Target's Grand Theft Auto V Ban Leaves Us With No-One To Blame

How do you parse the news that Target has decided to give in to pressure, to a 41,000 strong petition, and removed Grand Theft Auto V from shelves. How do you react to it?

I've been wrestling with this from the second I heard the news.

The base instinct in me, in all of us I suspect, is to rush to battle stations. To man the video game cannons and blast mercilessly at the hypocrisy of it all, to blindly vomit chunks of rage at the moral panic brigade.

Because as a culture, Australian gamers are so used to this debate. We're used to being under attack. Crucially, we're used to video games being treated differently compared to other art forms. We've heard and seen it all. We know the counter-arguments by rote.

But here's the problem: in this particular situation those arguments are all but useless. They're simply not applicable. News that Target has removed Grand Theft Auto V from stores puts people who like video games in a weird, untenable position. Making a huge unruly noise will get us nowhere. It will move us backwards.

To begin with, we have to accept a few hard truths.

Firstly, Grand Theft Auto's depiction of women is problematic. Put aside the fact that the video game allows players to be violent — in equal measure — to both men and women. Place that aside for a second. That's a given. Female characters in Grand Theft Auto are poorly drawn; they're either 'prostitutes' or wailing, nagging buffoons. The handful that remain inevitably become damsels in distress. There are very few women in the world of Grand Theft Auto that exist outside this spectrum. That doesn't mean we shouldn't play Grand Theft Auto, that doesn't mean it's worthless as a cultural artefact — it simply means that we have to accept that the game has problems, specifically with its depiction of women. We have to accept this.

Secondly, we have to accept that Target's decision to remove the game is not censorship. Hypocrisy? Yes. Absolutely. Censorship? Not even close.

Target is perfectly within its rights to sell or not sell any product it sees fit for any reason it sees fit. Target doesn't sell a lot of things. It doesn't sell pornography, it doesn't sell the Metroid Prime Trilogy on Wii. It doesn't sell Irn Bru. It doesn't sell Jenga as I recently discovered to my distaste after spending a whole day trawling through Westfield trying to find a box of the stuff.

Point being: this is not the same as the R18+ issue. In that situation government legislation was literally stopping stores like Target from selling video games rated R18+. In this case an individual retail group has made a decision. A decision it has every right to make.

As a consumer you also have the right to stop shopping at Target as a result of this decision. Crucially, you also have the right to buy the game at a number of other stores. I suspect many will choose to exercise those rights. This is fine.

Thirdly, we can't even blame Target for making this decision. You can accuse it of hypocrisy. You can point to the dozens of other R18+-rated products being sold in Target stores. You can complain about 50 Shades Of Grey, but to date no-one has produced a 41,000-signatures-strong petition demanding its removal. When a statement that powerful and grand in scale lands on your virtual desk, some sort of response is necessary. You might disagree with that response, but consider the tangibles.

Target is essentially a chain store which markets and sells to an older section of consumers who are, more often than not, parents. Much of Target's advertising is catered specifically to that demographic. It has to protect that segment of its revenue. Ask yourself how often you buy video games from Target. Ask yourself who normally shops at Target and what they buy. Target has made a strategic decision based solely on damage control and perception management. That's what businesses do.

Finally, and perhaps most crucially, we cannot blame the women behind the petition or any of the men and women who signed the petition.

Think their concerns are misguided? Absolutely. Believe that the concerns are the result of broad moral panic? Worried that their success could set some sort of precedent? Sure.

But it's of paramount importance to understand and accept that this petition was the work of women with serious, sincere concerns. Important concerns about the portrayal of women and the impact it would have on young men's attitudes to violence against women. These are ex-sex workers who have experienced sexual violence from men. Their concerns are more than valid.

And their concerns deserve to be heard. It's important to take those concerns seriously. It's important to take them on board. Verbally abusing or threatening these women — or any of the men and women who signed the petition — is toxic behaviour and only serves to make the situation worse. It only serves to prove their point. Above all, it's wrong.

Essentially, what we should be fighting against here is the mainstream belief that video games are exclusively for children. More importantly we should be fighting against the idea that interactive media has a stronger impact on players compared to movies, television or music. These are the misconceptions that inform these petitions. These are the misconceptions that are constantly re-reported in mainstream media outlets as fact. These are the misconceptions media outlets routinely exploit for traffic and manufactured outrage.

With the introduction of an R18+ rating in Australia, part of me had hoped that those attitudes were a decaying, dying thing. That widespread education and the growth of gaming in across widespread demographics might change those attitudes. I had hoped that mainstream media would have gotten the message, but it appears I was wrong.

And nothing — absolutely nothing — will change until those attitudes are dead and gone.


    Anybody else tempted to band together with other gamers and petition for the removal of '50 Shades of Grey' from shelves? I'd like to bet we can get 100,000+ signatures on a purely spiteful basis.

    Last edited 04/12/14 9:04 am

      Problem is - it's gotten so many guys laid that there may not be too many willing to sign. :-)

        That's really depressing.

          Enh. I've spoken to a few folks through work (which definitely comes under the category of TMI, but whatever, it's all 'rapport') who noted that it had improved their bedroom activities with their spouse.

          More intimacy and fun in a relationship is an unquestionably good thing. Even if the women ARE fantasizing about wealthy young playboys.

            In that area it's good, but people within the lifestyle are still trying to warn couples of what the book is saying, how it goes completely against the ideals of the culture and trying to inform people on the correct way to view that life style.

            But what I was mainly responding to were guys using the book to get laid. Only caring about the end result of busting a nut and dumping the girl. Screwing with her levels of trust by abusing it via that book.

              Hm. Imagined problem? I really haven't heard of that happening, mostly what I hear is women buy it as plausibly-deniable ladyporn, then go drop hints of varying subtlety to their clueless men to go buy some toys.

              In that respect, it definitely got the guys laid when they wouldn't have been expecting to, which makes it hard to complain about. That's the context I'm familiar with, and what I'd expect to be more common. I don't even know how a pump-and-dump playa would use the book as a pick-up tool... I don't think it works that way.


            As soon as the butt plugs come out, I am out.

            But this isn't about understanding the content for what it is, it's about misinformed outraged over the perceived content of 50 Shades combined with the fact that Target appears to be a democracy. I think we should do it.

              I thought it was cute and made a point when the FOX anchor calling Mass Effect 'basically pornography' then admitted she hadn't played it, got her book review-bombed into oblivion by users who admitted that they hadn't read it, but apparently she endorses that method of review.

              But I dunno, sometimes I think... it's probably time we grew out of that.
              Madness, right.

                At the end of the day, with digital distribution looming, if a physical retailer wants to handicap themselves, let em go I suppose.

                  Except that means everything is in the hands of Valve. And that could be a bad thing in the long run. Apple is famous for running its storefront with a deluded moral compass. Valve could easily end up like that in a few years.

            Its a step backwards for feminism.

        Hasn't done shit for me. My wife skipped the porn sections. She was more interested in the toxic relationship. I don't think she realised how much worse that made it look that she would read that trash, and not even for the good stuff

          My wife skipped the porn sections. She was more interested in the toxic relationship.
          I am not saying a thing about your wife but this sounds a hell of a lot like "I only read Playboy for the articles".

      Was thinking the exact same thing. Do you think it would have more impact if we waited for the DVD release of the movie?

      Yes, oh yes please.

      Im waiting for the one person to go big - petition for the removal of all books and literature from target

      Good news all, already started by someone off reddit:

        I may or may not have the ability of foresight. Feel free to worship me.

        EDIT: I have actually shared this link on my Facebook. I urge all others to do the same, so we can protect the children from such filth.

        Last edited 04/12/14 10:15 am

        Crap thing is, he's coming at it from the wrong angle. The book isn't terrible because of its depiction of men, it's terrible because of its depiction of the life style. A life style that emphasises the important of consent, something the novel ignores.

          I know very little of the BDSM lifestyle/community, but I imagine you would be correct.

          Feel free to create a petition and I'll sign that too. I am only in it to be a spiteful bastard.

          This is the reason I can't bring myself to sign that petition. It reads exactly like what it is: A knee-jerk reaction to the first petition that got GTA banned.
          What it needed to be was a considered, carefully constructed petition that outlines everything wrong with the book and why it should not be sold in a family targeted store, with the occasional reference and jab at the other petition, with a sprinkling of "Where will it end?"
          Unfortunately, that's not this petition, and this petition won't get anywhere.

          Last edited 04/12/14 11:28 am

          I haven't read the books, but I would have thought whatever was going on in there WAS consensual. Is it legal to have graphic descriptions of non-consensual sex? I remember years ago when I got American Psycho (the original novel by Bret Easton Ellis), and the thing came wrapped in plastic shrink wrap with a bit R18+ sticker on it, while 50 Shades is sitting by the cash register at K Mart. Obviously I'm not suggesting 50 Shades is as extreme as American Psycho (which is a really nasty piece of work, albeit very well written), but I guess I wouldn't have thought it would have had the ladies all flustered the way it has if it was about non-consensual activities?

          But then what the hell do I (or anybody else) know about why the female half of the species like one thing and not another? :P

            Well, people within the life style pointed out examples of typical abuse and areas of non-consent. Even pointing out one area where the safety word was ignored.

          I thought it was terrible because the writer couldn't write for shit. Seriously, I don't understand how people managed to read it, I got through about 3-5 pages before I was clutching at my eyes, hoping the writing style hadn't burned them out of their sockets

          But it could just be me..

        I was about to sign this for the fun of it then I read the reasons for the petition. They refuse to acknowledge that the violence in GTA is actually a problem and perpetuates sexism.
        We do not condone violence in real life, whether it be against MEN or WOMEN.
        No it may not make us go out and bash women, but throughout the game women are clearly objectified, and whilst men may be in 50 Shades, sexism towards men doesn't pervade almost all aspects of society. I can't even count the amount of times I've had to walk a female friend home or pick them up at night, etc because they are genuinely in constant fear sexual violence. As a 21 year old male I can walk anywhere at anytime and feel completely safe, and it's sad that my female counterparts of the same age cannot do the same.

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        Already at 1000 signatures.

        Thing is, I doubt Target will take it seriously.

      Now, I dont know much about 50 Shades Of Grey (sounds familiar, right...?) but isnt it about a woman's journey into BDSM and other abhorrent sexual deviancy?

      As in, if it was filmed and created as a proper adult title, most of it would be banned or censored in Australia, right?

      Now again, I must re-iterate, i dont know much about the book at all

        50 Shades of Grey was created as fan fiction for Twilight, then had the characters name changed to avoid copyright infringement.

        Not know anything about the thing you are petitioning to ban seems like a pre-requisite anyway.

      I'm in. If they can try and victimise me for something I like and they know nothing about, I think I should be able to reciprocate the feelings.

      Edit: I did sign.

      Last edited 04/12/14 10:37 am

      Count me out. Forming and signing petitions in ignorance is the exact thing that caused this entire affair, fuelled by mistaken assumptions about a medium's content and intended (and legally restricted) audience. I know next to nothing about 50SoG, beyond it's controversy and reputation, but I do know it's certainly not being marketed towards kids, so I've got no problem with it existing or being sold. Acting in pure spite never solves anything.

        The entire GTA series has never and will never be marketed toward kids either, that has not stopped it from being criticised for harming children.
        You honestly believe an entire slew of early-mid teenage girls and boys have not bought 50SoG after hearing all the controversy? At least video games have classifications (even if a store does not enforce them).

        You are right though, I am acting entirely in spite as I stated a couple of times previously. The thing is that nothing will ever solve this issue, so I might as well try to get a chuckle out of it.

          I'm not disputing that GTA is marketed exclusively to mature audiences. Okay, Target's catalogue was actually putting it alongside Spiderman, Barbie and Peppa Pig dolls. Target's marketing department are amazingly ignorant of what they're selling, and I'd rather that they stop selling it than continue to market it in such a manner.

          I'm arguing against making the same claims they're making, against a book I know very little about. Perhaps 50SoG is just the thing to have book-lovers cry out for a better ratings system for literature, if kids are getting their hands on it? In any case, it's nothing to do with games or GTA, and is thus unjustifiable as a response - it's a non sequitur. On it's own? Go nuts. "Target, 50SoG is currently unrestricted, and has great potential to corrupt young minds; please stop selling it." The closest GTA should come to it is suggesting that they would be open to the suggestion as they acquiesced to do so for GTA due to similar concerns, despite its sale being legally restricted to adults.

          Participating in an argument where one side refuses to acknowledge its own ignorance is useless, and aping them in that does nothing but diminish your own position on the matter. Issues like this are never about convincing the other side, they're about convincing the audience - we're not going to persuade those supporting the petition, but we can present the facts in a public forum, and convince others who are as yet undecided, or maybe make some more open-minded folks to rethink their opinions. As Mark says, we need to tackle the underpinning assumptions among the general populace that allow these petitions to gain momentum, not just shout down anyone who has a different opinion than ourselves.

          We like to joke around, often in manners that would, to an external viewer, be considered abusive. And we do so a lot online, where it is highly visible. But in this case we need to be mature, especially when the issue at stake is our maturity itself. If we can't treat serious issues with the gravity they deserve, then can we really say they're wrong to call us immature? If we continue to respond to falsehoods with misogynist abuse under the "Adolf Hitler" pseudonym (as I saw on the original petition, btw), can we really claim to be worthy of respect? We can denounce the people who make such extremist "jokes" as "the vocal minority", but we still need the majority get up and have their say.

          I know you're acting in spite, I just disagree with your proposal because you're assuming we've already lost - we haven't. Issues like these move at a glacial pace. We spent over a decade trying to convince people that games aren't just for kids, citing the number of titles for mature audiences, citing gamer age statistics, citing how little notice parents took of the ratings on game covers, and eventually we got the ratings system amended to take adults into account. Most of us thought that would be enough - an R rating exists, so logically that means there are games that aren't for kids, right? Apparently this wasn't enough.

          I'm not saying it will be quick, or at all easy, but thinking you've lost prematurely is the only way to guarantee defeat in any debate.

            It may be hard to believe, given how I have probably come across within this comments section, but I did read that entire reply.
            I will not list out arguments against you because quite frankly, I agree with almost every bit of what you said. I have argued for years against people that want specific games banned or restricted and what have you. I'm so extremely tired of dishing out logic, stats, facts etc only for all of it to fall on completely ignorant and deaf ears that I have all but given up.

            I sound like I'm trying to ban firearms in the USA. It's not 'that' serious a matter, but the point is I am just tired of arguing about it so I gave up and pretty much make a point of doing all I can to annoy those people as much as they annoyed me over the years.

              I have to admit, that did end up being a bit longer than I intended. Sorry about that :P I know I have a hard time being concise, so I appreciate your patience.

              And I completely understand how tiring it can be to try to convince people that just won't listen - it's like debating with a legion of gramophones. But, it's all we can do, so we need to make the most of it - make sure the discourse is conducted in a high-visibility space so as many people as possible can see the evidence for themselves and make up their own damn minds. That's all anyone should do, imo; it's the very core of democracy (in theory, anyway...).

              If I can get one person (even if they're just watching from the sidelines) to rethink their stance on an issue, or even better, to investigate things for themselves - that's a victory, in my books.

            Yippee, somebody super intelligent that says the right stuff!

      the women behind collective shout, who started this GTA V petition, have already beaten you to making a 50 shades of grey petition, or so says their facebook page


      I think we're missing a much better target with a much larger following, who if looked at completely out of context (as this petition has done) often portrays and treats women (and well... everyone) "badly".

      Something that people would actually get quite mad about being removed from stores, something Australia really cares for.

      We'll have to take one for the team though.

      Game of thrones.

      ooh I know right.

      The media is much closer related to video games as well, be it using the same classification system. you know the one for adults. like this game is.

      There are plenty of critiques of it

      just have a look:

      I am a big fan of criticism through lampooning and I think this could be done well.

      Last edited 04/12/14 5:58 pm

      This one is 10K strong hope it gets stronger.

    While I dislike the decision that Target made to not stock GTA (and what it may represent for the future), at the end of the day it's their decision.

    Thanks for the rational response Mark, but I cannot support a store who does this, and I for one will be shopping elsewhere. It might not be censorship per se, but what if it happened to all retail stores in Australia and not just Target? It starts somewhere and this is it.


        You've been quoted on mainstream media

        grats! (?)

        Brilliant article Mark.

        I enjoy all your articles, but this one really stands out.

      That is the stance I have taken. No more shopping at Target.
      I completely agree with what Mark said about how GTA represents women but it does represent all men in at a degenerates too. There was never a hero stereotype for the damsel in distress, but bad male stereotypes. So I am still against the ban.

      But $14 amiibos at target - bargin!

        This is the only gaming-related thing I've bought at Target in recent memory!

      Target don't sell GTA V or any R18+ rated products in SA anyway. They made that decision because the state govt expected them to provide a separate display for anything R18+.

      Last edited 04/12/14 6:24 pm

    Who buys games from Target anyway?

      I've been getting my Skylanders from them because they are a bit cheaper than EB or JB Hi-fi. But no more. I'd rather pay a few bucks more than support these guys.

        It's a shame Target will lose business for this, it seems it was kind of forced into it by the petition group.

          Companies often stand up to petitions if they feel they're unjustified. Recently we had Cadbury (and others) standing up to the One Nation lead group telling people that by having a Halal certification they were putting bombs in our kindergartens (or some such rubbish).

          I appreciate Target's in a difficult position, it's just a pity they seem to lack the knowledge of the subject matter (and/or conviction) to stand up to these people.

            It's a sign of the times - you can get 40k signatures to ban GTA from Target and only 60k to support a pay rise for the military. Silly right-wingers.

              Can people decide which wing these people reside on? Left or right? I mean, personally I don't give a crap about their political leanings, chances are they don't all vote the same. They're just NUTJOBS.

                Definitely right-wing. The liberals (Little 'L'; left-wing) would be more indignant about the censorship, lack of free speech, and general acceptance of sex, drugs and Justin Bieber.

            Maybe they've been reading too much press about how gamers are dead and figured it wouldn't make a difference??? I wonder who was writing that manufactured click bait?

          Chances are this'll be just like Chick-Fil-E. People will boycott, and other people will buy more because they support the decision.

      I buy a lot of my PS/3DS games from Target as they can often be cheaper or equal to JB HiFi.
      I'll still be buying from Target, I feel they were pushed into it and just need to protect their business which has been struggling for a while.

    I'll be happy if they remove Smash Brothers as that depicts violence against women, children and pets.

    Making we should start a petition...

      My heart nearly stopped the first time I saw Mario hit Peach with the hammer. Truly horrific violence.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but there are "depictions of violence" against men in this game too??

      To progress the story you are forced to torture a man but no one is complaining about that.

        Actually, there was a huge discussion about that particular scene when the game was first released. A lot of reviews pointed out how uncomfortable they felt about that scene, how it felt unnecessary and the implications of it being in the game.

        That happened when it was first released.

          Yeah I remember that but I don't recall a big push about it being unacceptable or worth banning the game for from the non gaming public.

            I think that's because it was really only discussed in the gaming community. The level in question never really made it into the wider non-gaming community which is why there wasn't a push to ban it.

        I found that a bit confronting when I got to that mission. I had to turn off the vibration in the controller (because the heartbeat was freaking me out a bit). Much more than any footage of killing a prostitute...I haven't hired a hooker in my play throughs.

      Put aside the fact that the video game allows players to be violent — in equal measure — to both men and women. Place that aside for a second. That’s a given.

      So you're pointing out that Not All Violence is against women?

        Infact, I would give a conservative estimate that approximately 95% of violence in this game is against men. Given:

        Gang members are all male.
        Police members are all male.
        Majority of civilians spawning seem to be male (an assumption but I've been taking note and it seems to be?)
        Your friends are mainly male.
        The person you torture is male.
        In all the missions, barely any females at all are killed. I actually can't recall if any are tbh?

        Just a conservative estimate, but it seems about right.

          Guess I was being too subtle.

          The 'Not All Men' pattern of response derails the conversation away from the focus and the point of discussing depictions of violence against women in this game. The quote I copied from the article even asks to avoid this kind of pointless, unproductive diversion.

          But here we are.

            The people who formulated this whole petition in the first placed have limited to no idea about the content of the game, when engaging with them in conversation, repeatedly I was told 'I don't need to play the game to know what's in it'. Yeah you really do...

            Last edited 04/12/14 12:37 pm

              How is it cherrypicking to want to have a discussion around how this game's handling of violence against women has lead to people holding particular perceptions and raising petitions that have led to the actions that Target has taken?
              It's the crux of the entire situation outside the game. Bringing up other aspects of the game (yes, even the rest of the violence) is not something relevant to the overall picture of why we are now where we are.

              Edit: hey, you deleted your comment about it being nothing but bad cherrypicking. Sorry, it takes ages for me to write more than a few words on this silly touchscreen.

              Last edited 04/12/14 12:47 pm

                It's cherrypicking due to ignoring entire other aspects of the game. When you scream 'you can murder women! it glorifies violence against women!' Ok, you can murder women. You can murder men too, in copious amounts. You also murder aliens.

                You never rape women, that's for damn sure. Yes they are definitely prostitutes in it, a mainstay since part 3, I'd definitely like that equalled out with male versions of both strippers and prostitutes. However it's cherrypicking when you make a giant fuss over the game ignoring the elements of violence that are equally dispersed.

                Why is violence against a woman more important than violence against a man in this modern day and age? It's a sensible question.

                Of course at the risk of being called 'misandryst' and such, which I am most definitely not, I ask this legitimately, why is the violence against men being selectively ignored and only the violence against women being focused on? Surely both aspects should be equally focused on if the issue was of such absolute importance. The argument hinges on the crux that games can influence real life, which we know is unequivocally false.

                Last edited 04/12/14 12:46 pm

                  I'm not saying the violence against women is the only thing that should be focussed on in every conversation ever. Nor am I saying it's more important. But it is the focus of *this* discussion, right here in *this* opinion piece.

                  Can one issue not be discussed unless other issues are also brought up?

                  Why don't we talk about the driving mechanics in the game? I mean, no-one raised a petition about that, but it's also a bigger part of the game than the 'violence against women' bit.

                  The main reason it's brought up is because if something is to be discussed, then it should be discussed equally. Both sides should be evaluated and equated to have an equal, balanced conversation. Noone is denying there is horrible violence towards women in it, that's undeniably true. However, the way it's being presented is horribly biased and horribly misrepresented. It's being presented as Misogyny Simulator 2014 (when it was out in 2013 :P) when the reality is, it's actually 'Equal Bastard simulator 2013/2014 : Kill every gender'.

                  It's probably one of the more equally represented games out there. I shot off a tweet to R* just before, asking if they will put male escorts and strippers in part 6 or an add on (again, something I firmly believe should be in here), for equality sake, as I believe that's a major downfall of the game in terms of representation.

                  But in terms of violence, if we are to speak of violence that befalls someone in the game, lets talk about the violence equally, not turn a blind eye to one form of it and deem it acceptable so we can concentrate on another... that's horrendous.

                  You're setting an arbitrary boundary of inclusiveness to define 'equal' discussion, and diminishing anyone else's discussion that doesn't conform to that.
                  In this discussion of the portrayal of violence in entertainment products, I see that you're not acknowledging depictions of violence in movies. That is not a very equal discussion, and your selective turning a blind eye towards movies must mean that you condone all violence in movies.

                  You can include movies by all means if you wish to go that far, I've been the one endorsing the idea of broadening the scope of the discussion, you however have been saying 'limit it to women only'. By broadening the scope of the discussion, you invite more data, more information, more involvement and allow the ability to discuss active involvement versus passive involvement, so yes by all means.

                  What is *not* an equal discussion, is talking about the effects of violence on one gender only, when it is equally applied to two genders in a game equally.

                  That's cherry picking at it's very core :)

                  Last edited 04/12/14 2:32 pm

                  Hey, I appreciate the smiley :)

                  As far as limiting the scope of the conversation, please re-read the quote from the article we are commenting on that I first posted at the top of this reply chain.

      Yep. Every time I get bored while playing a GTA game, I go on a massive kill everybody rampage. I'm sure most people do. There would be very few people who specifically go hunting for women to kill (though I would be naive to believe nobody did this).

      It also makes me wonder, if Rockstar patch the game to include male prostitutes, will Target allow it to be sold in their stores again?

        It also makes me wonder, if Rockstar patch the game to include male prostitutes, will Target allow it to be sold in their stores again?
        Probably not. I don't think it's a matter of equality, it's more that this group deem any depiction of violence against women in a video game to be wrong. Then they go on to list all of the usual incorrect reasons that get drummed up when people who don't play video games decide to get upset by them ... and so it goes on.
        I wouldn't worry though, I'm sure another outrage will pop up and take their attention soon.

          Shouldn't they (this group) be totally against Smash Bros and Mario Kart then?

            If they were being consistent in their argument, then yes. But (I'm guessing) they'd say that those games not not depict realistic violence because they're "cartoony".
            There's no point trying to hold them to standards in their arguments, because they just won't listen. The fact that they've created a petition which flies in the face of widely accepted research, and are incorrect in what they say actually happens in the game will tell you that their horribly misinformed, and to be honest I don't think they want to be informed. They just want to get their way.

        Ban Far Cry series because it's animal cruelty (actually it's animals being cruel to humans but who cares, ban it anyway)

    The interesting thing that I'd like to know the actual reasoning behind is that it purely targeted Target (sigh, really Freeze?). Why not the multitude of other outlets that sell it? If the problem is with the game itself why target (stahp) somewhere that is far from the biggest fish in the video game retail pond? Or are they going to use Target's capitulation as a launchpad to start pressuring everywhere else now?

      I think they won't stop with Target. They just went for the easy... er... target (sorry) first.

      I expect it is because they painted a big target on their backs by, over the years, embodying the stereotype that their customers adhere to, mom and pop store, old people etc. Those customers that are most likely to have a view in line with the petitions cause and therefore resulting it its success. I am sincerely hoping this doesn't set precedent but even if it does, and someone tries this again with other stores, how much success do you see this having at EB Games? at JB Hi-Fi? Gametraders? The only store I would see it having any further success in is probably Myer. K-Mart at a stretch but even they have a relatively burgeoning tech department whenever I find myself inside one.

        You know Myer stopped selling games a couple of years ago now, right? :P

        Also, Kmart burgeoning in the tech section? I wanna know where you're shopping. If anything they're regressing, pretty badly. Which sucks, since they used to have crazily good prices on new stuff, now it's all just a few bits of years-old stock and half of them are missing their cases.

          I suppose burgeoning might have been too strong a word :P
          More accurately I feel there is at least a focus to keep their tech area relevant, it doesn't feel like it has been stashed in a corner or locked behind plastic doors as per targets department
          No apparently I missed that about myer

          Last edited 04/12/14 9:50 am

        The Kmart at my local shopping center at least doesn't even sell PS4 or Xbone games and only has a extremely limited (20 - 30) selection of PS3 and 360 games.

