Why I Am Not Playing GTAIV

Gamespot: 10 out of 10. Game Informer: 10 out of 10. X-Play: 5 out of 5. IGN: 10 out of 10. 1UP: A+. Gamespy: 5 out of 5.

I would not be surprised if GTAIV is Game of the Year. I’m not playing it, and I probably never will.

Here are my reasons in no particular order:

There are just too many reasons not to.

I’ve changed. In the past, I would play any game that was popular or a triple-A title without any regard to content or subject matter. I just cannot play a game where it’s good to be bad. I pretty much avoid games where you are a serial killer, psycho, or just some crazy going postal. The GTA games let you do just that. You’re rewarded for being evil, and not just a satiric or comedic type of evil. Generally, the worse you are the better. I’m not against violence. I like playing Crackdown and Assassin’s Creed, but even then I don’t play them all that much anymore. Now, someone will argue that I really don’t know the game because I’ve never played it. However, there’s so much about GTA in popular culture and reviews that I’m pretty sure I’m not too far off the mark.

Violence and language affects you. Argue this as much as you want, but playing games influence you. Any game. There is no way around it. Another argument is that anything we watch, do, hear, and feel influences a person. Over the past year I’ve come to realize that when I surround myself with violence I tend to be more agitated and have a shorter fuse. I’m also tempted to use language I shouldn’t when I hear a lot of it. That’s not good. I generally avoid movies, comics, books, and games with over-the-top violence and language.

I have two kids under the age of five. Why even fall into the trap of exposing my boys to this? Will I be able to protect them from everything? No. This is me being a responsible parent. By the way, the adult games I do own and play are put up and out of sight from the kids. I don’t watch movies or play games until after they are in bed.

My job. In working with teenagers, I am appalled at how many of them know about games such as the GTA series or any other type of game that the ESRB says they shouldn’t play. It’s only too obvious: they’ve played them. Gamers, publishers, and designers can scream all they want, but these type of games are being played primarily by kids. Who’s to blame? Parents? Retailers? Gamers? Publisher? Designers? You? Me? No one really knows, and that debate will go on forever. I’m trying to influence kids to live good, clean lives and uphold at least a modicum of morality. It gets difficult when I’ve got to break up a group of kids sharing gaming tips when it’s time to teach them. Oh, and it’s not just games either. Movies like Superbad (Quality matches title? Brilliant) and their ilk are just as to blame.

I know some of these reasons are tied together. Do I think anything negative about people who play these type of games? Not at all. Each person is allowed to set their own standards. I just feel that if no one at least stands up and reminds us what we’re really surrounding ourselves with and sucking into our lives what it is we might become. If not, we may see games where you can drive spikes through a person’s skull, come up with creative ways by killing a person by cutting their genitalia, and exploring all ways to strangle a man. Oh, wait…I think we’ve got that on a couple of titles.


  1. I was floored at the number of kids at the midnight launch last night having their parents buying them copies of GTA IV.

    I’m not talking about high school students. I’m talking about Grade 6-7 kids.

    While I’m loving the game, it really got under my skin that these parents would buy this game for their kids. The best comparison I could think of was:

    If you have no problem letting your kids watch Reservoir Dogs, then you’ll probably have no problem with them playing GTA IV. If they’re too young for Dogs, they’re definately too young for GTA.

  2. Funny, from what people are saying so far the inherent problems from the previous games are still there, so why is it getting perfect scores?

    Aside from just being tired of the content, I’m tired of the game. I’ve played GTAIV three times now if you count Saint’s Row. I’m tired of it.

    As for the kids, I can’t believe how many young children I encounter on Halo 3 or COD4. With all the racist profanity frat boy theater going on, why would you let your kids play those games on-line?

    Rockstar can also talk about how they intend these games for adults, but we all know that kids will end up with it anyway. After seeing some of the clips I’m a little shocked. You can make something adult without it being pornographic.

  3. @Jason O
    I think of a perfect score game as one that is, well, perfect. Every review I’ve read does have at least one thing negative to say. Either something is going on—which I would not be surprised considering Rockstar’s past business practices—or there is such a rabid conformism and fanboyism about these games that it had perfect scores before being played.

    I would kind of liken it to Peter Jackson in LoTR:Return of the King. He probably was awarded with the Oscar for his work on the whole—not any single film. Maybe it’s the same here?

    I would not be surprised if GTAIV becomes the next Halo 3. I would imagine that the possibilities for 12-year-old griefing would be endless.

  4. Bravo.

    That’s really all I have to say.

  5. I think I was caught up in the hype this time. I am a few hours in, and I’ve got mixed feelings. I will say this, though: no way this is a 10/10 game.

    I respect your sticking to your guns on this one, Nat. Good on ya.

  6. Definitely not perfect, but a monumental achievement nonetheless. I can’t play Crackdown, Oblivion, Godfather, Saints Row, or any open world games really after this.

    Liberty City is alive… and that’s the best part of GTA IV. Put all the other stuff aside, the politics, the worried mothers, the fanbois… everything. Put it all aside and see just how detailed and broad the scope of Rockstar’s city is.

  7. Natiswrongeth says

    Nat is mistaken. That is all.

  8. Natiswrongeth:

    What an amazing and insightful critique! I love how you addressed and rebutted his points and provided balanced counter-commentary.

  9. flamingsquirrel says

    ok, NOW he’s trolling.

  10. The other day I saw my daughter playing Mario Kart. She was having a blast and I was OK with that. Then I realized that she was shooting a weapon at other race cars.

    My GOD!

    There is no way she could possibly realize that the game she was playing was different than the real world. Three years from now she will be driving a car and shooting turtle shells at people.


  11. Oh yeah. I also played D&D growing up. (Old school style on paper with a pencil and dice.) I remember “old people” being appalled that I was allowed to do such a thing.

    I have yet to kill an Ork or Kobald in real life but I know it will happen eventually.


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