When It Comes To Grand Theft Auto V And Target, This Might Be Part Of The Problem

When It Comes To Grand Theft Auto V And Target, This Might Be Part Of The Problem

As you are most likely already aware, Target has removed Grand Theft Auto V from stores across Australia. As I’ve already written this morning, I believe one of the root issues here is the attitude that video games are for children. If that’s the case, Target isn’t exactly doing themselves any favours.

Take a look at the above image. “The best toy prices in Australia… guaranteed!” That’s the message as an R18+ rated video game sits alongside Barbie and Peppa Pig.

I mean seriously, what is wrong with this picture? What were they thinking? This is an advertisement and it is essentially informing consumers that Grand Theft Auto V is a toy for children on the same level as Peppa Pig.

Absolutely mind-boggling.

Thanks Leigh!


  • This shit again.

    Parent buys R18+ game for little Johnny because he “really wants it”. Said parent then becomes outraged when they see what, heaven forbid, that R18+ game actually contains.

    Advertisements from retailers like this are not helping. Even supermarket catalogues advertise their alcohol in a clearly marked, separate section to the rest of their products.

    • It’s not as bad as America where a lot of parents don’t care about a game’s content unless it has sexy times in it.

      • Very good point. Headshotting people and seeing their brains explode? Totally cool! Poorly animated and totally unsexy sexy times? WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!

      • One of my friends had a great spin on it. She’d prefer her son to f*** instead of fight, so she knew which she found more objectionable.

        Totally cracked me up.

        • The fact that I would probably prefer the opposite for my hypothetical future daughter probably marks me as a bad parent. 😛

    • And with alcohol to the extent they even put out separate flyers in some cases.. Even though it may be attached to the supermarket like BWS/Woolworths Liquor is in parts of NSW.

      • Actually, now that you mention it, a lot of the time it’s the same here in WA. There’ll often be a separate Liquorland catalogue to the regular Coles one.

        I’m not suggesting retail stores produce entirely separate promotional materials just for videogames, but putting the R18+ GTAV next to Peppa Pig under the heading “The best toy prices in Australia guaranteed” is mind boggling.

        • Yeah, It’s weird, but then again where I am, the coles & woolies catalogues will normally have liquor specials in the back for BWS & Liquorland but they will also send out separate ones with the same lot of junk mail.

          Maybe a different section and not implied it’s for children lumped with the childrens stuff lol..

    • I would like to give honorable mention to some stores which handled it like pros. I worked at Harvey Norman in Mackay when we got GoW, Australia’s first R18+ game. I had to set up an entirely new display, out of reach of children and have every game inside a plastic lock-case. We were also politely threatened with our jobs if we did not ask for ID from everyone and inform them about the games rating.

      I think how it was handled here should really be how it is everywhere, but alas it isn’t. And as Mark mentioned in a previous article GTA definitely has it’s flaws and immorality, but it still definitely the suppliers job to keep customers informed so this kind of backlash doesn’t come back to them.

      • Actually I’m pretty sure the first R18+ game was Ninja Gaiden or something on the Wii of all things.

  • Wow, that’s embarrassingly bad placement or lack of understanding.

    Not nearly as egregious, but another recent example was this catalogue for BigW (noticed on Ozbargin): http://i.imgur.com/VpYFCyk.jpg

    Might be hard to see, but it says “Great new games for kids” with a picture of Bayonetta 2. Not quite GTAV level, but still an MA15+ game that doesn’t really sit alongside other games for kids.

    • I actually have a pic on my phone of a Big W catalogue that has a girl surrounded by christmas presents and a christmas tree, with a footer advertising Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare

  • but video games are the same thing as toys because I bought a nintendo for the kids last year and I can’t tell the difference even though there’s an R18+ rating also the Hostel movies are the same thing as Sesame Street I mean they’re both on DVD right also they call dildos “adult toys” so I’ll chuck a couple of those in the Christmas stocking for little Jimmy I’m sure he’ll love them

    -Target’s “major demographic”

    • Another thing I find disturbing, is that the toys/merch from MA15+ and R18 movies and games are in the little kids section. The game and movie companies regularly market action figures and other merch from adult movies to kids, the whole system could use a revamp. And as a teacher, the number of infants and primary school kids that have watched a lot of MA15+ (and higher) films and TV shows is astounding.

