Gtaiv On Botn

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

Editor's Update: Jim Patton, from Bush League TV, called in during the show. He has played Grand Theft Auto IV for 28 hours straight.

I know, I know — I can't stop with the acronyms. Whatever. Moving on, if you've thought about Grand Theft Auto IV in the last couple of days, you probably fall into one of three categories. 1) You heard about it on NPR and put down your Kierkegaard for a minute, curiosity piqued. What will these internetizen gamertypes think of next! 2) You haven't stopped playing, reading or thinking about Niko Bellic for one moment since.... shhhh or 3) You are shocked, shocked, that there is sex and violence in a video game and wholeheartedly renounce GTA in any guise. We've got something for all three of yous today! A little Adam Sessler (from G4tv), a little Jack Thompson, and of course, your calls and comments.

I confess. I am a feminist. I am non-violent (mostly). I AM REALLY EXCITED TO PLAY THIS GAME.

Comments

 

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As video game designers and players mature is it not to be expected that the games do as well???? As good parallel would be the movie industry in Hollywood.

Sent by Nik Gribb | 2:26 PM | 5-1-2008

I am head of an organization called Parents For Education, Not Legislation.

What we attempt to do is let Parents know of all the resources available to them to make the best informed choices for their own children.

While this game, and many others, has a high age rating, it should be understood that the person to know any specific child best is the child's own Parent.

Parents find time to educate themselves on a variety of things. From food, to bikes, to baby car seats, to even their medical doctors and counselors. They should make the same effort in what media they expose their children to as well. Whether it is books, TV shows, movies, magazines, music, video games, and even religious and non-religious beliefs.

There are plenty of resources out there for Parents to study. A good Parent doesn't limit themselves either. Nor do Parents want to be dictated to by other individuals, organizations, or even the government. Intelligent Parents accept opinions, but don't let others control their decisions through abusive tactics or through misinformation, lies, or deceit.

There are a great many issues that can be discussed, and there is no doubt that you and your listeners will only hear a few of them. And not all the information given will be complete or even truthful.

When it comes to choosing video/computer games for myself and my own child, I make the most informed decision I can and I advise you and your listeners to do the same.

I am well aware there are some individuals who will knowingly and intentionally lie and deceive others to force their personal, religious, and/or political beliefs on others. I have learned over time what those resources are and I steer clear of them and let others know about them.

But at the same time, others are free to use whatever resources that fits their own personal, religious, and/or political beliefs best, even if they are not the same as mine.

That is why we believe Education is a far better tool than legislation.

Sent by Andrew Rhodes | 2:39 PM | 5-1-2008

I was interested in what the lawyer from Miami had to say. Too bad Neal got rid of him so quickly.

Sent by Dolly | 2:55 PM | 5-1-2008

Are you serious doing a segment on this video game? And these creeps who play it for hours on end and defend it as some kind of innocent past time need to get a life.

Sent by Mark | 2:56 PM | 5-1-2008

I believe the comments on the show - so far - have been incredibly naive. My husband and I are both middle school teachers in an inner-city setting, and our students are heavily influenced by these video games. I regularly hear them make comments and engage in actions that are entirely unacceptable - by anyone, let alone 12 - 14 year olds. They are not being prevented from buying and renting these games, and their deep engagement in the games as "characters" blurs the lines of socially acceptable behavior.

Sent by Carrie | 3:00 PM | 5-1-2008

my thanks to talk of the nation and adam sessler for having a mature conversation about this awesome game title. unfortunately mr. thompson was included in the program, but i suppose it's important to have both sides to a story, even if one isn't dealing in facts and reality.

2 points on the game:
it's not about the destination (finishing the game) it's about the journey. the writers and developers have created an environment where almost anything is possible. if you're interested in havoc, you can do that. if you're interested in developing relationships with other characters, you can do that to. sightseeing, mayhem, billiards, or bombing..it's all up to you.

2nd point:
this is an M rated game. as with R or X rated movies, minors should not be allowed to view it. minors playing this game or other M rated titles have only their parents to blame if they are exposed to the language and violence.
kids playing M-rated games = F-rated parents.

Sent by johnny | 3:02 PM | 5-1-2008

as a member of the peace movement and a practitioner of non-violence, i must say that i generally find npr and neal (neil?) to be compass less these days. you lack direction.
i think most of the american media is bilge and i had hoped npr would rise above it- it hasn't- it puts a kind of more educated veneer on the same old crap
dedicate this game to ( npr u can cut this part if it is too strong-george bush and his merry band of thugs- or )to capitalism- which is profit before morals, profit before the common good- dedicate it to npr that doesn't seem to have enough educated folk to understand how they are being hornswaggled every day
now i do beleeve in freedom of speech and the right of these folks to put this game out there- just as the movie "saw" is put out there
i also believe in the righteous rage of people to make sure it fasils
as jeremiah wright said "capiche?"
neil (neal) and npr- hint- the more you cover the positive things- the better we all can be- yes we can

Sent by dave eberhardt | 3:09 PM | 5-1-2008

The main question that the discussion on GTAIV brings up in my mind is, Where are the parents in all this and what is their responsibility when it comes to allowing their 12 year-old to play a game that is not made for person of that age? The idea of 12 year-olds playing this game and how long it would take before they were playing this game was a prominent part of the discussion. I unfortunatly agree that it will not take long for this to occur. However, who are the bad actors in this circumstance. It is either a retailer who is breaking the law by selling this game to a minor, or it is a parent or guardian or other adult who is purchasing the game with one would hope an understanding of what they are expose their child to. For the record, I am a gamer of 30 years, and my parents were very careful to make sure that I comprehended the difference between Real life and make believe.

Sent by Toby C. | 3:09 PM | 5-1-2008

I'm honestly surprised Jack Thompson called in, considering he's under sanctions in Florida, facing disbarment, and I believe is currently under an injunction preventing him from further slander against Rockstar Games.
Did you guys do any research on him before this show? At all?

Also, what was with Neil cutting off callers with Parthian shots, not letting them answer, and immediately moving on to another call? Is he audition for a fill-in position for Bill O'Reilly?

Sent by Dan | 3:11 PM | 5-1-2008

I am amazed that NPR would let a hack like Jack Thompson on any of their shows. Furthermore, I'm deeply saddened that Adam Sessler wasn't given the chance to publicly refute everything Mr. Thompson had to say. Which is a shame, because not only would have it been absolutely hilarious and entertaining to listen to, it would have been marvelously educational to listeners who are outside the Game Industry.

Please reconsider Mr. Thompson's selfish history before deciding to have him taint our airwaves again.

Sent by David | 3:20 PM | 5-1-2008

It's not the job of Rockstar Games to be good parents to children. If I was 12 years old I wouldn't have the game. Reason #1 being I didn't have a job to pay for the game (like nearly all 12 yr. olds) and even if I did my father wouldn't let me buy it.

Parents need to take personal responsibilty for what they buy their kids and stop getting upset when something risque, whether it's a video game, TV show, movie, etc. that's made for adults is put on the market or on TV.

If the parent thinks the game is not suitable for their children, DON'T BUY IT!, and make sure they don't go to a friends house to play it either. Please stop infringing on the enjoyment of other adults because you're to lazy to be a parent.

