Grand Theft Are You Fcking Kidding Me

Discuss

224 Responses to “Grand Theft Are You Fcking Kidding Me”

  1. glugenwog says:

    184: You are absolutely right, and I wish people on both sides of this would acknowledge what you’re saying. Crying censorship is a really lame decoy.

    185: Here’s kind of what I’m thinking. Kids who grew up with video games don’t always give them up as they mature. This has resulted in a very large market for more mature gamers. This is a fact, and I have no idea how you can say that Rockstar is specifically targeting 12-16 year olds.

    Your point that they have surreptitious ad methods is a good one, and I really don’t know much about these stealth marketing methods. I’m not being facetious here, and there’s obviously more to the GTA ad campaign than I knew about if what you say is true, but can you explain what they’re doing to market this to kids? (Other than making a product that inherently and unfortunately seems to attract kids like flies to honey).

  2. glugenwog says:

    Nm Jack, I just saw your other post.

  3. Lauren O says:

    #18 – Umm, I’m not sure why you think feminism is responsible for “male psyche simplification.” Feminism is against the gender essentialism that stereotypes men as brutes who can’t control their instincts. Feminists want everyone to be considered “complex, intellectual beings who desire more out of life,” regardless of sex or gender.

    Also it is a mystery to me why #20 got disemvowelled, but I suppose that is why I’m not a moderator.

  4. Antinous says:

    Bravo to her for posting critical comments. I assume that she doesn’t allow comments on her blog because her topics are catnip for the criminally insane.

  5. themagus says:

    “I’m just saying that encouraging a scenario in which you have sex with a prostitute and then kill her to get your money back is an example of misogyny. Fin.”

    its not encouraging, it’s enabling.
    you can play the whole game through and not do that.
    you can do what you want inside the game and, yes, there are consequences. if you choose to kill randomly you get thrown in jail.

    now explain to me how is that a bad thing?

  6. thekevinmonster says:

    I just find it sad that in a world where the economy is collapsing, where the government is investigating whether the #2 Big Dog country in the world is poisoning medication intentionally or unintentionally, in a world where greed has run rampant and head-in-sand attitudes threaten to destroy the actual physical nature of our whole planet…

    … that people are upset over a video game that provides escapist violent entertainment and skewers the society that I just described.

    *cliche* Of All The Things To Worry About… */cliche*

  7. nico416 says:

    I mean, why not give people an option to rent a studio apartment and sleep all day and then get a job as a barista.

    I’m so buying that game when it comes out. Actually never mind, it’s a bit too close to home.

  8. Daemon says:

    @l’elk
    That reminds me. Shouldn’t the children all be destroyed by now?

  9. nico416 says:

    Y’know, maybe feminists should try to improve their image by doing things that actually help people? The only time I ever seem to hear of them is when they’re ruining peoples fun, and, consequentially, I tend to be pretty dismissive of them.

    oh give me strength…
    You clearly have no idea what you’re even talking about.
    Feminsts are some of the most hardcore activists I know.
    They’re staffing the women’s shelters and the domestic violence and sexual assault hotlines.
    They’re working tirelessly to ensure that women everywhere have control over their bodies, futures, and reproductive functions.
    They’re trying desperately to call attention to women’s plights in Darfur, the Congo, Iraq, and many, many other places where women are living with horrific violence everyday.
    I could go on, but, hey, open a book sometime. Or if that’s too hard, take a look around the internet. You won’t have to look very hard. You can start with Feministing.
    And yes, they’re calling out sexism in media and pop culture, NOT to censor it, but in the hopes that by talking about it we’ll start to question the images we consume and think about what they mean.
    And yeah, words like “patriarchy” are gonna come up now and again. Sorry that’s making you so uncomfortable and “ruining your fun”.

  10. Snowrunner says:

    So what do you have to say about the cause? Or was that just a way of silencing critics. Because, when you say that people should talk about the cause rather than the symptoms, and then you don’t talk about the cause…

    I doubt you can summarize all the evils in the world in a blog post.

    But fine, let’s concentrate about the violence against hookers. If the profession itself wouldn’t be so marginalized the violence against them would probably be less of an issue.

    How often do crooks go to the cops if another crook takes them out?

    As long as there is a perception in society that what these women (and man) are doing is wrong (legally) they are automatically marginalized.

    But here’s the thing: I cannot see the writers at feministing go out and say: Legalize Prostitiution, because the sense I got over the extend of the ensuing discussion is that they are considering prostitution in and on itself being wrong.

    I wonder if in their ideal world a woman shouldn’t really do anything that “serves” a man, being a waitress in a restaurant (clearly, the man is just doing this to put the woman in her place) or being a secretary (oh, another round of the male dominance over the women).

    And hey, criticize the game all you must, but criticize it as a game, not as the ill of all that is wrong in the world, and at least PLAY it. I know I know, it is in vogue these days to hook into one little piece and then blog about it, but I really wish that would be less of an ongoing theme. *sigh*

  11. Silas says:

    I’m with madprime, here. This isn’t amusing.

    Grand Theft Auto IV doesn’t bother me, but Susannah Breslin moronic perspective is offensive. Moreover, this is not an honest investigation, it’s a sophomoric attempt to draw attention, to draw ire (not unlike the Grand Theft Auto promo). The attempt is working, too, as evidenced by this post, which is my first. Here’s the rub: Breslin can write whatever she likes, but I’m disappointed with BoingBoing for propagating this thoughtless, sensationalistic nonsense.

  12. Jack says:

    I already aired my dismay that Boing Boing is helping to promote this overhyped game, but geez louise, so nobody can say ANYTHING critical about hyper-violent and overly sexual games like GTA that are clearly marketed to teens?

    Sorry but you know there is something amiss when people can’t call crud for crud. And what is AMAZING about the current GTA release is how much they are couching what they do as being “satirical”. How many new blurbs and reports repeat that “This is a satire…” mantra?

    This isn’t satire. This is a mass-marketed misogynist game that is specifically targeted towards teens no matter what Rockstar’s company line is. They know their market. They know how to push the right buttons. And it’s amazing how many people are drinking the proverbial Kool Aid.

    Anyone remember when video games weren’t all based on sociopathic murder fantasies?

  13. Jack says:

    @ #187 POSTED BY GLUGENWOG
    Can you explain what they’re doing to market this to kids?
    Read what you said immediately after that.

    (Other than making a product that inherently and unfortunately seems to attract kids like flies to honey.)
    The “unfortunate” you’re claiming is your spin on this. The reality is they are in full control of what they create and how it looks/acts/behave. If they wanted to create a game where there were male hookers as well as female hookers, they could have created it. If they wanted to allow comedians in their comedy club to be shot, they could.

    Maybe instead of studying deep marketing, you should step back and not look at outward ad efforts, but more the look/shape/feel of what they create.

    If I setup a bakesale stand and decide to sell cupcakes that are pink, that act in itself is making my product be targeted towards girls. And if I made it blue, it would be inherently marketed towards boys. But I don’t have to put up a sign or sticker or even say anything to do that.

    THAT is at the most basic level how marketing works.

    Homer Simpson learned this when shooting shotguns outside of the Bowlarama.

  14. glugenwog says:

    I actually got killed by a woman pedestrian in the game because I assaulted her male friend (by accident, actually, a cross-fire situation). She pulled a rather large magnum and shot me in the head.

  15. Lauren O says:

    Decius, no one is arguing that the game should be banned or censored. We’re just criticizing it. People have every right to buy, sell, or play it. We are just pointing out some things that we don’t like about it. Is that okay with you?

    Also, I don’t think anyone is arguing that playing GTA will make people go out and kill hookers (I’ve read some of the responses in this thread more thoroughly than others, so I can’t say for sure). I think people are railing against a strawman there. What I am arguing (and I won’t speak for anyone else) is that glorifying or encouraging or even enabling misogyny affects attitudes, especially those of the young men who are primarily playing this game and whose culture tends toward misogyny in the first place.

    I remember being at a party in high school with my boyfriend and a bunch of his friends where they were playing whatever version of GTA was out at the time. They were endlessly amused by the whole fucking hookers and then killing them thing, much more so than just killing random folks on the street, and made a lot of crude comments to that effect. Did I think any of those boys would grow up to murder a hooker? Not for one second. Did I think it was reinforcing a view that they had that prostitutes aren’t actually people and you can treat them like trash because of that? Well, yeah, pretty much. And it’s that view that leads certain, unhinged people to actually commit violence against prostitutes, which is kind of a widespread problem.

  16. meeneecat says:

    jack, can i be your friend?

  17. Takuan says:

    would I play this game? No. But mostly because I don’t get enough back from any video game to warrant the time. How do I know this? I played games. But not any more.

    Would I let my children play this game? I wouldn’t buy it for them. Up to say age 14, I’d say no. Would I stop them from getting it themselves after 14? No. Would I continually express my disapproval?
    Oh yes.

    Bottom line; if you haven’t raised your children to KNOW robbery, rape and murder are wrong, no amount of games or no games is going to matter.

    I would be curious to hear from people who have been raised on video war games and have actually gone to war. Do they let their children play them?
    I also suspect police, front line social workers and emergency room personnel also have views about violence games when it comes to their kids.

  18. glugenwog says:

    Wake up, guys, video games no longer need to be targeted at teenagers. There is a huge demographic out there that buys video games, which obviously includes teenagers, but it does not rely on them.

