(This Title Has Been Deemed Offensive, Sorry For The Inconvenience): GTA V & Offensive Content

Politically correct cartoon

It is possible you already know, actually it is almost guaranteed you will know but for those who don’t I’m gonna give you the short and sweet. Australian sex workers among concerned others started a petition to Target to remove GTA V from their shelves due to the portrayal of women in the game. This petition along with some customer feedback got Target to remove the game from their shelves. People got upset, as in humorously upset in the case of petitioning to have Target remove the Bible. The point is that people have gotten very upset, and for good reason.

Does the game show women in a negative light? Yes. Does the game involve having sex with a prostitute for health that you can then kill afterwards to get that money back? Yes. These things exist and have offended people, however my question is this: What kind of world is one where people don’t ever get offended? Offensive is a personal stance, an opinion. As with all opinions they can be backed with evidence and a mass number of like minds but an opinion nonetheless. Oxygen offends me, now what world? Oh wait I’m a single person, my madness isn’t even considerable as reasonable unless I have a damn posse.

Let’s take a look at the reasons that people are giving, starting with the words on the petition “It’s a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get ‘health’ points”. Okay. Interesting. Encourages to murder women for entertainment. Except that the game encourages murder of anything and everything you want regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation or what have you. Incentive to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get “health” points. Let us just clarify, you can, since GTA 3, drive near a hooker and get them to get in the car assuming you have a nice enough car. Then you take them to an area that is away from the public eye and have sex with them for health. You can then kill them to take that money back, this is a fact. However, not only do you have to google that mechanic as the game tells you nothing about it, the incentive to kill them is….like what 100 bucks or so, maybe 200 if you chose every kind of act in GTA 5. That amount of money in GTA is hilariously minuscule, you walk around with a million dollars easy in GTA. There is no incentive to kill the prostitute unless you either are really attached to that amount of money or can’t be assed to kill 2 random people on the street for their cash, this amount of money is trivial as can be.

“grooming yet another generation of boys to tolerate violence against women” I played GTA, I have been playing violent games since a young age because my parents understood I can differentiate clearly between reality and depictions of fiction. Mind you an 18 game wasn’t the experience of 9 year old me, I didn’t go near things like that till early teen years, I was mature for my age not a damn adult before my voice even dropped. Guess what? I don’t tolerate unnecessary violence done to anyone. I strongly believe this is a result of my experiences and my upbringing, something that far too many people don’t give credit to when gaming is an easy target. Yes, I was exposed to violent video games…and movies, books, songs and all kinds of things. The important decider to who I am? Being smart enough to know one source of information is not enough to form a belief around. One movie says one thing, one book says another, one song seems to agree with some but disagree with others. Those who say these games groom us are ignoring the thousands of other things that could groom us, yet haven’t.

You know what upsets me the most? When a mother was told by Target to go to a different store to get the game, she replied it was a hassle to go across town to get it “for my 9 year old son”. I almost exploded. That vein on my head throbbed and my heart began to feel heavy as I became so unbelievably angry at this woman. This is the problem, she is going to give this kid the game and leave him be. Yes I know before I said I was exposed to violent video games at an early age, however I can tell my parents were still cautious and aware of what I was shown and talked to me about it. You get a sense for these parents who go get their kids the newest GTA or COD, they use them as babysitters and let their kids encase themselves in negativity, too busy to give a crap. Gaming does not make us who we are, we are a sum of our life and if you live a life of only one perspective that is all you will know, not everyone is smart enough to think they might need a second opinion and then a third. Hell grown adults to this day take everything they see as fact like some sort of mind numbed moron.

“To see this violence that we lived through turned into a form of entertainment is sickening and causes us great pain and harm”. It is a form of entertainment like practically everything else, what you think it isn’t cruel to show any depictions of poor people since there are people who might be homeless or were homeless viewing them? I don’t want to bring up painful memories for anyone, however the solution would be to never bring it up, bleach my vocabulary of anything that offends. Guess what we have? Next to nothing left. Do we remove all offensive or negative imagery as not to do more harm to victims? No death as to not offend people who have suffered from loss? I’n not saying offensive content should never be questioned, I am asking people what is the alternative.

Do we raise “another generation of boys” in a world where we tell them no hooker has ever been beaten, only to see them shocked when the reality is they are? GTA depicts life as we have come to know it, all from the view of a criminal who does whatever he wants to whoever he wants. In the criminal world, there likely aren’t many role models for women, or men, or anyone. These are bad people, bad people do bad things, to have them do anything else would be misleading. Really think about the kind of world you want to live in, where we can’t even curse at someone because it might offend them.

