Makin’ Money, Makin’ Art: Grand Theft Auto 5


Grand Theft Auto 5 is described as an action open world video game developed by Rockstar. When I started the game, it was not from the beginning and I did not realize this until later. I accidentally started where my boyfriend left off, so I did not see most of the story. I played the game on the PlayStation 3 and I enjoyed most of my time playing it. When I began, I was in the city of Los Santos with different weapons available to me that I could toggle through. I could just walk or run up to anybody to hurt or kill them. Typically, that would eventually lead to police chases and my eventual death. My first week of playing was spent running around, hitting people, crashing into everything, and dying many many times. My second week I realized that there was an actual story because I would get calls and texts so I tried to play the story. I wasn’t a fan of the story as it involved a lot quick actions of shooting and driving. I wasn’t good at it and decided to go back to my own thing. One of my favorite things about the game was the city, Los Santos. I am from Southern California and would always go to LA on the weekends, so it was almost like I was back home through the video game. It was interesting experience and fun to see some of the similarities in the game. Another great thing about the game is the radio stations. Many of the music on the stations played well known music and I hgta-5-radiosad the best time going through them. Non Stop Pop FM played tracks from Rihanna and Britney Spears. Radio Los Santos had Kendrick Lamar and Future. East Los FM  had Sonora Dinamita, whom I absolutely love. I honestly spent a majority of my time playing music and randomly driving around the city. While I was not playing the game as most people believe it should be played, I was having so much fun doing my own thing.

I was thoroughly impressed by GTA 5. The game brought so many different mediums of art together that it created an even larger work of art. So can video games be art? Yes, they definitely can. According to GWF Hegel, art is dialectic; it is progress. Progress can definitely be seen throughout the Grand Theft Auto series and in GTA 5. Throughout the series new features are added and the graphics look cleaner and clearer than the other games.  As listed in Gaming Reality, customization is more widely available in 5 than it was in GTA 4. As well, the AI now participate in activities that resemble them living their lives than just wandering the city as past games had done. By progressing and improving the series with every new game title, Rockstar is creating art with each release which can also be seen in paintings throughout history. While the progress of the game partly has to do with the progress of the console, or medium, it is progress nonetheless. As each console progresses so does the GTA series.

Furthermore, Grand Theft Auto 5 is art because it involves cooperation between people. In Howard S. Becker’s work, titled “Art Worlds and Collective Activity”, he describes works of art as, “joint products of all the people who cooperate via an art world’s characteristic conventions to bring works like that into existence” (Becker 35). He then describes art worlds as, “the people whose activities are necessary to the production of the characteristic works which that world, and perhaps others as well, define as art” (Becker 34).  In Grand Theft Auto 5, the amount of cooperation is readily seen in the credits widely regarded as the longest credits ever. First, there is the producer and game designer then both the art and technical directors of the game. Then come the artists, writers, and directors. The many groups of programmers include sound, online, physics, camera, and many more. Skipping ahead are scripters, testers, IT support, and art/ animation services used. There are the voice actors for the main characters, background characters, pedestrians, and then the translators for all of those. Then the amazing music for all the stations are listed as well. Now the ones I’ve mentioned are only a tiny portion of the people that worked on this game. I mean the credits are 36 minutes long so that time alone should really give a perspective of how many either directly or indirectly worked on the game. Collective activity is important for art because it brings together people of different backgrounds and skills, defined as an art world, to create a work that continuously seeks to improve itself.

GTA 5 is art just as conceptual/ performance art work is art. While both have reached the point of art through progress and collective activity, they require the audience participation to create meaning. Grand Theft Auto 5 uses these three things to create a work of art that many, such as myself, continue to enjoy to this day.


Howard Becker. (1982). “Art Worlds and Collective Activity” in Art Worlds. Berkeley:University of California Press: pp. 1-39.

G. W. E. Hegel. (1998 [1826]). “Philosophy of Fine Art.” In The Art of Art History: A Critical Anthology, edited by D. Preziosi. Oxford: Oxford University Press: pp. 80-88.

4 thoughts on “Makin’ Money, Makin’ Art: Grand Theft Auto 5

  1. This was definitely a good read that made me giggle. Not only was it enjoyable to read but definitely informative. You elaborated on your references really allowing the reader to understand and perhaps persuade them GTA is art.


  2. I see how you have incorporated Becker’s argument, but what if the makers did not want it to be considered art? How would this change your argument?


    • Thanks for your comment. Well the makers never considered their game to be art in the first place, so if Rockstar flat out said their game was not art then I don’t think much would change. My argument would still be valid.


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