Some people shouldn’t be allowed to have kids.
Grand Theft Auto V was released this week and after only four short days in the wild, it’s already earned over $1 billion in sales. It’s an incredible achievement for any game and Rockstar should be proud of the amazing game that they’ve created. I’m loving every minute of it and it’s safe to say that it will earn many game of the year awards, and rightly so. The problem however is that a large percentage of the people buying the game aren’t actually old enough to walk into a store and buy it. So how exactly are they getting it? Their parents.
When I went to my local Gamestop to pick up my copy, I witnessed a prime example of what is wrong with the world these days: parents buying inappropriate games for their kids. The store wasn’t packed, but there was quite a few people in and around it, some old enough to buy the Rated M for Mature 17+ game, and some that weren’t old enough to even think about driving a car yet. The lady in front of me was there with her two boys, who looked to be around 10 and 14, give or take. When it was her turn in line, she asked for two copies of GTAV on the Xbox 360, and the Gamestop employee first asked if she was their mother and then asked if she was aware of the mature content in the game. The mother replied “yes, I’m aware, but what choice do I have?”, meaning her kids have more than likely been bugging her for the game with lines like “but all of my friends are getting it” and “it’s not as bad as it seems”, in their attempts to win her over and get her to buy them the game. The Gamestop employee then said “ok, as long as you’re aware” and proceeded to sell her the game.
That’s it? That’s all you needed to hear to sell this 17+ game to a lady that wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that she was going to let her kids play it? What’s the point of rating games 17+ if the retailers aren’t going to stop underage kids from buying them and their parents aren’t going to stop them from playing it. The stores need to stop selling Rated M games to parents who are buying for their kids and the parents need to stop buying the games for them. It’s that simple.
I have three kids, aged 2, 5 and 10, and I understand that it’s much harder these days to keep them away from things that their impressionable little eyes shouldn’t see. The internet is full of mean people who want to spread hate, YouTube is full of videos that kids shouldn’t watch, twitter and facebook have become playgrounds for bullies, but there is no good reason to let your kids play games like Grand Theft Auto V. I’ve let my kids play some Rated M games, such as Halo for example, but there is a massive difference between Halo and GTAV, even though they carry the same ESRB Rating. Halo doesn’t have strip clubs, hookers and drug dealers, Fuck isn’t every second word, and you can’t just walk into a store or restaurant and start firing your customized Assault Rifle and kill dozens of innocent people. Kids don’t need to see that stuff, especially young kids, such as this lady’s youngest son.
I understand that it’s not always going to be this easy for Gamestop to see who is going to end up playing the game, but when a parent comes into the store, with their kids, and makes zero effort to hide the fact that they are buying it for their underage kids, it doesn’t get any easier. Just simply don’t sell it to them, and it’s not just Gamestop, but any store that sells video games, movies, music or even comic books that aren’t appropriate for kids. For the parents, I also know that it isn’t always easy to know what is and what isn’t appropriate for your kids, but take five minutes in front of your computer and you can find out just what exactly you are letting your kids do. Google is your best friend and you can find out very quickly whether a specific game is ok for kids or not.
My oldest son always bugs us about playing Call of Duty, because all of his friends play it and their parents don’t seem to care. I understand that it sucks for him, since all of his friends talk about playing it, and some of them even have Call of Duty t-shirts, but I’m not going to be one of those parents that just lets them do whatever they want, just because their friends do it. I’ve asked his friends and the scary part is that most of them say their parents know what the game is like, yet don’t care that they play it. Even Halo and Call of Duty are different to me, since Halo is killing Aliens and Call of Duty is killing humans. We still limit the amount of Halo they play, but I don’t consider it nearly as bad as other Rated M games. This is also where having more Ratings would be good, so that games like Halo can be more appropriately rated compared to more violent games, but that’s a whole other story for another day.
Kids are out of control these days and the last thing they need to do is sit around and play games violent games like GTAV, all day long. I’m not saying that they are going to play a few hours of some Rated M game and then go on a killing spree in real life, because I don’t think games cause well-adjusted people to do that, but if young kids are allowed to play games like this for hours on end, it’s not going to help them grow into a productive member of society. They need to play sports, learn to play an instrument, build a fort in the woods with their friends, and read books. You know, be a normal kid. They don’t need to grow up in a world where they are allowed to steal cars, kill innocent people, rob stores, have sex with hookers, and kill police officers with no real consequence other than respawning at the nearest hospital.
Buy them games like Skylanders, Disney Infinity, Minecraft, or any other age appropriate game, and if they don’t like it, they can find something else to do with their time. They don’t have to play video games, there is a real world out there full of things to explore and learn. If video games are one of your hobbies, find a game that you can play together, such as one of the LEGO games (LEGO Batman 2 is awesome), or again, Minecraft, which is a great game to play as a family. I play it with my kids quite a bit and we always have a great time, even my oldest, who hates most “kid” games at this point.
The bottom line is that you have to pay attention to the games that your kids are playing and be more involved with their choices. Don’t just be lazy and let them do whatever they want, just because they’ll be mad at you if you don’t. You’re not one of their friends, you’re their protector and their teacher and they need your help so they don’t end up some piece of shit that the world has no use for. The rest of us will also appreciate it when the time comes for them to leave the nest and you release a good person into the world.
For the parents that are doing a good job with their kids and the video games that they play, I thank you.
Update: After reading through the comments that this article produced, I have to say that I’m both happy that it started a discussion that I feel we need to have, but also upset (with myself) at the way I may have come across. First off, I’m absolutely not trying to say that I’m a perfect parent, as I don’t think anyone is perfect, in any way. I’m also not trying to say that I think all parents are bad, lazy or not paying attention to their kids. I know that there are lots of great parents doing a great job of monitoring the games their kids play, and they should be commended for a job well done.
I’m also not trying to say that all kids that play violent and inappropriate games will instantly become bad kids, but I do think that being exposed to inappropriate/violent games, movies, tv shows, music, comic books, etc for long periods can have a negative effect on them. The point I was trying to make is that there are plenty of parents out there that don’t seem to care what their kids are doing these days and it’s not helping them grow into good people. If more parents paid attention to the games their kids are playing (or whatever else they do), talked to them about what they are playing vs real life and stopped them, when necessary, then everyone would be better off.
I may not have expressed my thoughts properly with the original story and hopefully this helps.