Calgary Police: GTA IV a "Grave Concern"

April 25, 2008 -
A spokesman for the police department in Calgary has expressed "grave concern" over the impending release of Grand Theft Auto IV.

According to a report in today's Calgary Sun:
City cops are warning parents to be careful about exposing children to video game violence, saying it's a possible training ground for criminal endeavours.

The newspaper quotes Calgary police spokesman Kevin Brookwell:
From the Calgary Police Service perspective, we see these types of video games as a grave concern... Because of the lack of consequences and even reward -- (youth) don't understand the impact violence can have.

In some cases, those very games may be training grounds for people to commit criminal activity.


In other news, Superman makes children jump off their roofs, and Bert and Ernie turn kids gay.

Strange...if I murder a real person...the game doesn't reward me! I thought this goddamn game rewarded violence!

Reminder:Psychology defines violence as the *intentional harm of another human being*, therefore a videogame cannot be "violent". It's the same reason we can't call it violence when a three year old wrestles a teddybear, or when a bunch of kids shoot each other with squirt guns.

Almost all shooting games can't teach someone to actually use a gun (those that are closest would be Time Crisis, House of the Dead, Duck Hunt, etc.; the ones that actually incorporate a point-and-shoot method of playing). However, since they're so concerned about GTA IV teaching kids bad things, there are also good things as well. They'll learn that its not the smartest idea to drive through opposing traffic, to watch for red lights, how business is conducted, the dangers of involving yourself in illegal activities, the dangers of trusting the wrong people that you're involved with in said illegal activities, and bring up points and commentary of our society. In addition, it exposes kids to other careers (programmer, voice actor, etc.), and teaches them about cinematics (in a way).

Why is it that a kid can turn on the Discovery channel and see a show all about weapons, or the History Channel and learn about illegal drugs, organized crime, and gangs without a second glance? Why is it that kids can go unpunished for hurting other kids, or punished for being in the fight (I have, and I didn't even hurt the kids that jumped me). I know a girl who's ultra-violent, ready to hurt someone just to get attention. She even keeps one of her pinky fingernails sharpened to a point for that purpose! This girl, and I know for a fact, wasn't exposed to violent video games as she was a child! And I know that she only plays a Final Fantasy game for the DS and Guitar Hero III for the Wii now!

... Politics really annoys me.


Papa Midnight

GTA IV is a grave concern. I'm concerned about my collectors edition box being dented.

Calgary isn't really a "small town". 1,000,000 people and growing. How do I know? Well, I live there.

Anyways, The Sun is probably the worst newspaper in the city in my opinion. Poorly written, extremely one-sided articles, very little journalistic merit...probably more like a tabloid.

The people who blame GTA for their crimes are probably the ones who read The Sun.

@Ian Cooper

"Erm, I feel your sentiment and whatnot, but you took what I said out of context, or rather, you took it the wrong way, I actually already cleared it up with someone else - When I say "probably shouldn't be watching" I kind of meant it more like "probably shouldn't be buying". I then go on to say

"f your 11 year old is begging you to buy GTAIV, look at the cover… just like, REALLY look at it, read the giant M on the front and dig deep and consider if your kid is mature enough for this game."

Which basically means... don't buy it blindly, consider first if you think your kid can handle it... I don't think thats a BAD thing to say is it?

PS. I already gave this reply to Stinking Kevin as he took what I said the wrong way, but I'll give it again:

I probably just worded it wrong then - my whole point was this isn’t a game that should be sold to minors from the retailer. If the PARENT says it is okay, that is fine - but again, the parent needs to know what they’re getting into, too many parents buy just to shut their kids up, and then are LATER offended when they walk past and see just exactly what their kids are playing. Pre-emptively decide. I know a few kids that could probably handle the issues in GTAIV better than their parents could (seriously) - but i know plenty of kids that probably shouldn’t be playing this game whatsoever. And it’s not up to anyone but the parent/guardian to decide."

lack of consequences???? YOU GET ARRESTED FOR KILLING. How is that a "lack of consequences"????


God, pardon but I am getting, oh, who am I kidding, I'm tired of this shit.

