Grand Theft Auto’s greatest controversies


There was a time when the Grand Theft Auto remasters Rockstar announced the other day would have everyone preparing for redeployment in the culture war. CNN chyrons would be hyping up the butchery of Rockstar’s latest, promising a wave of frothy-mouthed killers. US senators would hurriedly pass along Highly Concerned Statements about the vulnerability of our youth, all of whom have been taken by the phantasmagoric crime sprees in Liberty City. Teenagers would huddle together and hatch plans—as I once did—about how to secure a copy of an M-rated game with an underaged ID. This is how we lived throughout the 2000s, when Grand Theft Auto was the most popular, and most dangerous, videogame in the world.

Honestly, you can make the argument that Grand Theft Auto still reigns supreme over gaming culture, but the belief that Rockstar is turning kids into killers has faded to the margins. Videogames are a lot less scary now than they were in 2002, when the medium was newer and the mass media decency scale was calibrated differently. 



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