It’s a book about video games… so there are a lot of pictures right? Nope, it’s basically a case study disguised as a fairly entertaining and extremely informational book. Husband and wife team Lawrence Kutner and Cheryl Olson use a popular game title in Grand Theft Childhood: The Surprising Truth About Violent Video Games and What Parents Can Do to make it more marketable, but the social issues and media history addressed cover the issue of video game violence very well.
The study, including some 1,300 middle-school gamers in Pennsylvania and South Carolina, may seem somewhat limited, but you still get a good sense of the behind-the-scenes issues within the studies like girl‘s surprising interest in the Grand Theft Auto (GTA) game series. The authors point out creative aspects and a gamer’s background before playing the GTA game that makes this issue more than just good and bad while explaining how entertainment and creative expression through the game would appeal to several girl gamers. The authors also stress an important and perhaps forgotten aspect of the violence debate - how exposure to real violence in the household factors into game play. There are plenty of cross referencing among chapters, which increases the reading difficulty factor a bit.
Grand Theft Childhood also gives plenty of pro-active parental advice and hints on informational assistance to promote direct communication bridging the gap between why the game are played and how they related to real world issues. Parents and caregivers can pick out this advice in easy bulleted segments, mainly near the end of the book, but audiences will more likely to see this title in college level psychology, sociology or media related course than a leisurely book club, especially with virtually no graphics or pictures.
You get a basic understanding of how to measure evidence plus tons of media snapshots of influential games (Watch Out Behind You Hunter, Border Patrol, etc.) and other groundbreaking media, which many audience have not have experienced yet (dime novels, The Great Train Robbery film and Castle of Otranto book). Further inquiries about different experiences in different media widen the scope, and mind, even more, then the author hones in on specific video games with useful questions, such as asking if there is such a thing as good violence, which provokes some serious thought.