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You Can Smoke Pot In GTA V, According to Ratings Board

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We had a hunch it was going to be possible, and, now, the people who rate video games are letting the cat out of the dimebag. You can smoke pot in GTA V, according to the Entertainment Software Ratings Board. That same group has offered a bunch of other mild spoilers for GTA V, if you're interested.


The following is the official summary from the ESRB's listing for GTA V, which is getting an M rating for, well, being Grand Theft Auto. Remember, M-rated games are for gamers 17 and up.

Rating Summary: In this open-world action game, players assume the role of three criminals whose storylines intersect within the fictional city of Los Santos. Players can switch between each character to follow his storyline, completing missions which often include criminal activities (e.g., stealing cars, executing heists, assassinating targets). Players use pistols, machine guns, sniper rifles, and explosives to kill various enemies (e.g., rival gang members); players also have the ability to shoot non-adversary civilians, though this may negatively affect players' progress as a penalty system triggers a broad police search. Blood-splatter effects occur frequently, and the game contains rare depictions of dismemberment. In one sequence, players are directed to use various instruments and means to extract information from a character; the sequence is intense and prolonged, and it involves some player interaction (i.e., responding to on-screen prompts).

The game includes depictions of sexual material/activity: implied fellatio and masturbation; various sex acts that the player's character procures from a prostitute—while no nudity is depicted in these sequences, various sexual moaning sounds can be heard. Nudity is present, however, primarily in two settings: a topless lap dance in a strip club and a location that includes male cult members with exposed genitalia in a non-sexual context.

Within the game, TV programs and radio ads contain instances of mature humor: myriad sex jokes; depictions of raw sewage and feces on a worker's body; a brief instance of necrophilia (no nudity is depicted).

Some sequences within the larger game allow players to use narcotics (e.g., smoking from a bong, lighting a marijuana joint); cocaine use is also depicted. Players' character can, at various times, consume alcohol and drive while under the influence. The words “f**k,” “c*nt,” and “n**ger” can be heard in the dialogue.


It's not clear just how often players will have control of using pot. And it seems like the ESRB is drawing a distinction between players using pot and cocaine being depicted. Interactivity for the former and no interactivity for the latter?

We've reached out to Rockstar for clarification on how players can or can't use pot in the game and will update you if they provide any details.

It also looks like GTA IV's drunk driving will be back, according to the ESRB summary.

GTA is also known for pushing the envelope regarding sex, but according to the above description, it seems that the sex in GTA V will be nudity-free. There will, however, be some exposed body parts in some non-sex scenes.


It may seem weird to parse a game like this in advance. It's possibly the least cool way to appreciate or anticipate a creative work. But Rockstar's Grand Theft Auto stands out as a game series that perpetually pushes the envelope in terms of sex, violence, cultural diversity, and political satire. How far they go can predict how far they'll pull the rest of big-budget gaming along or at least show how much further away from most of it they'll remain. While most games made by large studios are exercises in playing with safe content, Rockstar risks going further.


Previous GTA games have depicted drug use, though at least one of the series' protagonists, GTA: San Andreas' Carl Johnson, was anti-drug. GTA: Chinatown Wars let players make money selling drugs but didn't depict use. Other gaming series, such as Saints Row, have depicted use of pot, often under euphemistic names and generally just for comic effect.

Grand Theft Auto V, which seems like a significant evolution of Rockstar's open-world gaming formula, will be released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 on September 17. The game will also launch the ambitious Grand Theft Auto Online.


Also, for anyone scandalized about the idea of smoking pot in GTA, please note: you can also shoot people to death in this game.'s best to keep this in perspective, whether you're pro-marijuana use or against.


To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo.