A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that teens need to be 17 to join, and even though it's dubbed as a "social site," there's no chat function or message board. Users do need to link their XBox Live Gamertag or PlayStation Network sign-in ID to this site to get full access to everything. Despite its connection with Grand Theft Auto IV the content is nowhere near as violent or sexual as the game; in fact, you don't even need the game to use the site (although you won't be able to post your stats if you haven't played). Some of the avatars you pick to represent you are posing in sexual positions (the women) and some are carrying guns or smoking. There's a high level of competition to this site -- players try to finish the 40+-hour game the fastest so they can be recognized (by user name only) in the 100% Club. A multiplayer game is coming soon and the site says it will be adding new features in the future, including an expansion to cover all Rockstar games.
What's it about?
If your teen (particularly your male teen) is into the gaming world, he's likely already heard about the long-awaited release of Grand Theft Auto IV and the companion ROCKSTAR GAMES SOCIAL CLUB. Released on April 29, the site has a Police Blotter that tracks the daily crime rate in numbers; the 100% Club for those who've already finished the game, and a place to house all your MP3s from the game (if you hear a song that you like while playing GTA IV you can tag and then purchase them in Amazon's MP3 store.) Some games, contests, competitions, and special events are "coming soon," as well as a multiplayer game.
Is it any good?
Like the video game, the site is really nice to look at. It does a great job of organizing the limited content, but the problem is just that -- it's limited. Some features aren't working yet and the main draw to this site would be to boast to the GTA community that you're further along in the game than other players are. And, do we really want a site that promotes the game? But, it'll be interesting to see if the upcoming online multiplayer game is as sensational as the console game is.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why this site isn't as gory, crime-ridden, or sexual as the game itself. If you're playing the game already and have seen its mature content, why wouldn't the company feature it on the site? Families can also talk about the competitive nature of the site. Is it not enough to just play the game, or do you have to be the first to finish it, too? Is it important to have your name as the top player? You also might ask your teens if they think video game violence is different from TV or movie violence.
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.