Free Essay

Marketing to Children - Rockstar Games


Submitted By newcastle17
Words 962
Pages 4
Ethical Problem
The key issue is simply that Rockstar Games (a subsidiary of Take Two Interactive) does not have the intent for the “greatest good for all people.” Your strategy solely focuses on financial gain and being the market leader, regardless of how you execute this strategy (1). Rockstar Games is not only marketing violence and illegal activities to children, but you are lying while doing so. Children cannot make rational decisions. Therefore directly marketing violent games to children encourages children that it is “okay” to participate in such illegal activities. Your games are interactive, therefore, children are being shown directly how to plan and execute these illegal activities. This is unethical and shows Rockstar Games only motive of financial gain and to be the market leader.
The violence in your video games has become more realistic to the violence that occurs in the real world. In much older video games, violent acts were seen and thought to be carried out unrealistically. For example, killing someone would make them vanish into thin air. Currently the violence in your video games truly resembles realistic situations, such as shooting someone in the head and watching the blood poor out as the character slowly dies in excruciating pain. Promoting illegal activities, such as murder, prostitution and corruption, and promoting racism presents a moral challenge that Rockstar Games does not seem to have a problem with. Your company’s strategy specifically states is for financial gain and to be the market leader (1). Rockstar Games does not seem to have any interest in the negative impact your games has and can have on children. What will it take for Rockstar Games to realize that the violence and illegal activities they promote to children is unethical? (To the CEO of Rockstar Games) Imagine your child, playing your game, and afterwards decides to go out and execute a murder, which he/she learned through your video game. Will it still be okay to market and promote these activities to children when it directly affects you and your family? I think not.
Rockstar Games advertises their games through magazine ads, television commercials, billboards, online banner ads and video displays at major retailers (2). Children have access to all of these sources. Your games are advertised in magazines, such as Electronic Gaming Monthly, Playstation Magazine and PC Gamer, which are not adult only magazines and are purchased by children alike (2). Recently, an advertising company called Trimet, based out of Portland, Oregon, pulled ads from the side of 15 trains, as customers complained about the violence and crime that these ads were promoting (3).
Numerous studies have been published showing the negative impact that violent video games have on children under the age of 18. One study showed that after playing violent video games, third and fourth graders had more negativity with their responses to hypothetical situations, opposed to the third and fourth graders who played non-violent video games and were asked the same questions. This study suggested that playing violent video games can make children more hostile (4). Potentially, the more children playing violent video games, the greater the risk is of increasing violence among children in the world.
As key stakeholders of Rockstar Games, all supervisory and management personnel, including all executive officers and members of the Board of Directors of the Company, are the key decision makers of the company and you have a direct impact on the products you produce, the content and direction of your advertisements and of the creation and implementation of the company’s goals and strategy. The potential impact that this moral challenge might have on the key stakeholders is not only a loss of revenue, loss of market share and potential job loss, but also Rockstar Games will lose the trust and brand loyalty of its customers.
Issues and Other Factors
As mentioned above and according to your “Code of Business Conduct and Ethics” all supervisory and management personnel, including all executive officers and members of the Board of Directors of the Company are responsible for all ethical decision making. The key issue here involves not only the organization but the community as well. Your organization is promoting violence and illegal activity to children, which impacts the community. The children in the community, as mentioned before, have been shown to be more violent after being exposed to your video games. The adults in this community have also shown to have a negative opinion of your organization, by complaining of the content that the advertisements promote. This situation needs to be resolved immediately as both the short-term and long-term impact on our children’s behavior is in danger.
To note, in 2005, California passed a law forbidding the sale or rental of violent video games to minors. This law is now going through a US Supreme Court hearing to determine whether this law will be upheld or not (5). This is a start in the prevention of promoting violence and illegal activities to children through video games.

(1) Page 2, “Our Strategy.”


fT_HqeeaBBbN8iTXJPIGPZ8nEMGdZXzkrGK&sig=AHIEtbTqeiAx7pDXivD8VBDqDq0Z_UXi6w. Page 3-4, #16.


(4) Kirsh, Steven J. (1997, April). Seeing the world through "Mortal Kombat" colored glasses: Violent video games and hostile attribution bias. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Washington, DC.


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