        A whole aisle of Wii shovelware however.

      They targeted target as its an ideal target, its been pushing deals on its games much harder then kmart and big w even having signs out the front for the game as well as in their catalogues, i went into my local target and its games section is so nice compared to the kmart a couple of shops down who just renovated their entertainment section. Clearly they will now use their win over target to target the other big chains till all that are left with a target on their back will be JB and EB..I see a world where importing is the only option to get GTA if you dont already have it, no different to before the R18 rating

        I'm considering downvoting your comment because I feel that you didn't use the word 'target' enough.

      Wouldn't be surprised if it's the same reason the TV/movie lobbyists went after iiNet instead of Telstra or just... everybody all at once. Gotta start somewhere, pick your battles. Evidently they picked well.

    Honestly I'm surprised they stocked it to begin with. It's Target. I wouldn't have pictured them having anything 18+ on the shelves.


      Same reason it had shelves full of 50 shades of grey at the very front of the store at the height of it's popularity.

      Games are for kids dude, didn't you know? The rating on the front is more of a guide. If little Jimmy wants GTAV for his birthday soccer mums do what soccer moms gots to do (sic.)

        It's not about who games are for it's about who Target caters to. I wouldn't expect to find porn and booze there just because it's been properly rated and restricted. I wouldn't expect to find R18+ games at Toys R Us just because they choose to sell some games.
        I wouldn't sign that petition, I think it's stupid that Target respond to petitions at all. I also think it's a bit stupid that this aimed at GTA specifically rather than a call for a general reassessment on their policy of selling adult orientated material. The reasons for singling GTAV out seem to be as flimsy and ill-informed as ever. On that level I find the move totally offensive.
        However all that aside I can understand not wanting it to be sold there. It's an adult orientated game and Target presents itself as a family friendly store that doesn't specialise in games enough to carry every single title. If we were talking about JB HiFi or EB that'd be different, but in both those cases they're not going to cave to a tiny little petition because frankly the people on it aren't likely to spend much money in their store anyway.

    Excellent article, thanks for being a calm voice of reason in all of this.

    I was thinking about this just before, particularly the women who are signing the petition, and where they are coming from. Sure there'd be a lot of bandwagon jumpers, but the movement was started not by someone wanting to destroy videogames, but by women who have had to deal with pain and violence the like of which most of us have never seen.

    People are hurt on both sides on this, lets try to remember that people on our side are only hurt because someone said some things we disagree with about a video game we like.

    Last edited 04/12/14 9:15 am

      I agree, but the correct way to raise issues like violence against women is to raise awareness through things like White Ribbon Day and the like, which I support, not brute-forcing retailers to self-censor what they sell.

    Except that the petition is also filled with misinformation and alludes to the petitioner thinking that this game is MEANT for boys under 18 and that it's GROOMING them. The petition was also aiming to go after other retailers after Target and use them as an EXAMPLE platform.

      The petition that started all this heavily suggested that the parent bought the game for their underage child and was then mortified when the warning on the box was true about gratuitous violence, sex & nudity, WELL I NEVER. And then proceeded to take it out on Target where they purchased the game rather than being a proper responsible parent, sad.

        This is why I love JB. When GTAV came out I went to my local to buy it (Indro, QLD) and the amount of 12-15 year old kids hovering around the counters while middle aged women (obviously their mothers) were in the queue holding copies of the game.

        To their credit, one of the staff members, who clearly knew what was happening, was reminding these people about the content and why it was rated R18+. I saw a tantrum happen when one of the parents put the game down and proceeded to drag their screaming kid out of the store.

        Hands down the best one was a parent turn around to their child and say 'You didn't tell me that this game was violent!', meanwhile this kid tried to put on his most innocent face as if to say 'This isn't Hello Kitty Island Adventure?'

        Needless to say that when my turn came to pick up my shiny new Collectors Edition of the game (as a responsible adult who doesn't need my mummy to buy the game for me) I thanked the staff for their vigilance on the matter.

        I didn't get involved in the petitions, rallies and letter writing about why we need an R18+ system for Games just so some little kid can trick their parents into buying them something that they should not be consuming (at least without full parent awareness and consent), it is still staggering that even with a big black R18+ sticker on games etc that parents will not give a second thought about buying the latest title for their special snowflake because surely all games are meant for kids right?

        /rant over

    If anyone bothered reading the petition (I get e-mails from you'll see that almost 50% of the bloody signatures are imbeciles signing so that they can comment on how stupid the petition is..... Nice to see that Target did bother reading the comments for the petition though =p

      That sounds to me like kind of a dumbass move, signing a petition in order to complain about it. Assuming your 50% estimate is close enough, more than 20,000 of these petitioners are actually against the petition, and yet collectively have doubled its ability to make waves. #PicardFacePalm

        Like with Pynes petition about ABC south Australia studio - he quotes the 2000 signatures but so many were calling him names in it.

        We should start a petition to get Target to put the game back up on their shelves =P

        Edit: just checked again seems there's a lot more signatures now for the petition however the most liked comments are still people speaking out against the petition.

        Last edited 04/12/14 9:44 am

          There already is one.

          If even half the people who bought GTA V signed the petition, it would eclipse the removal petition completely.

          EDIT: Actually there seem to be a lot of similar ones about, maybe if there was some way to pool the signatures into ONE petition instead of twenty?

          Last edited 04/12/14 11:14 am

    I can blame someone and its the feminazis. (Not the feminists themselves, different category). After viewing two facebook pages over the last week where I saw vile lies spewed by them in regards to this, such as 'all men who play this are rapists' and 'this game allows you to rape people', I can absolutely blame people who decided to back something with either no knowledge of the target material or based on a lie. When queried about the fact in GTA online you can play as a woman murdering men the issue was ignored completely by them and the same rhetoric was chanted back at me? On that basis alone, yes I can.

    *Edit* Just to add to this, when I queried these people, as we engaged in conversation that soon spilled into argument with me being accused of being affected by games etc by these people (not very pleasant ones on this site), their views were the standard garbage, gamers are violent, gamers commit violence because of games etc. I showed the 11 year study but they wanted none of it, one even trotted out Jack Thompson and GTA as 'evidence'. These people were endorsing the petition and openly calling for their friends and family to flock to it to sign. Again, these are the kinds of people who were signing this bullshit, so yes I can.

    When I queried why it was acceptable to berate GTA but not ok for me to be offended by say, Sex and the City, a show that objectifies men, all hell broke loose. Sure it's not violent, but when I applied the logic that the show degrades men by turning them into sex objects, focusing on their penises, making the target objective of any man on the show to bed him, I was immediately labelled vile and told that I had 'missed the point of the show' and it was ok because women were not being objectified and 'how did I like it'. I hadn't missed the point, but the hypocrisy on display was definitely interesting to see.

