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I work retail. Where I work is unimportant and irrelevant, but my store has an electronics department and from there I am the associate in charge of video games. Not in charge in a way that actually allows me to get things done in my area (e.g. organize it, price it, etc.), in charge meaning that when things don’t get done they have someone to yell at, but I digress. My point here is that I sell a lot of video games.
I am sure everyone is already thoroughly aware that GTA V came out this past week. Many (if not most) of you have probably contracted the GTA flu, calling off of work and school, and have hooked up an IV drip of your energy drink of choice to combat this contagion. Well in light of this and the holiday season coming up, I thought I would write on the topic of ESRB ratings.
Nowhere close to as graphic as GTA.
I would like to know what in the bloody hell is going on with parents? You see I had the distinct pleasure of selling GTA V to a mother for her nine-year-old son, while she rudely yapped on the phone, presumably to one of her girlfriends, about how appalling Miley Cyrus was at the VMAs. What? I think I am going to repeat that question for dramatic emphasis: What?
Admittedly I did not help. I made absolutely no effort to explain to her the nature of the game and the laundry list of reasons why it was rated Mature. I have completely stopped trying, and so have most of my coworkers. You see parents don’t want to know, don’t care, and/or have just given up. I remember distinctly explaining the violence of Black Ops II to a very nice but seemingly worn down mother who was buying two copies for her sons, who wouldn’t be legal to vote if you added their ages together. Her response left me utterly flabbergasted. She said, “Yeah but that’s what they want. All their friends are doing it.” I seem to remember that being a cliché that kids said to parents to try (and fail) to convince the parents to let them do/have something. I’m sure this lady’s kids would also like to eat ice cream for dinner, followed by gummy worms for dessert, pick their noses and eat the results, and jump on the couch until it is plushy rubble, but that is also the job of a parent, to say “no” to your kids from time to time.
Grand Theft Auto is not a family game.
I admit, that it’s probably harder than it sounds. As someone who doesn’t have kids I have no idea of the awesome responsibility that parents hold. However I have next to no sympathy for parents. Perhaps I am a heartless bastard. The way I see it though, you don’t have a kid spontaneously. Certain actions cause it and as an adult, you need to take responsibility for what you and your genitals have created.
But back to video games, I feel it is these neglectful parents that give gaming a bad name. I mean on a personal level I have great issue with being in a COD game and having these tiny little voices shouting various racial/homophobic obscenities at me, but more because they are annoying and some of them are better than me [author’s note: Let it be known that I am shaking my fist at this moment]. On a level that affects the gaming community, I feel that it is because of such neglectful parents that my chosen pastime comes under fire from people like Jack Thompson who decry video games from a position of moral outrage, going so far as to refer to first person shooters as “murder simulators” and link everything from robberies Columbine all to video game violence. While I find such allegations to be as absurd as Dungeons & Dragons being linked to devil worship, I will be the first to admit that violent content in video games can sometimes be disturbing. But that’s why the box says that you should be an adult before you experience it. It is as simple as that. How about we, as a society, protect our young from violence and disturbing imagery. If not for their benefit, then for the benefit of the thousands upon thousands of people who have healthy, developed minds and enjoy these games with no ill effects.
Oh, and one other thing. Though I have no evidence to back this up I suspect that it is probably spoiled brats that never get told “no” by parents who – in their teenage years – scream, throw twitter tantrums, and threaten developers when something in their game isn’t exactly what they wanted. Please parents, for the love of any beneficent god(s) out there, teach your kids that life isn’t fair and that perhaps they can’t always get what they want.
Editor’s Note: GTA V is Rated M for Mature for Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Mature Humor, Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content and Use of Drugs and Alcohol. Included in that is a cannibalism scene mistaken for a rape scene, a full controllable torture sequence that includes Waterboarding, the option to drop hitchhikers to a cultist compound to an unknown fate and a strip club with more nudity than past games. While every parent has the right to raise their kids however they wish, they should know what their kid is playing before it is allowed. To any unaware parents, watch your kid play this for an hour and make an informed decision.
How do you feel about parents who let their kids play GTA? Leave a comment below to join the conversation!