It really is like talking to a brick wall. They just recycle the same talking points over and over again.


Awww, now you insulted brick walls everywhere.

As a Canadian, let me be the first to apologize for this supposed expert opinion in relation to videogames.

I've been around here for FIVE minutes and this shit starts to pop up again. Do people really think that the youth are really that stupid. I swear this is getting out of hand. And what about us gamers that knows that there is consequences of the very things we do. Even mundain things have consequences it's just have to be found. If you do something major then the consequences will be bigger. Ah who am I kidding this will just get worse and worse as the week goes on. Man I am glad I wont be here that long when GTA IV comes out.

I weep for humanity.

@ Chris Wallace

Apology accepted... It's not your fault that this had to happen it's these dumbasses here in America that wont shut up. I hate it when Smart people think they know everything and when they talk all they talk about is stuff that is no even true.

[...] wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptA spokesman for the police department in Calgary has expressed “grave concern” over the impending release of Grand Theft Auto IV. According to a report in today’s Calgary Sun: City cops are warning parents to be careful about exposing children to video game violence, saying it’s a possible training ground for criminal endeavours. [...]


Sorry, that wasn't especially constructive - but then again, very few knee-jerk reactions ever are.

"From the Calgary Police Service perspective, we see these types of video games as a grave concern… Because of the lack of consequences and even reward — (youth) don’t understand the impact violence can have."

I don't know what kind of fantasy land these people are living in where being shot at and arrested is some kind of "reward."

Uhm.... putting aside the whole 'are kids influenced by video games' argument, kids under like... 16 probably shouldn't be playing GTAIV, same way they probably shouldn't be watching SAW or Hostel. So yeah Parents, if your 11 year old is begging you to buy GTAIV, look at the cover... just like, REALLY look at it, read the giant M on the front and dig deep and consider if your kid is mature enough for this game.

"Because of the lack of consequences and even reward —"


There is no 'reward' for it. Wanted stars are not 'points.' GTA has no 'scores.' It has tallies of what's gone on, but no 'points.'

"In some cases, those very games may be training grounds for people to commit criminal activity."

Should we even get into this AGAIN?

gasp! everyone run! johnny's got a GTA game!
just doesnt quite have the same effect.

Personally I tend to disregard police sentiments on things such as this.
I know and work with a lot of them and they tend to get very strong views on ANYTHING that they perceive as possibly making their jobs harder.

Not that they aren't good people, just a little blinkered, and understandably so in a high-risk occupation.


I think the fantasy land you were refering to is the upcoming game endorsed by Jack Thompson:

"Mascochist Happy Fun Time Land"

-The object of this Virtual Reality game is to do things that will result in pain. The Rewards include: Beatings, bullet wounds, paper cuts, stab wounds, slashed wrists and broken bones just to name a few! Gain the ultimate satisfaction of hurting yourself! Look forward to these exciting upcoming expansions to the MHFTL franchize!
-MHFTL: S&M - The ultimate Hot Coffee! Rawr! Caution, its hot, PAINFULLY hot -_^
-MHFTL: Emo - Become the outcast of society in your own mind! DLC inclues 5 different shades of Black Hair Die, Pimped out Razors and Exclusive songs from My Chemical Romance and Panic at the Disco!
-MHFTL: Prison - A whole new version of pain! You not only get to shank yourself, but get shanked by fellow inmates and beat by the COs! Controversial prison rape scenes can be unlocked!

System - TBA
Rating - E
Release Date - TBA


Actually, I discovered something very interesting in Vice City, apparantly under your stats is your current score. Every time you commit a crime, your score goes down. Every time you do something good, like a vigilante mission, your score goes up. So apparantly GTA does give you points, except its for doing good things.

DavCube - Well, there might be -some- sort of reward. If it's anything like the previous GTA games, there will be missions -asking- you to go on a killing spree, or (if they still have them in IV) there will be killing spree tokens, tokens asking you to go on killing sprees where if you get enough kills in the time frame, you get money or something.

Lets not be delusional or anything, GTAIV is violent, and will most likely -reward- violence in some way, shape or form. But differentiating THAT from REALITY is not a hard task, and really only an unstable mind to begin with would have trouble with that.