Fuck is synonymous with sex, sex is bad to talk about. Shit comes from the anus, the anus is a hole thus it benefits men. Calling anyone a dick or anything only one kind of people have is wrong because it is unrepresentative. Moron? Nope there are people with loved ones who are mentally challenged and take offence. Twit? Reminds them of the book The Twits, which reminds them of their childhood and the bullying. Cunt? Nope, that is a vagina and it suggests being a woman is somehow an insult. Toss pot? My mother had a pot once, till it was tossed at her head and she died. Prick? I was once bitten by a hedgehog, can’t be having that brought up again.

Some of you may be thinking that a world where everyone is nice to each other is a better world or something along those lines. Shame really that such a world doesn’t exist for human beings, we don’t all get along and some people really deserve to be called a cunt. The primal part of humanity is always present, the part of us that incorporates violence, sex and pleasures of many kinds, Even if we remove all media of offensive content it will still come about the same way it came about in the first instance. Instead focus on teaching children what is right and what is wrong, talk to your damn kids about what they see, of course don’t let them see certain things too early as an undeveloped mind can go awry.

Finally, let us look at Target. Target took this game down as  “we feel the decision to stop selling GTA 5 is in line with the majority view of our customers”. I call immense bullshit on that, it was a small percentage of your customers size who signed the petition and I sincerely doubt you asked anyone who wasn’t complaining about the game nor anyone who fully understood it. This was a publicity decision to maintain an image of “family friendly”. I also call bullshit on that they are family friendly, not every single item they sell is something of all ages, ignoring the logic of selling a mature rated game on the shelves of a family friendly” store. Some say what they did is censorship. It is not, it is removal of an item from Target, a single company while the game can still be bought elsewhere. They are not editing the content they are simply refusing within their rights as a store to not sell a product that will damage business. How much business I personally think is fickle in comparison to the money making powerhouse of GTA 5, but then what do I know about business huh?

A petition that misunderstood the contents of the game. A company that justified a reasonable decision with an illogical reason. A hatred of violence against women blinding victims and over-reactive parents to the situation. There is so much that has gone wrong with this event that it is hard to decipher much from it other than “people don’t like gaming violence, what else is new”. I hope maybe I clarified a few things about it and the problems that this event further proves exist in so many people. Next time you see something that offends you or hear about something that offends someone, ask yourself or them: what is your solution, remove all offensive content in the world? I’d love to hear their answer.

Oh boy this is a lengthy one, sorry for pulling you away for so long. So let me hear what has offended you or someone you know recently. What do you think should be done about things that are offensive? There is clearly a misunderstanding of the games content based on the petition, do you think people will ever endeavour to understand something they don’t like? Thanks for the read and I’ll see you later.

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  1. #1 by alexiamay on December 19, 2014 - 8:37 pm

    Well, I don’t agree with everything you wrote in this article but it was very interesting. I totally recognize that in most of the case, the biggest problems come from the parents irresponsibility but it doesn’t mean that video-games are flawless. In fact, if the gamer can abuse people in game but can’t be nice with them (and not hurting someone isn’t being nice), the game is clearly oriented. Is this orientation a problem? I don’t know.
    Until recently I would have said that it wasn’t something of matter but I’m not so sure of that now… Have you heard of this study about people playing games and then giving chocolate or chili to strangers? The people who have played villains tended to give more chili to the strangers than the people playing good characters.
    Of course that still doesn’t mean that if you kill people in game you will start killing people IRL (I would be a serial killer if that was the case) but that is a proof that video-games may have a deeper impact that what we thought, don’t you think so?

    Like

    • #2 by Prof.mcstevie on December 19, 2014 - 8:45 pm

      It also depends wildly on the psychological profile of the person. I felt like playing an evil guy in Infamous 2 as I’d just played goody two shoes JRPG heroes and felt like hurting some people, still I’d be the good guy when I thought I should, the fact that there is a game alters how we perceive things.

      An outside person might see me as heartless but in the games terms I am doing what I need to progress and move on, that however is not any representation of me but rather my willingness to accept the premise of the game at hand.

