Grand Theft Auto V is crazy, violent, awesome, sick, brilliant, depressing, horrifying and fun.  For all the terrible things, and there are many, many terrible things, the potential exists for learning some important life lessons while playing GTA V.  Some of these lessons are obvious, like guns hurt and can kill.  Other lessons are more nuanced than that.

gta 5 characters

Class is in session.

I steadfastly believe players should possess a certain amount of maturity to discern the “truth” out of the satire.  But, sometimes, kids play this game, and that’s also a terrible thing, but here’s hoping they learn the following:

  • Helmets save lives, up to a certain speed.  And, you really should wear your seatbelt.  Lucky for the bikers in the game, if you wait an extra couple of seconds when you hop on a motorcycle, you’ll automatically put on a helmet (unless you’re Trevor, of course).  Seatbelts, though, not an option.  In real life, however, it IS an option!  So wear your seatbelt.  And a helmet.
  • No one is safe from stereotypes.  A stereotype exists for every human on the planet.  We all can be pigeonholed into categories, but we’re unique because of our numerous individual interests and habits.  In GTA V, there’s tension in friendships because characters are breaking out of their stereotypes.  Bummer of it is, in GTA V, we’re often viewing these stereotypes through the eyes of one sex.
  • There are awkward moments during a road trip where no one speaks.  In GTA V, you do a lot of driving.  Occasionally, you have passengers.  One of the tough things for the Rockstar writers must be that balance – sometimes as you’re playing, you’ll arrive to your destination before the dialog is finished between the characters in the car/plane/helicopter/boat/mode of transportation.  If you trigger the next scene, you’ll miss the dialog.  So, I find myself pulling over a lot to let everyone finish talking.  But occasionally, there are times where you’re driving a great distance, and nobody has anything more to say, and it’s quiet in a full car.  The absurdity of it always makes me laugh, if only because it’s so real.  Embrace that silence.  We all need more silence.
  • You can hear a lot of great music you’ve never heard before.  Pretty much every car you jack has a different radio station on, and it’s fun to hop in a car and listen to Mexican electronica (which is actually pretty delightful as it turns out).  Rebel Radio is pretty great, too, but I usually end up listening to West Coast Classics.  I really, really wish, for this reason, they’d bring back Double Clef FM.  I could program that s**t in a heartbeat.  Other than that, the music diversity is great, and it’s fun to hear new sounds.
  • Many SUVs are completely worthless off-road.
  • Sports cars really are worthless off-road.

There are plenty of other things to learn, but these stood out to me.  What lessons stand out to you?

Emily Reese is an on-air host for Classical Minnesota Public Radio. She is also the host and producer for Top Score, Classical MPR’s podcast about video game soundtracks, and created MPR’s Listening to Learn series. She earned an undergrad certificate in music education and jazz studies from the University of Colorado — Boulder, and a Master’s degree in music theory from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Emily lives in Twin Cities with her cats Atticus, June Bug and Lee, and loves gaming, with or without friends.