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Don’t Want Your Kids to Play Games Like Grand Theft Auto V? Then Don’t Buy It For Them

The United States was recently both shocked and horrified by the mass shooting that occurred in DC.  Blame has been thrown around by the mainstream media struggling to point at the culprit.  Is it guns?  The individual?  Of course, if you are a gamer then you must have known where the press was going to hang one of their hats.  The one common enemy that  both conservatives and liberals could both blame without fear of recrimination from the other. With the release of one of the biggest games of the year coming in the form of Grand Theft Auto V, there could be no doubt that the press was going to in some part blame violent video games.

GTA V was only released the day after the shootings in DC happened, and after the shooter was already dead, many in the media from MSNBC to their counterparts in Fox News had already lambasted the game for its violence and influence.  TV psychologists and talking heads like Dr. Keith Ablow and Dr. Drew were crowing about the negative effects of these games on children.  However, none of these people ever ask the pertinent question: where are these children getting games like Grand Theft Auto V?

I remember standing in line for my copy of the game and seeing kids that were way too young in front and behind me standing with their parents.  Has no one considered that there is a reason for the warnings that are clearly stated on the back of the case?  That there are reasons that their children can’t walk into a store by themselves and ask the cashier for their own copy?  GTA V has already earned over $1 billion in sales, and Rockstar Games should be proud of their achievement.  I, for one, adore the game, and as soon as this article is finished, I will be running back to play it.  The problem is that a large portion of users didn’t buy the game themselves, but got it from their parents. And no one seems to want to talk about that.

Most parents have no idea what’s in the games that their kids want to play, and a lot of retailers aren’t going to go out of their way to tell them.  The last time I went to a game store, I saw a mother buying her clearly underage son a Call of Duty game.  When the cashier asked her if the game was for her son, the mother said yes.  When the cashier asked her if she was aware that the game was meant for people older then her child and that there were very mature themes in it, the mother again said yes, but her son really wanted it.  So of course the cashier sold it to her.  I don’t know the woman, but she could have prevented this by putting her foot down.

I understand that in the modern age of the internet and smart phones it’s almost impossible to keep kids away from things that are inappropriate for them.  There are bullies and predators everywhere, and it’s hard to protect your children.  But that doesn’t mean that it’s impossible, and it certainly doesn’t mean that kids should be playing Grand Theft Auto V.  Of course it’s a judgement call for parents on what their children should be allowed to consume, but I would have less of a problem with someone letting their kids play Halo then another parent letting their kid play GTA V, a game where the F word is not only a noun, but also an verb and an adjective.

Of course I’m not only blaming the parents for this, some of the responsibility has to be  put on the stores.  If they were willing to just not sell the games to parents who were making no effort to hide the fact that they were trying to buy a mature title for their clearly immature child, then things would be easier.  But that’s something that’s out of the parents control.  At the end of the day, it is up to parents to do the research in the latest game that their child wants.  Google is your friend folks, and it’ll help you find out what is and is not appropriate for your child.  It will certainly be easier for you then it was for my parents.

For example, when I was a kid I desperately wanted the original Mortal Kombat.  I wanted it more than anything I could remember ever wanting.  I bugged my parents every minute of every day trying to get my hands on it until finally my mother agreed to buy it for me.  One day we went to the store to pick it up.  When we got to the cashier, I remember having a huge smile on my face in anticipation of the fun I was going to have when we got home until my mother started talking to the clerk.  “Is this game appropriate for my daughter?”  The clerk said no, that I was too young for the game, and that it was violent and bloody.  So my mom thanked him, put the game down and we went home.  She then informed the neighbors that I wasn’t allowed to play it to stop me from going to their homes.  Mums was hardcore like that.

I’m not trying to say that my mother is better than any other parent today.  Just that she did her homework, as all parents have to do.  There is a world of difference between games like Disney Infinity or even The Wonderful 101 and Grand Theft Auto V.  If parents want to protect their children from violence in video games, it’s up to them to understand what’s in those games by doing a little research and then doing their kids a favor.  Just Say No.

 



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