It is no secret to anyone who knows me (or listens to the podcast) that I am a gamer. In my wind down or alone time I have spent time managing my favorite English Premier League team to another cup victory, saving America from a Russian invasion, and playing a covert assassin in a DNA time machine trying to save the world. I have played sport, open world, shooter, and massively multiplayer online role-playing games (if you are the parent of a gamer and you do not know what any of that means I suggest you click on the links and learn about them). While I have played many different kinds of games, some of them rated M, there is one series of games you will not find me playing, Grand Theft Auto.
Grand Theft Auto V (five) was recently released for Play Station 3 and Xbox 360. The game is the eighth major release of the Rock Star Games‘ GTA franchise. Including handheld and downloadable content it is the fourteenth game to sport the GTA title. The games are built around organized crime in the fictional locations of Liberty City, Vice City, and San Andreas. Beginning with GTA III the games are open world games where the main character works his way through a story that has him rising as a criminal within these worlds.
There has been quite a bit written on the GTA franchise that has highlighted several negative aspects of the games including: language, theft, drug dealing, murder, abuse, and the purchasing prostitutes and having sex with them to increase health. While each of these areas should alarm parents who have kids play video games, these aren’t the reason I don’t play the games. The reason I made the decisions not to play any of the is because they lack anything redemptive. The game highlights the worst in humanity. The goals of the game are making money and gaining control and there is no redemption in how you go about doing it. The game highlights and glorifies sin and allows little to no room for things like for grace, hope, or love.
Even though there have been studies that link violent video games to real life violence I don’t think that just because a teenage guy plays GTA V he is going to steal cars, smoke pot, or become abusive to others. But it is a dangerous to believe the phrase, “it’s just a game.” Games have an affect on us, football games, baseball games, and even video games. When the guards that crucified Jesus cast lots over his clothes was it just a game? Games can be fun, entertaining, and even social, but they do effect us.
Do your teenagers play Grand Theft Auto V? What other games do you not allow your teenagers to play? Tell us why.