Grand Theft Auto V condemned for graphic torture scenes

Players of latest version of Grand Theft Auto have to pull teeth or electrocute unarmed victim

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 September, 2013, 3:54am


Grand Theft Auto 5, the most expensive computer game ever made, has caused outrage for including a torture scene in which the player must pull teeth and electrocute an unarmed man.

Freedom from Torture joined Amnesty, British teachers' union the ATU and former British minister Keith Vaz in condemning the scene, two days after the worldwide release of the game.

In the 18-rated game the player becomes career criminal Trevor Phillips. One of Phillips' missions involves torturing an alleged terrorist for information at the behest of the FBI.

Players must complete the scene to finish the game and are offered a selection of torture implements, including sledgehammers and electric cables, to use on the victim. If his heart stops, a shot of adrenaline restarts it.

"Rockstar North [the makers of the game] has crossed a line by effectively forcing people to take on the role of a torturer and perform a series of unspeakable acts if they want to achieve success," said Freedom from Torture chief executive Keith Best.

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

Keith Vaz added he was "astonished at the level of violence", while Alison Sherratt, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, warned that young children watching siblings play may think it's reality.

"The graphics are so realistic that little ones don't think what they're watching is a game," she said. "ATL is not calling for a ban on these games, or censorship at all. What we are asking is for parents to become aware that the little ones are seeing these things."

The Grand Theft Auto series is a frequent target of attacks by campaigners who claim its content is violent and sexist. While cynical and satirical in tone, critics argue the latest instalment misses its mark. In one scene, players have to grope strippers while avoiding a bouncer.

Freedom from Torture's Best was unswayed by the suggestion that the torture scenes represented satirical comment.

"This adds insult to injury for survivors who are left physically and mentally scarred by torture," he said.