GTA 4: Liberty City

My school has just said that Grand Theft Auto 4 (NSFW) should be banned from campus for this kind of content.

I find myself wondering how long this rule will last. We said no cellphones. Then we said no cellphones except for calling parents. Then we said no cellphones in class or the dining hall. But we have few effective enforcement mechanisms any more. If we send the games back to parents, what’s to prevent parents from sending the games right back?

Update: So, one kid on my dorm bought the game, and I helped him take the game back this morning. The store wouldn’t take it back because it had been opened. And we’re following up on JUST how he managed to buy it without an adult giving him permission. HMM!

12 comments

  1. I was the one who followed through here, by taking the kid to Radio Shack and then to GameStop to sell the game back. and RR is going to follow up with Radio Shack to complain that they sold this game to a minor.

  2. No follow-through at school equals no ability to keep kids away from the game — or to keep the game away from the kids.

    I hate video games and have never played one, but this is intriguing. It has a kind of subversive carnival-esque element to it (the “low” is “high” and all that). I kind of like that.

  3. Are all the GTA’s like this one?!
    I’m not a prude, but I sure wouldn’t want my 14 and 15 year old to have access to this game!
    Now, if they were to buy it when they were 18, I would not be happy, but they would be considered “adults” at that point.

    This is got to be a hard situation for you. I agree with Blue. Confiscate the game. I would not give it back till the end of the school year. Then mailed to the parents with a warning letter about the content, maybe.

  4. It’s the whole issue of “technology trumps culture” at work. The parents don’t necessarily know how to say no, and just because they say no, doesn’t mean that some other parent will say no. A lot of kids tend to gravitate to the places where they have the greatest freedom to pursue their own desires.

    Same situation at work in the business of astronomy at the time of Galileo — all the astronomers stopped working in Catholic countries and moved to Protestant states. Same thing with nuclear scientists in the years before WW II, and geneticists leaving the US today.

  5. I really think this issue gets blown way out of proportion. I agree that kids shouldn’t have the game and the bar for them to get it should be suitably high. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s going to turn anyone into a psychotic killer. They’re hardly “murder simulators”.

    I think that’s probably about on target. The bar is high for them to get the game, and it won’t turn them into a psycho.

    As for the school’s particular situation, I’d first suggest that maybe not allowing videogame consoles in the dorms would be an excellent first step. It doesn’t solve PC gaming, but just saying “no consoles” makes the whole process much easier.

    Cat’s already out of the bag on this one. Closing the barn door too late. The console systems have been in the school for several years now, and the last time we tried to ban them there was enough outrage on the part of some vocal parents that we backed down.

  6. It’s a boarding school, of course. If it weren’t, parents would be deciding this sort of thing for the kids at home, and we wouldn’t be involved.

    BUT, some parents have pre-bought this game for their children and sent it to them here, sight unseen. So now we have to step in.

  7. The game is meant for (and generally sells to) the lucrative 18-35 year-old male gamer category. I believe that the marketing goes to the right spot. But partially because of our “Forever Young” mentality and partially because of our urge to see “all games are for kids”, the marketing tends to bleed over.

    “It is (and has always been) the responsibility of parents to monitor their childrens’ use of entertainment media, and they’re failing miserably. The school should not have to “ban” the game – the parents should be refusing to buy it.”

    A parent’s willingness to buy something often has no relation to whether or not a kid can get something. Often times there’s an inverse relationship. I’m sure most parents ban cigarettes, alcohol and drugs, but kids who want them still get them.

    In this case, it’s as simple as going over to your friend’s house cause his parents didn’t care. Or an older sibling has a copy. Or you pay off some older kid to get it for you. Or you steal it. There’s only so much parenting (and parental monitoring) you can do.

    I really think this issue gets blown way out of proportion. I agree that kids shouldn’t have the game and the bar for them to get it should be suitably high. On the other hand, I don’t think it’s going to turn anyone into a psychotic killer. They’re hardly “murder simulators”.

    As for the school’s particular situation, I’d first suggest that maybe not allowing videogame consoles in the dorms would be an excellent first step. It doesn’t solve PC gaming, but just saying “no consoles” makes the whole process much easier.

    Beyond that, I assume that the school monitors its network which should be able to point out who’s online for World of Warcraft and who’s on wikipedia. And frankly, if I caught someone with an illegal game, I’d just confiscate it and their parents can get it back on break. If they send it back with the kid, just confiscate it again. If you hold onto a game for a semester or term, it’s going to lose a lot of its luster.

    later
    Tom

  8. Slightly off-topic but not entirely:

    I have an issue with these games, not because they exist, but because they are marketed to children and teenages (although I think they’re rated “Mature”, aren’t they?).

    It is (and has always been) the responsibility of parents to monitor their childrens’ use of entertainment media, and they’re failing miserably. The school should not have to “ban” the game – the parents should be refusing to buy it.

    The whole thing makes me sad, honestly.

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