Barack Obama Mentions GTA IV During Campaign Appearance

April 30, 2008 -
At a campaign stop in Indiana, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama referred to the frenzy of publicity surrounding Grand Theft Auto IV as he repeated one of his regular themes: kids studying more and playing video games less. 

GamePolitics has covered similar comments from the Illinois Senator during the campaign (see: Obama Campaign Theme: Video Games as Metaphor for Underachievement).

Here is the transcript of Obama's remarks:
I was just catching the news this morning about Grand Theft Auto, this video game, which is gonna break all records and make goo-gobs of money for whoever designed it. Now, this isn't intended for kids, although I promise you there are kids who are playing it, but these video games are raising our kids...

Across the board, middle-class, upper-class, working-class kids, they're spending a huge amount of their time not on their studies, but on entertainment.

And so part of our job is going to have to be to inspire the entire country to say, 'How are we giving our kids a thirst for knowledge?' And turning off the TV set, and getting them to be engaged and interested, like their future really does matter on how well they do in school."

Raw Story has the video.

GP: Big thanks to GamePolitics reader Ryan Graff for the transcription of Sen. Obama's comments!!


Re: Barack Obama Mentions GTA IV During Campaign Appearance

That man speaks much truth


You are 100% right that Video Games are a long way from the only problem with the current education system, nobody will deny that, I expect, but with regards to race etc, it's all bundled up together, social, educational, employment, they are all interlinked. I agree that there is a certain degree of diversionary tactics going on here, and that far more needs to be done than simply tackle computer games, but whether he intended to or not, the message being forwarded by Obama is that parents should be responsible for their child's well-being.

Whilst that won't deal with the problem part and parcel, it will make inroads and hopefully encourage more tackling of the other problems that the system faces. If the system tackles the 'evil of computer games' it will fail, if it tackles the 'be a responsible parent' aspect of the problem, then that will at the very least be a step further than things have gone so far.

Yes, those social problems also need to be dealt with, but better one step forward than no steps at all.

although I promise you there are kids who are playing it,

Not even the general election yet and already making promises he can't keep...

Holy crap. It must be a miracle or some crap, a politician talking about any R* game and not advocating legislation ect, ect... I definitely do like Obama the most, but still, I can't come to a good conclusion on whether or not he'll actually do anything if elected.

Wow, that is a welcome change, but I am not sold. Why is it that Barak Obamma can say something really lame and everyone agrees with him? I think people need to become independent instead of blindly following someone like that, sure he could possibly be president, but he sure isn't God.

I play video games all the time, and I am still a straight A student. What is the deal with this guy? What has he done to earn everyones respect?


Sorry, Obama, but you are very wrong. GTA is not raising my kids, my wife and I are.

Can't say I disagree with him on this. As to the question of how many hours a night is appropriate for study. Again that's PARENTING. If a kid HAS to spend 5 hours a night studying, the parent needs to go to the school and complain about it (unless they think it's good). If a kid spends 5 hours a night playing computer games, if the parent think that's bad, they should do something. Sounds like what's needed most is parenting classes!

What he's saying is correct, so go him and all that. Now if only there were some sort of people whose duty it was to look after kids and make sure they're not throwing away their academic chances to play on video games all night. Preferably while trying to teach them how to function in society. Of course, they'd have to live with them in order for the monitoring to be a success and they would have to have some sort of personal relationship with the kids to get the point across.

If only such people existed!

Fuck off, these games aren't raising kids, they're entertaining them. God knows they aren't going to derive any enjoyment out of studying hard and following the crowd. This world is full of disappointments and let-downs. From every angle, from an early age kids realize the falsities behind the ideal that we are portrayed. I call Bullshit. These days kids aren't given the fair deal they deserve, it's no wonder they turn to things like GTA for kicks. Now-a-days kids are treated like shit by the old arses who run every country, governments have nobody but themselves to blame for how the youth are developing.

