Grand Theft Boredom


Grand Theft Auto V is the latest in the wildly popular GTA series. It took 5 year, cost £170 million ($270 million) to produce and has been touted as the soaring swan song of the current gaming generation. It earned over $1 billion dollars in sales in less than a week, and has been an almost permanent fixture on my news feed since it came out. And I couldn’t care less.

Now it’s worth noting at this point that I have no particular objection to GTA V or the Grand Theft Auto series as a whole. I’ve played various games in the series of a number of occasions and had a reasonable amount of fun. I don’t have any objection to any of the issues, themes or events explored in the game. And I have absolutely no doubt that what Rockstar has built is a staggering technical achievement. But GTA as a whole has always left me a little unexcited. More like Grand Theft Boredom, am I right?

Ultimately, I think it just comes down to my preferences as a gamer. GTA has always been a series that prided itself on its realistic worlds, albeit ones shown through a warped and somewhat satirical lens.  But never the less, they’re games based in exaggerated versions of real world environments, with characters firmly mired in day to day concerns. Granted, they’re the day to day concerns of would be criminals, but still. Whereas when I play a game, I want something totally fantastic. That is to say, constructed entirely from fantasy. I want to slay demons, headshot zombies, and fend off an alien invasion with nothing more than my wits and a sharp stick. My feelings of ambivalence extend to other quasi-realistic game series, Call of Duty or anything involving sports all spark the same lack of interest.

Boredom City, am i right?

In fact in many ways, my issues with CoD, gaming’s other behemoth, are similar to those I have with GTA. Both present a supposedly realistic world, and then litter it with glaring inaccuracies. Whether it’s regenerating health in CoD, or GTA’s notoriety system, I find the obvious disparity between actions and consequence jarring in a setting I’m otherwise supposed to be totally invested in. Saints Row is a series that draws a lot of comparisons to GTA (or it did, until the whole ‘weaponised rubber phallus’ thing), but I prefer that series as a whole, and especially the second title, to its more legitimate former competitor. Saints Row throws you into a completely ridiculous world filled with over the top characters, environments and situations. Therefore you are free to react accordingly. I had a wonderful time running around in Saints Row 3 fighting SWAT teams with a pair of submachine guns that fired incendiary bullets. It was stupid and nonsensical and as a direct consequence I didn’t find it odd that one car chase later every law enforcement officer in the city had forgotten who I was.


Regardless, it seems fairly clear that my apathy for Rockstar’s flagship title is not a popular opinion. In addition to the $1 billion earned in three days, the game had 10/10 reviews coming out of its behind. And I’m not saying that’s wrong. As I said, the game is an incredible technical achievement, and though I haven’t experienced the story for myself yet plenty of people much smarter than me have been singing its praises. And for all my objections to the game, I suspect that I’ll end up picking up a copy before too long, even if I wait for the inevitable GotY edition. But in the meantime, I’ll be holding off the inhuman hordes with a sledgehammer. Or if that fails, a weaponsied rubber phallus.