California senator Leland Yee—an outspoken critic of violent video games and the ESRB and author of a bill that targeted ultra-violent games—has a reminder for parents—don't buy Grand Theft Auto IV for your kids. Yee, doing his best by-proxy parenting, says that Rockstar Games and Take-Two "have a history of deceiving the ratings board and the public on the true content of their games" and that the game "glorifies violence, is extremely realistic and designed for adults only." Duh!
Yee's press release then reminds parents with some questionable wording that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was "found" to have "graphic scenes of oral sex, nudity, and simulated intercourse" and paints a dire picture of ratings enforcement.
In related news, I issued my own warning to parents, urging them to, you know, look at the four guns on the cover and the girl fellating a lollipop and think for a second if their kids should be playing that. And that the answer was no, moron. Only Senator Yee's press release is after the jump, though.
Senator Yee Urges Parents to Avoid Latest Ultra-Violent Video Game Thursday, April 24, 2008
Latest Grand Theft Auto Video Game to be Released Tuesday
SACRAMENTO - Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), the author of California's law attempting to prohibit the sale of extremely violent video games to minors, today urged parents to avoid purchasing the latest graphically violent video game - Grand Theft Auto (GTA) IV - scheduled for release on Tuesday, April 29. GTA IV, the newest in the ultra-violent video game series, is expected to be the year's most popular game despite its rating of M (Mature) for adult audiences.
"It is imperative that parents avoid purchasing this game for their children and always review the video games their children are playing," said Yee, who is also a child psychologist. "Unfortunately, the makers of Grand Theft Auto have a history of deceiving the ratings board and the public on the true content of their games. Parents beware: this game undoubtedly glorifies violence, is extremely realistic and designed for adults only."
In June 2005, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) and GTA's creator Rockstar, were involved in a multi-million dollar scandal called "Hot Coffee," in which Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a game originally rated M by the ESRB, was found to have hidden animations allowing players to watch graphic scenes of oral sex, nudity, and simulated intercourse. The scandal resulted in the game being pulled from most store shelves, a $2.75 million class-action settlement, and the stocks of the Rockstar's parent company (Take Two Interactive) losing nearly half their value.
The ESRB rates a game based solely on a short video clip and information supplied by the game's maker and does not actually play or review the full content of the game. While M-rated games are designed for adults, there is no prohibition to selling such games to children. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission reports that 42 percent of unaccompanied children 13 to 16 years of age can successfully purchase M-rated games.
In addition, a recent report by the National Institute on Media & the Family found complacency among retailers, parents and the gaming industry regarding video game rating awareness, enforcement and usage. Among the report's highlights was a retailer grade of C-, with national retailers receiving a D and rental stores collecting a failing (F) grade. The game industry as a whole received a C and the ESRB received a C+.
Yee's 2005 law to prohibit the sale of extremely violent video games to minors in California is currently being litigated in the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. A bill authored by Yee in 2004, which has gone into effect, requires video game retailers to post signs informing consumers of the video game rating system.
Parents can learn more about GTA IV by visiting various online parental resources including www.whattheyplay.com, www.commonsensemedia.com, and www.parentstv.org.