    Last edited 04/12/14 9:40 am

      Careful on your terminology. There are many people online who use Feminazi as a derogatory term for any woman vocal about feminism and when I began reading your comment, I was worried what you were about to say. Thankfully, I was relieved to find you weren't using it in that manner and you had a point above bashing the signed.

      TL;DR - It's worth remaining objective and avoiding aggressive language when you've got a good point to make ;)

        That's why in brackets I put (not the feminists themselves). While I don't consider myself a feminist, I have feminist friends who actually go out to seek equality in certain areas of life that still require attention, the workplace, childcare and they concern themselves with equality for men as well, which is comforting to see. When someone does something like this and what I experienced though, it's disgusting.

        Well, the ones who call themselves feminists and are labelled feminazis from i've witnessed do nothing to promote feminism where they're meant to be lobbying for equal rights for both men & women. Where in fact they call oppression on anything a male says and try and play the poor me card, or claim men raped them by looking at them and speaking to them.

        I have a few friends who identify themselves as feminists and actively seek equal rights for both men & women, and they're embarrassed/disgusted by these others who are doing the exact opposite and giving a bad name to all because they're the more vocal ones some how.

      Welcome to the world of Left Wing nut jobbery.... The land of perpetual outrage. We all know misogynists play GTA because that's what Anita told us! And we dare not not argue because that just shows how sexist we really are, so this move by Target should be welcomed by all!

        It's got nothing to do with Left wing nutjoberry. Right wing nutjobbery is just as retarded (I dare say right wing is just a euphemism for nut jobbery in general, but that's just MHO). This is about uninformed people, assumptions based on a lack of familiarity with a product and good ol' fashioned hysteria. Nothing more.

          So you're saying people like Anita spreading misinformation is a bad thing? and that tacit supporting of those views in some way encourages the spread of misinformation?

      Where the smurf writes I read :)

      For me personally, GTA has always been a step too far. As graphics improve, imagery gets more easy to relate to real life..... So people obviously get concerned when you can beat the living hell out of a woman for the fun of it. None of the people signing this partition have watched videos of flying a plane under a bridge, or been interested by the story (or the underlying sarcasm of the game), because they have not been on the game journey and slowly been acclimatised to the increasing reality of our gaming environment. I struggle to play the modern COD's and Battlefield's because I know there are people fighting wars and dying in similar ways, and I really don't want to immerse myself in that (take me out of that reality and put me in Gears or destiny and I have no issue with it).

      When we create stories that enable us to behave poorly, in realistic scenario's, with storylines that are clearly offensive to some, we shouldn't be surprised when people get upset. And we shouldn't then boycott a store because it has made a decision to block one product due to people being concerned. It is a product that doesn't fit with their demographic - and by promoting the product in toy catalogues it is promoting an 18+ product to kids. Not cool.

      If Target had just had the game on their shelves, not of this would of blown up. Because it was front and centre in their catalogue, people got upset.

      These are the people that make me dislike the human population in general. A lot of them probably don't even have kids, or they use it as a excuse to deflect their own responsibilities as parents to monitor what their kids have access to. Or even worse, they just need to complain about something because, because their they are sad with their poor pathetic lives and want to feel important in some way.

        Agreement Hi-5!

    There is an article about this on Nicole the sex worker is talking about how this game changes your brain etc. Did she study psychology or just watch Fox News?

      I just personally refuse to take moral lessons from a sex worker, male or female. *shrug*.

      *Edit* Hey sorry if I offended saying my morality should come from a sex worker. *shrug* I lived with one for a while in relationship and the experience was not exactly what I'd call pleasant, I'm well aware of the life, what it entails, I'm never going back to that world again, I don't say this through inexperience. Incidentally, we may not be together any more, that was a prevailing factor in our breaking up, but she's out of that line of work now and her life is a thousand percent better away from that fucked up lifestyle. Deal with it.

      Last edited 04/12/14 10:29 am

        But you didn't say "morality shouldn't come from a sex worker" you said "I refuse to take moral lessons from a whore". There's a big difference, one's an opinion (that I think is a bit silly and short sighted) and the other is a character judgement. Replace the word "whore" with any other derogatory slang for a group of people and see how it sounds.

        You seem to be making pretty reasonable arguments in your other posts, don't go and cap it off with an inappropriate comment, it just undermines your credibility. Come on, just change it to be a bit less inflammatory, a bit less obvious that you look down your nose at sex-workers and think they have nothing to contribute to an intellectual discussion, then the civilized debate can continue.

          @puck Well worded and critique taken under advisement, I've changed the offending and ill thought out word to a more suitable one :) thanks for pointing that out. :)

          My experience in the actual life makes me hate that industry with a passion. How the people treat each other, how the employers treat the women and men, how the clients treat the workers, there's no 'honour' and no benefit to working in the industry at all. It's life destroying in the end in a multitude of ways. I'm not going all 'christian ranty ranty' about it, it was soul sucking for my partner at the time and two of her friends, with how her employer would take the bulk of the money, how new regulations imposed by the government due to legitimisation essentially took away any ability to make decent money out of the industry, forcing a lot of them to look into the illegal side of it, removing the ability to unionise, to be treated fairly etc. It's a giant catch 22 and it's a terrible industry to be in that noone should ever experience.

          That, and working in IT :P lol.

          Last edited 04/12/14 12:06 pm

            My view: Target is a family store. They should not sell R18+ stuff at all.

            To pull just GTAV now, when they've already made their money from the year the game has been on sale, with the spike from the next-gen releases, seems like pandering.

            It also seems there's a lot more education needed in what R18 means.

            Beyond that, what @markserrels said. Excellent and balanced piece.

              I can agree with this, if they want to take the moral highground, they should not sell R18+ content at all. Like you say, it's been on sale a year, they've made a lot of money off it at this point in terms of sales. It makes them major hypocrites at this point.

                Not sure why it attached my reply to your post, thought it was a new post. Comment weirdness. Worked out OK though...

                Last edited 04/12/14 1:09 pm

    My only problem with this is that Target have reacted to a consumer demand without putting any thought or research into it. The petition said jump, they didn't ask "how high" until they were already in the air.

    They can choose not to sell the game or not, I really don't give a shit. That's their right. But the petition made false claims which Target has blindly accepted in a bid to please what they perceive as being a significant demographic. It was a sensible business decision. And that's what bothers me: it was actually the best possible thing for Target to do, to listen to lies and blindly commit a business decision based on the loudest voice in the room at the moment.

    That's what I'm going to take away from all this, anyway.

      That's how all this moral outrage works though - your point is largely irrelevant provided you shout loud enough.

    Anyone who is spouting vitriol as a result of this are only hurting everyone. Like Mark said this is an issue of ill-informed people taking their ignorance of something and banding a whole bunch of other ignorant people together to all support something that is flat out untrue. It paints people who play GTA as violent misogynists which is wholly offensive to the reasonable people who play these games, a fair amount of which are actually women.

    It unfortunately sets a precedence for more of the same which is the most worrying thing.

