GTAV voice actors say game does not glamorize violence

Actors behind Michael, Trevor, and Franklin weigh in on role of violence in recently released open-world game.

The main voice actors behind Grand Theft Auto V have spoken out to say the recently released open-world game does not glamorize violence. In an interview with PCAdvisor, the three actors said Rockstar North's production is about so much more than just violence.

"Anyone who has any conception at all about the games and hasn't played them should go play the games before they open their mouths," said Ned Luke, who plays Michael de Santa.

"The biggest misconception is that it glamorizes violence. It really doesn't," he added. "If you look at my character, Michael, he's rich, but he's a miserable man. Even in the commercials you see that. This is a guy who's struggling with his life's decisions."

What players can take from GTAV, Luke said, is that Michael is a man who loves his family, but is lost along the way.

"He's trying to become a good guy, but he can't. He just has all these demons that he's battling. It's the struggle. Take that and look at how he loves his family even though he wants to kill them and that's what it is," Luke said. "Look for the relationships. Look for the humor. Look for the irony and the satire in the game. That's another big misconception, 'What, do they think we're serious?'"

Steven Ogg, who plays the superviolent Trevor Philips in GTAV, said he believes video games are simply an "easy scapegoat" when real-world violence erupts.

"There's a lot of intense stuff out there. Video games are just an easy scapegoat" --Trevor voice actor Steven Ogg.

"The hypocrisy drives me crazy," Ogg said. "It just sets the wrong focus. Why not talk about gun control? Why not talk about parenting? Why not talk of lack of family values? There are so many other things to talk about. Look at what's on TV. Breaking Bad had that episode where ********** got his face blown off. There's a lot of intense stuff out there. Video games are just an easy scapegoat. My nephew plays this game. I asked my sister if she was worried because there's some pretty nasty stuff in there and she said, 'I know he's not going to go to school tomorrow with a gun. He's not like that.'"

Shawn Fonteno--a former gang member--brought the character of Franklin Clinton to life in GTAV. He said a misconception exists that games are "just for kids," making it easier for some to criticize the game as marketing violence to children, even though it is labeled M for Mature.

"People already have it in their mind that GTA is for kids because it's a game," Fonteno said. "Then they hear about the violence and they're instantly going to attack because it's a game. Now, if it was a movie it would be a different story and these same people would be out there supporting it. GTA V is like a movie. Once they get the game in their hands, they'll see. It says it big as day--Mature. It's not for the kids to go get. It's for Mature audiences only. If kids get it, then that's on their parents."

Ultimately, Luke said a game like GTAV--just like a gangster film like Goodfellas--is alluring because it allows players to experience a fantasy scenario of power. He said even though the game is violent (he does not allow his 11-year-old son to play it) people should not take a game like GTAV so seriously because it's just meant to be fun.

"GTA allows you to tap into everything that you can't do in real life," Luke said. "In real life, you don't get to go out and rampage and do all these bad things. Gangster movies have been huge forever--Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas, all the way back to Jimmy Cagney. People lose themselves in the bad boy. And there isn't anybody badder than the dudes in GTA. That's why they're so popular. You get to actually go out and do all these horrible things."

"As an actor, I got to go out and do all these crazy things and then go back home to my wife and my son and go out in the backyard and throw a baseball around like a normal all-American dad," he added. "I think that's what these games are. People who take them too seriously and go, 'Oh, this is life.' No, this isn't life. This is imagination. It's just fun. You definitely don't want GTA raising your children. But it's not a bad release from them, when you need to get away."

GTAV launched last month for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, generating arecord-setting $800 million on launch day alone and $1 billion in three days. Versions of the game for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are likely to be released in 2014, according to one analyst.

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Eddie Makuch

Eddie Makuch is a news editor at GameSpot, and would like to see the Whalers return to Hartford.
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273 comments
leimonides
leimonides

Exactly; well said. All this is on-point, especially that last paragraph.

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

People need to shut up about this already.

The only reason anyone would ever commit violence because they saw it in a game is because they are mentally unstable, and there-fore unfit to be a free member of society.

And if you disagree think about that... someone who is incredibly violent and unstable...

Yeah they should be free, and most definitely should represent the majority, when they themselves are the incredibly minor minority.

theKSMM
theKSMM

However did the hand-wringers explain violence before the advent of videogames?

Virgin101
Virgin101

Anyone else read the quotes in the characters voices?

deathstream
deathstream

Whatever helps them sleep at night.  GTA is morally repugnant and socially deplorable.  It lacks any redeeming societal or artistic qualities.  It is everything that is wrong with gaming today and the reason games will continue to be blamed for gun violence for the foreseeable future.

ZachariahDvX
ZachariahDvX

@deathstream Yet your gamespot emblem shows fallout 3 which allows a player to "slow motion time explode human beings" a billion times.. Your comment is more than likely ignored. 