      Like

  2. #3 by The Otaku Judge on December 15, 2014 - 9:06 pm

    Australia’s hard line stance on video games makes my eyes roll. Wahey they banned GTA in one store. The game can easily be be bought elsewhere and said store still sells violent titles like Call of Duty.

    Like

  3. #4 by crazysnake513 on December 10, 2014 - 1:25 am

    Great post, I really enjoyed reading this. The sad thing is so many people find something offensive, game, movie, what ever it may be. But a solution to even violent media, I couldn’t possibly think of one. Of course you could talk away rap, video games, and yet people wouldn’t be pleased. At times it seems people are just looking for some way to start something, to maybe get attention?

    I also highly agree on the point of parents talking to their children, and knowing about the games they play. I to was playing certain games at a young age, I’ve never killed anyone, I’ve never even been that much on fighting. Its just a hard thing to pinpoint, because we will always have parents who will continue to do this.

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  4. #5 by A Voice on December 9, 2014 - 6:41 am

    (1) Please take some care to edit your entries. Truth be told, I believe that you’re aware of the sort of things that need to be addressed so I won’t go into what would be needless detail. I understand that WordPress has some issues with basic editing functionality -and it irritates me to no end when I try to do really simple things that either work in MS Word but no here or, my favourite, work once but not again (like double line breaks to create sections in a long entry)- but you really need to take more care with your work.

    You’ve got a lot to say, it’s worth reading, and it’s worth being well-said.

    (2) Can you provide a link to this bit of news? I’m not familiar with it and would like to take a closer look.

    (3) It seems to me that this amounts to people being trivially offended or having incoherent standards. The last is fairly obvious, the former not so much. To be trivially offended is to be offended either for the sake of it (bandwagoning comes to mind) or because of a lack of critical analysis. A solid, if contentious example is found in Sarkeesian’s ‘work’ where, while some very real points exist, so much of the forest is missed for the trees.

    It’s important to consider why something is considered offensive or why, personally, it’s offensive in order to have an intelligent discussion and potentially do something meaningful. Knee-jerk reactions, faux-sentiment and being trivially offended are not appropriate.

    I’m offended in some real way by the GTA games while my girlfriend really enjoys them.

    Why am I offended? It’s another RPG where the game’s design allows the player to break the narrative by allowing them to do most anything with most anything in the game and with inarguably few narrative consequences. It seems to me that a discussion about this sort of thing and how it exists in more ‘open-world’ games is important relative to video game design, QA and player expectations.

    But do I find particular things in the game offensive? No, not at all. Perhaps it’s because I’m a bit more progressive or, more likely, because these things happen in real life and some video games are aiming at being more that ‘mere games’ (I don’t think there’s a need to unpack that). The GTA series are a slew of examples, while the Withcer series and the BioShock series are further examples. It seems to me that if people are offended by the inclusion of less savoury elements in video games they should work hard to remove them, instead, from day-to-day existence so that there’s no reason to represent them in a video game.

    Like

    • #6 by Prof.mcstevie on December 9, 2014 - 10:21 pm

      I edit what I notice but in such a lengthy article I miss much. The layout often suffers from very large paragraphs due to the width of the post writing section being different from the final posts layout.

      There are multiple sites that have struck up about this topic, I can’t think of any particular link but a simple search of Target and Grand Theft Auto 5 should find you all you need.

      I believe an open world game that posits freedom would suffer from having too much narrative consequence, even if there are police that know of any murder in Grand Theft Auto alongside citizens who can take a photo of you and send the police after you.

      Also, not trying to start anything but you have made at least 3 spelling mistakes in your comment. A small comment is a lot more practical to edit and check than a 1700 post written as the words come, not excusing myself in any way I just felt it was interesting to point it out.

      Like

    • #7 by A Voice on December 10, 2014 - 1:23 am

      “I believe an open world game that posits freedom would suffer from having too much narrative consequence[.]”

      My argument has been that there should be two game modes for these sorts of titles, one that is narrative-driven and one that is more open. This would allow these games to shine as the RPGs that they are while, at the same time, allow players the freedom to pretty much go wild. There are several ways this can be done and I’m certain you can see one or two, so I’ll just leave it off here with that little bit of gesturing.

      “Also, not trying to start anything but you have made at least 3 spelling mistakes in your comment.”

      It’s a little bit of a dick move to make such a comment, all things considered, given the fact that WordPress doesn’t have a preview function and the eyes miss what the eyes miss. My comment was arguing for perfection or anything of the sort, rather for a more comprehensive editing in order to make reading easier. There’s a lot of potential in your writing and it’s really great to see someone taking a more in-depth look at these issue, all it needs is more attention to how it’s presented.