    Most of these people probably have not even sat down and played the game so they really have no frame of reference; its knee jerk reactions to cherry picked content from the game.

      I don't dispute your view. However, Mark also says that you must accept this. "accept that this petition was the work of women with serious, sincere concerns." He doesn't care that the viewpoint is invalidated by being false, and that these misguided people are now affecting gaming through their own thinly veiled social mores on what they find offensive.

      Further, his view of Target is very myopic indeed. If your sole view of Target is that of a Sydney suburbanite, your way off base. Target has a very strong regional presence in Australia post the acquisition of Fosseys. (Showing my age here.) Some regional areas would be lucky to have this as their sole department store, meaning regional gamers now have less chance of being able to pick up a game. Sure they can buy online but in areas that would be lucky to receive postal services once a week some people could be waiting months for a package that never arrives.

      Secondly Target US are a very different concern, and you can bet that this minor victory will be swung into a larger narrative to attempt to coerce them to also not carry games that a small non gaming population don't like. Target US sell everything and are a massive player in the retail space. I could walk into Target US pick up a 6 pack of beer a pack of smokes and a new outfit and have change from a $20 note. If a company with that much buying potential is affected, you can bet the industry will feel it.

      As for when Mark says "These are the misconceptions that are constantly re-reported in mainstream media outlets as fact. These are the misconceptions media outlets routinely exploit for traffic and manufactured outrage." Bit of the pot calling the kettle black. I believe there is some sort of revolt going on in gaming against organisation's doing this type of thing. It's a wonder there isn't more press about the good changes they're making to the industry, instead of manufactured hysteria and misconceptions.

    The game depicts people from all walks of life. Male, female, trans, rich, poor, middle-class, homeless, hipsters, immigrant farmhands, drug dealers, drug users, convenience store workers (how can be used for money health and then brutally murdered), fitness freaks, overweight people, police officers, military personnel. I could go on. They all have tropes mixed into their dialogue, and the occasional bullet mixed into their day.

    I think this quote couldn't ring more true, than in GTA "Kill them all. Let God sort 'em out."

      This post is so goddamn true it hurts. Why more people don't realise this is a shame. It really does depict *everyone*. I don't believe it badly depicts women. I believe it badly depicts EVERYONE and the reason it 'badly' depicts them is it's a parody of life.

    That petition also doesn't represent the Australian people by-and-large, let alone AUSTRALIAN Target customers. There are signatures from all over the world determining the decisions of Target.

    I think we've failed to point out that this petition was started by an ex-sex worker who was violently abused, and upset to see the portrayal and abuse of prostitutes in the game. The petition was largely signed by sex workers, as well.

    This is an important fact to note, and really all I'm going to say on the subject. I'm not too sure how I feel about it all.

      Not really sure her being a sex worker has any impact on the overall petition. Being an abuse victim does; however following the line of thinking behind the petition the game should also be pulled from Big W and any other retail stores that don't specifically sell games.

      We should also put up big neon signs outsides EB games to warn parents of the adult content found in their stores.

      It's an important fact to note, and there are two (in my view) equal sides to any debate flowing from it. Either:

      1) she is clearly biased and should remove herself from the debate; or
      2) she has a unique sensitivity to the issue and enables us to consider viewpoints that might otherwise not be considered.

      I can see how you can take away the problem of sexualised violence from GTAV, especially if you have personal experience with sexual violence. The problem I have with that is that it's basically a strawman - the game does not promote or glamourise sexual violence. You can kill prostitutes if you choose to do so, but I'd say few do except in a deliberate bid to do something shocking. GTA has been billed by critics as a murder simulator and back in GTAIII it was established as a "novelty" that you could engage a prostitute then kill her to get your money back. It's a meme, an off colour joke, but not something people do as a matter of course and I don't think that the new "first person mode" does anything to promote the violent acts further - in fact most gamer commentary I've seen on the subject actually finds the violence quite confronting. People don't enjoy the level of brutality the game offers when it's as up close and personal as the first-person mode offers.

      Can this game offend you if you're sensitive to sexual violence? Absolutely, and I would never make any argument that is diminuitive to such a viewpoint. But does it promote or glamourise such violence? No, absolutely not, and taking the viewpoint that your personal capacity to feel offended is the same as something being fact is a logical fallacy.

        Your well thought out, respectfully written and refreshingly verbose contributions are always something I enjoy reading. :)

      While I understand their position, does this stem from a rush of violence and abuse against sex workers as a direct result from people playing GTA V? Are we also to expect convenience store/petrol station workers to band together against the game because people are robbing them at gunpoint?

    People often misdefine "censorship".

    Censorship pertains only to governmental action. No private action is censorship. No private individual or agency can silence a man or suppress a publication; only the government can do so. The freedom of speech of private individuals includes the right not to agree, not to listen and not to finance one’s own antagonists.

    Target is well within its rights to do whatever it wants.

    For the record I don't agree with the decision, but that said in Target's position I'd probably make the same choice.

    It was lose lose for Target. It was always going to be a PR disaster for them. It was all about damage control. Had they ignored the calls for the removal, then had this made its way into the media (and it would have because the complaint was gathering steam), Target would have been dragged through the mud along with GTA V. They'd be the company that sells games that encourage violence against women (as is perceived by the misinformed).

    It's removed the game and it's still a PR disaster, but to the misinformed, it looks like a company that will remove products the consumer deems inappropriate for sale. It's just throwing a bit of water onto the fire. If this makes its way into the mainstream press then Target will look like the good guy to a majority who don't really know a lot about GTA V and just see it as a killing simulator. I admit though that it doesn't bode well for the industry and it just adds fuel to the fire where gamers are trying to redefine games and break them away from negative stereotypes.

    This happens all the time: whenever one person complains to a TV network about a show or advertisement, depending on the nature of the video, the network often complies. It's just damage control to avoid looking like a company that doesn't care about its consumers.

    It's a sad state of affairs but I'm not surprised. Really, Target didn't have a choice. I'm certain they would have discussed this at a corporate level and with PR, and from that perspective it wasn't so much a matter of burying the issue as it was just trying to limit the amount of damage. It was a PR disaster either way. This is a pretty isolated incident so I don't think they're obliged to remove other R18+ products.

      Target did have a choice, I'm tired of hearing that. They would've copped flak from either side, but at the end of the day, people will still shop there, they won't lose a cent of sales from those protesters.

      Last edited 04/12/14 9:45 am

      Your opening statement is flat out wrong. Censorship isn't limited to government action, you may be confusing the subject with the US right to free speech (which only applies to government intervention). Censorship can be enacted by anyone.

      In regards to the commercial side of things – Target could have ignored the petition, rode out the 5 minutes of shaky PR and the budget conscious mums and dads would still continue to shop there and they would have made a fortune out of selling GTAV (not to mention I’m sure there a bunch of bundle deals they can’t do now either). Instead, they bowed down to the petition, showed that it works and next time this group of misguided people get together they will expect to have the same result. What happens next time R* or someone else releases a controversial game? Target might as well not sell any R rated games as this group could easily apply their illogical notions to any of them.