Satire. The game revolves around it. Gun violence was very strong before pong was invented with the Atari. Did people see the little white dot as a bullet and said "You know, i think ill go buy a gun and shoot someone today." Games never caused the civil war. Or WWII. Its the human race. History repeats, continues. Then repeats again. With or without video games around.

l777l
l777l

@deathstream Fiction that displays the "morally repugnant" and the "socially deplorable" has moral and social value in allowing one to examine and reflect on human nature. It plays an important role in developing one's own set, one's own code, of ethics. Thus it's an important element in unfolding and enabling individuality and autonomy. Consider Mill. There is indirect harm, at worst. Consider Plato's Republic, which marks and outlines an early attempt to engineer society by, in part, relying on the idealization and purification of fiction.

frylock1987
frylock1987

Not to sound like that guy but...the whole point of GTA is to build a criminal empire while killing other bad guys or cops.....

FernoFrY
FernoFrY

@frylock1987 It's really not. You're thinking of Breaking Bad. I don't want to mention spoilers but it seems like the characters just want to make some cash not criminal empires. Hence why you can buy lots of legitimate businesses.


PS. - Worst servers ever R* I want my character back!

DaneGamer
DaneGamer

GTA did perhaps put violence as a dominating element in its series long ago, but nowadays there are many other factors that weigh heavily on the series style. Driving, story, characters - if violence is glamourized, what is it then, that is so much different in Assassin's Creed, Call of Duty, Battlefield 3, Gears of War, God of War, Uncharted, The Last of Us, etc. etc. - killing is a key factor to progression in many games, and whilst being abit vulgar perhaps, most of us have no issue distinguishing fiction from reality, and those few in between who can't - they really shouldn't impact an industry as a whole. If anything impacts us, it's the damn news media that tries to put us down and make us panic at every turn. You know how stressful your life becomes, when you dedicate yourself to watching and reading the news? At the same time, you won't want be ignorant on world events, but why do you think there's sometimes puppy stories in between all the death and violence? 'Cause otherwise you would honestly go insane, your brain needs a break, and watching cute things stimulates it. No shit.

ck10304
ck10304

@DaneGamer I appreciate it when people put the time together to make an articulate, well-rounded argument

Jaykray
Jaykray

The GTA games *do* glamorize violence, in the same way that Martin Scorsese, for example, celebrated and glamorized the mob lifestyle - along with plenty of violence - in the film Goodfellas. Stating that GTA doesn't celebrate violence is like saying that Lady Gaga doesn't celebrate unabashed narcissism. Are these games the cause of our problems with violence, especially gun violence here in America? No, of course not. What they do, however, is reinforce peoples' notions and preconceived ideas of violence (along with a heavy dose of misogyny), and it's especially so with younger folk who possess more malleable minds. 

WarNeverChangez
WarNeverChangez

@Jaykray  

I definitely remember watching Scorcese films as a kid and thinking 'right, that's it, I'm going to be a gangster'. Not sure if GTAV has not stirred that urge entirely because I've got older, or because good films are more enveloping than computer games are currently able to be

Moeremmo
Moeremmo

Give me a one good game were you dont kill someone or something

Zoza24
Zoza24

I can call up many, Flower, Journey, Portal

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

@Moeremmo ^^^Perfect example of why we need more non-violent games in the mix.

However, I don't think violence is a problem in games.

I think dumbasses and psycopaths getting violent over games is a problem though.

Hmm... wonder what the ROOT cause is there...

(Just so you simple folks understand, I'm refering to the psychopaths)

WarNeverChangez
WarNeverChangez

Surely we're allowed to save humanity from aliens without be branded sociopaths?

Ferrybird
Ferrybird

Nonsense. I already killed 25 people in real life because I played GTA V, so its not true!

VenkmanPHD
VenkmanPHD

@Ferrybird If games were going to make me violent that would have happened years ago.

'cause trust me, I want most people I meet dead. They are too stupid/useless/harmful to the human race to deserve the gift of life.

Dradeeus
Dradeeus

In the case of Trevor (and I haven't beaten the game yet, so this might be super obvious or not at all the case), his level of violence is supposed to be sorta subversive, even exceeding the normal levels of GTA violence, by going "too far", and making the player actually, purposefully want the violence to be toned down, or at least be taken aback by it.

The torture scene in particular was obviously meant to make the player question the use of violence. Sorta deep for a GTA game.

xtiansk8
xtiansk8

I identify myself with what is said in this article and I definitely support this idea.

FeliciousClank
FeliciousClank

I don't think there's any harm in letting kids play GTA or any violent video game for that matter. Parents are critical of the media because they think it's the media's job to raise their kids, it's not. All you have to do is sit down and talk with your kid that "Hey, this game is cool but it's not okay to shoot people you hate" and explain the consequences. It's not that hard.

halo1399
halo1399

This is laughable, of course GTA glamorizes violence, anybody with a brain knows that.

loafofgame
loafofgame

@halo1399 Gamers get defensive, because there seems to be a tendency to think that a lot of people equate glamorizing violence and violent behaviour. The majority of players experiences a lot of joy soleley through violent conduct in games, so claiming games don't glorify violence makes no sense (regardless of the 'message' or flawed characters). Of course games glorify violence: violence is literally part of the fun. But that's not immediately a bad thing.

xavor01
xavor01

GTA uses violence as an art form, much like how Quentin Tarantino directs his films.  

