Growing up in the 90’s I was surrounded by Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson wannabes, the classic shenanigans of The Looney Tunes and Scooby-Doo, and the wit of Seinfeld that taught me life lessons. By the late 90’s most kids wanted to be rappers and gangsters like my main men Eminem and Dr. Dre. Popular culture developed in an exciting and frightening way. Children weren’t playing outside anymore and one major reason for that was the development, distribution and increasing popularity of video games.
Since I can remember I have played video games. When I was about my 5 my parents bought my brother and I a Playstation 1, we loved that console and it definitely brought us closer together. Our parents had no problem with us going to the video store (unsupervised), borrowing games and playing them for hours on end. Until, when I was around 10 years old; my brother convinced my mother to buy us a little game called Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The 7th instalment in the infamously known series has the player play as a gangbanger living in a sensationalised version of America which is full of: car chases, prostitutes, drugs, murder and plenty of curse words. Even though the game was listed as R18+, my parents did not expect such explicitness to be readily available. My parents ended up restricting how often we could play this game, of course this was happening all over the world and still is today.
The multiplying popularity surrounding this brutal franchise has sparked many debates regarding the graphic violence involved, accessibility and target demographic. There is a whole generation out there who grew up surrounded by this ’empire’ and have eagerly awaited each next instalment and know exactly what vulgarity can be expected. However, there is also a new generation of gamers (and parents) who may be oblivious to the stigma accompanying the brand. I mean it is one of the best selling game series’ of all time with an altogether 114,000,000 units being sold as of May 2015.
There is good reason to be scared of emerging popular cultures especially if they are new, exciting and jeopardy is present. This has happened right the way through history, something is introduced and completely flips our perceptions and ideologies on its head. I have gamed my entire life and have never thought to murder or commit any crime, because I can do that in a gaming format! However, it is up to individuals, parents and the distributors to educate everyone involved and attempt to not drastically alter our lives.