It may be too early to think about screening my son’s video games; he’s still at the drooling on controllers age, and not quite ready to hold one.

But in ten years I can guarantee two things about video games:

The ESRB will still derive near sexual gratification from imposing their prudish values on art (for a fee of course) and GTA will still exist to draw the majority of their ire.

I suppose I should back up.  This week a pair of GTA Gameplay videos were released.  I groaned before watching them, “let’s see what boring life simulator Rockstar can mix into a sandbox satire about modern America.”

The Rockstar suite of sluggish movement controls and auto-aim necessary, unresponsive gun handling were present in the video.  Distracting you from the fact that five plus years in development hasn’t improved the gameplay flaws was a slurry of gimmicks and mini-games.  A quick aside:  I don’t mind mini-games.  In fact, I love them.  There’s just no excuse to waste as much money as Rockstar does on the mini-games while continuing to pass off the same busted controls for the next generation of gaming.

The best GTA (most will agree) was Vice City.  It had an awesome main character, voice acted amazingly by Ray “Field of Fucking Dreams” Liotta.  Despite the Rockstar gameplay flaws it didn’t forget to be a silly video game.  It never distracted you by forgetting it’s identity and emulating the SIMs.  Hookers and unabashed, over-the-top violence were the only side games you needed.  The story was well told and oddly linear for a sandbox.  And the soundtrack, well let’s just say when Gary Numan’s “Cars” kicked in – you knew what the fuck was up.

The best part of future installments in GTA became watching for Fido’s cameos and realizing that Lazlo’s continued development throughout each game, right down to hijacking a radio station, was more compelling than the story of every main character in the series.

I may not purchase GTA 5 – voting with my dollar against stock market and real estate mini-games on this one.  But I’m glad it exists.

It’s the most successful sandbox because when it remembers to be a video game, the controller is a direct line of enjoyment to the pleasure centers of your brain.  Press button, receive fun.  When it’s not being a video game, but a boring life simulator, it lets the gamer choose how they have fun more successfully than any other franchise.

My enjoyment is story, setting, and art – the social satire and hidden story lines do that for me.  Some people really want to play the stock market in a video game.  I had a more passive second part to this paragraph about “not judging” people that want to play a try to ruin America’s finances sim.  I’ve changed my mind:  fuck those people.  They’re the same people that bought NFL Headcoach but more boring.

Rockstar get your head out your ass.

The real reason I’m happy for GTA 5 is that the ESRB and idiot parents everywhere need a Bull’s Eye to aim at.  Blaming Mortal Kombat for degenerate American youths just isn’t as fun or topical.  Apparently not enough teenagers go around ripping people’s spines out.  But a car gets stolen or there is a robbery?  What a convenient target GTA becomes.

Teens aren’t going around having abortions because it’s a focal point in the narrative of 1984.  Kids won’t be stealing cars because of GTA.  GTA is one of those examples of art imitating life.  Past the copious amounts of violence, there’s actually a message there.  I forgot what it was after hijacking a car and running over a hooker, but it’s there somewhere.

After watching the gameplay videos for GTA 5 I had to ask myself the question: As a parent, how do I feel about violence in video games?

Answer:  I’d have to say I’m for it.

There’s an appropriate age though but that’s where I, as the parent, decide not some shadow corporation of faceless prudes.

Check back in 18 years when my son is a crimelord because I let him play GTA 8, and I’ll admit I was wrong.