Video games (much like the FBI) are no stranger to controversy. If anyone needed more proof that video games are an artform, look no further than the controversy they cause. Things have been quiet since the fiasco involving Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and the Norway shooter who went on to kill 77 people back into 2011; however with the recent theater shooting by James Holmes stirring up a bit of panic for violent media and the anticipated release of GTA V the zombie of “Think of the children!” is moaning and shambling back into the spotlight. Since GTA V is soon to be released and has always been something for parents to blame their inadequacies on, let’s start there with an old story about some stupid children.
In Tennessee, two teenage boys were found taking sniper shots at passing cars along the I-40 corridor. When asked why they did that, they replied that they “had seen it done in Grand Theft Auto and thought it looked cool.” As much fun as I have with games, never once have I killed a person in-game and thought, “OMGERD! How cool would that be in real life?” Well, maybe when it came to Romney and the CEO of EA, but I digress.
The simple fact is that I am rooted in reality and use video games to escape. They give me a chance to do things that I know I could never or should never do; such as rip the head off Apollo or, I don’t know, cure a genophage and rescue the Krogan from extinction. As much fun as it is to speed down the road and mow over pedestrians in a game, in real life I am aware that those same people have friends, family, lives, and dreams like I do (yeah, even old people.) The Tennessee boys, aged 13 and 15, killed 2 and wounded many others. Somehow, I doubt they think their jail cell is “cool.” Furthermore, I doubt they are expecting demons to take over the prison and end up personally being the only salvation that humanity has left. If they do, then they belong in a nuthouse.
However, as nuts as those two kids are, I wonder more if anyone picked up on that little tidbit I threw in there. They were 13 and 15. Who here knows what GTA was rated in the U.S.? GTA was rated “M for Mature.” That means it is not supposed to be played by anyone under 17. So, where exactly are the parents? Where is the mom walking in, seeing them mowing down prostitutes, and forbidding them from playing? Where is the dad seeing his kids playing a game they aren’t supposed to play and grounding them?
I am the first to admit that games can sometimes go too far. Simply put: it falls on the user to check themselves and take it in context. However, that may not be the best fail-safe since if you are given ideas for fun things to do in real life from violent video games, you are already kind of crazy. Sorry parents, but if your child is butchering cats in the back yard, it’s not Heavy Rain to blame, it’s your crappy genes and/or crappy parenting. I don’t much feel like getting into the “Nature vs Nurture” debate here, but trust me: you suck.