With this past week’s release of the new uber violent XBOX 360 shooter game “Crackdown”, I can’t help but wonder; will all the GTA hater’s jump on the Crackdown haters bandwagon?
If you’ve missed the hype surrounding Real Time Worlds’ answer to the Grand Theft Auto genre, Crackdown is a third person, free form almost Robocop like, game where you go after the bad guys with all the ferocity of Quentin Tarantino flick. The key difference in Crackdown is that you are on the side of law enforcement, going after the guys ripping off the cars rather than being one of them.
Any of you who know me, are aware of the fact that I’m no fan of Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto franchise. That said, I simply loathe all the media, legislative and “concerned parent groups” obsessed with abolishing shooter video games in general and GTA specifically. Many of these well-meaning lemmings hail titles like GTA as the great Satan of our time.
Are many of these games suitable for minors – heck no, do I let my own teenagers play them – of course not, but should I patently blame game manufactures for increased youth violence and the general decline of western civilization, give me a break!
While this post could veer off into a lengthy discussion about the failings of the ESRB rating system, let’s stay focused on real issue.
Let’s be intellectually honest, it’s just too much work for most journalists, politicians and even parents to actually understand what is going on in the youth gaming culture. Instead it’s much easier to just pass blanket judgment (or legislation) against something they don’t understand. This horrifies concerned parents, frustrates legitimate industry, and doesn’t foster healthy kids who need to learn how to make sound decisions for themselves.
Speaking as a parent, If I freak out and decry GTA, yet enjoy a well played tournament match of Counter Strike (Both games share the same ESRB rating M), what lesson does that teach my teens about objectively evaluating how they are going spend their downtime and dollars?
A Few Options
I could simply ban all rated M games for kids, and then play Counter Strike myself, making me a total hypocrite, well within my right as a parent, but how effective would that be?
Watch more 20/20 style exposes about the horrors of the computer gaming culture and industry. Fear mongering TV that leaves you without any tangible solution – there’s a great idea.
We could demand that our elected officials enact even more laws and restrictions on violent or objectionable video games, or file even more lawsuits against the likes of Id software and Rockstar games. Sure, because the court system really has a grasp on technology – Microsoft antitrust case, need I say more?
I won’t say it’s easy people, but then again it has not been easy for any of the past generations of societies before us. As individuals we need to make a judgment, “Is this game right for me?” And as a parent we need to enforce those standards with our kids.
Yes, it’s a lot easier to cast the blame on a nameless culture or focus wraith on a few companies, but as we have seen both the problem and the solution lay much closer to home.