Since their inception, I've been an advocate of parental responsibility with video games, because even though I don't believe that video games make people more violent, I do think that it's important to know what information is entering your child's stupid, fragile skull. But recently, thanks to the release of Grand Theft Auto V, my stance on video game violence has been shaken to its very core. Despite my beliefs, I can't deny what I've witnessed with my own eyes. It has changed my son in some pretty shocking ways. For instance ...
Even though my son is 11, I let him play certain M-rated games because he handles the content very well and has never shown any signs of it affecting him in negative ways. Until now.
He was on an early mission that required him to drive alongside a semi and catch someone as they jumped into his car. I was in the other room, researching something testicle-related for Cracked, but I knew he was failing because I could hear the same character conversation over and over again as he repeated the attempts. On the fourth try, he couldn't take it anymore, and he said under his breath, "This is stupid."
I shot out of my seat, concerned at the monotone quietness his rage had produced, and bolted into our family room.
"Hey, hey, hey! There's no need for that. You need to calm down," I said in a panic. "It's just a game. There's no need for you to explode like that."
He glanced up at me, the rage flooding his eyes with indifference, and said, "Oh, no, it's not a big deal. These cars are just kind of hard to get used to when you first-"
I threw up my hands in defense and tried to wrangle his hatred. "Whoa there, cowboy! There's no need to take your frustrations out on me. Everyone in this house loves you very much. We just want to see you happy. Do you need some time to take a break and cool off?"
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That level of unsustainable rage can break a man.
He sighed and hit the "Retry" button, saying, "No, I think I can contain myself, Dad. I'll try not to fly off the handle like that again."
Always leery of Satan's trickery, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and cautiously backed out of the room, warning, "I'm watching you, devil host. You control your demons, or I will control them for you." I'd like to say that our problems ended there, but unfortunately, they were just getting started ...
Everyone knows that three of the eight commandments are "Thou shall not thy steal thou." That's Hebrew for "Don't steal shit." Think about that. More than half of the commandments are devoted to this rule, which means that it must be pretty important. This is why, when I heard my son doing a holdup mission on the game, I developed a plan to test his resolve.
Scanning the family room, I saw that he had a half-empty glass of iced tea. Or was it half full? I pondered this question for about 45 minutes before I decided that it was neither and picked up his cup. Taking it to the kitchen, I put my plan into effect, filling the rest of the glass with tea and then placing it back where I found it. Now we'd see what he was truly made of. The top half was clearly my tea because I poured it. The bottom half was his. If he was an honest man, he'd poke a hole in the bottom and drink only his own.
"Here's a bunch of lemons with it, too, because I know you're a pretentious asshole."
As if it presented no moral conflict at all, he picked it up and thanked me, his tone that of hate-stained mockery disguised under a deceiving veil of casualness. Then he took a long drink, as if to say, "This is my world, old man, and I take what I want!"
"I KNEW it," I screamed, slapping the glass from his hand. Thousands of tea droplets sprayed the walls and the TV screen as my son jerked in surprise.
"What was that for?" he yelled, wiping tea from his face with his now soaked shirt.
"You know damn well what that was for. That game is deviling your mind with urges of thievery, and I won't stand for it. Now you get in that shower and wash the devil away!"
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He shook his head and stood up. "I have to take a shower anyway because you drenched my hair with tea. And you can't just refill someone's glass and then claim that he stole it. What is wrong with you?"
He stomped off toward the bathroom, and I followed. "What's wrong with me is that I will not have a son who is infected with the heartworms of sin! 'Thou shalt not thy steal thou tea of purity!' Read the Bible, sinner!" I blessed the shower to turn it into holy water, made a mental note to market a Christian tea called "Puritea," and then left him to his devil washing.
But Grand Theft Auto V must produce an exceptionally powerful demon, because within the hour ...