Sent by Mike Townsend | 3:21 PM | 5-1-2008

what happened to the segment? this was the first time in my 7 years of listening to npr that i was willing to call in and actually participate. I'm not a gta fanatic or anti-fanatic, i just wanted to open up a discussion on the distinction between extreme behavior in games and extreme behavior as a facet in games, drawing parallels between second life and gta. after jack thompson was on, the show went to a fundraising break and when i called in the call screener told me they had moved on to gymnastics.

as a long time listener, i'm very disappointed by this.

Sent by Brian Block | 3:29 PM | 5-1-2008

Jack Thompson is a paranoid moron. He says he hasn't played the game because he has better things to do, obviously he does not if all he can focus on is GTA and the ability to "kill hookers and cops". Here is the real breakdown on the game and stay with me because there are a few points that get lost every time this game is mentioned. 1)Take-Two/Rockstar did not define the definition by which video games receive their rating, they merely comply. 2)This game is rated for MATURE AUDIENCES. After the sale of the material to merchandising companies it is out of their hands, if the big box companies do not follow the ratings who is to blame? They are, not Take-Two or Rockstar! 3)If you ask any adult gamer who plays the game why they love it so, you are going to see a shocking statistic that is ignored. The people who like the violence are a vast minority. This game has such a following for reasons other than violence. A)The free roam nature of the game and the size of the virtual world. B)The ability to deviate from the preconceived plot and explore the virtual world C) In part to item "A" and "B" test the limitations of the developers imaginations (and your own) to see to "what level of detail did they think of?" D)Finally the minor variation of being able to do the things that you would not normally do BECAUSE you know it is FANTASY and as an adult (MATURE AUDIENCE) you can distinguish the difference between the two. I have three children in my household 2,6,9. As their father and a responsible adult, I do not let them play the game, because I understand that it is not for them. Unlike the rest of the fear mongers of GTA I take an active role in what they play and monitor what they play, rather than allow them to hide away in their room and not pay attention to what it is they are doing.

Sent by Bruce Yarbrough | 3:40 PM | 5-1-2008

I just wanted to comment on the suggestion that the game promotes drunk driving. I think it is important to note that the game actually discourages it. The first time that you get drunk in the bar, when you come out with your cousin Roman he says something along the lines as "...if you plan on driving, you're dumber than I thought." Also, it allows you to hail a taxi and suggest that you do so.
Ofcourse though I chose to see what it was like to try to drive and I must say doing so alone discourages it. It is very hard to drive and is honestly very realistic. You really feel drunk(at least while looking at the screen).
I also wanted to point out that while there are alot of drugs in the game the main characters in all of the GTA games have always turned down the use of them when anyone ask if they would like to. Therefore the game also is discouraging Drug use.
And finally about the Killing of prostitues...You can kill anyone one in the game, at anytime and in many ways. But when it comes down to it this is a game. I am 24 years old and I've played the GTA series since its 2d debut. My favorite games tend to be First Person Shooters. I am what you would consider a "Hardcore Gamer" However, I have always been a very polite and caring individual ask my parents relatives employeers, etc. A bad kid is a bad kid, games don't make them that way.
Oh and Jack Thompson is a nutcase.

Sent by Ryan | 3:56 PM | 5-1-2008

So i really dont like Jack Thompson but the site that you have his name linked to isnt his. Its a site that shows his statments and such things because they feel that the media show games in a unfair light. Dont think that the ignorant fool that Jack Thompson is would really like to know you did that. I could be wrong but if i was him i wouldnt

Sent by daniel Bradley | 4:25 PM | 5-1-2008

Barry - NO feminist would think of playing this game and your comment is offensive.

Sent by Eileen Redden | 4:37 PM | 5-1-2008

Im in a fourth group, I have heard about it (no self-respecting gamer hasn't) but I will not be playing it cause i find the entire series boring. I think they use violence to cover up mediocre to poor game play. Im not a fan of Jack Thompson either, if he really want to achieve what he says he does, he can do it through education and policing the stores who can't legally sell it kids.

Sent by David Wilson | 4:40 PM | 5-1-2008

I just listened to the program. In it Mr. Thompson describes blatant sexual acts that occur in the game that I have not seen, nor been able to find. He also stated that the material is up at IGN.com. I have looked and have not been able to find said material that Mr. Thompson has described. This leads me to believe Mr. Thompson was either exaggerating, or out right lying. I would not put lying above him. If I am wrong, and this content is in the game, than I will apologize. Until then, I have to call shenanigans on Mr. Thompson.

Sent by Peter M. Ortiz | 5:00 PM | 5-1-2008

I find it funny that the Florida bar is seeking sanctions against Mr. Thompson for inappropriate conduct. He doesn't seem like a man who cares over-much about children; he cares more about being the spotlight.

I would have like to hear Mr. Sessler refute what Mr. Thompson was saying. I was disappointed that the discussion was so short. It was much more interesting than the world of gymnastics.

Sent by Thomas J. Johnston | 5:14 PM | 5-1-2008

As a high school age educator of 35 years and parent and foster parent of teenagers, I have had a great deal of experience with the affect of violent vidio games on young people. I have been most disturbed about Grand Theft Auto. Being designed to ape reality, it can't help but affect a kid's basic concept of what is socially acceptable. I'm not sure if the students who were big into GTA were more violent and thus like the game or vice versa, but it was a fact. Although it was designed for the older player, it does get into the hands of younger children. Recently, when I picked him up from kindergarten, my 5-year-old neighbor stated how fun it was to "make ladies get into his car, kill them and take their money". He didn't come up with this idea naturally. His ten-year-old brother had him playing the game with him. Yes, it is the parents' responsibility to monitor games, but irresponsible parents don't make this socially acceptable. Follow this with the fact this child asked my 4-year-old granddaughter to take her clothes off and show him her "@%*$^%" after he had been playing with his brother, you have to admit this is not acceptable to install in a young, malleable mind.
My foster-son was always difficult to deal with after playing violent games. You will never convince me that violent roll playing doesn't create violent thoughts, even s1/4onsciously.

Sent by Lynne Schuepbach | 5:14 PM | 5-1-2008

I was disappointed in this episode of Talk of the Nation. The inclusion of Mr. Thompson and Neil's rudeness to some of the callers was very uncharacteristic of a show I usually enjoy.

Sent by Mark Williams | 5:21 PM | 5-1-2008

The sexual and violent acts are on par with a classic Scorsese or Michael Mann film, and truth be told, as a fan of such films I feel like GTA4 is on par with them in terms of depth of character, story, and themes of morality, hope and desperation.

Hollywood has the advantage of an entrenched industry and decades of artistic recognition to legitimize it. Video games, as yet, do not.

It's an amazingly rich game if you are looking for it, just as it's a fun pointless rampant killing spree if you don't. As it goes with a lot of works of art, people see what they see.

Sent by kirin | 5:40 PM | 5-1-2008

Something to keep in mind in all of this discussion. The game systems, XBOX 360 and PS3 both have parental controls. If parents are afraid that their kids will play this game on a system in their house, then they can set the systems to not allow the playing of this game.

Grand Theft Auto is an easy target. Adam was right in that this is not the most violent or graphic game out at the moment or even in history. At the moment however, it is the most famous and as such is a lightning rod for discussion.

Frankly, games are a medium that has been embraced and is growing in our culture. Instead of trying to ignore it and make it go away (it's not, by the way) parents and caregivers need to engage their kids. Just as TV, movies, books, and art have been used to kickstart discussions about subjects throughout the years, so too can games be used to connect.

