Saturday, July 16, 2005

The Good Old Days of Criminal Adventure Part 2

Now that I have let the irony and sarcasm of my previous post sit on the site for a while, I thought I would follow up with a less satirical voice. I did intend to make a point with my previous post, so here is the meaning of the parable. . .

First, I want to be clear that I am not slamming Sen. Clinton or any of the other senators that are calling for an investigation. I think it is important for people in positions of leadership to raise questions that are in the interest of our children.

Second, I can accept Rockstar Games' claim that the sexual content in the game is the result of unauthorized modifications and isn't part of their original game design.

Which brings me to my main point, the original content of the game is enough to warrant some sort of protest from the public, especially as these games are often popular among children. (I know they are not the intended audience, but that's who usually winds up buying them and playing them.) According to the official site for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the premise of the game is as follows:

Five years ago Carl Johnson escaped from the pressures of life in Los Santos, San Andreas... a city tearing itself apart with gang trouble, drugs and corruption. Where filmstars and millionaires do their best to avoid the dealers and gangbangers.
Now, it's the early 90s. Carl's got to go home. His mother has been murdered, his family has fallen apart and his childhood friends are all heading towards disaster.
On his return to the neighborhood, a couple of corrupt cops frame him for homicide. CJ is forced on a journey that takes him across the entire state of San Andreas, to save his family and to take control of the streets.

For those of you hoping that the game will satisfy your nostalgic urge to revist the early 90's beware. The game is rated M for mature. (Breaking News: Not anymore!) Trying to download a clip from the game at the official website prompts a warning that asks for the age of the viewer. At least the producers of the game recognize that children shouldn't be watching the trailer for the game. (Why they don't assume a 13-year-old would lie about his age escapes me). After watching the trailer I see why they issue a warning. The soundtrack contains profanity, the sreenshots show drug deals in action, shoot-outs, and gangsters executing a drive-by shooting from a motorbike. And that's just the original content.

I wish the Senators well in their efforts to raise public awareness. I hope that Rockstar Games will do even more to convince the public that their game is really for adults and not just limited to being purchased by adults. All of this highlights the fact that responsibility ultimately devolves to people like me - that is, parents and guardians. Pay attention to your children. Help them make choices. Get involved and do not rely solely on the ESRB rating system. Step up and be the parent. And let's all help each other along the way.

[Addendum: I wrote this as part of the previous post but decided to hold off on publishing it. For an explanation as to why, go back and read the third comment on the previous post. It is my reply to Anonymous.]

[Addendum 2: As I write this, it would seem that some good has come from the public debate. Grand Theft Auto will now be rated Adults Only. Also, the company that manufactures the game admits that they are actually responsible for the pornographic content. And to think I was willing to accept that it was the work of drive-by "modders." Why did you lie to me Rockstar Games? Why?!]

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