      • Ubisoft recently jumped on the bandwagon in a disturbing way. They are releasing toys that will introduce children to the AC ‘brand.’ The PR spin is that the toys are appropriate while the games are not.
        In the stupid scenario that a kid gets said toy with no knowledge of the brand, are we to believe that a game based on a toy (in a chils mind, at least) isn’t going to bring the full brunt of pester power to the frontlines?
        Yes, parents do need to responsible. Absolutely. That doesn’t change the fact that a ton of marketing ploys used in the industry are despicable.


      • Exactly, the Batman movies are a classic example of that. No way are the movies at all suitable for children, yet they happily sell Batman merch based on those movies to children.

        • You could argue though that there’s a whole lot of child-appropriate batman media out there (e.g. Brave and the Bold), so a kid could like Batman and be indulged in may age appropriate ways. ISee your point though if you are refferring to movie-specific merch, rather than say, Lego batman stuff.

      • I agree completely with this. I see COD and Halo toys in the kids section all the time. If that isn’t designed to attract them to the game then I don’t know what is.

        Always makes me very happy to know about Minecraft

  • I think part of the problem is the R18+ rating is fairly new, and retailers need some more awareness/training of staff. The general view is still that video games are for kids, they come from a past where they kind of were, like cartoons.
    Cartoons grew up and so did video games, but I remember when very inappropriate cartoons were in the kids video sections, it took retailers a while to change the mindset that these things weren’t *all* for kids any more.

    It is easy to laugh or be horrified at Target for this catalogue blunder, but video game consoles are under the ‘toys’ banner in most stores, the mindset hasn’t changed, partially due to the long history from Atari, Nintendo etc. where for many years, they really were toys, and mostly for kids.
    Now obvioulsy games are more like movies, where you should check the classification before buying, but unlike movies that are often kept in genres, games tend to just be all in together on the shelf, which doesn’t help either. It will take a few debacles like this for store managers to get their head around the concept that games should really be treated the same as the DVD section of the store, rather than the toy or gadget section of the store.

    • That may be excusable for retail staff, but the catalogue was likely put together by someone from marketing, who should be more informed. My mind boggles at this.

      • I honestly have never known marketing people to be even vaguely informed. They just would have decided to stick a video game on the ‘toys’ page to capture the three demographics, Action figures (boy/girl), Toddlers (plush peppa pig) and video games (primary/teens), and would have no idea what game was what. The R18+ on the front of the game should have been picked up in the proofs stage, but those people are exactly the staff cut when they axe to meet budgets.

        • I doubt it’s an issue about being ill informed, but rather they were just trying to sell as much as they could and decided to pick those three products based on potential sales. Everyone knows what R18+ means, regardless of it being a new concept for games or not so I can’t see that mattering. The Grand Theft Auto name is also very well known and is up there with Halo, Call of Duty etc. I’m sure they very deliberately picked the title over any of the other late year releases that could have been picked.

          In my eyes the likely explanations are
          a) They simply didn’t care that an R18+ game was pictured next to Peppa Pig. Its not like the advertising itself is offensive, and in store measures should restrict who can buy the game.
          b) They are aiming that entire page at parents. Even though there’s kids toys on there, it is in a medium aimed more at adults (news papers). We’re coming into Christmas season so it’s only natural target is selling kids products to adults who are looking for inspiration for things to give their kids. If they wanted to target the ad at kids then the flyers they put in papers would be a better bet.

