The Grand Theft Auto franchise (in particular GTA 5) is no stranger to controversy. However, for the first time in a moment, lawmakers have set the series in their cross-hairs, with a ban being proposed.
GTA 5 is the most profitable entertainment product ever, with $6 billion USD in revenue. Just let that sink in – GTA 5 is so profitable that I’m surprised lawmakers aren’t asking Rockstar Games for financial advice.
However, that might be a bit radical. Much better to return to the age-old debate of how video games are corrupting the world’s youth. Right?
Chicago lawmaker reignites censorship debates
Well, that’s exactly what is happening in Chicago right now. Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. is seeking to amend a bill from 2012 that prohibited the sale of certain violent video games to minors.
His proposed amendments include broadening the definition of “violent video games” to games that allow the player to “control a character within the video game that is encouraged to perpetuate human-on-human violence in which the player kills or otherwise causes serious physical or psychological harm to another human or an animal.” Certainly a bit long-winded, but no objections here.
However, the changes don’t stop there. Games that feature carjackings and “psychological harm” are specifically being targeted for the damage they do to local communities. However, the most surprising part of the proposal is that the games in question would be banned completely – that means for adults too.
The idea that video games can influence children to act violently is already hugely contentious. However, to take this hypothesis further and claim that adults too are being brainwashed is preposterous. And that is exactly the premise at the centre of this law.
Politicians looking for a scapegoat
The greater context at play here is that Chicago has recently experienced a large increase in the number of carjackings. Rep. Marcus Evans Jr. has done his homework and realised that these carjackings and the popularity of GTA 5 must be related. I mean it’s right there in the name. Screw the fact that correlation does not equal causation.
Essentially, it sucks that Chicago is having a tough time. However, GTA is immensely popular throughout the whole world. The fact that this increase in carjackings is isolated to Chicago is pretty solid evidence that GTA isn’t really related. This is a politician looking for a scapegoat.
We will do our best to follow this story and keep you updated as things develop.