As a gamer and parent of 3 kids, two of whom play with me at times, I monitor what I let them play. I use games to spend time with them and connect to them. It is a medium that allows exciting interaction on a fundamental level. It's fun for them, fun for me, and I get to spend some enjoyable time with them. My way might not fit others, but games are an opportunity for adults and parents to reach out to their kids. It would be a shame to squander it due to fear.

Sent by Mark Jackson | 5:43 PM | 5-1-2008

I don't think Rockstar or Take two should be held responsible. The ESRB has established criteria for rating a game. If a game, like GTA IV, has a 17+ rating, it's the responsibility of the retailer.

Furthermore, parents are responsible what their children are exposed to. I know parents can't be there 100%... ...however, if a parent is purchasing a game for a child that is below the suggested ESRB rating... how is this GTA IV's fault?

Jack Thompson, shame on you

Sent by Mike | 5:46 PM | 5-1-2008

Funny interview with Neal Conan and Adam Sessler. Mr. Jack Thompson is on a mission, I cant blame him for that. As long as "I" as an adult, am allowed to purchase this software, I have no quams about him bringing the hammer down on under-age kids that get a hold of this game. This game ISNT for kids. in fact at the point of purchase, the Gamestop employee verifed my ID, kudos to the effort. Now if we can get real parents to NOT buy this for thier kids, thatll be something to remember. Either way its like a dirty magazine, take it away from the kid, and they will find a way to get it.

Sent by Hector B. | 5:50 PM | 5-1-2008

Constant media ridicule = infomercials

Outrage and protest from political and social activists = an image of cool subversion, generation gap

Scorn from those who have never played = word of mouth advertisement

Is it any wonder it's the fastest selling game of all time?

Sent by Mathew Montgomery | 5:51 PM | 5-1-2008

Do video games cause actual violence? There were none around during the Crusades or the Inquisition, neither during the thirty years or 100 years war. Very violent - hundreds of thousands of people were actually killed in very painful tortuous ways.
No video games existed during the French Revolution, the Terror, the Napoleonic Wars or the Holocaust. I submit those who are concerned with violence should think about Religion and Politics -actual causes of actual violence- before criticizing a game or other media. They also may want to assess their stance on lethal injection and the death penalty in here in the USA.
If you don't like a video game, make use of the "off" switch.

Sent by Eli Montrose | 5:58 PM | 5-1-2008

Im always happy to hear dialogue on one of my favorite pastimes, but I think Neil and Talk of the Nation missed the mark this time.

In a nutshell, I think more of the show should have been devoted to the topic of game violence in general. It seems like certain elements of society like to latch on to new forms of media when they debut, and try to knock them down for whatever reason seems most evocative. Like before, this as taken the form of "x media is destroying our children!"

What is so bothersome about the debate this time is all the spurious information used by either side. The situation is exacerbated by the media's tendency to only give the topic a few minutes.

So, as an avid NPR listener, I'd love to hear a longer debate with guests intimately familiar with both the games in question and their effects. The 17 or so minutes provided this time round seemed rushed.

As for Jack Thompson, I think a little research into his activities over the past couple of years will prove his inability to speak for the anti-games side of the debate. He has yet to win a case involving a video game, and all the legislation he has helped to author has failed.

As a gamer, I think I speak for most other gamers when I say that we are more than willing to engage in an intelligent discussion, but not one with Jack Thompson. He simply has no credibility with us.

Sent by Evan Scott | 6:01 PM | 5-1-2008

First let me start off by saying that I have played every GTA game up to GTA San Andreas and I have as yet never even seen sex in-game. The so called "hot coffee" mod was actually a hack that must be added to the source code of the game and therefore could only be utilized on a PC but more importantly, the person involved in it's application must know a great deal about computers, this includes ripping the code from the disc and tampering with it, all the while not breaking the game.

I've noticed an interesting tendency for opponents of these games to agree that the game is rated M and that that means it is designed for those who are 17 and older, and then to say, 'But how long until children get their hands on them? Yeah, I thought so.' The game is explicitly for adults, and it's the parents' faults and the store owners' faults when children get their hands on them, that is, if you are apt to believe that pornography and violent games can harm children. Interesting how I've only seen violence in these games and I have yet to hurt anyone since playing them.

As everyone here has been on the internet before, I'm going to bring up a new point, acquiring ACTUAL porn, not the "suggested sexual intercourse" but REAL LIVE porn, is so incredibly easy on the internet. When I was 9 years old, I found out how to get around one of those nanny filters, I simply searched on Google images, yahoo images, or other search sites, bam, look at all the porn. censoring games because adults are worried about their children being harmed by porn will be ineffectual and only serve as another form of undue censorship. GTA has no porn and the violence has not turned anybody in all my years of school into a more violent person.

Parents have the power to make a child into a bully, not games. How about spending some time on legislation against abusive and bad parents instead of censoring the United States and continually getting absolutely no positive results. Jack Thompson is a sham, his accusations against GTA 4 were generalizing the worst things that you can do in-game as "normal" and "easy" when they are hard to pull off at best, and lies at worst.

Concerned parents, stop banning things, it will never work, banning books didn't stop the killing, banning movies didn't either. Banning music? Nope. So if you expect that banning games will do anything other than waste money and time, you've got another thing coming. But hey, look at the bright side, you can ban the next new thing too, surely that will work.

Sent by Chris | 6:53 PM | 5-1-2008

Having actually played the game and talked with many other people who have, as well as watched videos of it on YouTube, there is definitely the type of sexual acts/behavior that Jack Thompson was talking about. He's confused about it being "integral" to the game, as it is not. Like someone said earlier, this is a game where you can be what you want to be. If you want to explore a richly detailed, massive and gorgeous virtual environment, you most certainly can. If you want to run around killing people, that's there as well. The types of behaviors people are engaging in while playing the game is more a reflection of their own personalities and impulses, than it is the designers of the game "forcing" them upon the player. Still, it is a violent and mature-themed game, and I wouldn't recommend anyone but adults play this. There are many "adult situations" that children just can't fully appreciate/understand at this point in their lives. Do we fault a game designer for bringing adult-themed content to consumers? I for one am glad I have options. If I had to play only cutesy little cartoon characters, I'd be pretty bored. If the M rating isn't good enough, perhaps we need to re-examine how kids are getting ahold of games like these. I'd be willing to bet in most cases it is because a parent *ghasp* bought it for them. That's their choice as a parent, however naive, uninformed, or irresponsible. If we are to ban a game because kids might get ahold of it, we'd better start banning cigarettes, alcohol, and pornography.

Sent by Boris | 6:53 PM | 5-1-2008

Eileen, I find your illogical blanket comment on feminism offensive.

Sent by David | 7:06 PM | 5-1-2008

My ex-husband used to pay the original game. I noticed a sharp increase in his sexist comments and attitudes. I honestly believe that it contributed to our divorce. I believe that if players were lynching black men instead of killing prostitutes, this would not be on the market.

Sent by Sasha | 7:23 PM | 5-1-2008

In regards to Mr. Thompson, I do have my own personal opinions regarding him. However, for those not thoroughly familiar with him, I highly recommend searching Wikipedia.org, Wikiquotes.org, and doing General Google advanced Searches, Google News Advanced Searches, and Google Blog Advanced Searches for his name. He goes by "Jack" Thompson, but his name is John Bruce Thompson. But nearly all the information you can find on him is as Jack Thompson.

As previously pointed out, the jackthompson.org website is not his but a site privately run as a type of archive. It is limited and there is a great deal more information out there.

