Grand Theft Auto V will be the biggest item in entertainment for a long time. Its budget exceeded every game and Hollywood production with the exception of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, and based on sales, it will eclipse any movie ever made in net gross.
While the game has proven that reviews and ratings are, at best, in need of a fix, another system demands attention: the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, patron saint of all things moral and good in gaming. Upon discovering the notorious Hot Coffee content in GTA: San Andreas, they revoked the Mature label and slapped it with an Adults Only, effectively banning the uncensored product at retail outlets.
To quote an American Express salesman: Who ARE these people?!
[Warning: Spoilers…oh, and NSFW]
One of Franklin’s side missions, shown above, tears down the fabric of reality which has made Poppy Mitchell a household name and exposes her as a manufactured flavor of the month who enjoys getting her poop chute regularly plowed. While it is a wonderful commentary on the soulless vessels we watch on the idiot box every week, there is a serious discrepancy with what is and is not acceptable in a game rated “M” for Mature.
Considering the dialogue, I am rather happy we were not subjected to an actual shot of Poppy’s vaginal area which is probably in worse shape than the New Jersey boardwalk. That said, Justin is shown grabbing her hips from behind and mining for gold while Poppy is bent over a picnic table, possibly checking for Facebook updates. This is about as romantic as anything you will see in Grand Theft Auto V, and according to the ESRB, falls within the confines of what gamers 17 and older can play.
Okay, perhaps it was the blowjob simulation that put it over the top? I suppose that might make sense, given the explicit nature of the motion of the woman’s head–
I get the fact that morality and censorship can be subjective, but how much fucking clearer could it be that this game is meant to be played by “adults only?” I do not have kids nor any desire to produce a child, but should I be asked to care for one by providing him or her with a video game, GTA V would be at the absolute bottom of the list, lower than any military shooter, porn simulation or generic licensed garbage to which I would not subject even my most hated enemy.
You read properly: I would sooner let a child play Call of Duty: Black Ops II or any other game in the series than one of the games Rockstar has been creating. The reasoning for this is not only simple, it is logical. We have a very serious problem with violence in the United States, with gory video games being the least of our worries. This idea, while perpetuated through something like Call of Duty, is at least limited in its vision of violence by funneling it through military exercises. No matter what heinous crimes against humanity you commit while firing a gun at other soldiers, you are at least doing it under the guise of defending an ideal.
For the ESRB to continuously label the Call of Duty series as “Mature” and place it on the same level as the following scene proves how pointless and misguided they really are.
Yeah, yeah, context is necessary and all that. Did the ESRB take that into consideration when they gave the uncensored version of Indigo Prophecy aka Fahrenheit an “Adults Only” for scenes depicting nudity and sex between consenting adults who had genuine feelings for each other?
I will give credit to Rockstar for always pushing the highest quality game they can, but not once have I ever truly felt some kind of emotional attachment to one of their characters. Grand Theft Auto, Bully, LA Noire and even Red Dead Redemption all had protagonists that, while ranging from likeable to downright asinine (looking at you, Cole Phelps), did nothing to illicit an empathic response from me as a player and observer. Their games, devoid of any real consequence, end up serving as a simple pleasure device cut off from the real world.
Video games are supposed to be about escaping reality, but when you can ignore a current task to drive off and blow some money at a strip club, what’s more close to real life than that?
Explain to me, then, why exactly the “Adults Only” rating exists when it seems to never be properly utilized? Furthermore, what the hell differentiates an adult from a mature teen, in the minds of the ESRB? One year? According to them, the days between 17 and 18 allow for a metric fuckton of personal growth.
I am the very last person to favor censorship in any form of media, least of all video games. The ESRB, much like the MPAA as documented in the movie This Film Is Not Yet Rated, is shoddy in its execution and is setting itself up to be completely irrelevant in the near future. We are not long from the day when content is delivered almost entirely in digital form, and should the moment arrive when Grand Theft Auto VI eschews a disc-based release, the game will fall under the ESRB’s short form rating process. Anybody out there honestly believe they will take the time to explore every facet of the game after they let GTA V slide?
I doubt it. They’ll be too busy sending their kids to school.