That sounds... seemingly reasonable. I think.

First off

yay first.

Secindly he recognizes GTA IV exists and doesn't bash it (gasp).

Now if only Hillary can do the same (I bet she'll rally against it as usual).

I just studied for two hours.

well at least he isn't blaming it for causing real world violence.

I'm a little surprised he didn't bash it, but then again he's said very similar things in the past to this statement.

Wow, he acknowledged that GTA was aimed at adults... that seems well ahead of other politicians I've heard.

I agree with the senator. We're getting fat and stupid. I mean, look at the Halo 3 crowd :x I kid, I kid. But seriously, parental involvement, or lack of it I should say, is the reason that TV and Games are raising these kids.

Seems like a sensible-enough comment. He doesn't even take the opportunity to condemn the game, just simply link it into an observation about children spending a lot of time on entertainment. I sense a bit of the assumption common to older folks that games and TV are always braindead and vapid (and though some are, GTA4 looks complex and filled with beauty), but once again, I'm happy to see Obama not jumping for the easy political points.

Not bad. He did say Grand Theft Auto was not for kids and that is good. The rest of his speech was ify, in my opinion. Hard to describe but not neccesaryl important.

This is the most reasonable thing I've ever heard a politician say about a video game. He recognizes GTA is aimed at adults, lumps it in with all entertainment, and squarely points the finger at lack of parental involvement.

Did you watch the video before mindlessly copying the title? There was no "calling out" GTA, there was barely a mention. Let the news media continue to hype the GTA release - let's not have it here on GP.

Hmm... don't really have any objection with what he said. In general, I think a lot of people are too focused on entertainment and the like, and not on more important things.

For most things in life, moderation is important I believe.

[...] wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt At a campaign stop in Indiana, Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama referred to the frenzy of publicity surrounding Grand Theft Auto IV as he repeated one of his regular themes: kids studying more and playing video games less. (see: Obama Campaign Theme: Video Games as Metaphor for Underachievement) Here is the transcript of Obama’s remarks: I was just catching the news this morning about Grand Theft Auto, this video game, which is gonna break all records and make goo-gobs of money for whoever designed it. Now, this isn’t intended for kids, although I promise you there are kids who are playing it, but these video games are raising our kids… [...]

Yeah, the title gave me the wrong impression too. I was pleasantly surprised when I read the quote. Any chance of getting that title revised, GP? I think the guy earned it.

As always, I don't think there's a story here. GP seems to hype stories more and more often. JT, anybody? I still love you GP, but I'm getting sick of mountains and mole-hills. If we're going to turn people to sensibilities, we can't be yelling-boys like the other media outlets. It's bad enough what people did to that poor woman who condemned music on the tv. Gamers give us a bad name with their brash tactics.

Did it just get cold in Hell?

Wow....the Senator actually uses...*gasp* his brain. Then again, Obama does seem the type to study an issue before blasting at it to make sure there's not a hidden meaning (read: morals within a story). That's a mark of an educated and wise man, boys and girls.

Now, if George W. Bush were running for office, I'm sure, he'd come out, both guns blazing, making up new words every second sentence. But, we already know what kind of person GWB is. 'rational', 'thinking', 'wise', and even 'educated' are things he's often not accused of being.

But I do agree with the senator. Kids should study as well as they can. The entertainment will STILL be there after. Cus if you dont study hard, you'll end up like GWB....

Lets get started, shall we?

"I was just catching the news this morning about Grand Theft Auto, this video game, which is gonna break all records and make goo-gobs of money for whoever designed it. Now, this isn’t intended for kids..."


"although I promise you there are kids who are playing it, but these video games are raising our kids…"

...continue senator...

"Across the board, middle-class, upper-class, working-class kids, they’re spending a huge amount of their time not on their studies, but on entertainment...."

...Okay...he brought up entertainment as a whole...thats fine.