Note that there is a Jack Thompson football player, actor, and even a judge, among others. The Mr. Thompson in this case is an attorney from Miami.

According to most noted reports, Mr. Thompson does not currently have a website of his own. He did have one at stopkill.com, which is no more. But old pages of it can be seen using archive.org.

As to the IGN video mentioned, an article regarding it is here. I highly recommend reading the article first to put the issue into context. For example, the video is actually a compilation of short cuts from cut scenes (non-interactive story video) found throughout the game. Note the fact these scenes seem rather extreme, but they are actually an extremely tiny portion of the overall story. Further research, of course, is recommended.

It should be noted that the ESRB flash card rating and content descriptors DO indicate certain material which would cover these scenes. So no one is actually not being informed of its existance.

The Truth, The WHOLE Truth, and Nothing But The Truth.

Andrew Rhodes
Parents For Education, Not Legislation

Sent by Andrew Rhodes | 7:25 PM | 5-1-2008

I can't remember if I put the link in that post about the IGN video or no. Doh!

Just in case:

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080428-jack-thompson-targets-gta-iv-with-an-unlikely-ally-ign.html

Andrew Rhodes
Parents For Education, Not Legislation.

Sent by Andrew Rhodes | 7:27 PM | 5-1-2008

What happened to the parents? If you are so upset about Grand Theft Auto then don't buy it for your kids! Do you let your kid's buy X-rated magazines? Do you let them watch X-rated movies? The answer should be no, right? So if you as a parent are not capable of keeping your child away from a video game, I would suggest parenting classes, not finger pointing. It's time for the parents to grow up, take responsibility and stop trying to pawn their child's horrible upbringing off on other people.

Sent by J.J.S. | 7:36 PM | 5-1-2008

NPR...Why? WHY would you have Jack Thompson on? Please, before you choose your guests, at least do a quick Google search to see if they are A) credible, or B) proven whack-jobs in danger of losing their license to practice law in the state they currently reside.

There are plenty of people out there to argue against Grand Theft Auto and violent video games. Jack Thompson should be your last choice.

Sent by John Luedtke | 7:43 PM | 5-1-2008

This game should be celebrated for it's outstanding achievement's on so many levels. Not only have many hard working people created an unparalleled virtual world full of depth and life, but New York, and America as a whole is brilliantly satirised and the writing and story has been labelled by many, including the likes of The Times and The New York Times -- not just video game journalists -- as Oscar worthy. This is adult entertainment, and it is outstanding adult entertainment at that.

It is not the developers job to parent your youth and as such they can't be put to blame for any child playing it. The parents are purely to blame.

Everybody pouncing on this game as the spawn of Satan clearly has a deep misunderstanding of Video Games, just like your grandmother may not have understood Terminator or your great grandmother may not have understood rock and roll. They [Video games], on rare occasion, pass above 'childish hobby' into the same realm of some of our best books and movies. It is a shame so many people can't appreciate it the same way millions of others do, and just focus all of their attention and hatred toward the few people who play it that shouldn't.

Sent by Jack Thompson's Wife | 7:43 PM | 5-1-2008

As an educator, I'm perfectly fine with adults playing this game. I'm playing this game as well. I honestly don't see a serious issue of children (even 4th graders) playing M rated games. The reason for this is because there were numerous 4th grade boys who owned, or had older siblings who owned Halo 3, yet there was no drastic increase in violence or shootings. In fact, shootings have been on the decrease over the last few years. If people want to blame some one, blame parents. Parents have far more influence on their children than tv shows or movies.

Sent by Kirk | 7:45 PM | 5-1-2008

While the discussion was someone brief, I do appreciate NPR trying to add context to the subject of GTAIV. What has been so frustrating about the GTAIV scare is that... a lot of people don't fully understand the nature of the game.

As a person who enjoys video games, let me tell you... GTAIV is a very violent game, and I definitely do not recommend that any minors play it. You'd be hard-pressed to find any gamer who would think children should play this. But one of the major myths about the game is that it is about shooting specific groups of people. Several individuals stated that in GTA, you are supposed to shoot prostitutes. MADD made claims that GTA forces you to drive drunk. Police officers have been calling GTA a cop-killing game.

The thing about GTA is that you can actually shoot anyone really... it doesn't specifically pick on one group... and frankly it's pretty indiscriminate. And yes, of course that's still disgusting when you sit down and think about it (again, even GTA players would agree). My point isn't that a game that lets you kill indiscriminately is somehow "okay." I'm simply saying that the game isn't making any kind of statements of any members of society.

The other main concern is children... and yes... children have managed to get a hold of this game... which is something I don't approve of. However, GTA, as it's been stated several times is rated M, and because of this, store owners cannot sell these to a minor. The ESRB rates games, and enforces the policies (just like the MPAA enforces film ratings). Video Game retailers are required to card people purchasing M rated games, and failure to do so can result in fines to that retailer.

There has been a lot of talk of stores not enforcing the age restriction, but unfortunately, there hasn't been any credible studies to prove this one way or the other (the NIMF posted a report card on the subject, giving retailer accountability a low grade... however if you actually read through the report, even one who's not well versed in videogames can spot a lot of inaccuracies... not to mention bad grammar... like I should talk). I am however going to have to point my finger at many parents. I've spoken with many parents who were completely oblivious to the rating system before I pointed it out to them... which is odd, seeing as every game has the rating on the front cover. Yet, I've talked to at least a dozen who willingly purchased a GTA game for their young to pre-teen children, without knowing what they're getting into. It's a shame that many (but not all) parents are not interested in their children's lives enough to understand what activities they take part in, because if they truly understood what GTA is... I'm fairly certain that a lot less kids would be playing it.

The bottom line is that... yes... GTA is a tasteless, violent game, and I think it deserves a lot of the scorn that has been directed at it. However, just the same, I do believe everyone is over-reacting. Children should not be playing it, and there is a system in place to prevent this. The game is not about victimizing any group of people. However, people enjoy the game (just like some people enjoy the movie Saw), and so what? Who are we to say they can't?

Sent by Aragorn | 7:45 PM | 5-1-2008

The GTA4 segment was somewhat interesting from social political point of view. But personally I would like to see GTA4 on Science Friday... Games like GTA4 have a lot of science behind them that I would like to know more about, such as artificial intelligence and 3D computer graphics... how many engineers did it take to make this game? Also I think the game is a form of high art. How often do we get to explore science crossing over into pop culture?

Sent by David Holmes | 8:05 PM | 5-1-2008

About the MADD criticism, GTAIV doesn't encourage drunk driving, quite the opposite, it discourages it by showing you the direct consequences better than any public service ad could: if you drive drunk you'll end up with a wrecked car and a trip to jail.

Sent by Brian T. Irelan | 8:40 PM | 5-1-2008

Being 18 this is the first time i could legally a GTA game (which I did), but previously buy or rather have my parent buy GTA III at the age of 12. This is where Mr. Thompson fails. My mother legally purchased the game for me so should she be punished or jailed for this. I say no, she was a responsible parent watched the gameplay and instilled in me right vs. wrong and a game vs. real life. The sex in GTA III was merely a car rocking back and forth while the characters health goes up... which is a joke.

I will have to agree with others when i say I have found no sex. Besides that no child is going to play the game to find the sex. If a child or maybe the sexually repressed Mr. Thompson needs sexually content that badly they will merely look to the internet. Bottom line parents need to do their duty as such and dimwits like Jack Thompson need to shut their lying, over-exaggerating, mouths.

