GTA’s teachable moments get a rating of ‘N’

GTA’s teachable moments get a rating of ‘N’

Grand Theft Auto (GTA) has got it all – wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. If you want your child to learn the seven deadly sins first hand, this game is full of teachable moments.

I’d heard the game was “bad” and “not good for children,” but upon personal research and review, I’d label it indecent for even creator Rockstar Games’ intended market, 18 year olds. Call me prudish, but hear me out.

The premise of the game is to excel at organized crime. Players are criminals (men), or aspire to be, and achieve the ultimate when they rise to the highest level of immorality by killing people, drug trafficking and stealing cars! The women in the series of games, launched in 1997, are sex symbols. There is no other purpose for their existence in the GTA world other than to perform sexual favors for the up-and-coming crooks. Oh, except they do get hit, punched and kicked, on occasion.

If what I’m describing seems crude and lewd, Rockstar Games couldn’t be more proud. It seems the more bad buzz the games receive, the more copies sell. To date, 70 million copies totaling in the billions of dollars have sold worldwide, making GTA one of the most successful games of all time, and all the more likely your young gamer will be inadvertently exposed.

This review is a result of a mom friend discovering her 5-year-old in a room where the game was being played by adults. While not likely the 5-year-old saw anything remarkable, he might have heard the full gamut of expletives, and not one is spared.

I gotta say the action series is based on engaging stories, and developed in 3D, featuring life-like characters and compelling drama. The game is like watching a movie and taking action for it to play out. GTA is a “sandbox” format, meaning free movement through the game or the “world” is allowed. It’s also easy play with lots of prompts, maps, hints and suggestions but can require fast-paced maneuvering and excellent hand-eye coordination.

The most recent launch, Grand Theft Auto: Episodes from Liberty City, is sold together with the Lost and the Damned, and The Ballad of Gay Tony for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. Cost is $40 but used copies are attainable for $20 and under.

Consider the characters and storyline in The Ballad of Gay Tony. The main character, and your character, if you played the game, is a Dominican-American Luiz Fernando Lopez, who has spent time in prison but is back on the streets and working as a bodyguard for popular homosexual, cocaine addict and nightclub owner Anthony “Gay Tony” Prince. Tension leads to trouble when Gay Tony needs funds to pay off a debt. Lopez, who is loyal to his boss, sets out on a mission — your mission — to make it all right and advance in the criminal underworld. He steals some diamonds from a mafia family, steals cars, a military helicopter and attacks and kills people, including policemen.There is no consequence for any criminal activity. In fact, the game provides ways to escape and evade cops. Close range killing results in blood splatter on the screen. And speaking of splatter, Lopez pushes a few characters off buildings. The sound and sight is memorable.

Most characters drink alcohol, and drunken bar customers can be seen puking. Lopez has casual sex in bathrooms and even receives oral sex while sitting in an office chair.GTA is rated M for those 17 and older. For this mom, it gets a rating of “N” as in NEVER.