    As a male in my twenties who plays video games, I can say that everyone I know plays games to some degree. The argument that Rockstar is somehow secretly marketing GTA to teens is incorrect. They aren’t and they don’t need to. Just like the makers of R-rated movies, these guys will make plenty of money off of this new generation of gamers.

    And please stop accusing people who play games as being somehow stuck in childhood, or immature. I have a job and a wife. I hit the gym regularly, and participate in triathlons. I only play games when I have free time, and you know what? I’d appreciate you not judging me for what I choose to do when I relax.

  19. Rathia says:

    The irony of using the word ‘polysyllabic’ to insult polysyllabic discourse is amusing.

  20. Antinous says:

    Let’s subject this to a simple litmus test. Replace the prostitutes with Jews. Queers. Small children. Cats.

  21. Enochrewt says:

    You people realize that because you’re talking about it like this R* has won, right?

  22. Art says:

    “Jack” speaks the truth.

    The unvarnished, unpopular and un-hip truth.

  23. sherrold says:

    So, I’m a geek, and proud. And one of the signs of geekness (to me, at least), is that years later, I can still be arguing with my geek friends about whether the time travel worked/made sense in some B SF movie, that we all loved, and have seen multiple times.

    It’s normal for me to love something, and wish it was better/different at the same time. I can love the game play, and still wish there was some way for it to be fun and crude and rude and stupid… without reinforcing, at some level, some shitty things about our society.

    Geek women here/feminists here aren’t saying, “I want to *take away your/my toys*” — just that we wish sometimes that we had better toys. And duh, we want to talk about the problems with these toys, and the possibility of getting better toys *here* because this is where we play.

  24. doplgangr says:

    they should NEVER have gotten rid of the “fart button” — that was quite the redeeming social value.
    http://www.gamesradar.com/video/v-20080423133451765088

  25. Lauren O says:

    #47 – Do you get any health-point-type benefits or similar from having sex with the hookers? Are there any women in the game who are not strippers or hookers? Are any of the strippers or hookers actual characters or do they just strip and hook? Why doesn’t enabling something and then glorifying it in promos count as encouraging?

  26. Rob says:

    @Jack: “It’s far easier for kids to get their hands on games than it is to see movies and we all know it. Granted nowadays it’s a tad easier to see R-rated films if you are a kid thanks to file-sharing but still.”

    Better tell the FTC. Games and theaters have the same level of age enforcement. DVDs however, have very pathetic enforcement. So cut with the “everybody knows it” crap, especially when it’s wrong.

  27. Antinous says:

    Here’s a post from Feministing about prostitution. The comments are more substantive than the post, but most commenters take an unbiased approach, along the lines of “it’s screwed up as it exists, could it exist in a non-screwed up way?” As to the waitress thing, a recent Supreme Court ruling has made it almost impossible for a woman to sue an employer for being paid less than a man doing the same job. If it looks like a servant and it’s paid like a servant…

  28. Pipenta says:

    “There is no patriarchy. Women hold the majority of political and social control, and always have. They lack power, to be sure, but they have always had the control. Control beats power every time. It’s the pen over the sword. A man can beat his wife, but his wife instills values in his children.”

    Oh good f#$%, we’re invoking the hand that rocks the cradle crap now?

    Since when did Boing Boing get taken over by Fox news watching drones?

    GTA is just a game. It has clever moments. It has some pretty disgusting moments.

    One could, in all fairness, describe it as a sexist and demeaning example of patriarchal media. But nowadays, even here, folks will get all huffy and call you a feminist or an intellectual or an elitist. Because all you are supposed to be is a beer swilling lobotomized slob.

    You wouldn’t want to make your neighbor uncomfortable by actually thinking about something, would you? Shut up and drink your Bud Lite.

    So let’s not invoke that academic vocabulary. Let’s put it another way.

    The sex in the game is designed to appeal to insecure boys who think the world revolves around them, their needs, and their chironomid-sized willies. These lads are so self-involved that they can’t even tolerate hearing criticism of their favored mass-produced (and astonishingly unimaginative) masturbatory fantasy product. The game can be as demeaning and ugly as ever, yet it is too much for the delicate ears and limp micromaggot member of these boys to bear to hear anything.

    Some of us are smirking. Some of us think the ones who look absurd and the ones getting all hot and bothered about defending those tacky virtual lap dances.

    I’m reminded of that scene in the Stepford Wives.

    Oh baby, oh baby, you’re so BIG!

  29. glugenwog says:

    Jesus, can they just put male hookers in the game so that you guys can stop complaining?

  30. Sister Y says:

    It is no question that GTA is merely reflective of the bigger misogyny embedded in capitalist patriarchy, but the question is why is a game that depicts such violence towards women so popular?

    Takuan my brother, is this kind of how you felt when “Aliens versus Predator: Extinction” came out on PS2?

    As to your comment, though – I challenge you to rip the video game controller out of the hands of a Marine playing “Medal of Honor.”

    It’s an interesting experience to play “Def Jam: Fight for New York” as a female playing a beefy male character, against a male friend who’s playing Li’l Kim, and which male friend is much less skilled than you, to say the least, and watching poor computer-generated Li’l Kim get the crap kicked out of her. By you. I’ve worked with victims of domestic violence and I’m a female professional raised by a feminist mom, but apparently I’m still brainwashed by the patriarchy, ’cause I fail to see a problem with having that experience.

    I prefer “The Sims” though – it’s the least homophobic game I’ve ever played, and you can totally make your guy characters make out with other guy characters. Even the aliens.

  31. mkultra says:

    #91 – It’s not a generalization to say that feminists want people to be regarded as people regardless of sex or gender. Feminism is about gender equality. That is its definition. It has a lot of different strands, but the thing – maybe the only thing – that unites those strands is gender equality. Saying that is a generalization is like saying, “You don’t have to believe in God to be a Christian. That’s a generalization.”

    ———————————

    Well, that is the professed belief, but in my experience a certain percentage of both self-identified feminists and Christians behave in a way that is at odds with their espoused philosophy. (please don’t respond with some variation on the “true scotsman” fallacy)

    To relate to your analogy, I’ve met a fair number of self-identified Christians who, when you get down to it, don’t believe in any god, even a little bit.

    Likewise, I’ve met (a slim minority, to be sure) self-identified feminists who want nothing better than to humiliate, degrade and oppress anything with a penis attached. Having done some time at UC Santa Cruz as a white male, I found it enlightening to find myself hated–not for who I was, or what I had done–but simply for what I was. (if you’re wondering I came out of the experience somewhat more sympathetic to the plight of oppressed minorities.)

    I personally would never identify as a feminist, even though I share the same espoused philosophy. I’m a humanist: people are people, regardless of what is-or-is-not stuffed in their pants.

  32. geekazoid says:

    I don’t think that they should have pulled the video because they should be honest about what the game is about: sex and violence. Pulling the video is showing that they really are all about the money. “We’re offended by the content, but we’ll still take the cheque.” Yeah well fuck you IGN and fuck you Rockstar. You are teh suck.

    This game, in all its glory, really only appeals to one group: young men. And that is tragic.

    As a 30-something man, I find the video a little funny because its silly to me. One viewing by a mature adult produces that result – humor. I am not remotely interested in playing the game. I don’t think that the game would change my views about women because I am a grown-up and I’m not going to devolve to an adolescent and start objectifying women again, LIKE I WAS CONDITIONED TO BY SOCIETY GROWING UP. Someone 10 or 15 years younger playing the game extensively is going to experience something altogether different.

    This is my point: pornography (sex + violence) does real harm.

    It is inevitable that everyone is going to get exposed to pornography. The question is when and with what information in hand to deal with it.

    If we educate our kids on gender issues, the senselessness of violence, and we reduce their exposure to porn until at least semi-adulthood, they will have better tools to deal with it and the impact on their relationships with each other won’t be damaged.

    Rockstar is really taking the low-road here, IMO. This game promotes violence, and especially toward women. How that is expressed by the kids exposed to it will not be to model the behavior in the game directly (in 99.99% of cases, at least) but it WILL have an impact on their views about their role in society and relationships with others, with women in particular.

    Finally, the first step toward reducing harm to society by pornographic material is not necessarily censorship. That whole freedom vs values dichotomy is just an argument that goes nowhere. There is a middle road. It’s harder to find, but there is one.

  33. Skullhunter says:

    Irony: petulant posting about how “There’s not a patriarchy and there never was so shut up about it all ready”, written by a guy.

    Seriously. I’m a guy, and you other guys who keep pissing and moaning about how feminists are all man-hating harpies who just want to symbolically or actually castrate you all for the crime of being male are a sincere embarrassment to those of us who don’t think buying feminine products for our partners or watching a “chick flick” are emasculating experiences from which one can never recover.

    Equally tiresome is the excuse of “It’s satire and if you don’t get that it’s obviously because you’re a humorless dolt”. Putting women in the position of being a disposable commodity isn’t “satire”. It’s mirroring how our society has viewed them for generations. It’s mirroring how some people STILL view them.

    It’s okay guys, honestly, you can criticize stuff like this and be in no danger of having your genitals shrink or fall off.

  34. jccalhoun says:

    Ummm what was wrong with my post #20?

  35. Lauren O says:

    Decius, I’m not sure what you’re talking about with the whole “the game cannot be purchased by teenagers” thing. First of all, it obviously is purchased by teenagers (and non-teenagers alike) in spite of restrictions, and second of all, I really don’t give a shit if teenagers buy it. I couldn’t care less about the ratings system. I’m not sure why you’re putting those particular words in my mouth, but whatever.

