I'm not mad about Grand Theft Auto V. I just don't care. In fact, I care so little about Grand Theft Auto V that when I scheduled a vacation for last week, the game's release date never crossed my mind. Even while avoiding the Internet, as is my habit on vacations, I still ended up being subjected to a gushing review of Rockstar's latest blockbuster from a friend of a friend over sushi on Friday night. I have to admit, the way the game handles its multiple protagonists seems neat, and I'd love to see something similar pop up in a game that I actually want to play.
Returning to the online world to see that game sites are still crammed with text about GTA V, it seems hard to believe that there are plenty of gamers out there who don't play the series. Still, I know there are many for whom last week was simply a time to beat The Wonderful 101, start a New Game Plus in Tales of Xillia, sort out their Pokemon collection in anticipation of next month's X/Y release, or further immerse themselves in Puppeteer.
Like many hobbies that have built up communities around them, gaming has acquired some of the trappings of a religion. It has its rituals for big releases, such as the crazy pre-release hype phase and the midnight lineup. Being uninterested in a major release event feels a bit like being part of a non-Christian religion on December 25. Everyone around you is happy and excited, and that's great, but your special holiday is on another day.
Around the biggest of these releases, such as a new GTA, Call of Duty, or (for RPG fans) Elder Scrolls game, there's even backlash against people who dare not to be fans. “But it's the best, you have to try it,” exclaim well-meaning enthusiasts as though their target were a five-year-old who refuses to eat a pork chop. “You're not a real gamer if you don't play this series,” comment the same sort of people who perpetuate the Star Wars vs. Star Trek war or accuse others of being “fake geeks” because they haven't been reading comics since 1954.
Then, of course, there are the people who go into full jerk mode and go on “crusades” against anybody who expresses negative or disinterested comments against a popular game. There's a dark side to every real religion, and the dark side of gaming's pseudo-religion is people who are hateful towards others who don't share their preferences. It takes a strange kind of logic to believe that one of the fastest-selling games in history is somehow at risk from people who don't like it, think it's sexist, or simply don't want to play. It takes a sorry excuse for a human being to use GTA as an excuse to hurl abuse at women, be it online or offline.
So to all you niche gamers, indie gamers, cell phone gamers, and regular old gamers who just happen not to care about GTA, I say you're not alone. It's okay not to play Grand Theft Auto. Gaming is for fun, and that's something the gaming community seems to forget sometimes. I'm glad that GTA V turned out well for all the GTA fans, and I'm sure they're having a great time pulling off heists. The rest of you can feel free to join me in letting the hubbub pass you by. I'll be right here at my desk, reading Steambox articles and anticipating the release of Rune Factory 4.
Senior Contributing Writer