I saw R-rated films, played M games, and listened to Explicit lyrics all before the proper age. Grow up Jack, wasn't Elvis considered to be the downfall of society. All new forms of art, and video games are art have been criticized. Jack Thompson just like idiots like Cooper Lawrence criticize games they have never played like Mass Effect, Bully, and GTA.

Sent by John BonTempo | 9:17 PM | 5-1-2008

Ok as an 18 year old video gamer and future game developer myself, I believe that banning video games is not the thing to do. I, for years have played violent video games and they have not changed me on bit. I am a mild-mannered kid that attends a Jesuit College Prepitory High School. I have never played gta4 and then wanted, nor did, carjack, buy or sell drugs, or any of the illegal act depicted in these video games. As many people have said here, it is the parents to blame, parents need to control the content that their children consume; be it a video game, to a movie, to a song, or even a book. It also depends on the child, I have played these games all my life, and I, being the mature person that I have been throughout my life, have not been adversely affected.

And to those who are anti-video games, all i have to say is go read a book, even thought you could get the same enjoyment, fulfillment and joy in playing a video game, that immerses one into the story and lets you choose what happens.

Sent by Marty McMahon | 9:30 PM | 5-1-2008

Jack Thompson is a lawyer that is facing disbarment in the state of Florida for his uninformed agenda against video-gaming. His points are rarely accurate, and any knowledgeable reader or listener should always double-check his facts because his arguments tend to lean towards propaganda than any semblance of informed opinion.

Most of what the media portrays about this game is inaccurate at best. The game does not promote drunk driving--in fact, the mission the media is referring to suggests that Niko (the main character) should take one of the readily available taxis instead of driving drunk. If you choose to drive drunk, the game makes it an extremely difficult and terrifying task.

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The game is also not about killing women. The majority of missions is may have killing, but there are far more male victims than female victims. The game does not promote killing of women, nor are players rewarded for doing so.

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GTA IV is a sandbox game. You are put in a world, and literally can do whatever you want. If a player chooses to wreck havoc and destroy the city and kill random strangers, then so be it--however, you cannot blame the game for this behavior because the game does not train, reinforce or reward this behavior.

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Finally, the educated and knowledgeable readers and listeners should actually take a look at the game. If you actually do comparisons, there is nothing in GTA IV that you have not seen in a movie, and frankly, you've seen much worse in movies such as Saw or generic-horror-movie.

Sent by Jeff | 9:42 PM | 5-1-2008

people that are so bored and rich that just like to blame popular games like gta3 makes this world a sad world indeed. The char looks and sounds nothing like this loser thompson guy. Just because his head is vertical? wow my head is shaped like that also they must be putting me in the game! lol really these people have problem. The host of this show didnt even let adam say anything to this thompson guy simply because the host was on jacks side. its sad but true but you will never stop gta lol all they will do is make it have a Adult only rating which in terms will make me want it even more.

Sent by xenokai | 9:47 PM | 5-1-2008

I just listened to the program about GTA IV, I have played GTA IV. In fact, I waited on monday night in line at 11pm to get one of the first copies of GTA IV. I am a 17 year old high school student in Toledo, Ohio, and I think the controversy of GTA IV is ridiculous. I remember playing GTA Vice City, one of the prior games in the GTA series, in my room with my friends after school in 6th and 7th grade. I do not believe that this game idolizes violence or drugs or drunk driving. I believe, in fact, it does the opposite. For those couple hours a day back in middle school sitting on my couch with my friends shooting cops, steeling cars, I escaped from my everyday normal life, I became a mob boss...someone important; however, when we were done playing we did not go hold up the neighborhood 711, we went back to our normal lives. I believe this game, like other video games, and other forms of media for that matter, are meant to provide an escape from everyday life, whether it be to a 17 year old high school senior trying to get something out of their boring life, or a 47 year old dad taking a load of after a day at work. You get to become someone else, living in Liberty City with cheats to get weapons and cars, and an endless supply of new lives. This game is not aimed at pre teens or children, it is rated m for mature. If someone is not mature enough to be able to come back to normal life and leave the virtual world of Liberty City in their game console, they should not be playing this game. To attack GTA IV for children playing is ridiculous, it is like attacking producers of an R rated film for children downloading or sneaking in to see the film. This game should be viewed as a work of art, not scolded.

Sent by Zach Rossiter | 11:04 PM | 5-1-2008

A lot of people are concerned with the possibility that violent video games cause more real-life violence in our society. According to NPD, video game sales have increased several fold over the past few years, while violence (especially among youth) have gone down DRAMATICALLY over the same period according to the FBI statistics.

If video game violence caused real-life violence, I don't know how the drop could be explained when video game sales have increased several fold over the past 15 years.

Sent by Ken George | 11:12 PM | 5-1-2008

It's sad that people take what critics like Thompson say for granted, and disregard what someone in the know like Adam Sessler has to say. There is no nudity in this game. You can have sex with prostitutes, or get a lapdance, but there is no nudity, and moreover, it is AN OPTION. The whole point of this game is that it lets you roam free. You want to drive drunk, or steal cars? You want to drive through the toll booth? Fine, but you can also hail a taxi, or stop and pay the toll. You can choose to obey the traffic laws and stop for every red light if you want. Even MADD's complaints are misguided, seeing as the game encourages you to call a taxi, and tells you that you are too drunk to drive.

This game doesn't promote killing women either. This game is a life simulator. You have the freedom to do whatever is possible in real life, be it going to the Statue of Liberty/Happiness, or going bowling with friends, or prostitution, or killing people. This doesn't make it pro-killing women. Eileen, why would no feminist play this game? You're being so close-minded. You obviously have never touched the game, so how can you say whether or not a feminist would play this game? There is no forced killing of women, the only people you are forced to kill on missions are men. Is that sexist against men? So how can you say THE OPTION of killing men or women pedestrians as being anti-feminist and promoting violence against women? So sad, people condemn one of the best media productions of the decade without having any knowledge of it. It's as if Roger Ebert wrote in his column, "I hated Iron Man. There's graphic sex, and one sequence where you are forced to watch him kill a prostitute." This is patently false, but it somehow flies with a videogame? Also, how many companies who produce R-rated movies are threatened with legal action for marketing towards children? None, but it somehow flies with a videogame?

Finally, as a 12 year old, I never would have gotten this game, because I HAVE GOOD PARENTS. I was never allowed to get a video game console. I just bought one on my own now that I am a 19 year-old away at college. But even saying that, they wouldn't let me get PC games that were inappropriate, or go to R-rated movies. I couldn't even go to some PG-13 movies they thought were inappropriate. It is not R*'s responsibility to keep their "R-rated" game out of the hands of children, it is the responsibility of their parents.