    I have played video games. I have not played GTA. I have, however, been a spectator of GTA. Remember how I just said that I watched it at a party? Is my view invalidated because I wasn’t the one pushing the buttons on the controller? I saw shit happen in the game for hours, and I saw the reaction it provoked from its target audience. But, no, I wasn’t holding the controller. Of course, that was partially because after seeing what was in the game firsthand, I was uninterested in playing it. But since I didn’t press any buttons, I guess I have no idea what I’m talking about.

  36. Lauren O says:

    I hereby present Geekazoid and Skullhunter with seals of my approval as well.

  37. Jesse M. says:

    Noen wrote:
    I repeat, this is not how we get there. This is not Buddha nature, this is not Christlike, this does not honor any religious, spiritual, humanistic, or philosophical tradition on the face of the earth now or in all of human history.

    Do you think any Buddhist would accept a simplistic dualistic statement along the lines of “this is not Buddha nature”? And plenty of great humanistic art has explored the dark, seedy, cynical aspects of human nature without trying to condemn them in a didactic way or teach people to piously rise above them–look at Goya, Jonathan Swift, Mark Twain, even R. Crumb. I think true spirituality is not about using your superego to repress the parts of yourself you consider “bad” or “unspiritual”–one can accept that these darker impulses are a basic part of human nature, even laugh at them, while still trying to avoid acting them out in the real world in a way that harms actual feeling humans (as opposed to crude CG video game characters).

  38. bobkat says:

    everything has buddha nature. patriarchy, feminists, gta, bingbong discussions, even dried shit on a stick.

  39. brownhb says:

    I’m with you #5 (and the rest of you). To sit back and say “we shouldn’t do anything about this, because it’s the way things are!” is just to give up. I’m not saying there aren’t elements of the ridiculous in the whole issue, but when did we all throw up our arms and say “Yes, world, you’re right. Men like to treat women badly, so we should just let it happen”? I’ll be the uncool one in the room if I have to. I’m used to it.

    Reading this article just made me feel sad, and defeated. WTF people?

  40. Lauren O says:

    #91 – It’s not a generalization to say that feminists want people to be regarded as people regardless of sex or gender. Feminism is about gender equality. That is its definition. It has a lot of different strands, but the thing – maybe the only thing – that unites those strands is gender equality. Saying that is a generalization is like saying, “You don’t have to believe in God to be a Christian. That’s a generalization.”

  41. A New Challenger says:

    @Antinous:

    There are queers that can be beaten. No one makes a fuss about it, though.

    I think there are legitimate concerns about the messages embedded in the game, though they are far and away not particular to GTA itself. However, the people who voice these concerns are 95% of the time people who haven’t seen the entirety of the game. The critics strike me as the kind of people who would dismiss a film like Reservoir Dogs after seeing 5 minutes of it because the main characters refer to dark skinned persons as niggers.

  42. bma says:

    Could someone explain exactly how GTA is “satire”? Satire is, by definition, using humour, sarcasm, or irony to criticise something – is it humourous to have sex with women and then kill them? If so, I don’t get it. Does that make me uncool? Is the irony in it that actually, we really like prostitutes?

    It seems to be commonplace to excuse offensive behaviour as being “ironic” or “satirical”. Maybe some of it even is intended to be satire, but if it is it’s misguided; all it does is convince many people that they’re not alone in hating them queers/them darkies/them wimmin/them followers of a slightly different brand of religion, and encourage them to continue with whatever offensive behaviour that they’ve managed to justify to themselves.

    I’m not going to bother complaining about the misogyny; several other people have expressed it much better than I probably could, and quite frankly the prospect of explaining why treating women like objects, to be used for men’s pleasure and then discarded, is misogynistic – and then explaining why misogyny is bad – does not sound particularly fun.

    (And to the people who compared it to fighting/boxing games – at least in them, the women get to fight back; at least in them, the women might actually win, and have a purpose beyond just getting killed.)

  43. Snowrunner says:

    Here’s a post from Feministing about prostitution. The comments are more substantive than the post, but most commenters take an unbiased approach, along the lines of “it’s screwed up as it exists, could it exist in a non-screwed up way?”

    I read it, but reading the comments will take a while.

    One of the links was interesting though, especially with the remarks about sweden.

    The question with prostitution is: Can you make it go away, and I guess the answer to this will be no. So the only alternative is to make sure it happens in the limelight (and yes, that will mean that certain aspects of it will hide in it’s shadows, that’s how it works unfortunately).

    As to the waitress thing, a recent Supreme Court ruling has made it almost impossible for a woman to sue an employer for being paid less than a man doing the same job. If it looks like a servant and it’s paid like a servant…

    That isn’t quite addressing my point. I am not arguing that equality is bad, but that anything that even gives the IMPRESSION of servitude gets automatically attacked. There is a nasty strain of Feminism that isn’t about gender equality (all for it) but rather about payback.

  44. Nick D says:

    I can’t believe that people believe movies, video games, and comics have so much power over young minds.

    If a videogame has more influence on your child than you do, then you probably are something of a failure as a role model and teacher, or an absentee parent who lets him or her play it 8 hours a day, which in my view borders on child abuse.

    The good news is that the patriarchy is dead and that women have all the power! Yippee! I knew that once we won the wars on drugs, poverty, and terrorism, that the patriarchy would be next to fall!

    The idea that women control society is a sentimental lie propagated by stand-up comics, sitcoms, and patronizing males.

    It’s an argument that’s equivalent to saying “you can tell that men have no control in our society by the fact that they make 25% more money for the same jobs as women do.”

    If that’s powerlessness, maybe we should extend it to blacks and gays, too. They sure could use it!

  45. hemidemisemiquaver says:

    I haven’t played this game and have no plans to, but it’s my understanding that the GTA series was revolutionary for being extremely ‘open,’ that is, you can do pretty much anything you want. You play a criminal, so the game’s missions involve killing people, but those who beat up women on the street are just sad people taking advantage of the freedom the game offers them. You’re equally free to escort old ladies across streets or take long peaceful walks in central park, but for some reason no one does, or at least it doesn’t receive news coverage. It’s not marketed as a virtual prostitute-killing game and that’s not what it is. If the matrix were real and simulated reality perfectly, would it be condemned as misogynistic when people inevitably used it to exorcise their demons in the same manner?

  46. bex says:

    its not a kids game blah blah blah who it kidding who ? they game will be played by teens and preteans all over the world . Yes as an adult you can realise the irony in the sex and violence in the game but as a kid you ate too young for it

  47. justanotherusername says:

    “This is the way people [men] think. This is how things are.”

    Excuse me but speak for yourself.

  48. Nick D says:

    “Y’know, maybe feminists should try to improve their image by doing things that actually help people? The only time I ever seem to hear of them is when they’re ruining peoples fun, and, consequentially, I tend to be pretty dismissive of them.”

    Yeah, don’t you just hate it when attempts at social reform get in the way of our entertainment? I know I do.

    Maybe if feminists decried sexual harassment (and we all know what fun that can be!) in shark-filled tanks, or did Jell-O shots at congressional hearings on pay inequality, people like Anonymous would take them seriously.

    Or maybe a “feminists Gone Wild” video? Oh, I know: “Dorf Explains Feminism.” Feminists could finally contribute something to society by making a funny video about a short guy.

  49. DaedalusAloft says:

    I have to say I wanted a unicorn chaser after reading some of the posts in this thread. Kudos to everyone who posted without descending into run-of-the-mill Internet flamewar territory.

  50. Nick D says:

    I draw two main conclusions from various people’s reaction to GTA…
    1: People in general care more about the health and safety of CG prostitutes than the flesh-and-blood variety.
    2: Killing men is perfectly ok.

    This is sort of like saying that vegetarians don’t mind if you eat people.

    Sorry, but your “conclusions” make no sense whatever. You are superimposing beliefs on people who have expressed no such beliefs. Which means that you subscribe to a stereotype of what feminists, liberals, treehuggers, or whomever you’re vilifying here with your accusations.

    People who object to the killing of women prostitutes in videos do so precisely because they DO care about violence against real people. ALL real people. Even against those who have limited power and influece in society. You know, like women? Or prostitutes? Or women prostitutes?

  51. Takuan says:

    @137
    this is so. What you DO with it is the issue.

  52. Avram says:

    Scraps #12, are you aware that the parenthetical you’re complaining about was written by Susannah Breslin (and is part of the quoted text), not Xeni?

    Anyway, you’re right, the Feministing sentence uses common words of easily-understood (or looked-up) meaning. I’ve seen true pseudo-academic bafflegab, and that wasn’t it.

  53. Skullhunter says:

    Hemidemisemiquaver,

    I don’t see it as a cause so much as a symptom. Unfortunately it’s a symptom that’s become a marketing demographic. Rockstar has figured out that they can make a lot of money pandering to this attitude, therefore they do. They also know they’ll have loads of people who’ll rally around the flag of “political incorrectness”, bravely standing side-by-side with the strong majority against the terror of the weak minority.

  54. jccalhoun says:

    @63
    No you actually can’t escort old ladies across streets.

    In the GTA 3 games, I may be wrong (it has been a while since I played any of them) but I don’t think there were any old ladies.

    There really isn’t any way to deal positively with anyone in the game except for when you take over an Ambulance, Police Car, Firetruck or Taxi and then you just do those jobs.