And lets dig a bit deeper into what this is saying and try not to get immediately offended. PARENTS (not politicians, not retailers) If your KIDS want to play this game, think about it first. And lets ignore all this hooplah about it being a training ground. Thats just stupid.

In the end its the same song sung by all the extremists. They will continue to do so untill either one of three things happen:

1- something else becomes the scapegoat and an easy target for violence.
2-Video Game companies stand up and say enough is enough, its free speech damnit, eff off.
3-They win.

Im actually hoping for one of the first two >_

@ Kin

Yes, but as i said, that money amount is not a 'score.' You still run the risk of losing and getting arrested/killed in the game (ergo losing that money)

And ditto about the 'training ground' bullcrap that these people buy into. It's about as much of a training ground as any movie, except you're pushing a button. "OOH ITZ A BUTTAN, ITS INTERACTIVE HYPER-VERTCHUEL REALITY!!" or so someone like 'you-know-who' would say, despite the fact that virtual reality technology simply does not exist on home consoles.

*Facepalm* Aw jeez >.

... :'-( I think I am going to cry. Maybe we cannot change their minds, maybe they are just hopeless. Like is it possible to be rationally retarded? It could just be a common condition that was largely ignored until now. I think we should just isolate all of those people in their own country, that way they get what they want, a country with no violence (haha) and we get what they want, them to shut up.
Then! Just for fun, we could wage war on their country.

A team of peer reviewed, nuetrally funded, and well standing behavioral psychologists say video game violence is a grave concern to society? No? Well then, I guess I'll add this to the pile of unqualified opinions that are worthless to me. Like Ben Stien's take on evolution and Fox News' opinion on Mass Effect.

@Video Game Otaku

Oh, but that game does exist.

It's called PAIN for the PlayStation 3.

Ya know ever since I donned the magical black paint and tinfoil hat of the black sheeple..... the herd just keeps sucking more and more...

They want to blame media from rap to fictionalized idolization to games even guns its everything but the real statistical possibility of a certain percentage of any population to be stupid, and how do they wish to counter stupidity not with truth not with fact not even with kindness they what to use the black boot of fascism to reduce freedom's of the populace so they don't have to work as hard.

I swear I am almost ready to trade in my coat o paint and tinfoil hat to a wolfs skin and a sniper rifle......

Eh, they're probably just pissed because Montreal is getting all the attention for having the last Canadian team left in the playoffs and the crazy riots. We're having the same problem in Ottawa; with no more hockey to use as an excuse for trenchant behaviour, we're reduced to speculating on the impact of the floundering tech sector and illegal cigarettes. It's only a matter of time until some brainwashed staff writer (probably at the Sun) places the blame for our mayor's legal indiscretions on SimCity.

Come to think of it, we're missing a big opportunity here -- nobody's blamed the rioting on games yet! It shouldn't be hard to connect the disenfranchised youths who took advantage of the jubilation following another Quebecois victory in the most storied rivalry in hockey as an opportunity to torch some cop cruisers with NHL2K and GTA. A little misdirection here, some hyperbole over there, and presto! Instant controversy!

I just want to see the massive rise in teen crime that occurs after this game is released.

Oh. Wait. That's right, there won't be one. Just like there wasn't after every other grand theft auto game has been released.

I find this especially ironic given the aquital of the police killing up in NY today. The police are ranting about how a game doesn't teach consequences for killing cops, yet the court system keeps showing there are no consequences for police killing unarmed citizens because the 'might be going for a gun'.

As a Calgarian, I'm ashamed and apologize for this article in and of itself -.-;

"From the Calgary Police Service perspective, we see these types of video games as a grave concern… Because of the lack of consequences and even reward — (youth) don’t understand the impact violence can have."

Last time I played a GTA game, the cops came at me and tried shooting me down for killing and the sort, but never let truth get in the way of a good lie.

Oops, forgot this point.