      • Haha. Most likely it was put together by a graphic designer who was very well informed, but not allowed to say anything to marketing, who make all the decisions about where stuff goes for what degree of impact. Laws/morality not even a factor. Like… not consciously ruled out, just not even thought of.

    • True, but I would think that these promotional ads go through some kind of vetting process – surely someone in the entire chain from bottom up would have been able to see the big fat R18+ stuck on the case???

      • Like some parents, stores like Target will probably glance at a R18+ sticker and think nothing of it

        • This isn’t a case of ‘glance and ignore’.

          I’m pretty sure that R18 label has been separately added to that image.

          • Does look like the case. Still, are stores taking note of R18 games since they came into place? Growing up in England I only experienced 1 time when I was (rightly) denied buying GTA III funnily enough when I was 17. Instead I went to a different store and bought it no problems with not even a question regarding my age.

            Since R18 games, has it made any impact on how many games are sold to minors? Are stores seeing it as a minor inconvenience to put another label on a product and then market it as a children’s toy as seems to be the case here?

      • Staff cuts, and time pressure. There was a time when layouts where done, multiple people would proofread and check the images, it would go to approvals and yet another round of people would check, change and okay it, the sheet finals would come in and be looked at, and then they would be printed.
        These days it is lucky if it gets proof read or looked at by more than one person, staff is cut to the bone, and everyone is stressed and time poor, and this sort of shit happens.

    • This is the problem. Upper management or even at store management level, they often won’t have experience with video games. What experience they do have is playing games from the 80s and 90s which were targeted at children. The issue is that they don’t take on the opinions and suggestions of younger staff who know a lot about games because, well, why should they? What does a teenager/young-mid 20 something know about running their store/company even though they’re the target consumer group for a lot of their products? It’s the downfall of department stores. Yes they offer great prices, but product knowledge is not part of their portfolio compared to somewhere like EB Games which is staffed largely by gamers

      • Also upper management just like to sell things. I’d bet that most don’t care who the games go to as long as they’re making money

    • I agree, to an extent. But although the R18 rating is new, the GTA franchise has been around for 17 years. The claim that “we didn’t know it wasn’t for kids” is now starting to look like deliberate head-in-the-sand. And that’s probably because they know that kids still want it, even if technically (legally) they’re not allowed.

    • The only reason they were ever toys was so Nintendo could get it into American stores after the video game crash.

    • I started typing out a reply, something like “I disagree, the R18 rating for movies has been around, blah blah blah. I worked at a cinema for years, blah blah blah, and in my experience…” Then I actually thought about what I was saying and realised that although the rating has been around for ages for other media, people fundamentally do not understand our rating system. I frequently saw people take children into borderline 18+ movies (there are plenty of MA15+ movies that should be 18+). Taranteno films, for one, but they’re pretty silly; the worst that I can bring to mind was a father who took what looked like his 8-10 year old daughter into Harry Brown. He left, wanting his money back half way through.
      If people still can’t (or won’t) understand the rating system for movies, how are we to expect them to understand them for games, when games come with the added stigma that they’re toys.

      That’s for the layperson, the consumer. Store managers take their cues from head office, and among their roles, those people need to be abreast of the issues in the marketplace in which they compete. Marketing is produced higher up than the individual store level as well, and good marketing involves targeting the right audience with the right product. This blunder, and Target and K-Mart’s subsequent removal of GTAV, is just evidence of a lack of will to compete in this marketplace where they are consistently getting beaten down by JB and online retailers.

    • R18 rating is NOT new, new for games? Sure, but that big fat “18+” has been around since the invention of porn.

      Anyone that grew up in the 70s knows what R18 means on a movie. There is no excuse for bad parenting.

      The photo of the catalog above is appalling, but so is the whole GTA saga over the last few days. If a “family” store wants to save the children, then ALL 18+ content needs to be removed; games, movies, books. I went to Target to pick up a movie with my daughters, they wanted a Barbie move. Found them on one of the stands in the middle of the walkway, Barbie collection on one row the Saw series on another. I wish I’d kept the photo I took.