    You can’t be nice to anyone man or woman. However, while you can have sex with prostitutes (or in GTA San Andreas your girlfriend) you can’t have sex with men. The “have sex with a hooker and then kill her” is actually two separate game mechanics. You can have sex with prostitutes and you can kill anyone — including prostitutes. None of the missions require you to do so (at least not that I played. I didn’t play any of the “stories” games that started out on the PSP)

    You can just walk around and people have done so. It doesn’t make good news those.

  55. SeppTB says:

    #140 – Actually, there are! There’s clearly a Prius clone car and the radio stations talking about hybrids often. Sorry, can’t complain about that one! GTA 4 is green! Plus every pedestrian run over reduces their carbon foot print to zero.

  56. nico416 says:

    But here’s the thing: I cannot see the writers at feministing go out and say: Legalize Prostitiution, because the sense I got over the extend of the ensuing discussion is that they are considering prostitution in and on itself being wrong.

    Snowrunner @205, you couldn’t be more wrong about the feminist (particularly those at Feministing) attitude toward prostitution.
    Though it’s a divisive issue in the feminist community, most think prostitution should be decriminalized so that prostitutes have some form of protection and recourse under the law. Also, whether they support decriminalization or not, ALL feminsts speak for and work toward sex workers rights and safety.

    I wonder if in their ideal world a woman shouldn’t really do anything that “serves” a man, being a waitress in a restaurant (clearly, the man is just doing this to put the woman in her place) or being a secretary (oh, another round of the male dominance over the women).

    What the hell are you even talking about?
    You and a lot of other commenters here are saying that in order to have an informed opinion on GTA we have to have played the game ourselves – the whole thing to the end – and not just watched others play it (as LaurenO did, and got shouted down for), or see a trailer for it.

    But here’s the thing. Y’all are criticizing feminist attitudes and opinions with a hell of a lot less exposure to Feminism than we have to GTA. I get the sense that most of you haven’t read a feminst book or maybe even SPOKEN to an actual, real-live feminst.

    So, by the rules you’ve set down, you have to actually PARTICIPATE in something to criticize it. Okay. All of you go out and join a feminist group, attend a few pro-life marches, blog about women’s rights, actively participate in discussions about misogyny in the media. Then, in a few months to a year, you can come back and tell me what’s wrong with feminism.
    Hey, fair’s fair.

  57. Dillenger69 says:

    It looks like an interesting “game”.
    Too bad it’s console only.
    No GTA IV for me.

  58. Antinous says:

    From this discussion, I have the inescapable impression that gamers feel that their right to entertain themselves is more important than any other consideration that anyone else could possibly imagine. Controversial hobbies incite criticism. Perhaps, if you weren’t so busy screaming about censorship, you would notice that you are trying to censor your critics. That blade cuts with both edges.

  59. noen says:

    Jesse M – thanks for expanding. My rant was already long enough. I don’t really have a problem with the game so much as what it says about us. And Takuan as usual summed up everything I had to say in one or two sentences.

  60. buddy66 says:

    I was out of the country too long. So it comes as a great surprise to me to learn that non-drooling ADULTS play this shit.

    Joshua: “How about a nice game of chess?”

  61. Patrick Nielsen Hayden says:

    I don’t really give a crap about Grand Theft Auto, or the idea that teenagers might be playing a game that involves lots of sex and violence. Young humans interested in sex and violence! Pardon me while I fail to reel from the shock.

    I’m also temperamentally inclined to be cranky about attempts to police fantasy and desire. People are what they are.

    And yet I agree, a lot, with Scraps’s #12. I’ve liked Susannah Breslin in the past, but the sneers at “polysyllabic” language are just fucking stupid. The stuff being quoted isn’t even all that academic or jargonish. This is on the level of calling people with glasses “four-eyes.”

  62. Matt Sanderson says:

    I don’t necessarily think some of GTA’s content is appropriate, generally speaking, but I’ll certainly defend their right to make it and sell it. People need to respect games just as they respect movies. Movies like Pulp Fiction and The Departed are clearly not intended for children, and neither is this game. Period. Do your jobs, parents. Don’t let the government do your work for you.

    But is the game sexist? Well, yeah, pretty much. This series constantly takes shots at all kinds of things, from sex to religion to race to government. It’s called “satire.” And also “lulz,” I believe.

    Incidentally, I wish I had a console this game was on. It looks fantastic. I love realistic, open-world, do-what-you-want games.

  63. RANGZEN says:

    Just to add some detail to the discussion: I have been playing the game today, just like I played all previous versions of the game. The draw, for me, is how open the game is. I make no apologies for the game, I didn’t create it. I do think there are a few points worth consideration, however.

    1. The earlier poster who commented that old school games didn’t involve killing anyone is absolutely wrong. Nearly every single game ever created involves the killing of someone/something. Even Super Mario kills living “breathing” mushrooms and the like.

    2. Saying that your character kills prostitutes and gets their money back is a misnomer. In fact, anyone who is killed in the game (even if accidentally run over by your car) leaves behind money. You may as well say that the game promotes the killing of construction workers, since someone playing the game could kill one and “get” money. I also think, if I am not mistaken, that you got points in Super Mario for smushing/killing the little mushroom people.

    3. I WILL say that I am unfailingly disappointed with how homophobic the game tends to be. Mostly this is demonstrated through “fag” remarks and the like. However, in this new version of the game, your character can date people he meets online, and the online database has both women AND men. So it would appear that the character can date men.

    4. I think it is worth noting that I am 29, and have played all versions of this game, starting at age 18. I do not kill people. I do not rape, mug, shoot, stab, discriminate, abuse, use, or any other negative toward my fellow humans. Oh, and I’ve also looked at porn. So, it would seem that the argument that this game makes you develop an antisocial personality is mistaken. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of mental illness could have told you that.

    I do agree that children have NO BUSINESS playing or watching this game. Just like they shouldn’t watch the movie Saw. That is a matter to take up with their parents.

  64. pAULbOWEN says:

    “why is a game that depicts such violence towards women so popular?”

    This question deserves a more considered response than “Blah gender studies blah humorless feminazi blah it’s ok cuz I sez it’s ok blah”

  65. Lauren O says:

    #136 – It’s not the true Scotsman fallacy to say “no true Christian doesn’t believe in God,” because that’s the definition of Christianity. No true square has unequal sides. No true corpse breathes. Or whatever.

    I’ll concede, though, that there are some man-hating feminists, with the caveat that they are man-hating because they are still unequal with men when they believe that they deserve to be equal to men, which is my stated definition of feminism.

    I’m glad you recognize they’re a minority, though I’m not sure if you’re using the phrase “slim minority” to mean something like 49% or something like 1%. I assure you it’s much closer to the latter.

    I’m also glad that being treated badly for your gender didn’t make you bitter. Women are treated badly for our gender all the damn time, and a lot of us are bitter because of it (though that happens pervasively instead of just during a few incidents for a few years at college, so maybe it’s not precisely comparable).

    And lastly, I’m glad you (mostly) share the same espoused philosophy as feminism. I’d like to point out that the reason people identify with feminism over humanism is that feminism specifically acknowledges that while all humans deserve equality, women remain unequal and so need more agitation for their equality at this point in time.

    But all that is beside the point, I suppose.

  66. Jack says:

    Actually I just discovered something interesting about the game via some comedy pals. There is a comedy club in GTA4, and there are digital versions of comedians there. But guess what you can’t do to them? Shoot or kill them. Hypocrisy anyone?

    So you know, that is what really gets me. For all the talk about the game being “open” and exportable, it’s actually just a bigger predefined maze game where certain people—women and hookers—can be treated like crap, but others—such as comedians—can’t have the same things done to them.

    Ultimately the game presents the pretense and highly marketed pretense of “choice” and “exploration” with the reality being that you are being guided down a very specific path.

    I actually grew up playing video games and going to arcades to place electro-mechanical shoot-em-up games. Shooting plastic ducks and random targets is one thing. This is something much more destructive and negative. Halo, Quake, Unreal and others are violent but morally neutral; this game is anything but. And that’s what really sickens a lot of people.

    You know why games like Katamari Damacy, Guitar Hero and Wii games are so popular and considered “revolutionary”? They drop the violence as the main motivating factor in gameplay and truly create worlds you can be a part of. For Guitar Hero’s world is limited in the game, but the social interaction expands the world it exists in.

    GTA4 is just a cynical psychotic nightmare of a game that pushes buttons but actually doesn’t give much back in return.

  67. Sister Y says:

    Lauren O, I actually read Feministing on your recommendation, and I must say, the kids are alright! They seem like awesome girls. This generation of feminists seems pretty right-on, if that blog is any gauge.

    I was talking about this comment thread with a friend last night, and was wondering why I just can’t feel that a piece of literature (game, movie, book) is, in itself, morally wrong. I actually don’t think it’s harmful, in and of itself, for a teenager to read Mein Kampf or The Turner Diaries or even see Expelled – I actually think it’s good for young people to see examples of moral bankruptcy and logical fallacy (as long as that’s not the only thing they’re reading/seeing).

    I really don’t put the GTA games in that category, though (morally bankrupt crap that exists to demonstrate poor reasoning). I’m not sure whether it belongs in the category of provocative art (I have no problem with Amber Swanson’s Real Doll project) or morally exempt fantasy (like porn of consenting, even enthusiastic, adults being tied up and abused).

  68. wrathofthekitty says:

    oh man…i missed the video…stupid finals week keeping me from checking BB regularly. is this vid available anywhere else???

