Stephen Johnson on Grand Theft Auto

An interesting post on Boing Boing reports an excerpt from Stephen Johnson’s (author of Everything Bad Is Good For You) open letter to Hilary Clinton on the recent Grand Theft Auto controversy. The excerpt read:

Dear Senator Clinton:

I’m writing to commend you for calling for a $90-million study on the effects of video games on children, and in particular the courageous stand you have taken in recent weeks against the notorious “Grand Theft Auto” series.

I’d like to draw your attention to another game whose nonstop violence and hostility has captured the attention of millions of kids – a game that instills aggressive thoughts in the minds of its players, some of whom have gone on to commit real-world acts of violence and sexual assault after playing.

I’m talking, of course, about high school football.

If you’ve read Johnson’s latest, the satire should be familiar (it’s a good read). The rest of Johnson’s open letter can be found here.

2 thoughts on “Stephen Johnson on Grand Theft Auto

  1. Haha! The ending is clever as well…

    “Of course, I admit that there’s one charge against video games that is a slam dunk. Kids don’t get physical exercise when they play a video game, and indeed the rise in obesity among younger people is a serious issue. But, of course, you don’t get exercise from doing homework either.”

    I actually read “Everything Bad Is Good For You” this summer. Great read. I appreciate books that can bring about new vocabulary to fight off traditional stereotypes. In this case – “Sleeper Curve” is an excellent way to propose a discussion with parents who stereotype video game playing in school settings as ‘destructive’. Reading EBIGFY gave me a whole new way of looking at shows like The Simpsons, 24, or Reality TV. As well, all the D & D and other fantasy games I played as a child. Perhaps they actually paid off!

  2. The average game player is 30 years old so it follows there should be games aimed at them. Giving these games an Adult Only rating is a kiss of death because many stores like Walmart will not stock such apparent outcasts. This is the videogame equivalent of making many R-rated movies into a now defunct X-rated or the NC-17-rated movie. Imagine if you weren’t allowed to see the Godfather, Pulp Fiction, Psycho, Goodfellas, The Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, Lèon, A Clockwork Orange, or Schlinder’s List because they were effectively banned as they were deemed too violent and there was possibility kids might get their hands on them?

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