Still controversial after ten years: Grand theft auto V's 'by the book' mission - 'It's lost on us'

    Grand Theft Auto V's controversial torture scene still sparks debate 10 years later. The 'By the Book' mission in the game involves players acting as torturers, leading to criticism from groups like Freedom from Torture, which claim that the game glorifies torture. The Teachers' Association is concerned about the impact of games on kids and the unresolved ethical issues surrounding violent video games after a decade.

    Still controversial after ten years: Grand theft auto V's 'by the book' mission - 'It's lost on us'

    Ten years ago, Grand Theft Auto V (GTA V) was released amidst a swirl of controversy and acclaim. The open-world action-adventure video game was an ambitious endeavour for its developer, Rockstar North, and quickly became a cultural phenomenon. But there was one scene in particular that became a point of controversy, and today, in 2023, this moment in the game is still sparking passionate debate.

    In a mission titled 'By the Book,' players adopt the persona of criminal Trevor Phillips and are instructed to torture an alleged terrorist to extract information. Players in this contentious episode had to torture the victim with a variety of tools, including sledgehammers and electric cables, possibly to the point of cardiac arrest before reviving them with an adrenaline shot.

    Freedom from Torture's then-chief executive, Keith Best, condemned the sequence at the time, stating that the game was effectively forcing players to enact the role of a torturer to succeed. He asserted that this act of glamorising torture in popular culture was an affront to the work of organisations and activists combating such practices.

    Even today, critics and advocates continue to grapple with the legacy of this polarising game. Some view it as a masterful display of storytelling and an opportunity for the players to critically reflect on the repercussions of their actions. However, others maintain that it represents an inexcusable exploitation of inhumane acts for entertainment.

    Moreover, a significant concern has been the exposure of these violent scenarios to impressionable young audiences. The Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) warned that the vivid graphics and realistic depiction of violence could blur the lines of fiction and reality for young children who might watch their siblings or other family members play the game.

    While Grand Theft Auto V is no stranger to criticism, this specific scene has amplified the discourse around the representation of violence and torture in video games. Jack Thompson, a former attorney, likened the game's negative impact on children to severe crises, reflecting the intense sentiment surrounding the issue.

    In retrospect, the game's controversial elements, including the criticised depiction of women and this contentious torture scene, have been dubbed as not so much satirical but rather reinforcing societal stereotypes. Freedom from Torture's Best, in his critique, stated that if the intention was a satirical commentary on torture practises, it certainly fell short of its mark.

    Now, a decade later, as we look back at the uproar that Grand Theft Auto V stirred, it is clear that these issues are far from resolved. As the gaming industry advances and continues to push boundaries, the debate around ethical standards in video games and their potential real-world implications remains as relevant as ever.