      Like

    • #8 by Prof.mcstevie on December 10, 2014 - 1:37 am

      Some open worlds implement some RPG elements wholly more than others, I suppose it can exist but to not only make a large and content filled open world but to have two modes? A large and financially dangerous endeavour to say the least.

      I know there are some issues with my post paragraphing, I see the post written out and it looks alright, then it looks bulkier to my eyes when I see it afterwards as I’m still looking for the preview button.

      I only pointed out the spelling mistakes because WordPress does at least have a spellchecker and it was a short comment, I’m fine with a few grammar issues or misspellings as actual words but the squiggly red line under a mistake just seems like something that would be obvious and a very quick fix. I’m going to look into finding the preview button on the posting page so I can get a better hold of how it will be displayed versus how I see it typed up, I’m just sort of anal about a small mistake that is underlined is all.

      Like

    • #9 by A Voice on December 10, 2014 - 1:28 am

      For some reason I cannot respond directly to your comment or mine in order to make a sensible note. WordPress needs better functionality, that’s really all there is to it. In my comment below this sentence (“My comment was arguing for perfection or anything of the sort[…]”) should read: “My comment was not arguing for perfection or anything of the sort[…]”. Please redact my comment to include the word ‘not’ in the sentence in question since I’m unable to do so.

      I swear…comment nesting is an issue, there is no preview functionality for comments, no way to edit comments…it’s like Congress got together and said ‘hey, we’ve got a great idea for blogging software’ and just had a go at it.

      Like

  5. #10 by EvilKittenator on December 8, 2014 - 8:34 pm

    I was just talking about this topic this weekend actually. I am of the mindset that the way we interpret information is on us. If something offends us, we let it offend us. If we don’t like what we are thinking, then we can just change the way we think about it. Too many people will just blame other things that they have no control over when really, all we have control over is ourselves.

    I can look at a situation many different ways. Say I see a friend on the street and I try to stop and say hi to them and they are really short with me and then walk away. I can either think that person is a huge dick. How dare they, I thought we were friends. OR… I can think, maybe they are in a rush or are having a bad day or have their boss breathing down their neck to finish something. I am going to be much happier with the latter… and it is all within my control.

    Like

    • #11 by Prof.mcstevie on December 8, 2014 - 8:37 pm

      We cannot judge anyone or anything from a small window of their entirety, it is by the book prejudice and helps no one.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. #12 by flyerwoods on December 8, 2014 - 8:30 pm

    Awesome read. It’s a sticky situation. Does Target have every right to take GTA V off the shelves, absolutely! Do people have a right to be against playing GTA V, yes again. But what people need to start understanding is that you can live in tolerance without embrace.
    This stands in many political aspects as well, not just with game content. Some people are for gay marriage, some against. Some love GTA V, some despise it and what it stands for. However, just because a movie exists doesn’t mean you need to see it if you think it doesn’t stand within your moral compass or beliefs. Anyone is allowed to believe what they wish to believe; however, does that mean that you can infringe upon what another wants or believes as long as it is still within the law? Absolute not, and the ones who voted to have GTA V taken out of Target had no right to vote on what everyone received who shopped there; however, Target should have the right, as a corporation, to decide if they sold it or not.
    People will do bad things regardless of whether they have a violent game or not. I am certain that most of the people who do actually commit atrocious acts as referred to in GTA V do not play video games to have fun. If GTA V taught young adults to be criminals, that would be like saying that playing Banjo-Kazooie taught me to be a bird and a bear simultaneously… while also learning to fly and shoot eggs out of various places on my body. I can promise you now that this never took place.

    My final thoughts refer to terrible parenting, but how can that be controlled? Not really. It is not the things which you see every day that influence you as much as your teachers. If you are being a bad teacher to your children, to not instill in them a sense of goodness and justice and morality, then that is your fault, sirs and madams. Not a damn game’s. If you are going to be a terrible parent, then don’t have kids.

    Like

    • #13 by Prof.mcstevie on December 8, 2014 - 8:33 pm

      I too can promise you that I never learned to fly and shoot eggs. The scary mothers said that violent games made you violent so imagine my young mind being subject to vicious disappointment when I materialized no such eggs nor acquired the ability to fly after a session of Banjo.

      Liked by 1 person

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