Grand Theft Auto V, and its various predecessors, have one of the most detailed and immersive worlds ever created in a video game. There is so much compacted into the virtual cities like Los Santos, that it often feels like you could be driving around the city of LA itself. But there's always one missing detail that's always bugged me in regards to its authenticity. There are no children inside the world of GTA.
The GTA franchise has been a cultural icon for the last two decades, often a critical dividing line in the culture wars between those who promote entertainment versus those who would like to protect some sense of societal decency in the games we let the youth play. To a basic gamer, GTAV is a fun open world experience that acts in some ways a stress reliever. It allows the player to take certain violent, criminal actions in that virtual world they would never do in real life, like steal a car or shoot a cop.
But on another level, many say that GTAV is a commentary on our current society. Borrowing elements from film, television, news, music, and other parts of pop culture, the world represented in GTAV look and feel like our own, but are stretched to a much more extreme, fucked-up level.
Now the trade off of this hyper-violent, sexualized, and indecent world is that there is one glaring element missing that truly makes it like our own. In the world of GTA, there are no children present. Yeah sure Michael De Santo has a family with two kids that we see, but they are of adult age. There is literally nobody that is seemingly under the age of 18 in Los Santos (I'm not including special mods created on the PC version, but rather the official game that Rockstar releases).
On a conceptual level, obviously having a video game that allows you the option to hurt or murder kids would be banned from ever being sold. That line of decency generally never gets crossed. But what if there’s an actually in-game reason as to why there are no children in GTAV? And maybe that reason is built into the way the world of GTAV is as violently awful as it appears to be...
One of my favorite films of all time is Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men. If you haven't seen it, the film isÂ a dystopian drama about a world in which people stopped being able to have children. Because of this seemingly slow end of humanity and the world we know, the society shown in that film is slowly becoming undone. Nations are falling apart, wars are breaking out, and the decency of society is melting away. It’s a jarring look at a future that could be made possible by the effects of global infertility.
But what if the world of GTAV is suffering from a similar worldwide issue? What if there are no kids, not because they are programed out of the game, but rather everyone in the world has become infertile? And because of this mass infertility, the society in which these various characters live in is slowly becoming undone. People are becoming more violent; the cultural norms are getting more repulsive and indecent. What if the rules of normality are bending and cracking because there are no children around to restrain their inner demons? Maybe Michael De Santo's children are some of the last humans to be born into this world.
This is why to me, Grand Theft Auto is more than just an violent open-world game or simply a commentary on our own society. It is a dystopian experience during the final years of our world if we no longer had the ability, or the will, to continue...