Pop Quiz: And Then I Shot a Guy in the Face and it was AWESOME.
You might have noticed that a particularly popular video game was released a few weeks ago. It features cars and guns and crime and torture and a whole whack of stripper-based misogyny. It’s ostensibly for adults and, in the UK at least, comes with a legal age rating which means that only people ages 18 or over are allowed to buy it. It is by far the most popular cultural event to have happened to my class of twelve-year-olds all year.
If you’re a video game fan like me, you might have been looking forward to Grand Theft Auto V as much as I was. I’ve been playing the GTA games since the first one came out in 1997, released by a small independent games company based not too far away from me in Dundee, Scotland. GTA V is a whole load of fun and I’ve spent quite a few spare hours lost in the world of San Andreas since it was released. It is also utterly, completely not suitable for children.
I’m a rational adult with (I like to think) well-developed critical thinking skills. I can enjoy this game for what it is while being able and willing to question the purpose of the notorious and unnecessary torture scene and the horrific sexism of the “touch a stripper so she’ll sleep with you” mini-game. GTA V has some of the most adult content I’ve ever seen in a game, and I mean that a both a positive and a negative.
That’s why it’s so worrying to hear how many kids have been discussing it around school since it came out. My pupils know that I’m a gamer and many of them have asked me whether I’ve been playing it. This is the first time I’ve ever felt truly uncomfortable about having such conversations with students and I’ve taken to telling them that I’ve been too busy to play it. Kids as young as eleven have been discussing how much fun it was to (SPOILERS) pull out someone’s tooth with a pair of pliers.
As educators we have a duty of care to our young people. I’ve told some pupils that I don’t approve of people their age playing this game, but that sort of comment means nothing when half the school seems to own it and when parents seem to either not understand or not care about what their kids are playing.
For this week’s Pop Quiz, I wanted to specifically ask about how the release of Grand Theft Auto V has affected the students you interact with, whatever age they may be.
Have you noticed young people in your educational establishment discussing this game?
Have you heard any particularly graphic conversations?
How do you feel about young people being exposed to media like this, particularly through their parents? Have you raised the issue with students or parents? If so, what was their response?
The Pop Quiz is a question posed to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3pm ET.
Featured Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons