THE SINISTER SECRETS OF YOUR CHILD'S X-RATED XMAS; Graphic Violence. Women Abused. Crime Glorified. the Truth about the Video Games You Might Have Given Your Children for Christmas

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), December 28, 2014 | Go to article overview

THE SINISTER SECRETS OF YOUR CHILD'S X-RATED XMAS; Graphic Violence. Women Abused. Crime Glorified. the Truth about the Video Games You Might Have Given Your Children for Christmas


Byline: Ben Haugh

VIDEO games have come a very long way from the innocence of Pong, with the latest titles boasting more sales than even the most dazzling Hollywood blockbusters.

Newly released consoles such as the Xbox One and Playstation 4 featured on countless wish lists across the country this year, but parents could be in for a shock when they see the content of the games their children ended up playing on Christmas morning.

Many of the bestselling games feature brutal violence, adult themes and sexual content. Of the top 10 bestselling games this Christmas, six are rated 18s.

With rich, detail graphic software deployed in games, children's groups warned parents before Christmas to pay attention to the ratings and make sure they were aware of the content before buying them for children.

There are plenty of titles available that are suitable for children, including puzzle games such as Minecraft or sports simulators such as FIFA 15. But the Christmas charts features three first-person shooting games in which the player views the action from the eyes of a gunman, such as Assassins Creed, in which gamers play the role of a deadly assassin, and the highly controversial Grand Theft Auto V. GTA is the most controversial as it allows players to assume the role of a criminal in a lifelike version of Los Angeles or New York, and has sparked controversy ever since it first went on sale in 1997.

The game, which has been condemned as misogynistic by some critics, allows players to rob cars, shoot bystanders and murder prostitutes.

It also features a scene in which the player is required to remove a rival gang member's teeth one by one using the control pad, which vibrates as he begs for mercy.

GTA V broke a host of industry records after its release last year, and quickly became the fastest selling entertainment product - including movies and music - in history.

It has sold more than 34 million copies across the world, raking in well over [euro]1 billion in a matter of weeks for Rockstar North, suggesting that violence sells.

The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children has urged parents to exercise caution. Aoife Griffin, the charity's Head of Advocacy, said: 'Parents need to be aware of the games their children are playing and familiarise themselves with them.

'Parents are probably very good at monitoring what young people watch in terms of films but do they do the same when it comes to video games? I suspect they don't. Parents need to do a little research themselves and treat them in the same way they would a film.' While there is very little scientific research to suggest that playing violent video games affects a child's behaviour, Ms Griffin believes it could normalise an unhealthy view of women. 'Some of these games are so violent and in particular the depiction of sexual violence against women, is quite worrying, it really is. The concern is that they might feel that this is how you treat women.' Jamie McCormick, 31, who lectured in games entrepreneurship in Dublin Institute of Technology, said the traditional image of gamers as young teenagers was outdated. 'People need to remember that the average age of a gamer is 31, not 16,' he said. He said many games are made with adults in mind and it is up to parents to be aware of what they are buying. …

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