4 Ways 'Grand Theft Auto V' Turned My Son Into a Monster
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 ...
He Became a Rage-Fueled Monster
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?"
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 ...
It Turned Him into a Thief
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!"
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 ...
It Turned Him into a Racist
"So which one is you?" I asked, motioning to the three men on screen.
"Well, the game lets you play all three of them, but right now, I'm the ..." He paused for a second, suddenly measuring his words.
"... the middle guy."
"Don't patronize me," I warned. "You know I don't know directions."
He took a slight breath and reluctantly said, "The black guy."
I sat in shock for several seconds before exclaiming, "You racist. Piece. Of. Shit."
"Dad, I'm not rac-"
"I taught you better than that," I yelled. "In this house, we do not use racist terms like 'black' or 'African-American.' What have I told you a thousand times?"
"I'm not referring to black people as 'not white.' That's every bit as racist and degrading as using a full-on slur."
"What, you have a thing against white people?" I asked, in horror of his racial defiance. "You're too good to play a white man now? Are you racist against white people?"
"No, Dad, I'm not racist against white people. The game just makes you switch between cha-"
"Don't cloud my judgment with your fancy words, devil! That's it. This Monday, I'm taking you downtown so you can learn a little bit about your own culture and learn to have some pride in your race."
He stared off into the distance, as if trying to figure out what place I was talking about. Then suddenly, "Oh, hell no. Dad, the place you're talking about is a white pride organization and it is literally the most racist place you could possibly take me."
"Silence! You will go, and that is final. Before the end of the week, you will cease to be racist against white people, instead shouting to the heavens a message of the pride and power of the white race!"
"Hello, my name is Chad, and I'll be your historian today."
I stormed out of the room to make the appointment. From behind me, I could hear him mumbling something about calling the police if I made him go. Whatever. He's lucky I hadn't called the police on him. Especially after I discovered that ...
It Made Him Thirst for Death
After he finished his anti-racist shower, things calmed down considerably. I watched from the couch as he drove around the city, slowly, obeying every traffic light and occasionally stealing a glance my way to make sure I approved. Aside from occasionally crossing the center line, which I corrected via threat of grounding, he did quite well. Maybe this wasn't such a bad game after all.
After a perfect three-point park, he exited the vehicle and walked down the sidewalk toward a clothing store. Then, as if his rage had broken a thousand-year struggle against its mental leash, his character slammed into a pedestrian, nearly knocking her down.
"Hey, that's extremely rude. Devil rude. Get back there and apologize to that woman," I demanded.
He turned to respond, but was suddenly interrupted by a jolt of surprise. "GAH, SPIDER!"
I followed his pointing finger to a large black spot on the floor, not more than 3 feet from me. It was what we in Illinois call a wolf spider, so named because they are reborn from the ashes of fallen wolves. I've heard that they can grow to be the size of a man's head, but this one must have been a baby because it was only half the size of my palm -- for reference, my palm is exactly twice the size of a baby wolf spider.
As soon as he exclaimed the word "spider," I jumped into immediate action, leaping up onto a nearby chair to make myself appear larger and more frightening to the spider. In a brave effort to scare it away, thus mercifully sparing its life, I let out a high-pitched scream and released an abundance of saline from my eyes, known by wise men to be a natural spider repellent.
Despite my heroic attempts, it stayed in place, taunting us with its steadfast grip on our floor. That's when my son showed his true colors. With a gaze as cold as arctic night, he lifted his foot. And without the slightest hint of emotion, he brought it down. Just like that, he was a killer. A victim of Grand Theft Auto V, forever damned to a life of unforgivable sin.
In spider legend, it is known as the Eater of Worlds.
Slowly and cautiously, I backed out of the room. As my son watched me, his eyes showed confusion, but his heart showed the home of the devil.
I've since burned down my house to cleanse our tainted possessions, and my wife brought me to a magic doctor who gave me anti-devil pills to keep the dark infection away. So far, they have worked perfectly. But I can tell you one thing -- we will never trust a Grand Theft Auto game again. My son deserves a normal life, and that game is designed to destroy. Fair warning.