Already the media and parents alike have lashed out at the violent nature of the videogame, with its many opportunities to consume drugs and alcohol as well as to massacre innocent civilians with a variety of weapons; at the end of the day you can even spend time in a local strip club. This is the world Rockstar Games created for the public, but at what point did a parent expect this to be suitable for a child? It’s a strange question given the circumstances, and yet over the years we have seen it time and time again. The Call of Duty franchise is a prime example with its audience demographic containing a startling 73% under 18 despite the game ESRB rating being an 18+ preventing the sale of such games to minors.
So how come parents are complaining? An interesting question, as it should be impossible for a child to access a game as graphic and explicit as this. Yet one of the earliest sales of GTA V was made to an eleven-year-old child who broke down in tears of happiness at the gift. But who gave him such a gift? An older sibling, perhaps? An older family friend? The answer is actually closer to home: the boy’s own mother, who can be heard laughing in the background of the now viral YouTube video.
This case makes clear that in many cases it is in fact parents themselves who are providing high age-rated games to minors without even bothering to acknowledge that the ESRB system was created for a reason. Attitudes such as this infuriate the gaming community, because in the media parents will often criticise the product and the producers behind it, while ignoring their own ignorance.
While I agree and I am aware of others who feel that to some extent violent video games can be a contributing factor to violence in society, it is important to remember that it is up to parents to teach their children the difference between virtual reality and real-life. There are some circumstances where a child may obtain such a game without their parents’ knowledge, but again it should be a parent’s responsibility to ensure they know their children’s actions on any computer device at all times and parents should not seek to blame hard-working developers for their own mistakes.
Overall GTA V is a massive milestone in the history of gaming with its three hundred million dollar budget and over five hundred million dollar profit margin in the first week alone. Undoubtedly it is paving the way for future game releases, especially with the next generation of consoles being released this winter. Still, when making your next purchases, be aware of the consequences of allowing a minor to view the explicit content of our latest and greatest video games.