A Bunch of Women Discuss GTA IV and the Controversy Surrounding It
By the time this is posted, most of us will already have a copy of GTA IV in our hands. Ah, don’t ya just love that new game smell? I know I do, and nothing is more delicious to the senses than unwrapping a video game that you just KNOW is going to be worth the wait and the cost. All the hype aside, the GTA series has never disappointed us, because we always get what is advertised – the same heaping helping of vicarious, antisocial behavior that we would never be caught dead doing in public. Every time a new GTA game is released, we know what is inside the packaging only the storyline and graphics get better every year.Another thing we have come to expect with a new GTA game, is the controversy surrounding it and and this year, GTA IV was no exception. Between the back and forth from both the EA camp and the Take-Two camp, the irrelevant lawyers sending hateful letters to corporate Mothers, and the rating debacle in Australia and this year was basically just like any other year. Full of GTA drama.
This past Friday night, I had a few of my female friends over for a little pow-wow, and while we were enjoying our many pitchers of Sangria, our topic of conversation turned to gaming. You see, I have only a handful of female friends, the rest are all male, and each section of my peer world is drastically different. My male friends are all hardcore gamers; the majority of my female pals cannot really be considered gamers, save for one. Yeah, sure, they play video games and but not on a daily basis like I do, and they most definitely do not live and breathe this form of entertainment quite the way I do.
Anyway, back to the subject here, our slightly drunken conversation turned to gaming, which eventually led us to the topic of GTA IV coming out. In my half-lit stupor, I decided to record the conversation for posterity and transcribe it the best I could for you, dear readers. However, before I get to the strange tÃªte-Ã -tÃªte between drunken women, let me give you a bit of background on each one of them.
Maggie is a loan officer at a bank. She is a divorced mother of a six-year-old daughter who loves Guitar Hero, Mario Kart, and just about anything released on the N64. She also loves the GTA games.
Sandra is a Librarian. She is a divorced mother of a 15-year-old son who loves anime, Final Fantasy, Naruto, and anything that involves some sort of Japanimation really. She has fantastic sense of humor, and despite being a devout Christian, watches Adult Swim almost constantly.
Dana is a pharmacy tech. She is a newlywed who rarely plays video games, but watches her husband play them all the time. She has personally never played GTA but thinks it is pretty fun to watch.
Cathy is a paralegal for a large law firm. She is married, and has a newborn son and a 15-year-old daughter. She rarely plays video games, and to be honest with you, probably has not played one since Pac-Man was still sitting in the corner at our local Taco Tico.
The reason I gave you a background on all the women present was because I wanted to emphasize their professional backgrounds, and their parental and marital status because I honestly believe that it is an important factor in understanding why they have the opinions they do on the GTA games. Now without further ado, let’s get to it.
Steph (Me): So, on the subject of video games, what do you all think about the GTA games? Have any of you ever played them?
Maggie: Oh yeah, I have played them with my cousin Brent. They are hilarious and a hell of a lot of fun.
Cathy: No, I have never played them, but I have heard about them in the news.
Dana: I have played them a little, but mostly I just watch. I am not too good with the controller for these stupid consoles, so I just sit back and laugh at Rob when he plays them.
Sandra: I have played the majority of them and while I think they are very violent, they are a nice release when I have had to deal with a bunch of homeless people trying to hang out in the library all day.
Me: Actually, I have all of the GTA games, and I will be getting GTA IV on Tuesday when it comes out. Neil and I will most likely be fighting over who gets to play it first, but that is they way things are around here. Sandra, you mentioned that you thought they were very violent, I know that they are pretty brutal sometimes, but how are they any more violent than your anime that you watch or any more vulgar than some of the stuff you watch on Adult Swim?
Sandra: Well, I am not saying that violence is a BAD thing, just that they are pretty violent. I would never allow my son to play one of these games, but at the same time, I do not allow him to watch R rated movies or listen to any music that carries a parental guidance label.
Maggie: I play them with my cousin and he just turned 16. I don’t think they are all THAT violent at least not as bad as some of the stuff he sees in movies or on TV, but then again he is smart enough to know what is real and what is just fantasy.
Sandra: Exactly. But your cousin may be more mature than my son, and I am trying to teach him that you have to make good choices in life, and while this may be a fun game for some, it is not for everyone. When he is old enough to understand the difference between fact and fiction and not manipulate it into some sort of false reality and then maybe he will be able to play something like this and but until then, he is not allowed.
Dana: I would not condone my 8-year-old nephew playing a game like this, but kids should know the difference between what is real and what is not by the time they are teenagers. Does your son ever leave the house Sandra? Does he ever watch the news? What about what he hears in school?
Sandra: I understand what you are saying, and yes my son is indeed intelligent enough to know the difference between both elements, but the fact of the matter is, it is a MATURE game. It is no different than an R rated movie and I am the sole decision maker and therefore if he wants to play a game like this, or watch an R rated movie he has to go through me first.