"And so part of our job is going to have to be to inspire the entire country to say, ‘How are we giving our kids a thirst for knowledge?’ And turning off the TV set, and getting them to be engaged and interested, like their future really does matter on how well they do in school.”

...I...I got nothing.

Acknowledging this as an adult title...uses entertainment as a broad spectrum without discriminating against games...focusing on parental/school involvement to get kids focused on banhammers....


Like I said before, I like his position. Inspire kids, don't force them by banning stuff.

I don't really have a problem with his comments, he is right, Video Games, and other Media, is raising our children for us. Barck even hints at the fact that his is not the Video Game's fault.

Even Jack Thompson, 'defender of children everywhere' has forgotten that his primary responsibility is to be Father to his own child. That is how bad it has got.

And yes, I think my keyboard is dying...

I don't hae an issue with this. I like that he said it wasn't intended for kids but they'll play it anyway, because that really puts it on their parents, and it really is their fucking fault if their kids whoa re already mental play gta and mimic it.

Hmn... a politician talking about a video game, GTA IV of al games, without ticking me off?

Glad to know Obama isn't that kind of person whose ready to blame social ills on something that has nothing to do with the problem at hand.


Total head rush from hearing what seems to be a non-GTA bashing politician.

He does not compliment it, but neither does he claim it blasphemous.

Oh my god, its the END!!!! THE RAPTURE IS COMING!!!

Lakes will Fire, all land will turn barren with ash, super space pirate nazi zombie cyborgs on T-rexes will come bearing atomic spiked bazooka flamethrowers and singing (or screaming!?) iterations of lyrics and voices of William Hung!!!

Oh wait, I'm just paranoid....

But its a nice change of pace from the incessant (and ignorant) yelling of Jack Thompson.

He makes a good point. Playing video games instead of studying isn't the way to go, I guess.

Anyway, I like how he doesn't bash GT IV, and instead focuses on alternative solutions to the "problem," solutions that don't include the impossible (i.e. banning GTA IV in the U.S.).

This makes me even happier that I decided to vote for him a long time ago.

Obama didn't touch on this, but I believe the true potential of edutainment games has yet to be tapped (although there has been some success in that part of the game industry, there is still allot to be explored).

Hopefully the design doc I am currently writing for a specific subject will achieve that.

I won't disclose what it is I am writing just yet, mostly because I am not entirely sure the end result will be really really fun.

In my opinion: a game that isn't fun, isn't worth making.

Does this count as a plug? If it is, I am sorry for being an asshat.

Exactly how much IS a goo-gob?

It sounds like he's one of those most dangerous of politicians, a thinker. From what I remember reading, Clinton v1.0 (the one with the intern shagging mod) was much the same way & he seemed to do fairly good things (as well as questionable women). Its definitely good to see a moderate and reasoned statement, even if it was written by an underpaid speechwriter it's a nice change.

If I was an American citizen, I would vote for Barack Obama for the simple fact he didn't bash the game like every other fucktard politician in the god damn country. KUDOS TO YOU SIR.

I wish I could be playing it instead of studying.

But finals is finals.

@ GRIZZAM 512 and ray


Sounds no different than what he's said before. At least he's not on an outright rampage like certain other senators...

Papa Midnight


I'm 21,
...played video games for 18 years (first game, Super Mario Bros.)

I've got to tell you, I am a C+ student.

Not to contradict your theory, but during High School, I am posed to often thinks of Video Games instead of my homework

I am actually pretty smart when I apply myself (my current excuse is the lack of work ethic) so I can see Obama's view in this.

I know everyones' not like me, so his statement is rather unvalid. But at least he's better than Hillary.
Dunno... its difficult to tell someone's true intentions when it comes to politics.

Thats why its called politics.

Poli - Latin word meaning - "many"
tics - sounds like "ticks" which are - blood sucking creatures


The thing is, do you consider yourself the rule or the exception?

