Parents who buy Grand Theft Auto V for their kids suck

Parents who buy Grand Theft Auto V for their kids suck

Most parents will never let kids go watch an R-rated movie. But, according to this video game retail veteran, they have no problem letting them play the M-rated—the game world equivalent to R-rated—Grand Theft Auto V. In fact, they're buying it for them. Good parenting, America!

Maybe they can't see the huge honking label that says the game is Mature +17 only and contains:

  • Intense violence
  • Blood and gore
  • Nudity
  • Strong language
  • Strong sexual content
  • Use of drugs and alcohol
  • Mature humor

Well, as long as the kids shut up for a month, all it's fine, I guess.

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I Sold Too Many Copies of GTA V To Parents Who Didn't Give a Damn

I Sold Too Many Copies of GTA V To Parents Who Didn't Give a DamnS

Dear Parents... We need to talk. There is something that has been eating at me for awhile, and I have had enough.

I have been working in video game retail for almost 10 years now. I love my job. Some of my best memories begin with loving, bewildered parents walking into our store, naïve to the gaming world but eager to learn. I would find myself talking to them about platform choices, game franchises, and getting started online. I'd then enlighten them with my own gaming experiences with my kids. This approach got them interested in what their children were doing and encouraged them to play the games alongside their kids.

There is no better feeling than a happy parent returning to my store, pleased with my previous advice, and wanting more product.

So, when a new Mario, LittleBigPlanet, Pokémon, or any kid-friendly game comes out I will be there, excited to sell that game to your kids. The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB), rates these games as being appropriate for kids.

Was it your son that came in with a giant jar filled with change to buy Minecraft? He was a couple dollars shy, but don’t worry, I covered it. His look of excitement as he ran out of the store was more than enough to cover the shortfall.


Last week my store sold over a thousand copies of GTA V, at least a hundred of which were sold to parents for children who could barely even see over my counter.


Now that you know the best part of my job. Let me tell you about the worst part.

Every week, new M-rated games are released. Some are more of an M than others. I have no problem letting my kids watch me play M-rated games like Halo, Skyrim, and Fable. Then there are the games like Duke Nukem, Saints Row, and Grand Theft Auto, which are the very reason I am writing this letter today.

Last week my store sold over a thousand copies of GTA V, at least a hundred of which were sold to parents for children who could barely even see over my counter.

Over the years, I have watched the size, story, and graphics of games evolve to provide better player immersion and realism. This is true for all kinds of games, including M-rated games.

I Sold Too Many Copies of GTA V To Parents Who Didn't Give a DamnS

When I recite the phrases from the ESRB ratings box on the back cover of an M-rated game and it just goes right over your head I feel the need to be more specific. So I mention things like a game having a first-person view of half-naked strippers or that the game has a mission that forces you to torture another human being.

In response, I often hear things like, "Oh, it's for my older son" or "All his friends already have it."

Then I wonder to myself how often the youngest child watches the “older son” playing and if “all his friends” were to jump off a cliff… I don't tell you these things because I don't like your parenting style. It is because, when I look at little Timmy there in my store, I can't help but picture him as the little boy sitting across the table from my daughter in her first grade class.


I often hear things like, "Oh, it's for my older son" or "All his friends already have it."


Now this is where those of you who are not parents will sound off with "you should let them judge" or "I killed hookers in GTA III when I was five and I turned out fine." That is great. I accept your opinion. Although, when your daughter comes home from elementary school crying because someone called her a b***h, you might change your tune.

I love the things that people like Mike from Penny Arcade are doing to educate parents about game ratings and games that are good or bad for kids. I love that the ESRB has been pumping out more advertisements to raise awareness of game ratings.

I just ask that you look at the box, ask an associate for guidance, or just be more involved.

Lastly, when I try to describe the content and warnings of an M-rated game to you, please don't ignore me and nod while scrolling through your iPhone.

We are there to help.

Thank you, Kotaku, for letting me speak.

Sincerely,

- Your Average Video Game Retail Veteran

Top photo: Pavel L | Shutterstock.

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