Cathy: Personally I have never played them but I heard you pick up hookers, screw them, and then kill them to get your money back.
Me: Well, technically you can. You pick up a prostitute and take her to a park and do the deed, but this is mostly for a “health” boost. Yes, you can kill her after she exits the vehicle and get your money back and but anytime you kill someone in the game be it accidental or not, 90% of them will drop cash. So it is not really that big of a deal. It is actually funny if you ask me.
Maggie: You have always been a little weird anyway Stephy. I have no problem with these games; they are just pure entertainment like anything else so I do not see what the big hubbub is all about. If you do not want your kids playing the game, don’t buy it for them.
Sandra: True, but what about when they go over to a friends house? How do you stop them from playing it over there if the parents allow their child to play them?
Maggie: You just have a talk with the parents. It is no different than telling them that you do not want your child to watch horror movies or eat certain foods.
Dana: They are adult games. I have seen the M rating on them and so that is like it being rated R right?
Me: Yes, it is, but there are certain special interest groups that feel these games cater to children. One lawyer in particular is such a zealot about these games, that recently he even sent a letter to the CEO of the gaming companies mother.
Cathy: You are joking right?
Me: I truly wish I were and but no, I can even show you the letter. (I get up and bring in a printout of the letter and explain JT’s history to the group)
Cathy: (reads the letter) So, he is a lawyer? Does he not realize that this is blatant harassment and that he can actually get disbarred for such an action if they press it?
Me: He is past the point no of return. A bit loco in the brain
Sandra: I have heard of this guy, and I really do not understand what his problem is. I have seen the advertisements, the trailers, and the screenshots. I visit many a gaming site, including the one you work for Steph and I cannot for the life of me understand what his motivations are. I do not have a degree in advertising so maybe I am blind to it, but I do not see where he gets off saying that they are catering to children. Plus, the game is rated M and therefore it all falls on parental responsibility. Once that game leaves the store, it is all in the hands of the parents.
Me: Well, he says that stores intentionally sell them to impressionable youth
Maggie: That is the store’s fault then not the people who made the games
Dana: I hate lawyers. They are all loud-mouthed money whores anyway.
Cathy: Thanks Dana. (Laughing)
Me: That is gaming’s opinion as well. It is not that we want kids to get a hold of M rated games. We don’t think they should. But you cannot harass a company for putting out a product for adults if children get a hold of it. That would be like suing Larry Flynt for your son peaking at your husbands Penthouse that he found between the mattress and the box springs.
Dana: Not in my house. No porn allowed. (Laughing)
Sandra: I understand. While I consider myself pretty conservative, I have a firm belief that adults should be able to enjoy any sort of entertainment they wish as long as it does not hurt anyone else. Why should there be controversy at all surrounding this game in the first place? It is not the company’s fault that parents are not diligent enough to notice what their kids are bringing into the home. Plus, if parents are not intelligent enough to read a rating on a game, then they are just not paying attention or they just do not care. Therefore the parental decision, although a very bad one, has to be respected. If you allow your kids to play this, stop bitching if they become social deviants.
Me: It takes a lot more than a video game to become a social deviant Sandra.
Sandra: Let me clarify that and if you are not a diligent parent, are not conscientious of what your children watch or play, then you are not conscious of the actions they are doing, Therefore; they will eventually become social deviants. Not from playing a GTA game, but from being without supervision of any sort.
Maggie: Exactly. While I think these are fun ass games, I would never allow my kid to play one until she is old enough to understand that it is fantasy, hell, how many of you would love to jerk some bitch who cut you off out of her car and beat her ass with a bat sometimes? Eh?
Me: Well that is only because you are a violent redneck to begin with Maggie and you have anger issues. (Laughing)
Cathy: The whole point is, that these are JUST games, and are no different than any other source of media. People need to just relax. I wonder how many of the parents who bitch about these sorts of games have hidden snuff videos in the back of their underwear drawer.
Me: Probably the majority of households in the South Cathy (laughing)
Sandra: You all have drank way too much.
Dana: No, we have not drank enough
Me: Ya’ll wanna watch Neil play a little San Andreas?
Sandra: Lets take turns though.
So, you see folks. This conversation was with a group of women who are not only professionals but except for Dana and I, mothers as well. These are responsible mothers who feel that the controversy surrounding the GTA games is unfounded and just nothing more than something for media hogs to complain about. If it were not for these games, they would find something else. None of these women felt that the advertisements for GTA IV were geared towards children, and they also felt that if a child does indeed get a hold of an M rated game, it is ultimately the parents fault. They also felt that JT was nothing more than an ignorant sad little man who thrives off of his own notoriety.
Enjoy your GTA IV people, and relax knowing that the Mothers of America are on your side and that is, if you are over 17.