      Even EB games keeps the 18+ titles in a separate section, above eye-level of kids. … and thats probably the first time I’ve ever stood up for EB.

  • People still read newspapers? But yeah, it’s always been the case that someone in marketing just doesn’t have a clue what they’re selling and put stuff together.

    Video games. Games. Games are for children. It’s a stigma that’s never gone away and tbh never will. Our hobby is for immature people and we should all grow up and stop wasting our time playing childish toys. That will always be the view of the majority of people, no matter how many people grow up playing games themselves

  • This makes me sad.
    Not only because it belittles something I enjoy (Games, not Peppa Pig. Well, actually. Barbie though, forget it.) as an activity only for children, but it shows disrespect for parents trying to do the right thing. GTA is clearly an item for adults, it says so right on the box.
    Putting it in the section of a catalog targeted at children just makes parents jobs harder when kids see it and want it ‘because all their friends are playing it’.

  • Big W had this same argument a few months back with Watchdogs, A mother complained on their facebook page saying it was unlawful to have an R18+ game in a catalog next to G rated games. She also made some mention of it being on the shelves next to kids games from memory. Why don’t shops just have a section for family friendly games and another for MA and over? most places i go they have enough shelves to be able to do it.

    • Didn’t they have this in JB when the R18 rating was first brought in? And then like 10 seconds later they were all mixed together.

      I for one would LOVE if they roped the R18 stuff off like a seedy video store porn room.

    • Or that recent article about “Barbie wants to be a Computer Programer”
      I’d say that shit hurts young minds more than GTA5 (and it’s marketed at them unlike this R18+ game)

  • The R18 label on that image has been digitally added. That’s an extra layer of deliberate thought that went into creating this page.

  • Well games are legally only for kids. Anybody over the age of 12 who still plays and talks about videogames are obviously sad losers who failed getting their parents to pay their way through school.

    • Many months back I went to a work function to talk with a batch of clients over some beers. They were talking about footy and cricket and tennis and asking me my opinion on line-ups and things, and when I smiled and made mention I wasn’t following any of Teh Sportsball, they were confused and asked what I followed… I advised them that actually, I’m a geek, I play video games, read comics, anime, y’know. All that nerd stuff.

      They expressed sincere surprise, remarking that I didn’t look like a geek. In their minds, people who play video games and such look like the nerds from Big Bang Theory. Not wearing a $200 business shirt with casually-loosened tie, draped Hugo Boss jacket and reclined in a bar, casually nursing an expensive single-malt scotch with a couple ice-cubes.

      And to their credit, they then tried to talk about seeing ads for the latest games consoles and isn’t it amazing what technology can do now, and one of them has a nephew who’s really into games and other attempts to reach out… I steered things back to what little of sportsball I do know.

      They were clearly nice guys, just very ill-informed.
      And that’s where the real problem is.

      • Why do I get the feeling you only posted this comment to show off your current position in your chosen career path… 😛

        Anyways, what those guys don’t get is that they were being much bigger geeks talking about all that sports stuff.

          • Ok! I get it! You’re more succesful than me! You can afford to live in a 4 bedroom house by yourself! People owe YOU for student loans! You’ve got two fast cars but drive around in a limo! Stop rubbing it in! You already had a career path mapped out in highschool and already started in Uni while I had trouble getting over my lack of encouragement and suppression via bullying and now just coasting along live trying to figure out what I want to do with my life as everybody else figured that out a decade ago! Just staaaahp!

          • Heh.

            This is reminding me of when I was telling a woman about how after I finished watching Intersellar, I went outside and saw a bunch of guys seriously nerding it up about gravity and agricultural sustainability, extra-solar colonization and Newtonian physics while their female friends were all standing around looking incredibly impatient and frustrated at the fact that they’d got all dressed up pretty-like only to be completely ignored by the boys. Especially when they had just experienced emotional trauma at the hands of a movie which is brutal in its exploration of the power of isolation, loneliness, and familial love.

