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Is GTA V's Graphic Torture Scene a Step Too Far

Did GTA V go over the line with it's incredibly graphic torture sequence?

Note: If you're planning on playing GTA V, this article may contain some spoilers. I will do my best to avoid doing so, but there's a chance that something might slip. Just as a warning. 

GTA V is a game about antiheroes. Like all the other Grand Theft Auto offerings, it follows around a criminal (in this case 3) as they shamefully run over people, assasinate random citizens, and generally cause mayhem. Some people call it satire. Some call it escapism. Whatever it is, it's never really been a game for someone who falls on the the "lawful" side of the spectrum. 

Trevor is a psychopath. That much is clear from the trailers. But he's an entertaining character, so you put up with mini-games where you have to slaughter rednecks because he has a unique take on the world. However, there's one scene in particular that had me unable to look at the screen, and apparently offended a few anti-torture advocates in the process. 

There are not exactly words to describe how graphic this scene is, but perhaps the most visceral part of it is the fact that you're doing the torturing. The victim, a screaming man who begs you not to do what you're about to do is tied to a chair. You are told by the FBI-like in-game organization that you must torture him, and are given a table of implements with which to exact your power-play. 

Through contextual clues, you've already been told in-game that this man pretty much knows nothing, and would in fact give you all of the information you desire if you just ask. But you can't ask. You have to choose from your table of torture. Will you break his knee caps with a wrench? Will you slowly pull out one of his teeth? Will you waterboard him with gasoline? Will you electrocute him? All the while, your controller lightly rumbles with this man's heartbeat. But don't worry, if he dies, you can just restart his heart with a shot of adrenaline. 

It's incredibly disquieting to say the least. Tonally, it doesn't even really match the sort of satire that it is clear that GTA V is shooting for. Instead, you are asked to go back and forth between Michael and Trevor, and every time Trevor's icon flashes, you don't want to go back. You don't want to torture this man. In the end, he gives you the information you're asking for, but it's a hollow victory, if it's a victory at all. 

Freedom from Torture, an anti-torture advocacy group has said,

"Torture is a reality, not a game and glamourising it in popular culture undoes the work of organisations like Freedom from Torture and survivor activists to campaign against it." 

"Torture is a reality, not a game and glamourising it in popular culture undoes the work of organisations like Freedom from Torture and survivor activists to campaign against it." 

What do you think? Have you played the GTA V torture sequence? 

Published Sep. 20th 2013
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