Rock Star Games’ Grand Theft Auto is no stranger to controversy. From its 1997 launch by DMA Designs to the most recent installment, GTA has been at the forefront of video game violence, outdoing everything before and since. Grand Theft Auto and its perpetual scenes of excessive violence is accepted far too easily by the general public, and the hype over this disgusting corruption of society is too over the top for me.
Understand that I am a gamer mom. I play online and platform based games with my three boys, aged 12, 16, and 20. We have owned at least one gaming system continuously since the days of Sega and Super Nintendo. We have played zombie games, racing games, puzzle games, role-playing games and strategic war games together. With multiple platforms, computers and the internet at our disposal, at any given moment of any day, me and all of my boys can and have been wrapped up in the gaming zone.
When my 16-year old came to me begging for GTA V, the answer was a resounding, “Not no, but hell no.” We have never owned and will never own –out of my pocket- a single version of Grand Theft Auto. GTA is not allowed in my home and all of my boys know without doubt that I will not allow them to play it. If they have played this game, I don’t know about it, and their lives are much simpler if I never know about it.
From its inception, this game raised eyebrows and glorified committing acts in-game (IG) that would see multiple life sentences if committed in real life (IRL). So why then, has Rock Star continued to produce –and profit outrageously!- from a game so riddled with abhorrent sociopathic and frankly psychotic behavior? Why are there no sanctions on this company and this game? Why is GTA still so easily available on the market, and still destroying our children’s moral compasses? More disturbingly, why are parents buying this game for their children??
Lawsuits have been filed, and the 1992 version, (GTA 2) featured the introduction of what has become a favorite in-game activity- having sex with (or raping) and killing prostitutes. This feature caused the game to be banned in Australia, and created the need for ID checks at purchase points. Why haven’t more countries followed suit?
Studies have shown that video game violence can and does translate to the real world. Children and teens have committed criminal acts and when asked, pointed to GTA as the motive. From theft to burglary to murder, this game inspires impressionable young minds to go so far off the reservation that jail time may not be a plausible solution. GTA damages ideas of right and wrong, skewing it so far off the reservation it’s almost impossible to say if these young people even knew what they were doing was actually “wrong”, not to mention illegal.
While game creators and supporters of GTA dismiss these studies and present their own to prove otherwise, the facts are very simple. If a person –young or not so young- spends hours on end exposed to violent, deviant behavior it does affect the way they see the people and the world around them. An 8-year-old boy killed his grandmother as it was done in-game. Teens robbed and assaulted complete strangers –as it was done in the game. Other teens bombed a store with Molotov cocktails, again, as they had done in-game.
No matter what side of the fence you come down on, no one who has children should have this game in their home. No child or teen should be exposed to the gratuitous violence that warps their minds to the point where taking these in-game acts to the real world seems like great fun. Parents, pay attention to what your children do. Review games before they get them. If you are not a gamer, have some adult you trust play the game and watch it yourself so you can be informed and aware. GTA has no V-chip. You can’t turn off the violence. The most tragic part of it is, in far too many cases around the world, neither can our children.
Written By: Brandi Tasby