  69. sourcerror says:

    I just doesn’t remember these feminist complaining when the movie “Monster” came out.
    (For those who doesn’t remember this was about a serial killer lesbian prostitute, who was portrayed as very symphatetic.)

    Doublestandards in scope?

  70. meeneecat says:

    “As a matter of fact the games cannot be purchased by teenagers”

    Ha, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard on this thread thus far. I’m a teacher and when this game came out it’s all my third grade students were talking about. That’s THIRD GRADE! So you better bet your bottom that these games are easily bought by teenagers and young children alike. Delicius you must live in some sort of fantasy land where people actually listen to those little parental advisory stickers. Here on planet Earth no one pays attention to the ratings and they certainly aren’t enforced. You can be sure that teenagers and young kids are easily able to get their hands on this game – no problem.

  71. Jack says:

    @ #72 POSTED BY MATT SANDERSON:
    “Movies like Pulp Fiction and The Departed are clearly not intended for children, and neither is this game.”

    Not a fair comparison. It’s far easier for kids to get their hands on games than it is to see movies and we all know it. Granted nowadays it’s a tad easier to see R-rated films if you are a kid thanks to file-sharing but still.

    This game is not marketed as an adult game only to adults. It’s very much marketed to kids with the ESRB rating being window dressing and not much else.

    “…but I’ll certainly defend their right to make it and sell it.”

    They have a right to make and sell it, and consumers have a right to voice their concerns. The ability to form yourself as a corporation doesn’t shield one from public scrutiny. Rockstar Games is not some scrappy nerdowell company; why people defend them as if they are their personal pals is hilarious IMHO.

  72. Caroline says:

    Oh FFS.

    Lauren O and Sherrold, you’re fighting the good fight and you’re not alone here.

    Yes, the game is misogynistic. No, I don’t want to ban it. If misogyny were a condition for banning something, there would be nothing left at all. Hell, if misogyny were a condition for not being able to enjoy a piece of entertainment, I’d live a very boring life. GTA is a lot of fun, and the transgressive actions are part of the fun. It’s a power fantasy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    But let’s not pretend like the sexism isn’t there and doesn’t matter. Feminists don’t want to take away your video games. Feminists =/= Jack Thompson, for Christ’s sake.

    And if someone pulls out the “Feminists think all heterosexual sex is rape!!” card in this thread, I may just go on a real-life GTA killing spree.

  73. Antinous says:

    I don’t buy the satire argument. The game exists for purposes of titillation, not philosophical exploration. Although I do agree that these games, like violent literature, can be used to work through aggressive feelings. Takuan summed it up by pointing out that your kids either have values by now or they don’t.

  74. Sister Y says:

    #71 Patrick – it’s true, it’s an ad hominem. But I can understand the ire of pro-sex women against academic feminists. The latter group often willfully fail to see that sexual repression pretty much never correlates with liberation of women. Don’t forget Andrea Dworkin collaborating with those lovely evangelical Christians to fight sex work and pornography in the 80s.

    I appreciate Xeni representing for porn in her writing on BB.

    Jack has a point, though – I for one have logged way more hours on I ♥ Katamari than on any GTA game.

  75. Hamish says:

    It is trash, and children should not be permitted to use it. Read ‘On Killing,’ in part, a military scholars take on the significance of violent computer games for a start. I love this web site, but I am disappointed that it is being used to support this particular line of thinking.

  76. nico416 says:

    Antinous @#149 gets it right.
    A lot of the commenters here seem to need a refresher course in what censorship is. Censorship is when we call for a ban of the game, or force the producers of it to remove the offending images.
    No one here is calling for censorship – in fact the commenters at Feministing are overwhelmingly anti-censorship.
    So say it with me now: criticism and censorship aren’t the same thing!

  77. Sister Y says:

    Hell, if misogyny were a condition for not being able to enjoy a piece of entertainment, I’d live a very boring life.

    Caroline, did you read the Dykes To Watch Out For where Mo (I think) has a rule that she only watches movies where two women at some point have a conversation, alone, about something other than a man? She’s like, yeah, the last movie I watched was Aliens – they have a conversation about the alien.

    Alison Bechdel FTW.

  78. anthropomorphictoast says:

    Jack Thompson nearly had a heart attack over it…? I’m disappointed in Rockstar for failing to visually induce a full and complete cardiac arrest.

  79. Nora Rocket says:

    “…polysyllabic bloggers still carping about the patriarchy…”

    Hey, I’ll stop “carping” when it stops telling us about the kinds of bodies we’re supposed to have and the uses to which we’re supposed (and not supposed) to put them. Among other things. Carpity carp carp carp. But, my dander’s far less up about GTA and video games in general than other things, so I can’t bring anything to the original discussion here – just to the metadiscussion.

  80. Naumadd says:

    I wouldn’t play the game simply because mock violence and pretend raunchy public sex aren’t particularly entertaining to me, however, those who advocate censorship of such games make the mistake of equating computer graphics – bits and bytes on a screen – with the real thing. How about we save our energies for censoring real violence and real exploitation. Waddya say? Ought we censor the christian bible too for its wanton violence and raunchy sex?

  81. WeightedCompanionCube says:

    “It is no question that GTA is merely reflective of the bigger misogyny embedded in capitalist patriarchy

    Yeah, reflective like a funhouse mirror.

    but the question is why is a game that depicts such violence towards women so popular?”

    Ummm… because it’s a lot of fun for reasons totally unrelated to misogyny? And because most people recognize it’s supposed to be over the top?

    Forest, trees, sheesh..

  82. Tom says:

    Feminists would be more convincing on this issue if they didn’t say things like, “misogyny embedded in capitalist patriarchy”. As if there were no misogyny amongst the New Guinea natives we read about here last week who found pigs a useful currency for buying women.

    Misogyny isn’t caused by capitalism. Capitalism is just another form of human social organization, and offhand I can’t think of a single form of human social organization anywhere that does not contain elements of misogyny. Without ignoring a truly vast amount of information about human beings it is untenable to claim that capitalist societies are even particularly bad when it comes to misogyny. Tribal societies tend to be much worse, for example.

    There is evidence that humans are slightly polygamous in our sexual behaviour. The big clue is the degree of sexual dimorphism, which tends to be more pronounced in harem-keeping species. This biological tendency might explain something about the universality of misogyny. Doctrinaire formulations about specific forms of social organization certainly do not.

    Even if it is biologically-based, I am not suggesting that misogyny is a good thing, any more than the biologically-based human tendencies toward xenophobia, superstition and murder are good things. They are merely part of the way we are made, problems that any human society claiming to be civilized has to deal with. Some deal with them better than others. Liberal democracies with relatively free markets, an emphasis on capital accumulation, and a strong hint of social democracy have proven to be the best of the imperfect solutions we have come up with so far.

    Hewing to the demonstrably false belief that misogyny is an artefact of certain forms of human social organization opens the door to the kind of leathal utopianism that killed far too many people in the 20th century. We really don’t need to go there again.

    In the meantime, perhaps we can talk about why violence against women gets so much press, when a significant majority of victims of violence are male.

  83. lady_Cthulhu says:

    ok, when it comes to kids I don’t really care. Parents need to raise them, not let them raise themselves, when it comes to women, most of us can handle ourselves and most of us aren’t hookers, and even if we are (which i’m so not) its a choice. we all make choices. but i do have a beef with this game. it has made being trashy cool. there are some adults, (namely poorer, less informed ones), who DON’T know better. they think that because its in a video game its cool. for some reason our culture is going through a phase where being a gangster is cool. and i think this game is partially responsible. no i don’t have any websites to back me up, its just an opinion. i’ve played these games and yeah they are fun, but i think there should be some kind of disclaimer that says in effect “you’re retarded if you think this kind of behavior is in anyway shape or form is okay” i’m sure Rockstar has disclaimers but bottom line, they’re a business. they don’t care about people they care about money. and while there is a demand (obviously a large one) for this type of game, i think we should (as human beings who should give a shit about each other, whether or not we really do is a different story, im just saying we should) not buy into this lifestyle. its one thing if its a game, its another if people buy into it. and obviously they do. look at all the gang violence in america and tell me people dont buy into this. i think maybe we shoudn’t buy this game or allow this type of thing to be so available. i don’t believe in censorship, but think maybe in this case its warranted. if one game can change so many peoples point of view, or desensitize them to this level of violence, maybe its time we do something. and since we really cant stop anything, i think we should boycott this game. im sure no one is swayed by my opinion but i can say one thing, im not buying it. im not going to make Rockstar believe im okay with this.

  84. Cowicide says:

    Oh LAWD, wait till the kids find the easter egg in the game that lets them hijack a jet and fly it into the White House killing both Bush and Cheney. Then the reall uproar will commence, huh? LOL

  85. Shuwadhi says:

    I can’t really defend GTA too much, as it’s the same series which included a hidden penis in the lights of a building (Vice City), a security company called “Gruppe Secs”, and ice cream trucks with whipped cream in the shape of breasts.

    However,unlike pretty much everyone rallying against it, I’ve actually played every game in the series, and loved every last one. There actually is some pretty smart humor buried in all the dick and boob jokes, and the sex and violence outside of the missions is entirely optional.

    And a lot of you seem to be missing the point. The GTA series is basically an homage to “gangster films” of all types, with all of the excessive violence and misogyny that comes with the genre. If that type of entertainment isn’t your thing then that’s your business, but don’t act like Rockstar invented misogyny or gratuitous violence.

  86. nico416 says:

    The commenters at Feministing weren’t calling for a ban or censorship of the game, they were raising legitimate concerns about the misogynistic content. Oh, and everyone saying “there’s violence against MEN too!!!”, yeah, okay, but is it sexualized violence? Can you pay a man for sex and then kill him? No? Hmm, strange, I wonder why…
    And as if trotting out the whole humorless feminists trope wasn’t lame enough, you then mocked them for using “polysyllabic” language (literal meaning, having more than 2 syllables. Oh nooooes, 2 many syllables, scary!!!!11!!) and acting like “patriarchy” is this ridiculously jargony word that, like, NO ONE understands, man.
    Sexism, sadly, I’m not that surprised to see here. Anti-intellectual panic? Yeah, I actually am kinda surprised. This is way below the level of discourse I’ve come to expect from this site. I don’t know what to say except that I’m fucking disappointed.

  87. billydeville says:

    When I was a kid a received a BB gun for my birthday. After a few hours of shooting targets, I turned my sites to black birds. It took a while but eventually I killed one. When I got up close to it’s dead body, I was overcome with remorse. I had shot and killed a defenseless animal for absolutely no reason, and it just didn’t sit well with me. It was a truly shitty feeling.

    When I was an adult, I picked up a hooker in
    Vice City. After my car swayed gently to her moaning, I let her get out of the car and I then ran over her, got out of the car and took my money back.

    Did I feel bad? No. She was made up of pixels and artificial intelligence, not life, and I guess I could tell the difference.

    Completely off subject, but I wish we would hurry up and make some robot hookers. I’m looking at you Japan.

  88. superforestnyc says:

    #56,

    “This is my point: pornography (sex + violence) does real harm.”

    Pornography isn’t sex + violence.

    Pornography is genitals + camera.

  89. mortis says:

    OMG there are also no Hybrids or alternative fuel vehicles in the game…

    THIS GAME PROMOTES KILLING THE EARTH!!

    A lot of people won’t be happy until we have the Mutaween in this country, sadly.

    ^m^

  90. jccalhoun says:

    #196 Can they have guns? Knives? Flamethrowers?

    Flamethrowers? No. But the flamethrower (at least in GTA 3. I don’t have GTA 4) was a fairly rare item. None of the men in the game had it either.

    In fact most of the pedestrians, be they male or female, don’t have weapons. There are men in the games who are dressed in clothing commonly identified with gangs and they have weapons (it is true that there are no female gang members in the game). I’m honestly not sure if the women in the games ever have weapons or not.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not defending the depiction of women in the game. In most cases the women are very clearly represented as either sex objects or victims. The average pedestrian men have a lot more variety than the women (again, at least in 3. I don’t know about 4). But I just want to make sure that the discussion is accurate. There are enough issues with the game without saying other things that aren’t accurate.

  91. Antinous says:

    Hey Sister Y,

    I have an answer to your old question. Lack of self-confidence, lack of self-worth, etc. Acknowledging these conditions tends to make you feel worse about yourself. Although it might (or might not) improve things in the long run.

  92. decius says:

    Lauren O: As a matter of fact the games cannot be purchased by teenagers, numerous people in this thread have herein supported constraints on its sale, and linked organizations whose sole reason for existing is to constrain the content of video games and who they can be sold to.

    Do you like video games? Do you play them? Have you played this game?

    I honestly don’t believe that you have based on the fact that you offered an anecdote about someone else playing a related game and doing something that you didn’t approve of.

    Its like someone who doesn’t read fiction regularly and hasn’t read a particular book offering that they are offended by its content. You have no idea what you are talking about!

    “Did I think it was reinforcing a view that they had that prostitutes aren’t actually people and you can treat them like trash because of that? Well, yeah, pretty much.”

    Your problem isn’t with the game. Your problem is with their views about prostitutes. The game merely provided a context in which those views came forth, through the combination of several different aspects of game play and their attitudes about it.

    Your argument is akin to saying that Gone with the Wind is bad because there are slaves in it, and people who have racist views might find those views reinforced by the roles that African Americans play in the book.

    Its an open game. There are a lot of different things you can do. You can combine some of those things together in ways that are bad, or are potentially offensive. If that reflects some sort of evil on the part of the game player, thats something the player brought to what they are doing and not something the game created for them. For the rest of us, its just a game, and actions taken within it should not be misinterpreted as an approval of the morality of doing the same thing in the real world.

  93. Antinous says:

    Has anybody suggested censoring the game? Commenters are criticizing it. There is a difference between criticism and censorship.

  94. Antinous says:

    Can you pay a man for sex and then kill him?

    Are you saying that there’s a potential niche market here?

  95. Cowicide says:

    #81 posted by nico416

    …Can you pay a man for sex and then kill him?

    Ah, ha! Maybe THAT’S a secret level you can get to from an easter egg!

  96. SeppTB says:

    I missed this post yesterday (I was too busy playing GTA IV) so I’m pretty late to be responding to comment #1, but here goes!

    In GTA III, an often cited reason for why the game was so horrible (See #1): “In the olden days, you could even run over the prostitute after she finished her work and get your money back”

    This was only partly true. Everyone in the game dropped money when they were killed, usually a set amount based on what they were, prostitutes and drug dealers tended to have more money than normal civilians walking around. However, the amount that prosititues dropped did not change based on when you killed them, so you weren’t getting your money back, you were getting the money they dropped. I remember seeing the ‘run her over after’ thing on a list of funny things to do, but it wasn’t a programmed in or intended part of the game.

  97. Lauren O says:

    Sister Y, I’d hardly classify Feministing as “academic feminism.” It’s a pop-feminist blog that explicitly deals with pop culture, not advanced theory. Plenty of us feminists, especially of the variety that frequent Feministing, are down with non-misogynistic porn and think Andrea Dworkin was a bit of a crazy person.

  98. nico416 says:

    She’s like, yeah, the last movie I watched was Aliens – they have a conversation about the alien.

    LOL! Alison Bechdel rocks!

  99. schmeis says:

    @ #100:

    Video games like GTA are not created outside of the scope of marketing; that’s why it will never approach the level of criticism that films, theater and literature get.

    Now that’s funny. Films are created outside of the scope of marketing??? Really?? Any time a large amount of money is spent on something that will be sold to the public Marketing is involved. Yes, this includes theater.

    If video games aren’t considered critically at the same level as film, theater and literature it’s because society still largely considers “playing” as something children do.

  100. Patrick Nielsen Hayden says:

    Sister Y, #77:

    “#71 Patrick – it’s true, it’s an ad hominem. But I can understand the ire of pro-sex women against academic feminists. The latter group often willfully fail to see that sexual repression pretty much never correlates with liberation of women. Don’t forget Andrea Dworkin collaborating with those lovely evangelical Christians to fight sex work and pornography in the 80s.”

    “I appreciate Xeni representing for porn in her writing on BB.”

    I agree with every word of this.

    My view is that if you’re surprised and appalled that teenagers like entertainment that includes lots of sex and violence, you’re being unrealistic.

    And if you’re surprised and appalled that a game that includes lots of brutality towards women pisses off a lot of a women, you’re being just as unrealistic.

    Xeni is one of my heroes. Trying to suppress GTA with moralistic appeals to Think Of The Children is lame. Trying to shut down people who criticize GTA by mocking them as a bunch of four-eyed intelecktuals who use big words, har har, is also lame. That’s where I part company with Breslin.

  101. mkultra says:

    @Lauren #139: I specified individuals who were self-identifying as Christians. I didn’t put that label on them: they did.

    I posit that the umbrella of feminism, likewise is wide enough to encompass a wide spectrum of attitudes, opinions and behaviors, and that exclusionary litmus tests are unhelpful.

    No, I am not bitter about those experiences during my time at UCSC. I view it as a learning experience, however I do not agree with any implication that the vitriol and loathing I received in that situation were somehow justified because the individuals involved were forced into that role by society, any more than I would excuse the violent misogynistic behavior of a man because he was a victim of child abuse or whatever. I am sure your 1% is reasonable, though I would personally say 5-10% under certain circumstances.

    When it comes to humanism vs. feminism, I am familiar with and respect the dichotomy that you speak of, but I do not share that philosophy. To my mind, you cannot achieve equality by overcompensating in the other direction. We saw this in South Africa after the end of apartheid. (Google “necklacing”) Inequality begets inequality. Violence begets violence.

    @Lauren #147: You are very much missing the point that Decius is trying to make: the medium itself is an interactive one. It is impossible to grok it properly without putting yourself in the position of a player. The magic of games like this is that the story and narrative is created by your own actions: it isn’t inherently a tale of violence and misogyny, unless your own actions make it so. When you watch someone else play, it is their narrative being created, not your own.

    This is why the idea of such a game being “reviewed” by someone who has never actually played it strikes many of us as ludicrous as a film being reviewed by someone was has not seen it, but is only watching the expressions on the faces of the audience.

  102. WeightedCompanionCube says:

    Snowrunner –

    There is a nasty strain of Feminism that isn’t about gender equality (all for it) but rather about payback.

    I think it’s more like… there’s a nasty strain of ANY rights movement that isn’t about equality but rather about payback.

    It’s unfortunate aspect of human nature to want to just punish those who wrong you instead of actually educating them.