Sent by Joe Kunesh | 11:22 PM | 5-1-2008

I first have to say Adam Sesser shows a better argument than Jack Thompson would ever do on any videogame. But seriously "killing prostitutes" and other adult themes, would you rather have them occur in real life? Shouldn't we be more worried on the worse problems of society like REAL crime and REAL substance abuse? The only reason video games have gotten to the stereo-type by non-gamers is because videogames "bad" and allegedly "promote violence". What about all of the violent movies or shows on TV? Do you still the subject of that constantly being a headline of today like "violent videogames"? Sure some videogames are violent but so are terrorists and war itself, but eventually anti-videogamers will have to go over that point thinking "We've been looking at videogames the wrong way". And the chance of videogames, especially violent ones, leaving our lives is 0% People love them and the videogame industry is one of the highest grossing industries in the world. If you want to complain about a videogame, go talk about Manhunt 2. It's concidered to be the most violent videogame and highly not recommended for minors by anyone including Adam Sessler & X-Play. Like other things that people have hated in the past, 3rd party opinons (in this case people who play little or no videogames) have a poor say because they have never had experiance with it. People that have experiance can give a better arguement becasue they can see both focal points on an issue. And seriously have you've even see a bunch of people from the gaming communtiy run out with a gun killing people just because they played a videogame? A ton of people from the gaming community can easily tell the difference between virtual and reality. So are people afraid that there is a connection between the two and bad things will always come from someone who was playing too many videogames? The thing is, videogames make money and anything that makes money will be around virtually forever. So even outside my oppinion as a gamer not even Thompson nor the goernemt can indefinentally stop videogames and we'll have to live with that fact.

Sent by Alex Redell | 11:49 PM | 5-1-2008

Jack Thompson a.k.a. John Bruce Thompson, was ordered by a judge to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, and his license to practice law may be pulled by the Florida State BAR.

It is widely known in the video gaming community that Mr. Thompson is a glutton for attention. It is also widely known among gamers that his number one target is Rockstar/Take Two games. I seem to remember that Take Two took out a legal gag order on Mr. Thompson to preemptively keep him from legal action because of this game.

Mr. Thompson, like certain news outlets (Fox News), exxagerates the content of game. A columnist at Fox News claimed that Mass Effect had full nudity and sex scenes in the game, when in fact it was just a side view of an breast and buttocks. The sex scene wasn't even shown, it was just assumed. When you have people like Jack Thompson spreading falsehoods around, it's not surprising that people are going to get stirred up about it.

Another example of over-reaction was the "Hot Coffee" mod that was in the first version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. This was a modification, written by a 3rd party to unlock material that was not meant to be in the final version of the game. The material in question was a collection of very pixelated sex scenes with the main character and his various "girlfriends". Having downloaded the mod myself, I can tell you it was not very graphic, and not very good. But, Take Two took a lot of heat over something a hacker did. People were given the false impression that Take Two hid the content in the game and that it was possible to magically unlock this content without the aid of a modification file.

Mr. Sessler was right. This game was made for MATURE audiences, NOT kids. I have the game, and I enjoy it. I do not have children. I don't believe my right to buy games like this should be infringed upon, just because some irresponsible parent lets their delinquit kid play the game, and then Junior goes and acts out what he sees in the game in real life. If Mr. Thompson wants to truly help his cause, he needs to push for stronger laws against irresponsible parents who buy M-Rated games for their immature children.

Sent by Preston | 11:59 PM | 5-1-2008

And the content in any of these video games is less graphic than what can be seen in a movie or often on cable television. It's absurd to me that so many people waste time blaming video games, television, the media, and teachers for children's problems instead of spending time with their own children. Do these people think today's parents incapable of suggesting to a child that the allure of violent movies and games is likely due to repressed animalistic urges of violence from our own anti-social feelings? Or is it that these people think children are too stupid to understand the difference between fiction and reality? And Neal Conan, you ask how long it will be before a 12-year-old will have a copy of this video game. My question is where did that 12-year-old get $60? Why does this country still fail to understand that eliminating supply of items we find unseemly (video games, drugs, pornography) is less efficient than education/counseling/treatment/help for the minority of individuals that suffer consequences from them. Children that are raised by games and television are at a real disadvantage because their parents should have been raising them instead.

Sent by Adam | 12:32 AM | 5-2-2008

I feel like people are forgetting that the purpose of the game is to create a free roaming world. With this freedom comes the ability to do whatever you want. Never, for example in any GTA game I have played, has it ever been demanded that you do any of the signature aspects that this game is hunted down for.

If people in a free roaming world commit these offensive acts unprompted by the video game, isn't it possible that these people had problems before they even began the game?

Sent by Stephen Post | 12:53 AM | 5-2-2008

I am a fan of the Grand Theft Auto series because of the many accomplishments and the innovativeness of the series. I have also been playing it since I was a pre-teen, and now I can go out and buy the game on my own, without having to have a parent. And, as far as I know, I haven't killed or harmed (yes, not even a fight since fourth grade, and then we wanted to fight because we thought wars were cool) anyone. All of my friends find the GTA series helpful, because it relieves stress.
It is as hilarious as it is violent, and it can get pretty violent.
The music is also top notch, but I think GTA: Vice City had the best soundtrack.

Anyways, most of the time that I play GTA I just drive around crashing cars, and I can do that in the Burnout series, but there aren't people saying "My car!" or "What the hell?"

That is why GTA is so great, it's a city that is, quite literally, alive.

Sent by Amish Gramish | 1:14 AM | 5-2-2008

I work for Gamestop/Eb Games. As far as I know, it's company policy that we do not sell M rated games to those under 17 without parental consent. We even check IDs to ensure that someone who looks 18 isn't actually 16 or 15. Whenever a parent does come to buy the game for junior, we have to inform them of the content of the game, which in this case would include violence, sexual content, bad language, etc. I have also found myself translating that into Spanish for parents who only spoke that language. In other words, we certainly go well out of our way to make sure every parent knows what their kid wants them to buy.

I was very disappointed about the statements saying that every 12 year old will be able to get a copy of this game within 2 weeks and then play it, because this is a video game. Since it is a video game, which has a lot of content does it not stand to reason that a parent may just find out that a child has gotten a hold of this game? This is not like sneaking away for a couple of hours into an r rated movie, this is bringing a game into a home and playing it for at least a few dozen hours. If a parent fails to notice that junior has brought this game home and fails to act, then it seems that their parenting must be called into question first, before they start blaming a gaming company which has made it explicitly clear that they are making an adult product by and for adults, not children.

Sent by Ed P. | 1:36 AM | 5-2-2008

Along with what many people have all ready stated this game as rated is for Mature Audiences only. If this happens to get in your kids hands then it is your fault as a parent!

I own and play GTA4 and have put around 12-15 hours into it. I have YET to come across any material considered GRAPHIC SEX, or situations.

I walked up into a strip club and I think I have seen worse things in a Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition.

I would not let any minor play this game. But Video Gamers are growing up. And the market sees that as well.

Sent by Robert J. Reynolds | 4:40 AM | 5-2-2008

The controversy surrounding this game is ridiculous. The criticism is unfounded and to my mind can only have been raised by people who have not actually played the game and do not understand it. Had they played the game they would in fact realize that their criticisms lack substance. Here are a few examples:

The game does not promote drink driving. On the occasions where the lead character and his companion exit a bar drunk and have to make their way home, the lead character actually says words to the effect of "I'm drunk, I shouldn't drive". If he then gets into a car anyway, he is promptly chased by police for DUI offenses.

Similarly, whilst the lead character is a hardened war veteran, the narrative does not have him running around gratuitously killing people. On the contrary, he is a balanced individual with a conscience. He respects women and chastises his cousin for not always being faithful to his partner. He doens't buy into the hedonistic consumerism of today's western societies. In certain scenes during the story, he is given a contract to kill someone but when 'the moment' arrives the player is given the choice of sparing the targets life. If you do so you are commended on your choice and rewarded for it. The lead character does not like the situation he finds himself in but he nevertheless has to deal with it.