"we see these types of video games as a grave concern"

The REAL concern regarding this issue (or non-issue, as it should be) is that it is fostering an environment where authority figures will actually believe that the game causes people to be violent. What this will lead to, is criminals trying the "Video games made me do it your honour" defence, championed by the great Jack Thompson. Instead of punishing a criminal for what they did, it's going to create massive burdens on courts, having to rope in "specialists" and psychiatrists to see if the person was actually affected by the games. It will create an unfair and stupid stigma for the game creators, as well as leading to baseless lawsuits against them (See Devin Moore, Paducah, Codey Posey, et al).

The concern is not that video games will cause violence in young people, but that people will actually start to believe this silly, ill informed and downright incorrect opinion.

Simon Roberts
Freedom ,football(soccer), Beer, Stupidity is the case of the riots and you can only ban the first 3......

It's funny how politicians say that kids are smart enough to get around any protection the parents have set up to prevent them from playing rated M games, yet not tell a difference from fiction and reality.

In my school, we have a pre-school for 2-4 year olds. If the kids hit someone, or act dangerously in any way, we punish them greatly by not letting them do anything. It's like a jail to them, and if these kids can't do nothing, it would be torture to them. Kids know what right from wrong at a very early age. I understand how GTA may effect a 2 year old, but 2 year olds don't play GTA. I can't even get a 4 year old to handle a controller, let alone play a video game.

I have a question. What's with the burst of GTA stories today?


Nine stories about GTA IV on GP's front page.

How many would there be if the critics just left the game alone and let parents be parents (for good or bad)?

One: the story about the game being leaked online.

Gotta love all the free advertising.

Why aren't my comments posting?

I tried to post a link, but it never shows up!

Hopefully this kind of nonsense won't spread north to here in Edmonton, and there was peacefully happy thinking that perhaps Canada was the last safe havens for game developers. The only positive thing I can see in this is at least it was the police and not some dumb politician looking for votes....

I was delighted to assist the Calgary folks in this regard.

Jack Thompson

GP: In your e-mail to them, did you mention how you recently "assisted" the police in Omaha at NIU ?  (i.e., with lawsuits and/or threats of lawsuits...)

I think we are on the same side of this issue, mostly, but your first comment rubbed me the wrong way. I will decide what games and movies are appropriate for my 15-year-old. And my 11-year-old, for that matter. I'm not saying that I necessarily feel a GTA game is appropriate for my kids, I'm saying it's none of your business, no more than it is the business of some lying cop from Canada putting out PR-stunt press releases.

@Chris Wallace, Kurai
I remember feeling a oddly ashamed when my state (MI) passed all those anti-game laws a few years ago, so I guess I sort of understand, but there's no real reason for it. On the contrary, I am glad to know there are citizens with opposing views in Calgary, and that maybe one of them will write a letter to the Calgary Sun, or even to the police department, respectfully condemning this unsolicited statement as the manipulative, mendacious act that it is.

Its hilarious how GTA4 is causing all this crap, while so many games with "worse" content get off scott free (or close to it). Where is the outrage over Condemned, Jerhico, God of War, Saint's Row, Gears of War, The Darkness, Prey, Turok, etc?


Its cuz they dont have any grounds to really blame. GTA is an easy target only cuz of the Hot Coffee thing in the past. well that there has been so much hype about it in the past, also being that the name of the game is a felony. If you notice they all just keep recycleing the same points...all of which were made with GTA III...then in Vice City, then San Andreas, Liberty City Stories, and now VI.

Ya know, I've just had the oddest epiphany:

A great many politicians and others actually claim that video games, movies, books, TV, etc lead kids to do all sorts of things, including crimes, because, at their young age, they can't tell the difference between right and wrong, reality and fiction, and so on.

Yet, I suspect a great many of those same individuals want extensive sex education and, even further, want certain items such as condoms and birth control, even without the child's Parent's knowledge. Their argument? Kids are old enough and mature enough to have the knowledge and won't see the ability to receive such items as condoms as encouragement to actually have sex.

Now, explain to me how such politicians and such can see kids as being mature enough to know right from wrong in one situation... but not another?

NW2K Software
P.S. This post isn't meant to claim being against sex ed and such but rather the contrast in the views of maturity and right vs wrong.
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as
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