It's no secret that the media has often misrepresented video games in the past, however things have gotten much better in recent years. Mostly. Not every channel out there got beyond their conservative preconceptions and Australia's commercial Channel 7 decided that GTA 5 is a great scapegoat in 2017. Still.
The news piece recently aired showing off the extremely in-depth fan-made mod for GTA 5, Los Santos Police Department First Response. The mod, which we've covered extensively in the past, is a massive total conversion mod which entirely reworks GTA 5 into a police simulator with some RPG elements.
One of the biggest draws of the mod is it's modability - pretty meta, right? The community keeps churning out their own content to be used within the mod, such as realistic and accurate police uniforms from countless countries as well as their vehicles, new game mechanics, refinements, missions, activities and all kinds of props.
Among the many police uniforms available is the outfit worn by New South Wales' finest and their accompanying vehicles. Now, the goal in LSPDFR is to act like a proper cop, not a typical GTA character, so murderous rampages, killing sprees and wanton destruction is pretty much the opposite of what you should be doing.
Nonetheless, one particular channel operating in Australia decided to turn the mod into a witch hunt of a news story to satisfy their viewer base, which approximately consists of five hyper-conservatives in their late 70's. The reporters and individuals interviewed display such an inherent ignorance about the game, and pretty much everything else they wash into the topic, that it would be painful to watch if it weren't so bloody funny.
It's like they looked at every (US) Fox News broadcast from the past decade railing on GTA, and distilled the formula for this kind of thing. Enter a reporter setting up the game with a description that focuses solely on the violence, then cut in interviews from the authorities and a psychologist.
Footage is shown of someone streaming LSPDFR with a NSW police mod installed. There are a few scenes where the player shoots suspects as a cop, but the majority of the footage is just regular non-violent stuff. Naturally, the shooting scenes are replayed over and over.
These are New South Wales police officers as you've never seen them before. Crushing cars, shooting suspects and getting run over.
Now, the video eventually clarifies that this is a mod with a short explanation that is bound to go over the heads of their target audience, but a follow-up video with the most cringe-worth discussion between three people with no clue about the topic reading scripts written by other people with no clue about the topic go ahead and call it a "hack". Guys, terminology.
Phrases such as "underground computer geeks" are uttered without irony, and at one point the reporter claims that "the online world is virtually lawless". Well, yes, Mike, but maybe darknet drug exchanges are a better proof of that than a GTA mod.
The age old argument that violent video games cause violence in players is brought up again. While there have been some cases where individuals themselves named a game as their influence following a crime, such occurrences are very rare and far between, and in each case an unrelated underlying mental condition is also present, meaning a binge-watching a violent TV show would have triggered the same effect.
But even if we account that for, the arbitrary statistic of 8% of youth violence in Australia being caused by the influence of video games is so patently absurd that it outstrips all the other bollocks spoken of in these videos.
The second video, captioned "Grand Theft Anger: video game modified to allow players to attack NSW police" (as opposed to, you know, allowing players to attack suspects as NSW police, which was described before.), sees a reporter, who somehow managed to get paid for this thing, saying that they didn't even know "GTA was still on the market." Well, you could say that.
The following discussion changes from the "pathetic but funny" quality of the previous stuff into the "outright terrible". It's like seeing a re-enactment of a video game witch-hunt news report from 2008. Apparently, the NSW Police will take action against the designers of the game - whether they mean Rockstar or the developers of the mod itself, we have no clue, partially because we don't think there is any legal grounds on which to take action.
However, something good did come of this, believe it or not. The response to the video, which has gained over one and a half million views on Facebook, likely thanks to the scathing coverage the gaming press has given it starting with Kotaku, is rightfully condemning. Better yet, this is the most publicity LSPDFR has gotten. Ever.
Pretty much every comment under the video condemns this facetious and sensationalized "coverage" of the mod. Many point out that the game is over three years old, but it was fine so long as it was American police being on both ends of the violence. Others bring attention to how outdated and wrong it is to keep blaming video games for violence.
The news reports bring up a case in 2001 when a NSW police officer was tragically killed in an accident when a reckless driver ran him over. The reporters cared not that they were disrespecting the death - and thus life - of an officer just to further their agenda by linking it to Need for Speed with precisely zero evidence to back this up.
The channel was called out on once again antagonizing gamers and using the phrase "underground computer geeks", which really seems out of place in an actual news report in 2017. For a moment we had to check whether this is the Onion or not, but then the Onion has a higher standard of quality.
Many other comments under the video are some variation of "cool, now I'll go download that mod", with several fans linking to LSPDFR's official website. After a lengthy period of inactivity last year, the mod is once again going strong with a lot of new content in the development pipeline, as well as a lively community.
We're not quite sure what Channel 7 wanted to achieve with this, but what they did achieve was drive a whole lot of traffic to LSPDFR's site, and likely boost downloads for the month as well - and they deserve it too. LSPDFR is one of the most polished and in-depth mods for GTA 5 out there with a dedicated development team.
For all the fans that have been clamoring for some kind of police DLC to come in GTA Online, this is the closest thing there is, and likely has broader functionality than any official DLC that Rockstar could fit into the existing bounds of the game's mechanics. The project has existed as long ago as during GTA 4's primetime, being originally called Liberty City Police Department First Response.
In case you're worried that those two videos might have caused permanent brain damage, we suggest to download LSPDFR if you haven't already and subject yourself to video game therapy. It works wonders, we swear, and you won't be magically turned into a violent criminal either!