The day I stopped playing GTA

So Grand Theft Auto 5 is out and a lot of people are discussing the controversial torture scene. People like Eurogamer editor Tom Bramwell, who writes:

“GTA is a game full of violence, of course, but it is mostly slapstick, impersonal, cartoon violence – floppy-limbed pedestrians flying over your bonnet, cars flipping through intersections, or tanks and helicopters exploding. You’re always slightly zoomed out from the impact of your actions by the lack of close-ups and the way everything resets to normal a few minutes later. It’s very unusual to be hurting a single person in isolation over a prolonged period, which is why the torture scene is a different and unpleasant experience.”

With respect to Tom, I think he’s wrong to call this scene an exception. In fact his description of Trevor’s graphic torture reminded me very much of a small section in GTA 4 that put me off the series forever. The mission in question is called  ‘I’ll take her (Ransom)’. It’s short and remarkably simple, all you have to do is beat a defenseless woman and take a photo of her battered face.

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Let’s make comments earn their front page status

Note: I can’t claim full credit for this idea. It’s based on a similar brainstorm by my friend Chris Thursten. My version is just simpler and more drastic.

Recently I’ve read a number of articles on internet comments. Notably this one by Ed Smith on Medium. The message is simple: comments are terrible, they’re being used to bully and harass writers, something must be done. All these articles are confident that something will be done, that creators will eventually wrest the power back from the comment section but, other than Ed’s suggestion that comments should occasionally be closed, no-one seems to have much of an idea how we should go about it. I do.

The idea is simple. Having your words appear below the article is a privilege, not a right, so let’s force people to earn that right. Let’s make sure every single comment requires someone to click ‘approve’ before it shows up. Instead of only exceptionally bad comments being deleted, only especially good ones will appear at all.

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