The Grand Theft Auto series has been at the forefront of blame, concerning true life crime in correlation with previous game play. In June of 2003, two teenage brothers, one 13, the other 15, were inspired by the third iteration of the series to fire at random cars passing on the local Interstate in Tennessee with sniper rifles. The end result of their shootings was the death of motorist Aaron E. Hamel. The two also wounded Kimberley Bede, who was driving in a separate car. They were charged and placed in a juvenile prison for months. The parents of the two teens filed suit against RockStar for the impressionable violence that gave them the idea, but there is no report on how the underage brothers got a hold of the game, let alone where their parents were at the time. A similar situation featuring a lack of parental guidance occurred late last year in Arizona. Following an unsupervised session of Grand Theft Auto, two boys, aged 6 and 7 years old, stoned a kitten to death before hanging it on a tree in their backyard using a the gameís controller.
In Hobart, Australia, the lawyers of a man charged with the murders of three police officers claimed that Grand Theft Auto had encouraged the murders, alongside childhood abuse. The court dismissed the hearing of any testimony correlating the game to the killings, but the officerís families pushed for a suit against the developers. It would seem strange that the very fact that the manís history of abuse would be so quickly overlooked to place the blame on the game. If he were so tormented to the point of violent tendencies then yes, playing such a game could slightly influence such decisions. But comparing such to a lifetime of negative conditions is absurd.
This comes down to the parentís decisions about what their children should and should not play. Itís been statement pushed by a vast community of gamers, primarily to show that video games are no longer solely for children. Jackie Burell with the Contra Costa Times wrote about an interview her colleague had with Dr. Lawrence Kutner, who states that, ďAn outright ban on the gameÖmay not be a good idea. Discuss concerns and limits, donít just veto it.Ē Kutner, of course, is referring to the recently released Grand Theft Auto IV. His argument is echoed over every video gaming site and publication whenever controversy spikes on the latest games.
But it would seem that the parents are less than willing to go through that trouble. In his article on the release of GTA IV, Eric Benderoff provides some distinct statistics on parental involvement. ďA last yearÖfound that 72 percent of parents donít understand game rating. Worse, 37 percent of parents said they rarely used those ratings when buying a game." If it contains driving cars, piloting aircraft without consequence and shooting things, surely it must be a good time for the young ones, right? Wrong, says Benderoff, interviewing Jeff Smith, an information-technology professional, ďAs gamers get older, into their 30ís and 40ís, they want more adult games. Itís almost like a type of voyeurism, a peek into the lives you see in film". This is the point that seems to fail many parents when buying certain games.
Video games have become the modern national pastime. If the sales of the Nintendo Wii were anything to reference, there is at least a gamer in every home. That gamer could range from a 20-year old, to 35, to 6-years old. Of course, the youngest are the ones that are the most impressionable. Can one remember the time they pretended to be the Power Rangers from so long ago? Itís the same scenario now, but a bit more digital. Children want to act out what they see onscreen primarily because just playing and watching doesnít satisfy them like it does the older generation. Parents have to be with their kids to put these situations in perspective, and frankly, they shouldnít even have to. The industry continues to face scrutiny solely for the fact that many developers create for the big kids and not the youngsters, and itís not something they should be prosecuted for. Please stop pushing your own personal beliefs onto those that know what they are doing, and take care of your kids. Games are not babysitters.
LOOK WHO CAME: