Grand Theft Auto prepares USC freshmen

The 17-and-under world can breathe a sigh of relief and run back to their piggy banks: As of Monday, the Supreme Court has reasoned that a 2005 law attempting to deny minors the sale of violent video games is unconstitutional.

Despite the reasoning behind the law — that such games promoted “violent antisocial or aggressive behavior”  — the law was ultimately seen as too controlling and in violation of the First Amendment.

As Justice Antonin Scalia so baldly put it, “Reading Dante is unquestionably more cultured and intellectually edifying than playing Mortal Kombat. But these cultural and intellectual differences are not constitutional ones.”

Parents of underage students heading off to college, unclench yourselves — this actually bodes well for those new to USC. The Supreme Court’s decision to keep our rated-M pastimes off the proverbial high shelves ensures those lingering minors in the class of 2015 will be adequately prepared to leave the nest and fly into the “University of South Central’s” waiting arms.

To prove such a point, let us investigate that bastion of basement-dwelling clichés: Grand Theft Auto. Incoming freshmen, your first college study guide:

There exists at ’SC an unspoken rite of passage more heart-stopping than the fountain run and more aggravating than Writing 140. If it doesn’t happen to you, it will inevitably happen to someone you know. It’s not the first time your RA writes you up and it is not your first Thursday on The Row. It’s having your bike (or pieces of it) stolen.

In this situation, a teenager who had spent more time playing softball and less time blowing up gas stations with a rocket launcher might be stunned at the site of a mangled axle and one lone, sadly spinning wheel where their beloved blue beach cruiser used to be. Those who grew up on Grand Theft Auto, however, are familiar enough with such carnage to shoulder the scrap parts, assess the most efficient route back to their dorm, cache the remains under their bed and head off to Spanish II without so much as batting an eye.

And the GTA wisdom doesn’t end there. What many parents, or those in the minority of the 7-2 Supreme Court vote that scrapped the ban, might not realize is that Grand Theft Auto doesn’t just prepare you for the real world. It teaches morals. Each time you end up in the hospital or get caught by the police, you’re fined hundreds of dollars to discourage you from letting it happen again. Much like in real life. Video game-savvy freshman tasting independence for the first time will be less tempted to engage in activities likely to land them in either the ER or jail. After all, they’ve been conditioned through their favorite hobby to fear the consequences.

Lastly, fitness. USC is within walking distance of a daunting number of fast-food chains and greasy late-night taco stands. Though no one really goes into Yoshinoya except to use the bathrooms, Chano’s, Jack in the Box, McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Del Taco and Carl’s Jr. form a cardio-defying arsenal of trans fats and carbs that would make any healthy cholesterol level spike on sight merely from panic. Grand Theft Auto-lovers, however, have already been trained to keep trim; in the GTA Los Angeles setting, you learn to manage your characters’ diet and exercise.

So incoming students, if you happen to find yourself on the sharp end of any of ’SC’s less-savory features, don’t fret. Simply allow your Grand Theft Auto-honed reflexes take over.

Study up.


Kastalia Medrano is a junior majoring in print and digital journalism.