Pilgrim117
Pilgrim117

@xavor01 There's no art in the violence in GTA. The violence in GTA doesn't have any meaning aside from being a challenge to complete a mission. Shooting countless police officers or criminals isn't constructive, leaving no messages to the player. Don't compare GTA to Tarantino.

lindallison
lindallison

@Pilgrim117 @xavor01  

Unsure Tarantino pictures leave a message to their viewers either.  They are smartly written and stylishly constructed pieces of fluff, and a lot of fun. 

When you start playing GTA its pretty clear the writers are aiming for a broad parody of both U.S. crime pop-culture and real-world city life.  

There's something artful in that - but yeah we shouldn't forget that the main object of GTA, and what attracts its audience, is the simple thrill of escalating mayhem.

noladem504
noladem504

@Pilgrim117 @xavor01 Dafuq are you talking about? Messages to the player? 

I guess every game and media should call you first a make sure the "message" is to your liking. I think the Tanrentino comparison is perfect. Both R* and Tanrentino use our love for virtual violence and experiencing parts of society that most of us choose not to touch in real life, to tell us a story. Both of which have over and over again brought us incredible stories and adventures. 

Just because you dont "like" the message or are not intelligent enough to comprehend it, dont judge the rest of us. 

DeFiLeDTitan
DeFiLeDTitan

@Pilgrim117 @xavor01 If the final mission of GTA4 doesn't leave you thinking, then you weren't paying attention. Either way, someone is going to die. Niko's whole goal was to make money and get out of the life he's been living. With every event he is pulled deeper into the rabbit hole, and it finally catches up to him. Just because the lessons don't smack you upside the head like most crappily written stories, certainly doesn't mean they aren't there. I think that's why the story lines are better than they get credit for. 

epicalex95
epicalex95

Here is an example of how gta v doesn't glamorize violence. In that controversial mission by the book, it seems that the torture sequence is meant to be painful for the player.You can't skip it, and Trevor says after how ineffective torture is. If you put all these things together, what do you think Rockstar is trying to get at? This part of the game is probably what got a lot of the backlash from non gamers, but is probably the part of the game that doesn't glamorize violence at all.

SurfaceNerd
SurfaceNerd

@epicalex95 I think the torture scene brought something new to gaming i have never felt that thrill before and i am glad that it was there, and they should include more in dlc

ninjitsubob1
ninjitsubob1

@epicalex95 i loved it, so much fun. I played that thing like 3 times in a row. I didn't like that they didn't let me kill the dude in the end though. I totally would've set him on fire if that gas can had gas in it, that was disappointing.

xeoneex66
xeoneex66

@epicalex95 While I would never debase myself to tortune in real life, doing it in a video game is really fun.  That's not to say someone who enjoys it is a mental axe murdering freak.  People need to step back and realize MOST people distinguish unrealism from realism.

xeoneex66
xeoneex66

@SurfaceNerd @xeoneex66 @epicalex95 Ya, but those idiots in the government who LOVE to make noise when it comes to violence of any type pin all kinds of crap on violent media.  And then you have those types of parents *facepalm*  Of course people wouldn't want to do that stuff in real life problem is those ignorant people who don't know anything about video games assume that.

Snaptrap
Snaptrap

Not to sound cynical, but I think what the world needs is another major war. Not only will it give these kids a good dose of violence right on their doorstep, it'll also make games like this less appealing. I doubt they'd want to play a game like GTA or CoD after seeing it up close and personal. Of course after a few decades when the shock wears off, society will return to doing the same old shit they did after WWI. I guess what makes it fun is the ability to turn it off at your convenience.

noladem504
noladem504

@Snaptrap Wow dude, you are a f***ing idiot. You wish the horror of war on people just in the hopes that there might be a possible chance that they would agree with you on a video game? Not only is you comment baseless and evil, but it also shows how sheltered and self-centered you thought process is.

Fanible
Fanible

@Snaptrap How could you possibly not know that those in the military, the ones who have already been fighting in wars for the past decade, play games all the time.  Do you not recall the big debacle behind the Xbox One's region locking that angered all the military personal that are stationed overseas?

Totally ludicrous idea.

gf61
gf61

@SnaptrapI think what you mean is a healthy respect for actual death. Not the already in a casket, meat in the super market or the virtual glamorized (books,tv,movies,games) version of death.

However man is violent by nature, so he created structured competition and hobbies to act out that basic need. Unfortunately man forgets what true loss is and must be reminded every couple of generations. 

All out war isn't necessary, public executions witnessed by young and old, allows citizens to draw a direct line of cause and effect by making death tangible.

FeliciousClank
FeliciousClank

@Snaptrap That is honestly the most disgusting and narrow minded statement I've heard spew out of anyone's mouth on the subject.

kashMan54
kashMan54

@Snaptrap I've Grown up in a War zone Sir and ive seen violence up front and personal i still love the game.

epicalex95
epicalex95

Wow, this comment is horrible. People in the military play games ALL the time. So yeah, this comment makes no sense whatsoever. Do you want our society to fail completely?

Joben420
Joben420

@Snaptrap 

That is definitely one of the most idiotic things I've ever heard.