Playing Grand Theft Auto: A Lesson in Sex, Race, Violence and Media...

Game-Based Learning

Playing Grand Theft Auto: A Lesson in Sex, Race, Violence and Media Literacy?

Aug 6, 2017

GRAND THEFT AUTO 5 is not what many teachers or parents would consider appropriate for children or school. Yet that’s not the case at Royal St. George’s College, a ritzy, all-boy’s school in Toronto. There, the game—described by Polygon as “a celebration of a glamorized criminal class living in a moral vacuum”— is being used to teach affluent students about white male privilege. (Common Sense Media, for what it’s worth, gave the game a one-star rating for educational value.)

Polygon writer Colin Campbell explores how Paul Darvasi, a media literacy teacher at the school, challenges students to explore and critically reflect on how race, gender, misogyny, violence and masculinity are portrayed in popular entertainment media. “Playing this game under normal conditions can be compared to a colonial experience,” Darvasi told Polygon. “They are exercising their privilege playing around with race, playing around with gender.”

"Schools cannot ignore these games," Darvasi says at the end. “What I'm hoping is to plant seeds about race, about gender and about political ideology and to think about the operations of power, and about interrogating these things.”


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