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 Damn

Dear Parents... We need to talk. There is something that has been eating at me for a while, 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 Damn

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.


    I gave my little brother gta sa, i didn't know how i felt about that because i was so young when i first played it, but after playing gta v ( and loving every second of it ) i'm not so sure my little bro would handle this one, i remember he was afraid of the spider scene in one of the harry potter movies LOL.

    That's disgusting that many parents simply adhere to their child's rants and tantrums of "I want THIS". I'm 35, have 4 kids, eldest is a 9 year old boy. His favourite is minecraft and Mario Kart on the Wii. And that is because they are age-appropriate. I would never let him even look at me playing games like Assassin's Creed or GTA (they're for when they're all asleep!)

    games, and jumping off the cliff. they are both different, and how would you feel if your parents didnt allow you to go this amusement park with all your mates. and online is gonna be the biggest fun they are gonna have in gta. chill out man, its just for a good time.

    are there laws that prevent you knowingly buying R18 games for kids, akin to how it's illegal if you're caught provided minors with alcohol?

    The game is the best everybody should play this game its amazing

    I am 12 years old and all my freinds have gta but I am not allowed it, but unlike most kids who are not allowed it I understand why my parents don't allow me to play it and I don't want the game because I think it's sick and not right. At first I wanted it because all my friends had it and you can do lots of other kinds of activities that we're not violent like BASE jumping and driving in amazing scenery but when my parents told me about why I'm not allowed it and after I watched a few YouTube videos of it I thought it was wrong that people my age could interact with this bloody and violent content. I have one call of duty but I never play it because it simulates you getting to kill another human being. I think mature games like gta are disgusting and offensive to those who are serving are country and we are sitting at home impersonating this horrible environment and for fun! Our country's brave army are traumatised by war and risk their lived and gta takes the mic, you gta fans make me sick and it is not healthy to play these games non stop. Thank you for taking the time to read this and this is my opinion.

    I can play Some M games like Skyrim, or Halo, or any of those mild games. But I have played GTA V and I really understand why my parents say no. I hate going to gamestop, begging for the dang game, then seeing some little 8 year old by GTA V when all im asking for is assassins creed 4. Im 12 BTW. Nice speach

    What does it matter who parents are buying gta5 for I would buy it for myself but even though I love and give a shit about my kids I would allow them to play it just because I would never be able to play it if b I had a stick up my ass and to over protected of them since they like watching me play games

    Seriously who the hell cares i played violent Games since i was 6 and it was fun! Just why Is this a big deal Its just a bunch of Pixels Fake not real get it ? games a made my for Entertainment now im 21 and just a normal person like everyone else xD stop bieng so ridiculous do you seriously think you kid will murder People just because he ran over some old lady with a car i gta xD then watching Action Movies or Horror movies Is the Same thing. Oh Dady look this 007 Is shooting People going to do the Same thing because i Love this movie yay! -_- really this Is just ridiculous and by the way sometimes People die in real life stop hiding your Kids from the real world there Are good and Bad People out there Bad things Happen sometimes you learn from them a Lot more then watching retarded Cartoons and Talking about rainbows and unicorns all day

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now