Listen to the radio stations, particularly the chat radio stations. The content is so obviously satirical; critiquing a number of less than positive facets of western societies. I simply fail to understand how anyone can miss the point here, the tongue-in-cheek satire, and think that it is all simply downright rude, in poor taste and promoting immoral values. It very clearly is in fact doing the exact opposite.

And as for Jack Thompson's statements "..distributed to American children" and "..appropriate entertainment for teens", he too is clearly missing the point. The game is not intended for children or teens but for adults. It is made for adults and has adult content. In the same way that very many Hollywood films are full of extreme violence, explicit sexual acts and coarse language - indeed to a far greater extreme than anything found in this game! Films that are also intended for an adult audience. Yet no one questions the legitimacy of such films. Nor should the legitimacy of such films be questioned. It is up to parents to act responsibly and ensure their children do not play games or watch films that are unsuitable. And yes, I am a parent. And whilst I enjoy adult-themed games and films, I do not let my child play such games nor watch such films. And it is my job to be aware of the content and decide what is and is not suitable for my child, not Jack Thompson's.

I for one, as a 36 year old, resent the idea of someone telling me what I can and can not play. Rather than wasting time on trying to ban what is an incredibly creative, satirical and in many ways thought-provoking game, people should be focusing on the parenting skills of those parents who allow their young children to play unsuitable games. And no doubt allow the same children to watch unsuitable films. And probably take those same children down to a gun range and teach them to shoot.
I find that prospect far more alarming than the prospect of a highly innovative game that is obviously intended for an adult audience being published.

Video games simply are no longer things solely aimed for children. The generation that grew up in the 70s and 80s with the nascent game industry has done just that: grown up. As have the games.

Sent by Felix P. | 5:49 AM | 5-2-2008

People that resort to litigious nonsense like Thompson are the reason our legal system is the expensive mess that it is today.

If he is unsatisfied with the law he should be working to change the law not suing the artists.

Sent by Alex | 5:55 AM | 5-2-2008

Oh my god. First of all when you get drunk in the game, the main character himself says that he should not be driving while drunk, noooo that was left out.

Sent by Karamo aka Blackflash | 7:42 AM | 5-2-2008

I just listened to the segment featuring Adam Sessler on NPR. What I can't believe is how the issue of parental responsibility is completely absent from the debate over children playing GTAIV. Most, if not all, stores ask for identification when selling mature-rated games, so it is meant for only adults to have access to. The sad thing that I and others have witnessed during our tenure in the retail world is that parents will buy this game for their children without even paying attention to what it is. I've seen children as young as 7 hand over a GTA game to their parent and the parent would hand it to me at the register without even looking at it. The outrage over this game needs to be channeled into outrage over negligent parents.

When I was a young teenager (13 or 14 and up), I was rewarded for good grades with mature-rated video games. Now, I'm college educated, employed, and have kept a clean record, along with being alcohol, tobacco, and drug-free. Oh, and I'm a woman. Hope I shifted some paradigms there.

Mature-rated titles don't hurt children nearly as much as bad parenting.

Sent by Stefanie Benham | 8:38 AM | 5-2-2008

I was disappointed in this entire segment. It seemed like a gushing love-in for GTA and was appalled Neil was so curt with Thompson. I am a family practice physician and a parent, and I see these "games" as incredibly detrimental to our youth and young adults.

Given the problems we face as a nation, and as member of the world (climate change, food scarcity, energy demand, increasing numbers of failed nation states, etc, etc.) we are not preparing our future citizens for a bright future. Unless our solution to these problems is thru violence.

Who is going to grow our food? Who is going to engineer/build/maintain our infrastructure? Who is going to fix our cavities? Who is going to design the next technology to solve global warming?

Young people in my practice have extremely unrealistic expectations about their future. Many want to be models, sports stars, video game designers. Good luck. I say put down your play stations and get busy with the real world.

In the end, the virtual world is no substitute for real interactions with real people (and will be increasingly hard to pay for when electricity gets more and more expensive, or worse yet, the grid crashes.)

Sent by Claire Green | 10:24 AM | 5-2-2008

Hello,
I live in the Bay area and listen to your station most of the day and i really enjoy it.
Yesterday you had an interview about the release of Grand Theft Auto 4 and i was astonished that the lawyer fighting this product was dismissed off the air so fast.
Eventually i felt like you were "promoting" that product. My youngest son is in 3rd grade and i have heard children in his class talking about playing that game...that is a far cry from renting an R movie when you are 12 years old to playing a obscene MA game when you are 9....
I had to turn the radio off, because it was so upsetting to me to just hear the one side format of your show...it was unusual too...
i hope you can address this issue again and maybe even try the game yourself before giving the impression that is it normal for children to try to emulate killer heroes.

Sent by Mary | 10:53 AM | 5-2-2008

Longtime listener of many NPR shows and I hold NPR news in the highest regard for trying to remain as objective as possible on stories. That being said, I was very disappointed in this show's one-sided representation of the issue.

I feel that Jack Thompson's comments were intentionally misleading (by his own admission he has never even played the game) and were used for "shock-value " on the public. I have played the game, and the "explicit" sexual acts he described in the game were completely and intentionally hyper-inflated.

Please take the time to check facts, or ensure your guests do the same.

Sent by Patrick Snyder | 12:21 PM | 5-5-2008

the LAWYER was JACK TOMPSON (and i could care less if i spelled his name wrong) and he is the biggest person against the game and bends a lot of facts. He is probably going to get stripped of the practice after his hearing later this year. THE ONLY REASON FOR THERE BEING PROBLEMS SURROUNDING THE GAME BECAUSE PARENTS AREN'T DOING THEIR JOBS. monitor what they play and understand THAT IT IS FANTASY. It happens in real life and no one is doing any thing about that.

Sent by Zane | 5:31 PM | 5-5-2008

There are a couple of very important issues about the NPR piece that I feel are not truly being addressed here.

First and foremost is the presentation of the forum to the audience. I don't feel that the host of the radio show did a very good job preparing for the volatility of the situation or the debate that must always happen when an articulate member of the press, (who is also a 'pro' video game supporter), has a chance to address Mr. Thompson directly.

The host had the perfect opportunity to present the debate and to allow both sides defend their positions and points of view. This would have been entertaining , educational and enlightening. Both Mr. Thompson and Mr. Sessler are very articulate and able to debate the matter. Sure, it would have been confrontational, it would have been heated, that's great; but instead, the host of the program opted to let Mr. Thompson say his little bit, then unceremoniously hang up on him, once again showing the lack of respect that this medium deserves.

Mr. Sessler's has presented a video response to Mr. Thompson on the website that Mr. Sessler co-hosts, (The show Xplay, on the TV Channel 'G4TV -- Google it!). His response to Mr. Thompsons allegations were direct, entertaining, sometimes vulgar, but accurate. And it was also only one sided. Lets get a little interaction going on!

I personally feel that NPR and "Talk Of The Nation" didn't give this game or this INDUSTRY the respect that it deserves. I feel like the host of "Talk of the Nation" was 'forced' to do a show about GTA-4 and video games , because it's "HOT" right now.

Also, did anyone notice how many time Mr. Thompson referred to the impending lawsuit? Mr. Thompson is attempting to vilify Rockstar, and Take2 Interactive. If I'm understanding correctly, if Mr. Thompson had his way, in effect, he would make the very possession of GTA-4 more like the possession of pot.

One more thing that can not be overlooked, is that, the more popular something gets that those in power don't understand, the more it's shunned and called illegal. Wild stories, Radio, TV, Rock & Roll, Rap Music, and on and on and on.

