Thursday, September 26, 2013

Should I Buy Grand Theft Auto V for my Kid?

On Wednesdays for the next little bit I, along with a few other awesome dad bloggers, will be helping out answering some questions over on The Madness of Mommyhood Facebook Page. I may, from time to time, also publish the answers over here! So here is the first.  

Dear Dad,

I need some gamer advice. My 13 yr old son came to me and asked if he could get the new grand theft auto V game. I have never watched or played the game but I know of its reputation. He explained to me that this version is supposed to be less "intense", my words not his, and that most of his friends are allowed to play the game, even the kids with parents who have similar house rules as my husband and I do. I told him that I won't make a decision until I have seen the game-for him to ask a friend to borrow it for a day or two for me to see, and after I talk to some other experienced gamers as well as my husband who is currently deployed. I think I owe him that much since he came to me and maturely asked and brought some good argument to the table. He is allowed to play battlefield and black ops and other similar games, but my concern is with the sex, drugs and other violence that is in the game. His game time is monitored and he is not allowed to play during the school week and he is a mature kid who understands why I have concerns. There's just some things a kid shouldn't see at this age. So, with all that said, what would you all do? Has anyone seen or played the new version? Is it less intense? Would you let your 13 yr old son play Grand Theft Auto V? Thank you!!


Dear Anonymous,

Let's start with the short answers. 
  • Have I played GTAV? - Yes. 
  • Is GTAV less "intense" than its previous incarnations? - No. Quite the opposite.
  • Would I let my 13 year old son play GTAV? - No
OK, now that we have that out of the way, allow me to go into a bit of detail. First, my qualifications. I have played all the Grand Theft Auto games, and I was also once a 13 year old boy. Second, my disqualifications. I currently am not a parent of a thirteen year old boy, so I am sure there are complications with telling him 'no' that I have yet to face in my parenting journey.

So I'll stick to what I know. The game. Grand Theft Auto V is a beautifully designed, engaging, and immersive game. It is also fun. It is rated M for mature, and if it could have a movie rating it would be NC17. It is designed for adults.

The game has graphic and often disturbing depictions of death, sex, drug use, and torture. Your character is able to commit pretty much every felony, misdemeanor, and petty crime humanly possible. This is nothing new for Grand Theft Auto Games. In one previous incarnation, your character could (if the person playing the game wanted to) hire a prostitute, utilize her services, beat her to death with a baseball bat, and then collect your money back. (You don't have to, but you could) You can still do that in the newer game, the graphics are just better. So no, it is not any less intense. There are some truly disturbing scenes in the new game. But just like Saw, or Lethal Weapon, they are intended for adults.

But here's the rub. GTAV had nearly $800 million in sales in the first 24 hours. That means even if you don't buy the game for your kid, one of his friends probably already has it. He just wants his own copy, because his buddy is bogarting the controller and won't let him have a turn. So you can tell him no, but you'll also have to call his friends moms and make sure they are on board too, and honestly, even that probably won't work. My buddy Chuck was forbidden from playing Mortal Kombat back in the early 90's, and his mom called everyone on the block. Guess who was the best Mortal Kombat player in the neighborhood? Seriously, he was invincible with Sub Zero.

This is where my direct expertise leaves off. My boy is 1 and enjoys eating his hands more than he enjoys video games. You sound like you know much more about dealing with a 13 year old boy than I do. So I hope my input about the game helps.

If I might add one, humble suggestion, not from my experience as a father, but from my experience as a son: play video games with your boy. This isn't going to fix the GTAV dilemma, but it is going to open up a channel of communications with him that you may not already have. My dad played video games with me all the time growing up, and being able to talk about them with him strengthened our relationship in a way that I still cherish today. Knowing he was involved also gave him input on what games we bought, not because he was trying to control me, but because he wanted to enjoy the game too. Or maybe he was secretly trying to control me. Either way, it worked.

Good luck!


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  1. If you want to see some of the gameplay - search for "GTAV Lets Play" on youtube, you can do this for any game as people will always upload videos of it.

    But remember he has access to the internet. A game is nothing compared.

  2. nothing is wrong with that like you hear drugs on the news about 50% he'll see blood in school he will learn sex in school and if you trust him about it

  3. I played GTA 3, vice city, and san andreas since I was 9.

  4. i just realised you said you let your child play black ops and battlefield and your questioning grand theft auto, gosh ur retarded

    1. Big difference, It seems you are the retard. There are no psycho killing meth heads that bang biker chicks from behind in any call of duty game. I mean a good minute and a half of graphic sex before he executes her boyfriend. Then there's a mission where you take pictures of a girl getting sodomized. And full topless nudity, nipples and everything. Which would be so bad if the context would be better than meth addicts getting screwed for the sole purpose of getting high on crystal meth.

  5. You should buy it but say you have to be in the house so he doesn't go to missions as in the game or strip clubs because these days graphics are better so it looks more realistic and the women's are showing the boobs and you could have s** with a hooker

  6. We so take for granted that children can learn a language with ease and we completely forgot that the process of moving to a new language can be very disruptive to them.

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  7. I have a 10 year old son and he watches videos of it all the time and I've watched a few of them and most of the people making them where 9 or 10 years old and I let him play it and he only just drives cars around and just plays around and never kill anyone. If you let your kids watch pg-13 action movies then let them get it.

  8. Honestly the game is no worse then any pg13 movie just tell him not to go to strip clubs oh and the hookers don't even have any nudity. ps i think its weird how we let are baby breast feed and they see there moms and dads nude all the time but then when they get older they don't then when they get even older it is not a big deal as long as it is not there mother or father its weird just saying

  9. The game is very bad for children.

    1. I disagree 100% play the game before you talk bad about it.
      I 12 and I play it

  10. Hi I am a dad with a 12 year old boy that's wants me to let him play gta. I said ok let me see it first.He told me that I should only look at the multiplayer mode instead of the story because the story is that bad part of gta. I played the 1st and 2nd gta and thought it was fun when I was his age. So he plays it and I let him and he already knows a lot of bad words they say and he knows what sex is so I think he should be able to play.