50 years ago, kids spent too much time listening to Rock'N'Roll and not enough time studying, 30 years ago it was 'Raving', now it is 'gaming'. The message itself, I'll agree, is far from new, but then it is the sort of message that never gets old.

'Business before pleasure' is always an important thing to be concerned with, and whilst you may be a straight 'A' student, America, as a whole, has a problem with its education system. I'm not throwing stones, to quote Douglas Adams, "In the UK, 'knowing stuff" is considered some kind of freakish, anti-social behaviour", but a lot of that problem comes from the fact that both our cultures are slowly becoming 'pleasure before business'.

Now, there's nothing wrong with relaxing and enjoying yourself, but you do it as a reward for completing whatever college work you had to do, I suspect, whereas there IS a tendency to use Video Games, TV and other pastimes as a way to subconsciously avoid doing that work. That is why it is a Parents responsibility to step in and be a Parent. It doesn't always make you popular with your child, but Parenting is about raising a good person, not being 'buddies' with your child. I had a moderately strict upbringing, I wasn't beaten, but I was told I could play after I had done my homework, and no excuses. Personally, I think I benefited from that, and my parents and I have an excellent relationship now.

So yes, you are doing things right, but Barack has the truth of the matter, that for a great many people, they're doing it wrong. I'm not a fan of 'all work and no play' by a long short, but parents have to learn to prioritise for and delegate to their child, and to teach them how to do so for themselves.

In politics, there exist only extremes...because obviously there can't possible be kids who do their studies AND play video games...

Although I understand that hard work during school hours is important, the situation with homework really is getting ridiculous. Nearly ten years ago when I was at school, I got (on average) an hour of study a night.. these days it can be two, three, maybe even four hours per night. When do kids just get to relax?

People like Obama are parading around the view that our children should be studying more and more, and playing less and less.. unless your child is a straight A honour roll student who goes to a big college or university, they are a worthless waste of space. Unless you are working in big business, law, or some other high powered academic profession you are a failure. Unless you spend a huge amount of your time working, you fail at life.

The school systems in many countries, by and large, cater only to academic pursuits. Where are we teaching students to be good engineers, or trash collectors, or all those other mundane jobs that we look down on people for doing? Where are we teaching people that, you know what, its okay to not be so academically inclined?

For the most part, we do not teach people these things.. we teach them that if they don't study hard, get good grades, go to good schools, they have failed themselves, their parents, their society.. anything less than B is a terrible thing, we don't have any room for someone who isn't so good at Maths or English in our society any more.

Acknowledging this as an adult title…uses entertainment as a broad spectrum without discriminating against games…focusing on parental/school involvement to get kids focused on studying…no banhammers….


Yeah, I'm with Waffles on this one. He's nailed that one perfectly.

At least he doesn't criticize GTA for its violence. I think everyone can agree that maybe kids should spend a little more time in the books than in the virtual world. I guess the responsibility is still that of the parents though. See a trend?

At least he is not really extreme in his views, but perhaps he could do a bit more and try to lay off Videogames unless if he acturley has had a go at, well lets say, Wii Sports or Wii Fit, perhaps that could let him see a new light into Videogaming and not see gamers as underachivers.

The problem I see is that he still thinks that children need to be educated.

But that is where school comes in, and then parental involvement that encourages helping their kids with tricky homework.

Obama will go a long way if he starts mentioning E rated games in a positive light.

Gotta agree with Thomas, the amount of schoolwork for kids these days is getting wild. If you study too much, academic burnout is a likely outcome. People need the occasional break, otherwise they aren't going to be able to concentrate. Not saying kids shouldn't study, but calm the hell down with this. All work and no play make Jack a dull, incredibly tired and bitter boy.

Oh, I forgot to mention all the kids who grow up playing videogames and decide to pursue it as a career. To make videogames, you must have high skill in mathmatics and computer skills. Some people have tried harder in school so they can become game designers, so I wouldn't call that under-achieving.
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