A couple days ago, blog acquaintance Renee at LAPD Wife and I were discussing a particularly nasty video game, “25 to Life.” While we’ve never played the game, the website clearly glorifies hoodlums shooting and killing police officers.
It probably comes as no surprise that the wife of a police officer would not be happy, but such games should horrify all parents who would prefer their children grow up normal and healthy.
“ ‘25 to Life’ allows players to attack police with an arsenal of guns, Molotov cocktails, broken bottles and baseball bats,” Renee writes. “When weapons fail, players can use civilians as human shields.”
Is this just clean fun for children? Is it a good message for our children? I think not.
Another video game in the news is equally violent “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.” Only in this case, it’s not the violence that has watch group Media and the Family sounding alarm bells, reports The Associated Press via San Jose Mercury News.
Instead the group is complaining about sex scenes allegedly hidden on the game’s DVD, which was “unlocked” by programmer Patrick Wildenborg. The game screen grab – caution, not work safe – revealed on the programmer’s website qualifies as pornographic.
Video-game maker Rockstar Games has yet to verify whether the sexual images were on the original DVD as Wildenborg claims, but apparently post publication games are regularly modified by freelance programmers to increase a player’s power or intensify a game’s violence. Grand Theft Auto is rated M for Mature, but had the ratings board been aware of sex scenes, the game would have been labeled AO – Adults Only.
While violent and sexualized song lyrics, TV shows and movies are a big enough problem, I find interactive video games more worrisome. After all, children who play these things are role playing – living out fantasies that may evolve into a form of reality.
When your teenager is playing these games, some young programmer – whether corporate or freelance – has unfettered access and even control of your children, many who play 24-7. Remember, with games like these, gang life is glorified, killing cops is desirable and sex is offered as the reward. Such messages may not unhinge your own child, but what about the one who lives next door?
While parents may fear being un-cool, they have every right and even the responsibility to deny their kids access to such games. Obviously, millions of parents are not willing to do this, but games like Grand Theft Auto and 25 to Life will not be a part of my children’s lives.