    My question is simple, does this impact Target Country? Target Country in my town is the only place to buy video games for 300km and they're cheaper then buying online because of freight and always have the game day one its a major or minor release, they know they've got the gaming market in a town of 10,000 which has a high population of gamers (at the last local LAN we had over 500 people and the local facebook page has 2000 members). So is this a company wide policy or can certain stores 'opt out' because target here did a sale on GTA where you bought the next gen copy, the last gen one was half price. So basically gta5 on ps3 and ps4 cost 100 for both, I know I went for it got a ps3 in the bedroom and a ps4 in the loungeroom

      Yo ozgameshop has free postage (could be over a certain amount, but I've never had to pay postage) and is generally cheaper than literally anywhere. Never pre-ordered though, so I don't know how on it they are with that, but it's worth looking at.

        It's free for pre-orders and orders over $50. Used to be free for all orders but its still only about $3, which I think is fair.

    Sorry, Target, but a company that acts like this is not one who gets my money.

    ...At least, that's what I would say, but living in a small town, we don't have a lot of options for buying clothes. So, no more buying games from Target, then.

    Internet petitions bother me. They go viral on facebook (i saw the GTA petition running through my feed for the past few weeks). Ran fairly hot with a group of rather religious groups who jump at the first oppertunity to have a compain without investigating further the other side of the issue (but in my opinion, thats why they are religious in the first place)

    Internet petitions are easy and quick to jump on the bandwagon, But how much thought is required to sign a petition?
    I would rather see a proper informed debate of the topic of violence against women and media depictions, rather that knee jerk petitions trying to ban a game that has been out for over 12 months

    it doesn’t sell the Metroid Prime Trilogy on Wii


      That part did make me stop and wonder, trying to recall if they ever did. Can't say for certain though, I think I only specifically remember seeing it (out of those kinds of stores, anyway) at Big W :P Maaaaaybe Kmart.

        Pretty sure I got my copy from there, but like you said: Kmart, Big W who knows?. I think the issue was Nintendo only had a limited run of it. Most copies went to the likes of EB Games.

          I manged to get mine from Myer during their whole game clearance. Pretty lucky.

          There was also someone selling just the empty steelbook cases from the US for cheap at one point, so I have some fancier packaging for it too.

    One thing that I am particularly disgusted at is the sentiment that video games make people re-enact the actions on screen because it is an "active" mode of entertainment.

    Some of the most disgusting things I have seen (or refused to see) have come from movies. The Human Centipede, Saw and all the other "horror" movies which depict men and women being tortured/assaulted/raped. We never hear a damned thing about it. I personally find it more disturbing to see actors portraying these scenes than I do computer rendered avatars. Why? Because regardless of how "real" games may seem these days, it is still not an actual person sitting there screaming. I understand movies are all pretend and they aren't really hurt etc - but its the gut reaction to seeing and hearing an actual person screaming in terror. Video games do not have that effect because you can tell that it isn't real. They are polygons on a screen. Not actors. Some may say that is a fairly weak distinction, but I have never been sickened by a video game but I refuse to watch Saw or Human Centipede because the entire premise of these movies makes me sick.

    Furthermore, how many people have you seen try to smash their heads into bricks to make coins pop up? Smash TV sets to gain power ups? Swing pickaxes at walls to obtain the source block? Dig into the earth to find the Locust Horde? I doubt you would find any fantasy/sci fi re-enactments that were not done in celebration of the game they are re-enacting. Shootings, rape, kidnapping - all of these predate video games. These have been happening since the first humans wanted what the other had. They are not new and these crimes have been committed for millennia. Does it make it any better? Nope. How many rapists have got up from playing a video game and decided "Yup, that's what Im going to do today"? I wouldn't imagine there would be any. Those who have used shooters such as CoD or BF4 as a type of "simulator" for mass shootings already had a screw loose before they even picked up the game. They are the people who regardless of their chosen media (games, movies, novels) would have found their inspiration to commit these atrocities somewhere.

    Games such as GTA V have a storyline which may feature torture, rape or murder but it is not the sole reason for the existence of the game. Usually, there is some form of character development or even redemption. Aside from the eventual killing of the bad guy for the one person left alive, most horror movies cannot claim as much. Yet Target stocks these R18+ movies. You don't see feminists up in arms trying to shut it down.

    I get that sex workers face the brunt of sexual assault as an occupational hazard, but it is incredibly naive to believe that games perpetuate violence against women any more than other media does and furthermore, no sane person would re-enact these things. To claim any media will teach a person how to treat women, how to kill, how to torture - and then compel them to go out and do it? It is a touch on the rediculous side.

    ...And for the fact that it is the person holding the controller who decides what the character is doing in the world itself.

    It has always made me laugh to see, say a news "journalist," mow down pedestrians or kill a prostitute (in GTA, say), and then go on to say how disgusted he is with the game...

    It's like, hey bro, you do realise you choose to do that of your own accord and is just a public display of your own inner psychology of what someone like you does when handed the controller.

    While the rest of us play the story and have some fun, that guy be in a corner somewhere "raping" and murdering and re-affirming to himself how disgusting it is when people do such a thing...

    Last edited 04/12/14 9:44 am

      Don't pretend you've never killed in GTA. You're no different to anyone else. Stop trying to take the moral high ground; it doesn't exist.

        It's nothing to do with moral high ground. It is the fact that for anyone to actually say that GTA V is a game about violence against women is complete nonsense.

        The actual theme of GTA V is that organised crime only brings chaos, deceit, broken families, mental illness and that, in the end, very few people actually succeed in a life of crime, with most people ending up dead or bankrupt.

        Also, to pretend that player agency has nothing to do with choices made in an open-world game is a complete phallusy.

        Last edited 05/12/14 3:05 pm

        And, yes I have killed in GTA. Many times. But I do not pretend that Rockstar made me do it!

        And, like all rational beings, any pre-Homo-sapien irrationalities are kept within the realm of fiction.

        Last edited 05/12/14 3:12 pm

      Fuckin' A! This right here. I feel too much of an emphasis is being placed on the people who created the playing field being required to take responsibility for it, rather than the people who play the game and their terrible, sociopath behaviour in said playing field. Yeah, the depictions of women in the game aren't great (they're pretty shitty in point of fact and I agree with Mark on this), but it's the player who sets the tone for the experience through their actions. This is why I feel the arguments making claims this is a rape simulator or that it 'groom's children into treating women as sub-human is just as flawed as saying GTA IV is ant-Semitic because it has Jewish people I could potentially kill (even though, apparently, no one is saying this). If this partition was talking about something like Rapelay, I wouldn't disagree in the slightest, but with GTA V, some of the arguments levelled at it seem disingenuous and based on assumption, not familiarity with the game.