Have you heard? Have you heard? You can smoke weed in Grand Theft Auto V!
Only every gaming news outlet on the planet has reported on this revelation, and for further exploration you can check out their stories here, here, here, here, here, here and alright, you get the idea.
All of these were spawned by the release of the official ESRB descriptor of all the naughty content in the game. Let’s take a look, shall we?
According to their entry about the game, it contains “implied fellatio and masturbation; various sex acts with a prostitute; sexual moaning sounds; nudity (a topless lap dance in a strip club and exposed male genitalia in a non-sexual situation); sexual and mature humor; a scene involving raw sewage and feces on a person; a brief instance of necrophilia; drug use (smoking from a bong, lighting a marijuana joint, using cocaine); alcohol consumption, and drive while under the influence; and use of the words “f**k,” “c**t,” and “n****r” in some of the dialogue.”
And let’s not forget the violence!
“Players use pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles, and explosives to kill various enemies (e.g., rival gang members); players also have the ability to shoot non-adversary civilians, though this may negatively affect players’ progress as a penalty system triggers a broad police search. Blood-splatter effects occur frequently, and the game contains rare depictions of dismemberment.”
It’s amazing to me that out of everything listed here, news outlets are highlighting the fact that you can smoke weed as some sort of monumental event. This is a game that has necrophilia, and everyone is skipping over to the section that says a player can smoke a joint.
I’m not clear on when doing drugs in a game became the highest ranking item on a list when reporting on the mature content of a title. Games like GTA are filled with all manner of crimes, but it seems odd to focus on the one that is literally the least harmful out of any of them. And judging by the screenshot above, it might not even be a crime at all.
I’m no advocate for weed. I believe it’s a substance that can be abused (it’s not physically addictive, but can still send lives in a downward direction, as I’ve witnessed firsthand) and it comes with obvious health risks. That said, it comes with far less risks and has far less impact on society than nearly any other controlled or uncontrolled substance, cigarettes and alcohol included. The only direct impact it has is that illegal sales of the drug fund criminal organizations, like the kind you’re probably working for in Grand Theft Auto V.
The press, the public and ratings boards need to get over themselves when it comes to weed. A game that features dismemberment, torture and necrophilia is suddenly controversial because you smoke pot? That just rings hollow.