Grand Theft Auto V in my Video Game LAN Center?

gta5I have always held a strong line to NOT carry the Grand Theft Auto series of games in our stores (along with a few other over-the-top titles). Our eBash partner store of which I do not have any ownership carries the games. This newest game would be a HUGE boost to our sales during the next few months and beyond and help us through our slower months. I don’t want to compromise my morals, but how do I skip a game that could mean so much potential income for my stores? I am thinking of perhaps requiring every single parent to physically come into the store and have us read to them the warning label on the game right at the front counter to their face. Something like this:

Me: “Hello mommy of Billy Gamer, are you wanting to allow him to play the newest Grand Theft Auto V game?”
Mommy: “Yes, that is fine. He plays games like that at home.”
Me: “Alright, I just need you to be aware that this game contains ALL of these items: Intense Violence, Blood and Gore, Nudity, Mature Humor, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, and the Use of Drugs and Alcohol. You are fine with your 9 year old son being exposed to all of those things?”

Man, even typing that up I just get a bad feeling in my stomach. I know that all of these parents will say yes. Maybe I should require that they sit down and play the game with their kid for a minimum of one hour before they are allowed to give them permission to play the game?  Maybe seeing prostitution in action on the screen will make more of an impact than hearing the words “Nudity and Strong Sexual Content”?

I sometimes get the feeling that parents honestly think that the warning label on games (and maybe movies) are just *potential* things that could be in the game.  Almost like it is a general guideline for all M (Mature) rated games that *could* contain those things listed on the label.  At least that is what I hope is true.

However the items printed on that label are ACTUALLY found within that exact game.  So when GTAV says that it has Nudity and Strong Sexual Content the game itself has those items as something your child will experience while playing.

Maybe I just hope that is the case so that I can give parents a false excuse for not caring what their child puts into their brain.  I feel better thinking that parents are dumb and naive and not just doing a lazy and terrible job of raising their children.  I want to believe that parents are just too busy to take the time to monitor what their kid is playing, instead of probably the true reason they let them play these games.

Parents are selfish.

I know this is true because I am a parent and I am also selfish.  I want my time to myself.  We have 3 kids at home and right now my wife and I do not get any time to do what WE want to do.  At home and when parents drop their kids at my video game center these “guardians” are just looking for a break from being a parent.

I understand the feeling and I am not saying that having your kids play video games so that you can get a break is wrong.   It is not even wrong to have them play for a few hours in my opinion.  However it is not right to allow them to be exposed to such things that are in some of these games just so you can have some “me” time.

So, should I carry this newest game in our stores and just put a heavy burden on the parents to be the ones that decide if their child is exposed to the filth found inside?  Will that leave me a clear conscience?  I doubt it.

12 thoughts on “Grand Theft Auto V in my Video Game LAN Center?

  1. My two cents:

    1) Require an over 18 ID to be presented when asking for the game, either by the player or their guardian (just like if purchasing).
    2) Have a form to keep on file, signed by said gamer/guardian, but still read out loud the warnings.
    3) Only allow the game to be played within some of your 18+ gaming rooms, not the open area out front, and that audio be only through headphones.

    This will play two parts. One it will allow you to garnish some of the income. However, it will limit it as you should only purchase as many copies as you can play within those rooms. If you get a “queue” you may even need to restrict time limits for a while. Or, you can have more copies and restrict a daily time limit such that, say, 9:00pm and later on weeknights are open and all under 18 must have a special waiver to be allowed beyond those times. Then you can sufficiently open it up to all consoles.

    I understand your feelings, and in your shoes would be in the same dilemma.

    • We actually required everyone to sign forms when we first opened 9 years ago. We had about 2000 forms filled out before I had the staff stop getting them signed. To my disappointment, not a single parent marked on the form that their child could not play M rated games. 😦

  2. One thing you could do is just not allowing anyone underage play, same as if buying, UNLESS their parent / legal guardian remains with them the entire time. It’s one thing to have their guardian/parent be there for the purchase, it’s another for them to actually be there while the kid plays the game. At most I would restrict it to anyone over 17+ to be allowed to play with ID.

    Like Jeremy stated, ” 3) Only allow the game to be played within some of your 18+ gaming rooms, not the open area out front, and that audio be only through headphones.” that is a great idea.

    After watching my friend streaming the game for 6+ hours, the amount of vulgar language was just insane, right off the bat, ef this ef that, n**** this n**** that.

    • I agree, if these parents just spent a little time watching the game they would probably be stunned by the amount of language and inappropriate content in the game. But if little BillyGamer just sits in his room for 6 hours and doesn’t bother them, they could care less what he is playing probably.

  3. Both of the prior comments pretty much cover everything. I do agree that you could just not permit any patrons under 17 to play the game and save yourself the guilt, because in the end you would be allowing these children to play the game in your establishment. If you don’t want to deal with that, you don’t have to. But then, I don’t know how many of your customers coming to play GTA would be 17+.

    Jeremy provides an excellent way to censor the game, although it could end up just being more of a hassle.

  4. There is a reason I don’t play any GTA games…

    The weigh between providing for your family and morals is nothing new but since you wanted opinions… Is it really worth it?

    That is the question you need to ask yourself. I don’t think not buying GTA 5 is going to ruin you.

  5. Have all of your employees download the ESRB app for their phones. I use it at work all the time when Mommy and Daddy dearest think it’s ok for little Billy to play some M rated game. The app has in-game instances of each particular item listed in that box. It’s one thing to tell them a game has such-and-such content, but it’s another to give them EXACTLY what content caused the game to be flagged with each indicator.

    • I had no idea there was an app like that, hats off for using it in the store. It would be fun to have a hidden camera on parents’ faces when they are watching the actual footage from the game for each of the Mature rated examples in the game.

  6. Is GTA really what kids want to be playing anyways? I’m 23 now and played Vice City and GTA 4 for a good bit of time when they first came out. There are so many more enjoyable games to be played. I don’t know how much of your business is centered on single player console games. I would say that not having the new GTA at a gaming center would be like not having the new Elder Scrolls. I feel like most people who come to your store (I do) go for the purpose of playing games with friends and new people they meet there.

    As for the moral issue. I was watching Aliens and Terminator at like age 7 or 8. I think the content can be harmful depending on each individual kid. I guess there is a difference between killing aliens and buying a hooker and murdering people for flashing green cash…

    I would say keep it out of your store. Counter Strike and COD are one thing. We see enough of that kind of stuff on TV every day. Oh a new Terrorist leader just got assassinated or whatever. What we don’t see, and dont what our kids to see on TV is GTA style violence and whatnot.

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