Sunday, July 17, 2005

Grand Theft Auto and Harry Potter: Our Baby-Sitters

Having grown up with video games in the 70s and 80s and having been significantly involved in video games well into the 90s, I wasn't surprised by the recent news surrounding the sexual content in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The company that produced the game surely put the sexual material there on purpose (see, for example, here and here). The video game industry, like the music and movie industries, is largely corrupt. The games of the past weren't as bad as Grand Theft Auto, but I had been noticing trends toward more and more immoral content (and immoral advertising, trade show promotions, etc.) for years. I expect it to get worse.

Another problem is irresponsible parents, as this story in The Christian Science Monitor illustrates:

"Many of these parents and politicians still view games as toys for kids," says Della Rocca, "and if that's your model, and you're presented with such an adult game as 'GTA,' of course, you're going to freak out."

The sophistication and speed of developments in the video-game industry have made the task of choosing age-appropriate games extremely difficult for most parents, Della Rocca adds. "We're talking about technophobia at a fundamental level," he says, "fear of new technology and ignorance of what games really are."...

"Parents just don't understand," Mr. Olson says. "The message is that it's time to watch what these kids are buying and what they're playing."

Shouldn't parents have enough discernment to be doing that already? Apparently, many of them don't. Doesn't Grand Theft Auto already have enough unacceptable content to justify avoiding it, even without interactive sex segments?

A Gallup poll found that more than 70% of teenage boys have played Grand Theft Auto. I think this story carried by CBS earlier this year illustrates part of the problem. American families are busy. They're busy with soccer practice, piano lessons, gardening, watching television, working longer hours to get additional money they don't need, and doing other less important things while matters that are far more important are neglected. Parents need to stop being so materialistic and shortsighted. They need to stop letting Grand Theft Auto, Harry Potter, and the soccer coach baby-sit their children. They ought to start using their time and influence more wisely (Deuteronomy 6:7, Ephesians 6:4).