  103. nico416 says:

    LaurenO is right, Feministing is NOT “academic feminism” at all. It’s also a great site that doesn’t deserve to get attacked like this.
    Some of you people seem to be getting confused – there’s two sets of people critiquing your precious game – one set is the “think-of-the-children” folks who want the game banned or at least given a more adult rating.
    Then there’s the feminists (myself included) who want to see an honest discussion of the violence toward women in the game and what the social implications of that are.
    Judging by the reaction here and elsewhere (and the Boing Boing critique that seems to amount to “feminists are nerds! they use big words! ha!”)that’s not really possible.

  104. Sister Y says:

    For those joining us now, the “old question” Antinous refers to is, is there any issue where it’s harmful for it to be known that there are opinions on both sides? This is in reference to Monique Davis’ assertion that it’s dangerous to let young people know that atheists exist. http://www.boingboing.net/2008/04/08/ill-rep-monique-davi.html

    Antinous – that is interesting. This ties into the discussion about the “optimistic bias” that has been going on at Overcoming Bias lately.

    I know of at least one study that showed that people with poor critical thinking skills rated themselves disproportionately high at critical thinking. Follow-up training on critical thinking skills caused them to have a more accurate self-evaluation (to rate themselves lower). This strikes me as sad but necessary. You have students so you know what I mean.

  105. Skullhunter says:

    @#210:

    “However,unlike pretty much everyone rallying against it, I’ve actually played every game in the series, and loved every last one. There actually is some pretty smart humor buried in all the dick and boob jokes, and the sex and violence outside of the missions is entirely optional.”

    Played through every one since GTA3 myself, excepting the current one. The smart humor has gotten buried deeper and deeper under dick, boob and gay jokes. Love the qualification of “sex and violence OUTSIDE of the missions” being optional. San Andreas had a mission that was integral to advancement in the game that involved the player running a car off the road that contained a priest being serviced by a prostitute. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t remember there being an option to let her bail out first. That’s just one off the top of my head, I’m sure more could be easily found by perusing any of the walkthroughs available for the games in the series.

    “And a lot of you seem to be missing the point. The GTA series is basically an homage to “gangster films” of all types, with all of the excessive violence and misogyny that comes with the genre.”

    I find myself wondering at what point “homage” simultaneously becomes a weasel word excuse to depict said violence and misogyny at a far greater level of repulsiveness than any of the “gangster films” supposedly being paid tribute to and a “you just don’t get it because you’re an unhip dullard” slam against anyone who criticizes said “homage”.

    “If that type of entertainment isn’t your thing then that’s your business, but don’t act like Rockstar invented misogyny or gratuitous violence.”

    No, they didn’t invent it, no one here is claiming they did and saying anyone is acting like they did is very subjective and ultimately unprovable. However, Rockstar is turning a profit on it. They’re perfectly free to do so. We’re perfectly free to speak critically of it.

    I have to say I liked the previous entries in the series but I won’t be playing this one. They’re forsaking their smart humor for stuff that mainly appeals to people who laugh at the mere mention of the word “dick” and use “gay” as a pejorative. Fortunately there’s plenty of other games both available and pending that are still capable of being engrossing without having to pander to the lowest common denominator.

  106. Irreal says:

    As usual, the US gets more in arms about the sexual aspects than the violence.
    The graphics are good enough that shooting up a street and cars looks amazingly real, bullet holes stay exactly where they hit vehicles and people react as wounded, limping away after non-lethal hits. You’d think more people would worry about that.

    Anyway, GTA IV teaches good lessons as well, genuine road safety ones. I’ve been playing it for a couple days and there’s a couple things you learn:
    Look both ways when crossing the street! Traffic will ruin your day like never before.
    The games makes it almost impossible to drive if you’ve been drinking (in game, but the Taxi’s are great).
    The game also really, really, needs a seatbelt button. The detail is fine enough that occupants often exit a car by the front windscreen in a crash. That’s cool to watch, but Niko doesn’t wear his belt, so several times car chases, dates or missions have ended up with me embedded in a wall. I just want a seatbelt button!

  107. Fiz says:

    I guess my dream of seeing the best games being held in the same league as the best movies will not come in my lifetime.

    All points of misogyny are valid. But I’d really like to see some people take the position that you can choose not to go around wantonly killing anyone when not in a mission. Not running the lights, even help the police catch a criminal (resulting police brutality notwithstanding)

    I don’t care about the sex and violence, I’ve become quite blase about it, and believe it or not, have been so since I was 8. I thank my parents for forcing me to watch violent movies since they don’t believe in wrapping me in cotton and letting me out in the world, wide-eyed and ignorant. They even let me play Doom at that age, on the condition that I understood that blowing stuff up in real life is a very bad thing. And I’m still quite a well-adjusted person.

    Going off-tangent. My point is, all the sex and violence in the world won’t mean a thing without a good story to back it up. And from what I hear, it’s a kickass story, and that’s all that matters to me.

  108. zugzug says:

    Many times when high profile games such as GTA4 are released people trot out the same arguments regarding protecting children and condemning adults that find the games fun or amusing in any way.

    It is almost universally ignored that both the PS3 and the Xbox 360 have the ability in the hardware to completely lock out M rated games from playing without a password presumably created by the responsible parent. That feature alone should silence anyone that wants to put the sole responsibility on the retailer or state that the M rated games are easier for kids to get. In reality the parents have all the power, as if they lock the console down the kids could buy as many copies of GTA as they desire yet they would be unable to play them when they popped the disc in.

  109. Antinous says:

    as ludicrous as a film being reviewed by someone who has not seen it

    That is a semi-spurious argument. I don’t need to have kids to know that it’s wrong, evil and bad when I hear a parent verbally abusing their child. It is possible and sometimes desirable not to participate in something before condemning it. I certainly wouldn’t have given the anti-Semite Mel Gibson $9 just to decide for myself that The Passion of the Christ was a sick propaganda film.

  110. Grimmway says:

    s 25 yr ld dctd ml fmnst wrkng fr th plc I find the amount of hysteria that these games raise amongst people absolutely ridiculous. I mention my particulars because if these games produce mal-adjusted deviants then I didn’t get the memo. I like Rangzen have played all the GTA games, since I was about 15, and I’m about 20% into the fourth game. Firstly, I’m startled by peoples willingness to judge a game with hundreds of hours of content based on 30 second clips of someone else’s intentionally outrageous activity. Would you pass such heavy handed moral judgments on a book, a movie, a song you had never read, watched or heard in its entirety? It’s somewhat akin to judging a book not by its contents but by the specific offensive words clipped out by someone else. Y knw wht thgh, tht srt f ntllctl lznss mght vn b ccptbl cmprd t th knd f dcy ppl r prtcptng n whn thy jdg ths typ f snd-bx gm, whr wht y chs t d s ntrly YR chc. Further, this whole issue of misogyny and the immorality of the game is again overblown. There are strong female characters (several primary characters including a powerful crime boss) and the prostitutes and strippers and any random character can be armed and respond to violence in kind. There are pedestrians who will immediately come to the aid of anyone in trouble. You are free to choose who you do missions for, whether you kill certain characters and whether you get involved in certain activities. You have a tremendous amount of choice in what you do, and it is that choice which makes the game appealing. It isn’t that the game is about killing prostitutes or visiting stripclubs that makes it appealing, it’s that those things are possible along with a plethora of other things including: becoming a vigilante, putting out fires, driving ambulance, driving taxi, repossessing vehicles, watching tv, surfing Rockstars own parody of the internet, flying a helicopter, jumping 2 buses on a motorcylce while tossing molotov cocktails at a hummer, play darts, play pool, go bowling, get drunk, rough up criminals, eat a hamburger, buy a nice suit, take a girlfriend out on the boardwalk, watch a really really lame cabaret and comedy club… the list goes on and on. Killing is an integeral game mechanic and sleeping with prostitutes is just window dressing, don’t construe the IGN video as some sort of overarching example of the game.
    Also, all those who think any adult who plays these games is some sort of social deviant, why dn’t y try gttng ff yr hgh hrs. dn’t jdg y by yr chc n ntrtnmnt s dn’t jdg m.
    Jack, if you think R rated movies are harder to get hold of then games you are living in a fantasy realm. The last time I saw a Blockbuster employee card a movie renter they were still renting VHS. It’s not a ‘psychotic nightmare’ and nd f y’d bthr t lrn nythng mr thn wht sm rctnrs fd y y’d knw tht. Y mght ls knw tht thr’s plnty f pgnnt strytllng, xcllnt hmr, nd grt ntrtnmnt, bt dn’t lt m crck yr rghts lttl snwglb.

  111. Teapunk says:

    In the olden days, you could even run over the prostitute after she finished her work and get your money back.
    I always thought that bit was a lot more tasteless than that Hot Coffee thingie. Never quite understood why people weren’t upset about that.
    In some strange way I’m glad to see Rockstar hasn’t caved in and is as tasteless and sexist as ever.

  112. Jack says:

    @ #121 POSTED BY SCHMEIS:
    Now that’s funny. Films are created outside of the scope of marketing??? Really?? Any time a large amount of money is spent on something that will be sold to the public Marketing is involved. Yes, this includes theater.

    There are—indeed—films, books & theater created solely based on marketing needs. But there is a greater variety of works created by individual voices with messages beyond marketing in films, books & theater than there are in video games. Nobody is sitting around the table at Rockstar saying, “You know, I think crime is a problem in society, and I think we should create a game about it so we can address this societal ill.”

