Will GTA 6 be "woke"? Fans express concern
Rockstar Games revealed the first official GTA 6 trailer on December 5, 2023, ahead of its expected launch time. The game's coming out in 2025, and gamers naturally have plenty of questions about it. One of the biggest questions is whether the next Grand Theft Auto title will be "woke" or not. "Woke" implies that a game is heavily focused on political correctness and features social justice commentary.
Many fans are concerned about the recent trend among game developers to include socio-political commentary in their games, which they believe seems out of place at times.
Note: This article is subjective and only reflects the writer's opinions.
Will GTA 6 preach political correctness?
The main concern about Grand Theft Auto 6 came after a Bloomberg report by Jason Schreier about the development of the game. He stated how Rockstar Games cleaned up their 'frat-boy' image and how they've become more politically sensitive. The article claimed:
"With a new tone at the company and a change in creative direction, GTA VI will probably feel very different from its predecessor."
Jason Schreier is a reputed insider whose predictions have often come true. His most recent one is where he backed up another trusted insider's claims about Rockstar announcing a GTA 6 trailer. The official announcement came soon after. This article from 2022 started by mentioning several of the "politically sensitive" things Rockstar had done at the time.
This includes canceling a Grand Theft Auto Online update named "Cops ‘n’ Crooks" and removing transphobic jokes from Grand Theft Auto 5. He then mentions that Grand Theft Auto 6 will be having a playable female character for the first time in the series.
This was somewhat proved in the massive GTA 6 leaks that came out in the same year, as it showed a Latina woman as one of the two playable protagonists. Several fans believed that having a female protagonist in a game series known for depicting the unjust and gritty world of crime was a sign of Rockstar going "woke."
Fans on Reddit complained that this would be the last straw that would rob the series of its realism. Some also believed it would make the series identical to the Saints Row reboot, with Grand Theft Auto Online already taking a step towards the absurd with its light-hearted storyline.
Others were more worried about the upcoming game's political sensitivity. This is because the article also mentions how the devs are trying to avoid making jokes about marginalized groups. Since then, many gamers have voiced their concerns, saying the next title might tone down its unbiased humor and focus more on political correctness instead.
Whether this is true or not will be determined when Grand Theft Auto 6 is released, but the upcoming trailer should provide a hint. The recent GTA 6 TikTok leak only showed a glimpse of the city and, as such, doesn't have much else to go on.
Socio-political critique in the GTA games
Video games are mainly intended as a form of entertainment and a means to escape reality by immersing oneself in a fictional setting. However, they are ultimately works of art, and as such, they are bound to convey a message, and socio-political critique is a common theme.
The Grand Theft Auto series isn't any different in this regard. The trademark satirical style fans are used to seeing in Rockstar Games started mainly with GTA 3 in 2001. It was a game ahead of its time that dared to poke fun at every facet of society, which is why it was often labeled as "edgy" or insensitive humor.
Although the games are often wacky and involve some over-the-top action, this comedy is more than just edgy humor. It's a carefully written critique of consumerism, Hollywood, politics, crime, media, gun culture, substance abuse, and almost everything in the modern world that one can think of.
However, as some users have pointed out, recent trends in the video game industry show that political commentary is a lot less nuanced.
Some players are also concerned about the Grand Theft Auto 6 storyline being too similar to GTA Online. The latter game is almost devoid of the cultural criticism that Rockstar is known for. It instead goes for pop culture references, collaborations with celebrities, futuristic gimmicks, or exploring the personal lives of the GTA 5 characters.
Socio-political commentary isn't new in the Grand Theft Auto series. However, it's left to be seen whether the upcoming GTA 6 will have an uncensored criticism of mainstream culture or whether this will be held back like in many modern titles.