael, he’s rich, but he’s a miserable man.”
“If you want to take something out of the game, take out of it that here’s a guy who loves his family, who’s kind of lost.” Luke goes on saying, “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?”
Comparably, the actors say TV and film violence exhibit an equal share of carnage on their own, but their depictions go largely unmentioned. “Look at what’s on TV. Breaking Bad had that episode where Giancarlo got his face blown off,” said Steven Ogg, voice actor for Trevor Phillips. “There’s a lot of intense stuff out there. Video games are just an easy scapegoat.”
Phillips, along with many other concerned Americans wonders why the focal point is misplaced. “It just sets the wrong focus. Why not talk about gun control? Why not talk about parenting?”
Ironically, GTA V for some acts as a fictional escape from real life experiences. “I know a few people that live that kind of (violent) lifestyle,” said ex gang member Shawn Fonteno, the voice actor behind Franklin Clinton. “When they play GTA, they can relate to it.”
“It has an impact that they’re happy that they can just play it in the game and not have to relive it in real life,” Fonteno explained. “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.” Needless to say, this is the purpose of all games.
It’s easy to point the finger at video when to put some facts on the table. As John Gaudiosi of PC Advisor points out, there are over 145 million Americans, between the ages of 10 and 65, playing video games today. Meaning, if someone commits an act of violence, chances are fairly good that they’ve played games.
However, why isn’t there a bigger focus on TV violence? Not that TV or film is the problem, but why single out games? People are even more susceptible to being exposed to violent programming than mature titles.
According to a study between 1998 and 2006 violence on the six major networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, UPN and WB) all saw significant increases in violent programming. To put this into greater perspective, violence during the hours of 8:00pm increased by 45%; 92% during the 9:00pm hour and an astounding 167% after 10:00pm. We can only guess what the numbers look like now.
By comparison, only 9% of video games were rated M for Mature in 2012, according to the ESRB. The biggest piece of the pie goes to games rated E for Everyone, with a commanding 45% on the ratings tally. T for Teen titles dropped to 24%, with E10+ (for players 10 and up) at 22%.
Statistics aside, as stated before, exposure to violent video games, if under the age of 18, falls under the responsibility of the parents. And truth be told, not to sound like a broken record, but TV, films, books and video games fall under first amendment protection. In other words, let’s drop the scapegoat act and focus on the real issues. Game on.