Friday, May 02, 2008


Evidently, I plan to steal, kill, and destroy. I contribute to the end of all that is good and holy for our children. Look upon me, for I am the face of moral decline. I purchased Grand Theft Auto IV.

There has been a media circus regarding the release of this game. Admittedly, I follow news like this, but it seems that every day someone else (or several someone elses) have to put their two cents in about theage of darkness that will be ushered in by this game. One would think that the cover of this game is a little gate to hell, and opening it will unleash such evil that the western world will dissolve into anarchy.

This game has been called a murder simulator, a cop-killing trainingdevice, and pornography. And it’s a game. One that is played while sitting on the couch, looking at a TV. If this game had been a movie, nobody would have complained. If this game had been a book, nobody would have thought twice. But no, since it’s interactive, it will unravel the fabric of society.

This game is rated M by the ESRB, a rating that is equal to an R rating in a movie. And yes, it earns its rating, perhaps more so than any other videogame I have played. It is a game in which it is inevitable that you will be running from the police. It is a game in which it is very easy to run down pedestrians, and actually a little difficult to avoid it. It is a game in which your character has the option to do any number of illicit things, such as kill a cop, steal a car, pick up a hooker, drive drunk, or go to a strip club (and no, from what I understand, the naughty bits are not visible). It is also a game in which your character can go bowling, watch TV, buy clothes, play darts, or go to a comedy club (and yes, they actually have real comedians doing virtual performances). You have options, just like life.

I understand the concern of parents who don’t want their child exposed to the less virtuous aspects of the game. The language alone is pretty bad. However, several places (including the CTA) have pulled advertisements based off of the complaints of various concerned citizen groups. Is that going too far? To remove advertising because of the damage the product might do to someone that is not in its target audience? Will this advertising be replaced for ads for an R-rated movie? Alcohol? Is this media assault not giving the game tons of free advertising?

I’ve never been a parent, but I do know that if I don’t want my children exposed to something, one of the best ways to do so is to not bring it into my home. Yes, it would be naïve to think that children won’t get exposure to it outside the home, but I am led to believe that’s why parents are supposed to communicate with their children. I feel like the attacks on this game are reflected in the South Park movie. In that, the kids go see aCanadian movie that is far too adult for them, and it affects them negatively. The parents never asked what movie they were going to see, nor did they talk to their children about the effect it had on them. Instead, they chose to Blame Canada for their children’s new vocabulary.

This is a good game. It provides a hugely detailed city to explore, has adeep, engaging storyline, and gives you tons of leeway about how to live your new life in America (the main character is fresh-off-the-boat from Serbia). Yes, in my first few hours of playing I stole four cars (one of which I used to do donuts on the beach before I drove it into the river), ran from the police three times, beat up three people, and shot four more. I also went bowling on a date, ate a hotdog from a street vendor, and watched the sun come up while on a Coney-island-esque pier. Are kids going to buy this game? Not legally. Are kids going to play it? Yes, if their parents let them (through understanding of the kid, or through negligence).Would I let my young kids play it? Hell no. Will I play it? Hell yeah!

No comments: