Grand Theft Auto (GTA) 4 – taking games seriously
Grand Theft Auto (GTA) 4 went on sale today with an 18 rating and is expected to make £200 million in its first week.
With big money and even bigger age ratings, computer games stopped being the preserve of teenage nerds since the 90s, when Sony released its Playstation and aggressively pursued adults with its advertising.
Nowadays, a Playstation sits inconspicuously next to a DVD player or stereo system.
But there was a time – I certainly remember – when you had to ask your parent’s permission to plug your console into the back of the telly for a few hours of precious gameplay.
But make no mistake: video games, as a medium of entertainment, are now on equal footing with films.
Mirroring that trend, so is the range and depth of content video games portray.
And yet, when a film is released with an 18 certificate, it doesn’t receive half the moral outrage a video game does with an equivalent rating.
Does the public perception of video games being just “juvenile entertainment” require a rethink?
Judging by the obvious angle of this BBC video report, which focuses exclusively on Grand Theft Auto’s rating controversy, it does.
The report barely touches on the fact that computer games are a billion dollar industry, where adults form a large section of customers.
It could have used the game’s release as an opportunity to explore whether public attitudes to video game violence are justified, given the age profile of people who now buy games.
It could have moved the debate forward, but didn’t.