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GTA: 5 times that Rockstar perhaps took things too far

Image credits: arstechnica
Image credits: arstechnica
Rahul Bhushan
Modified 21 Oct 2020, 17:46 IST

No other game franchise in history (save, for maybe, Postal) has ever managed to drum up the kind of controversy as the GTA franchise. However, in comparison to other games that attempt satire or to be provocative, the Grand Theft Auto series usually does it with a lot more nuance.

There is genuine talent and effort that goes into writing the GTA series, and more often than not, it has managed to bat a good average. However, it has had the odd stumble here and there, and managed to anger just about everyone, sometimes even its own fans.

Here, we take a look at five times the GTA franchise crossed a line to the point that not even fans could defend the series.

The few times GTA may have taken things too far

1) "By the Book"

By far, the most controversial episode to come out of GTA 5 was the infamous torture sequence in the mission "By the Book". During this mission, players are tasked with getting information out of a certain character by way of torture.

The gamer, as Trevor Phillips, is then made to deal out brutal torture in the form of pulling out teeth, breaking legs with a giant wrench, and even waterboarding. This part was considered so controversial that even fans of the GTA franchise found it indefensible.


Rockstar's satire has gone into dark territory time and time again, and this was perhaps their way of bringing to light the brutality and useless nature of torture. This may undoubtedly be the case as post this sequence, Trevor instructs the victim, Mr K, to let the world hear of his torture at the hands of the IAA.

This was maybe a poor attempt at satire by Rockstar more than anything else, and simply a misguided sense of creative expression.

2) Trevor's rampages

This entire list could honestly just be filled with things Trevor says and does, but some things simply stand out more than others. While this could just be a figment of Trevor's imagination in GTA 5, it still doesn't make it any less disturbing.

Throughout the game, Trevor encounters several different groups of people such as "Hillbillies", "Soldiers", or "Hipsters", then promptly be launched into a gunfight with them on the streets.


The imagery of a lone gunman gunning down several civilians on the streets wasn't one that fans were all too comfortable with. While it could be argued that the entire game simply allows for players to do that all the time, the Rampage missions simply add incentive in terms of player progression, which makes it stand out.

GTA 5's explanation for those missions may be Trevor projecting his own securities, and this being his way of dealing with them internally.

3) The Hot Coffee Mod

This was one of the biggest controversies that the GTA franchise had stirred up, which caused Rockstar to lose large sums of money due to GTA San Andreas being pulled from shelves.

The controversy stemmed from the fact that, buried deep within the game files, was a mini-game that involved CJ and his girlfriends throughout the game. Data miners were able to locate and unlock this mini-game, and dubbed it the "Hot Coffee Mod".

The mod was dubbed so as the mini-game would take place after CJ's girlfriend would invite him to her house for "hot coffee". The backlash came swift and hard for Rockstar, and they eventually patched the game. But the damage was already done as, the publisher failed to remove the game files entirely.


This led many to believe that Rockstar intentionally left them in there for players to discover.

4) Being rewarded for mowing down monks

The Hare Krishna movement was a branch of Hinduism that took hold of the West, and especially the United States, through the 60s and even the 90s. Members of this movement would often be found dressed in orange, and were also in the original GTA.

In the game, if the player managed to run down a whole line of Hare Krishnas, the words "GOURANGA" would splash across the screen, which roughly translates to "be happy".

This did not cause that much of a stir within the fanbase, as GTA did not have one at the time. However, as the GTA franchise grew popular, fans were left disgusted to learn that the game once acknowledged the player's horrifying act and rewarded them with praise.

This was simply Rockstar in its infancy and testing the waters. Yet, it is inexcusable to reward players for mowing down civilians.

5) Players murdering and robbing sex workers

Image credits: Gamoholik,youtube
Image credits: Gamoholik,youtube

The GTA series has been known to push the envelope and boundaries of what is acceptable in modern entertainment. In the games, players could essentially acquire the services of a sex worker in exchange for cash.

However, they soon discovered that they could recover their money if they killed the sex worker right after. This caused a lot of uproar from various groups all over the world, and caused Rockstar to uncharacteristically issue an apology.

The outrage stemmed from the fact that any element of the game is essentially part of it because Rockstar wanted it to be included. And that no oversight could ever explain players being able to recover money should they kill a sex worker.

The GTA franchise also received major backlash for promoting violence against women, as a result.

Published 21 Oct 2020, 17:46 IST
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