Grand Theft Auto and a Contrived Controversy
The video game industry has decided to change the rating for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas to AO for adults only, up from M for mature. This is due to the revelation that a code downloaded from the Internet can unlock secret graphic sex scenes.
The outrage over all of this has bordered on absurd. Talk about a completely contrived issue. First of all, anyone who has the technical skills to download and install code from the Internet can easily access all manner of pornographic material that would make anything in Grand Theft Auto seem tame. Secondly, does anyone honestly think that graphic sex somehow turns this bloody, sadistic, vulgar game from a family title into an adult title? This is a game where you can blow people’s heads off, kill cops, pimp prostitutes and wage gang warfare. Really, how much more adult can it get?
Fact is, parents' groups seized on this to perform one of their usual overreactions and demands for censorship while politicians like Hillary Rodham Clinton opportunistically jumped on board to shore up their pro-family credentials.
But where were they when this game was released? In my mind, it should have had the adults only rating to begin with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a brilliant and enthralling game that I thoroughly enjoyed playing. But I wouldn’t let any child of mine near it—even if they were well into their teens. It’s too realistic, too violent and too easily gets into your head.
The message here, as in most cases, should not be one of stricter government regulation but of parental education. Mom and Dad—you gotta watch what your kids are playing. Some of those games are worse than the ratings indicate.