Sent by Carson | 6:36 PM | 5-5-2008

All right, since it seems like I'm the only gamer seeing this (I said, "Seems" because I got bored after reading the first eight rants against this) if feel obligated to defend it. All this game is a game (a beautiful one at that, but I'm going of topic). Seriously, if this offends you, then don't buy it. But don't attack it because parents are either too lazy or too incompetent realize this is for people that are 17 and older, thats what the M is for. Anyway, I highly doubt anyone hear that labels this game, or all games for that matter, as evil would have even considered the fact that this is a great example of how video games is becoming rising art form (yes video games are art, deal with it). If you took time to explore the city, or even just figure out the story, you'll realize its in the same ball park as movies. Ok, now I just realized I wasted a ton of my time trying to explain (not literally) evolution to evangelicals, but I still posted what I've typed out of hope that least one person will if not have a change of heart but at least consider what I said.

Sent by Michael Parker | 10:16 PM | 5-5-2008

I remember when Rockstar released "Bully" a while back and the same anti-GTA people were labeling it as a "Columbine simulator". However, upon actually playing the game, one would realize that the game has you rallying against bullies by coming to the aid of every clique in the school.

After playing GTA4, I find it's the same situation. The level of realism (character depth) actually has me rethinking running into the random pedestrian who should stray into my path. Sure the game's missions may require you to kill (countless games do this) but it certainly doesn't make you feel good about it. Grand Theft Auto 4 in no way promotes the actions that many condemn it for.

Sent by Adam Tierney | 2:14 AM | 5-6-2008

Promoting drunk driving?
I have played the game and I'll admit yes you can get drunk and drive a car in the game, BUT as in real life there is a choice to get a ride in a taxi. Taxis are all around town and are impossible to miss or overlook.
The choice is your's just as in reality.

And please stop with the "killing women" speech over and over. BOTH men AND women may be killed, and if you actually take the time to count there are actually a few more men than women.

In terms of foul language, there's an option to turn it off.

IT just annoys me when people, especially in make something seem a lot worse than it is for better ratings, then give half the facts because they simply don't try it first hand or get the information from someone else.

You don't have to kill the stripper, you don't have to have sex or perform any sexual activities, you don't have to drive drunk. Simple as that.
I've been playing on and off the past few days and I'm pretty far in the game and I've been making it a point NOT to shoot a woman (unless threatened), not to have sex, drive drunk, or anything else, and it's completely possible. I'm about 59% done with the game and I have not had a single problem yet.
And yes you have to kill people, but look at the reason you're killing them. They're usually drug dealers, stealing something, or killing people.
And you do rough up a few shop owners, but the second you kill them them you lose the mission and have to start all over again.

Long story short, look further into the game before giving your 2 cents.

Sent by Buster | 10:08 AM | 5-6-2008

Frankly I'm a bit insulted by these comments, and I'm used to such ignorance but to see so many, enough that are educated enough to listen to such things as NPR to follow this bandwagon belief, and think that references to violent actions are the same and sole motivators to committing them. I may be younger, but I've been able to both see and experience the naivet??'s seen here, that this is the worst of everything, that its destroying children's mind, and that it promotes sex, drugs, violence, drinking and driving and more, but the fact is it shows them, it references them, but the depth of story and character help to show it is a dark path, and many times they even admit it. Take this current game, Niko comes with hopes of not having to do these acts, and in many cases he tries to redeem his actions, in the drug use sense, one of the main characters and drug users even admits he needs to get off the stuff, and as for drinking and driving, if you actually played the game it supports the ability but not endorses. If you try to drink and drive, first they have you extremely drunk, barely able to walk and see and falling over from being bumped a bit, then if you actually get to and in your car the controls and visuals are still impaired, and the cops chase you for drinking and driving so it doesn't endorse it. I may be an idealist but I would hope more people would want to be more educated then this, and if you "want to hear more from the lawyer" look up his history, I am admittedly a bit bias as a gamer, but the man is more then a quack with a law degree. Representing the Christian Right, I believe disbarred for his extreme attacks on Rockstar Games, never won a case, and has stated "Grand Theft Auto is the worst thing to attack our kids since Polio" and thats just the tip of the iceberg, look it up. So do some true research on your own and don't generalize by what the media says and what ideas you get from hearing about it from others.

Sent by Ben | 11:52 PM | 5-7-2008

Look, this is really simple on two fronts.

1) The game is an open world with a main story arc. It's wildly broad with the activities you can perform. The point is to create a virtual world. So in this world, as in life, you an buy a gun, a knife or a drink (you can eat and sleep in it too). What you choose to do with the gun, knife or drink is your decision. So can you drive drunk in the game? Yes. You can also drive sober. Wow! Can you kick, punch or shoot a prostitute? Yes. You can also ignore them. Heck you can kick or stab the guy standing on this corner, or that corner, or not do it at all. None of these things are requirements to complete the game. Just like they're not requirements to live your life. Of course, at the end of it all, it's a game, pure fantasy bred from hundreds of years of literature and decades of action movies. Fact is, if your kid is shooting the prostitutes in the game, 1, you're letting him play an adult game and 2, he must have gotten the idea from somewhere... and that should be far more disturbing to you than the fact a virtual world allowed him to do it. Probably a good thing a lot of you parents don't know what "Second Life" is, or how easily accessible it is compared to this game.

But...

2) The most important thing, of all here, is not just that there's a label on the game that says "MA" meaning it's for adults, and not the fact that EB (Gamestop in the US) has a policy not to sell MA games to young people without ID proving their age (yes, I've seen it in action too. Nice try Timmy, no soup for you!)... no, the most important thing here is you, as a parent, who bought the 12 year old kid a $400 game console and then somehow gave them $60 to buy the game and then somehow let the kid play the game in your home, unknowingly... could actually still be that lazy and pathetic parent and still protect your kids from the horrible MA game... by turning on the parental controls on the XBOX 360 and limiting their play to whatever ratings you want and password protecting them. You can even limit the console to how many hours a day it can be used (I even think you can choose the hours it can be used)! Wow.. yes people it IS, INDEED, that simple. I like Sessler, but shame on him for not making this point at it really would solve the problem in one fell swoop.. if you don't think it does, then time to shut down all the strip clubs, no more R rated movies, prohibition times are back!

If you have kids, time to stop acting like one. Use your head and guide your children. Stop relying on the rest of the free world to raise and protect your kids for you. It's called responsibility... look it up.

Sent by Taylor | 4:20 PM | 5-8-2008

"First and foremost is the presentation of the forum to the audience. I don't feel that the host of the radio show did a very good job preparing for the volatility of the situation or the debate that must always happen when an articulate member of the press, (who is also a 'pro' video game supporter), has a chance to address Mr. Thompson directly.

The host had the perfect opportunity to present the debate and to allow both sides defend their positions and points of view. This would have been entertaining , educational and enlightening. Both Mr. Thompson and Mr. Sessler are very articulate and able to debate the matter. Sure, it would have been confrontational, it would have been heated, that's great; but instead, the host of the program opted to let Mr. Thompson say his little bit, then unceremoniously hang up on him, once again showing the lack of respect that this medium deserves."

Quoted for Truth.

Furthermore, the host asked purposely ignorant leading questions but didn't provide any "help" on restating the answers succinctly. I don't know how these shows normally go but this felt as awkward as try to use a rubber mallet to carve ice.

Sent by Aaron | 7:43 PM | 5-11-2008