            MY point was about how amusing it is, how oblivious young men can be, my female friend chose to fixate on how I’d mentioned that the girls were attractive, and clearly my story was about wishing I could be teenager again.

      • would gladly share a single malt with you, your posts are most often well worded, intelligent and sensible.

  • This ad is now going to be shown on the gruen show, possibly a nomination for the facepalm ad for this year

  • Again read the catalogue properly before posting this crap. The top section whcih mentions toys is saying to check out their toy catalogue. Not referring to the information below it!

    • actually the ACCC would surely beable to fine Target for placing an R18 product in with the childrens section

  • I guess a big R18 sticker is better then kids reading drug use and sex scenes then turning to mum and dad asking what these things are. Still for this to be on the same page as childrens toys is just disappointing. In the words of my mother ” I’m not angry just disappointed”

  • I was sitting playing Sleeping Dogs last weekend. My wife who speaks Cantonese clearly told me that when we have children that game is on the banned list and must be gotten rid of because of the really bad foul language in the Cantonese parts.

    I have since decided not to have children in protest against censorship.

  • Nailed it Mark. Also I’d like to point out that it’s still alright to enjoy playing GTA and playing with your Peppa Pig doll…don’t you judge me

    • There are two “*” marks next to the title name in the ad. I’m guessing the footnote relates to the fact this item is not meant for people under the age of 18, etc…

      So a complaint lodged with AD Standards will not yield anything more than an open and shut incident.

      • Plus the, we realised our mistake and no longer offer this product for sale would be a pretty quick end to any complaint

  • In South Australia, stores have to stock R18+ games and dvds in a separate area from the rest. When this came in, Target chose not to stock R18+ products in their stores though you could still order them through the online store. I don’t know if they changed their minds later (TBH it’s not my go-to place for gaming purchases).

  • “Another thing I find disturbing, is that the toys/merch from MA 15+ and R 18+ movies and games are in the little kids section.”

    Including from R 18+ movies? Don’t think that’s right.

    “Exactly, the Batman movies are a classic example of that.”

    Yeah but the Batman movies from the last 10 years are all M rated. He said MA 15+ and R 18+.

    I acknowledge that toys based on M (and higher) rated movies and/or games probably shouldn’t be in the kids section of anywhere. This is similar to back in 2002 when the Spider-Man ‘reboot’ was seen by a lot of kids according to a media report, and it appealed to kids despite the M rating with corresponding violence level. Lotta parents took their kids to see it. A 6yo can go see it (or buy a game) on their own. There’s no age restriction with M.

    There’s not much difference between these:

    PG: Parental guidance recommended (additionally used to say “for children under 15 years” long ago but not anymore)

    MA 15+: Parental guidance (‘accompanied’) required by law for persons under 15 years.

    ^ Not much difference IMO.

    Doesn’t “parental guidance” mean sitting next to the kid explaining things especially if the kid has a question? (in terms of movies and home formats)

    “But although the R18 rating is new, the GTA franchise has been around for 17 years. The claim that “we didn’t know it wasn’t for kids” is now starting to look like deliberate head-in-the-sand.”

    Yes but from 1997 to 1999 the first few GTA games, although rated MA 15+, were top down perspective so were nowhere near the level of vivid-ness as the 3D GTA games from 2001 onwards. Also the GTA games didn’t combine mass popularity with attracting huge controversy until the aforementioned 2001 with GTA3.

    (Note: A Colour Gameboy GTA game from 1999 was only rated M though, as well as a Gameboy Advance GTA game from 2004).

    There would be a lot of Kmart / Target employees (and people in general) who have never heard of the GTA games over the last 17 years not to mention what is the appropriate age to play them. But yeah that’s no excuse for what this article talks about.

    Back to the original part of this post.. are there any examples that “the toys/merch from MA 15+ and R 18+ movies and games are in the little kids section.” ?

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