Grand Theft Auto as an MMORPG: What does this mean for addicted gamers?

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Rockstar Newswire recently confirmed the details of the multiplayer component online for Grand Theft Auto. It will support up to 16 players at a time and players will be able to customize their cars and characters.  The report also confirmed that the longer the gamer spends playing it, the greater their reputation will be and they will be able to gainer higher ranks, gain access to coveted new weapons and other new features.

Gamers won’t be forced to spend real money in the game, but if they want to, they will gain access to cars, guns, clothes, and more significantly faster than those that don’t spend. (1)

So what does this mean for gamers that are hooked on Grand Theft Auto? This game is already an adult only game – it is full of violence and gore.  The graphics are extremely realistic and put the gamer right in the middle of what seems like real life action. When an already realistic game like Grand Theft Auto turns into a MMORPG, it is like violence on digital crack. The gamers feel their blood pressures rise, they feel in control, they’re on top of the game, dominating another player through killing and wrecking a city. In addition, now that the game is interactive with other live players around the world, a social element is added to the game. These players are immediately immersed into the digital world and they begin to explore it together – something that a single player game can’t do. Once they see the intriguing, addictive nature of this new digital world, the gamers find that the game is pleasing, challenging, and it can even become more exciting than the real world.  As the gamers play, especially when minutes turn into hours and they begin getting more and more sucked into the game, the brain signals the body to release endorphins into the bloodstream and dopamine into the brain. This tells the player that the game makes them “feel good” and they keep on playing.

Grand Theft Auto designers know the success of MMORPG’s and know the appeal that the social element of gaming has on people that game regularly. So, by developing an awesome, real-life digital world and allowing online social interaction to take place, they can rope in more and more players. Now, they have captured gamers all over the world and the cycle of gaming continues.

So for gaming addicts that play for hours at a time, they slowly begin to escape their real life surroundings. Their digital world becomes their new world. They don’t have to think about losing control or that their real life is on the verge of crumbling – in the digital world, they are invincible and a force to be reckoned with.  Is it a big surprise that gamers would much rather continue living in the digital world?


1. Holzworth, Chris. “Rockstar Offers Up Details on Grand Theft Auto Online, Including Microtransactions.” September 25, 2013. Accessed September 30, 2013.

Article written by Brooke Strickland