The Grand Theft Auto series has often been decried (especially in more conservative media) as a corrupting, destructive influence upon all those who play it. There have been ridiculous links made between the game and school shootings, mass murders and cases of reckless driving. Now most sensible people know that these things are not true. These kind of stories are nothing more than poor journalism. Violent games have become a scapegoat. They are pathetic attempts by people with no understanding of the games, or the people who play them to score points by using whatever hot topic is close to hand. This is itself a serious problem and is holding back the medium in several ways, but it isn't what I want to discuss today.
The debate concerning how old someone should be to play any given game is almost as old as gaming itself. Once gore and more graphic violence became possible, there were many people who, for good reason, demanded that there be a way to stop children from buying games deemed "inappropriate". So of course, we have the age rating that all games are now made to display on the box. This puts the responsibility on parents. They are the ones who decide what their child can and can't play. And you know what, in most cases, if you want to let your children play the latest 18+ game, that's fine. I have no issue with it. But in the case of GTA V, I would urge you to think again, and not for the reason you might think.
See, a game like Black Ops III, Sure it's violent, but it's also very dumb. The story is low effort trash that won't matter to a twelve-year-old and certainly, won't matter to anyone older. It's the equivalent of a summer blockbuster, all spectacle no substance. A twelve-year-old isn't missing anything by playing this game at such a young age, they can still enjoy the action for what it is.
GTA V is very, very different. Play this game as a twelve-year-old and the majority of the fantastic story and writing will sail straight over your head. This is a shame when you consider just how many young children play the thing. It makes me cringe, the thought of an ill-informed parent buying their little brat the latest GTA, and neither of them having a clue about its true nature. Anyone who actually plays GTA, and is mature enough to do so knows that aside from being a fantastic game, it is also a biting satire of American culture and it's shallow nature, politics, and both social and traditional media. Giving a child GTA is like handing a ten-year-old "Brave New World", they simply will not fully understand it.
So if you are a parent considering this game for your son or daughter, please consider what I have just said. There are plenty of games out there that can offer uncomplicated action, many of them violence free. GTA has artistic merit far beyond what your average young boy or girl can comprehend, so be very careful about when you let them play it.