Salon’s technology writer Farhad Manjoo has some sensible comments about the hullabaloo we’re already hearing about the forthcoming “Grand Theft Auto 4″:
When I watched the game, I caught one sequence that would seem sure to prompt outrage — your character gets falling-down drunk and can, if he wants, steal and then drive a car. The scene is undeniably fun and funny. Admittedly, the humor is low-brow, more in the tradition of “Jackass” than of Oscar Wilde, but it’s still fun; like much else in the game, it’s the thrill of discovery, the sense of, “Whoa, I can’t believe I can do that!” Of course, that’ll be exactly the sentiment of the game’s detractors: Can you believe they’re letting children do that?! This has to be illegal!
Well, actually, nobody is letting kids play this game. It’s rated M, which means it’s for sale to people 17 or older. Kids will still get it, of course, just like they also get hold of R-rated movies and all kinds of perversities on the Web. But nobody — at least nobody sane — calls for movie houses to refuse to play R-rated movies just because kids might sneak in. It’s hard to see why the policy should be any different with video games.
That’s exactly right. Moreover, as I have pointed out countless times before, parents have more and better tools to control video game consumption by their children than any other form of media. And that’s especially the case considering the cost of video games! When a game costs $60 bucks a pop, you gotta wonder how the kids are getting their hands on it. Are the parents just stuffing their kids’ pants full of cash and saying “OK, Johnny, you go buy whatever you want now.” If so, they have only themselves to blame for failing to effectively use the ‘power of the purse‘ to their advantage.
Finally, let’s not forget that gritty, M-rated games like “Grand Theft Auto” are the exception to the rule, as I have proven here.