    Any humor/satire/depth in games are secondary to gameplay and marketability. Not the same with films, books & theater.

    @ #134 POSTED BY ROB , MAY 1, 2008 10:34 AM
    @Jack: “It’s far easier for kids to get their hands on games than it is to see movies and we all know it. Granted nowadays it’s a tad easier to see R-rated films if you are a kid thanks to file-sharing but still.”

    Better tell the FTC. Games and theaters have the same level of age enforcement. DVDs however, have very pathetic enforcement. So cut with the “everybody knows it” crap, especially when it’s wrong.

    This is pretty amazing. When I was a kid, it was hard to get into R-rated movies and buying even model glue required my dad coming along.

    Flash forward to now and you have two things that make age level enforcement a joke at best: Internet stores and sales-person indifference.

    In the case of age enforcement with video games, just order it online or have someone else do it. Very easy. Or better yet, go to a big box retailer and just buy it. Most of the staff is underpaid and doesn’t care. Better yet, go to the small mom & pop video game store and buy it. They are desperate for sales and will simply sell it. In the case of sneaking into movie theaters, sneaking into movies is easier nowadays more than ever. Heck in the past 7 years I’m amazed at how many times I haven’t had my ticket checked. This is part of the reason folks go to automated ticketing machines, buy a “senior” priced ticket and then just walk in. The staff doesn’t really care. And heck, even if they did care, just buy a ticket to a PG or G movie and then just walk into the R rated film.

    What’s amazing about the comments here are how blind and zealous the fans are. To the point of stifling any criticism. If you want video games to be treated on the same level as other forms of media, you need to let people speak their mind. Nobody is getting up in arms about criticism about Madonna’s new album. But dare say there is *GASP* sexism in GTA games and suddenly you’re piled on by blind fans. THAT is why the genre will never get any level of serious criticism; oversensitivity.

  113. ivycrown says:

    Actually, a lot of the shock and horror this article refers to isn’t about the video game, it’s about that disgusting trailer. Which has been removed, because some people actually don’t think it’s funny. Nor is it an accurate promo of the game, and would be a pretty gross promo tool, which is what the common assumption of it’s purpose has been.

    http://multiplayerblog.mtv.com/2008/04/30/ign-yanks-gta-iv-sex-and-hooker-shooting-video/

    Jack Thompson on the other hand can stop trying to censor people thankyouverymuch.

  114. Jack says:

    Nobody is buying GTA for the story or poignancy or the humor or the satire. But kuds to their R&D and marketing team for making people believe their is depth there that simply doesn’t exist.

    @ #89 POSTED BY GRIMMWAY
    Jack, if you think R rated movies are harder to get hold of then games you are living in a fantasy realm. The last time I saw a Blockbuster employee card a movie renter they were still renting VHS.

    Perhaps you missed the full sentence where I said:
    “Not a fair comparison. It’s far easier for kids to get their hands on games than it is to see movies and we all know it. Granted nowadays it’s a tad easier to see R-rated films if you are a kid thanks to file-sharing but still.”

    @ #89 POSTED BY GRIMMWAY
    It’s not a ‘psychotic nightmare’ and if you’d bother to learn anything more than what some reactionaries feed you you’d know that.

    I’ve fed myself by playing various incarnations of GTA and the premise is always the same: There are no rules to the world, everyone is out to get you, and the only way to win to to go against them. That’s pretty much a psychotic/cynical nightmare.

  115. jccalhoun says:

    #191And to the people who compared it to fighting/boxing games – at least in them, the women get to fight back; at least in them, the women might actually win, and have a purpose beyond just getting killed.

    actually in situations where anyone would be able to fight back women in GTA can fight back. Sure they can’t put up a fight if you run them over or shoot them but then again who could? If you punch the women they will either run away or fight back just as the men in the game do.

  116. Dan says:

    “It is no question that GTA is merely reflective of the bigger misogyny embedded in capitalist patriarchy…

    Why am I reminded of the peasant in Monty Python and The Holy Grail?

    “Come see the violence inherent in the system!”

  117. Maurik says:

    There’s also sex in God of War for PSP. 333Mhz of hardcore MFF action.

    Who cares tbh, if kids play this game and kill some whores, I’d be the first to point my finger to the kid’s parents.

  118. madprime says:

    I am not amused. This blasé contrarian response just looks like yet another shallow “cooler than thou” post-feminist attitude. I’m all about sexual liberation, but I’m *very* disappointed to see Xeni / Boing Boing promoting an article so totally dismissive of anyone who is at all troubled by GTA’s continuing misogyny.

  119. sum.zero says:

    “Fmnsts wnt vryn t b cnsdrd “cmplx, ntllctl bngs wh dsr mr t f lf,” rgrdlss f sx r gndr.”

    nt tryng t wd nt th rgmnt hr, bt ths rspns t gnrlztn bt fmnsts s tslf gnrlztn…

    sm.zr

  120. raya says:

    There are two things about this article that I’d dispute.

    First, he seems to assume that the feelings of johns represent the feelings of men in general. Maybe they do, but I’m gonna need a hell of a lot of evidence before I believe it.

    Secondly, does it ever occur to this guy that these feelings aren’t exclusive to men? I don’t see a lot of American products pandering to women in this fashion, but I know quite a few women who pay hefty fees to import male exploitation and guro comics from Japan.

  121. MichaelWDean says:

    GTA offends me, but as much for the violence against men in the game as the violence against women (I’m not any kind of “-ist”, but am more of a humanist than a feminist if anything.) And I’m offended just as much by the “gotta get mine, bling bling bling” overall motif of the game (and yeah, I’ve played it, and sadly, I rather enjoyed it. It’s a really well done game.)

    But I’ll also fight for the right of this company, or anyone, to put out sociopathic garbage like this.

    That said, I am more offended by McDonalds ads, Diamond ads and especially by American Idol.
    ——–
    Also, this “…f ths s wht dgrs n gndr stds hth wrght, plysyllbc blggrs stll crpng bt th ptrrchy, pls fckng stp hndng thm t” is one of the funniest, most right-on things I think I’ve ever read.”

    –Michael W. Dean

  122. jccalhoun says:

    #117 wrote:
    “Feminists would be more convincing on this issue if they didn’t say things like, “misogyny embedded in capitalist patriarchy”. As if there were no misogyny amongst the New Guinea natives we read about here last week who found pigs a useful currency for buying women.

    Misogyny isn’t caused by capitalism.”

    I’m not sure that the statement “misogyny embedded in capitalist patriarchy” is meant to imply that misogyny is cause by capitalism. I think it is meant to imply that within a patriarchal form of capitalism there is a form of misogyny that is built in.

  123. jlongstreet says:

    It’s not as if the game specifically features killing hookers. You can kill anyone walking around. There are hookers walking around. So, you can kill hookers. I’m only a small way into GTA IV, but in the previous games I’m pretty sure there were no missions to kill hookers.

    What I don’t understand is why Jack Bauer torturing innocent people (in live action, as well) is acceptable, but a rendered cartoony Niko Bellic getting a rendered cartoony lap dance is destroying our children.

  124. Antinous says:

    If you punch the women they will either run away or fight back just as the men in the game do.

    Can they have guns? Knives? Flamethrowers?

  125. jlongstreet says:

    Also, I’m sure most people playing the game won’t read as much into it, but the whole game is social commentary. Everything is exaggerated to ridiculous proportion, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s a pretty accurate, if not over-the-top, commentary on politics and American society, specifically in large cities like New York.

  126. Lauren O says:

    Madprime, I now present you with a prize. The prize is my approval. Thank you for being awesome.

  127. Grimmway says:

    Jack
    First, I did notice your caveat, which was pretty much my point; you admit things are easier then try and make sm rdcls ppst clm. You’re the one stretching here, not me.
    An second, don’t mistake rockstars marketing with my own opinion. I’ve actually played the fourth game, I made a judgment myself on its content. Tht’s bttr thn y cn d. D y jdg vry sql by ts prdcssrs s wll? Yr lck f ntrst n ndrstndng th gm s prtty bvs, bt for the record: not everyone is out to get you, you can do things cooperatively with both computer characters and in multiplayer, and there are rules in the world, a fact referenced in both the story itself and the mechanics of the game.

  128. decius says:

    Ripley: As I mentioned to Lauren O, numerous comments on this thread, some of the organizations linked from this thread, and the political advocacy that surrounds this issue, directly support political action that constrains access to games like this and constrains their content.

    If you’d like to critique, critique away, but PLEASE, actually play the game before you critique it. More than half of the people in this thread “critiquing” the game don’t really understand how it works and have obviously never played it.

    And PLEASE, try to remember that people who play video games tacitly understand the difference between the morality and consequences of things that they do in a game, and the morality and consequences of things that they do in real life. Most people who play video games are not remotely confused on this point. Generally speaking, its the people who don’t play these games and don’t know much about them who have the hardest time telling the difference between the two. Furthermore, acknowledging this doesn’t require accepting that “images have no effect on us.” It does require accepting that most people are, in fact, capable of thinking for themselves.

  129. mkultra says:

    @ #159:

    That is a semi-spurious argument. I don’t need to have kids to know that it’s wrong, evil and bad when I hear a parent verbally abusing their child.

    That’s what we like to call a straw man argument. Next.

    It is possible and sometimes desirable not to participate in something before condemning it. I certainly wouldn’t have given the anti-Semite Mel Gibson $9 just to decide for myself that The Passion of the Christ was a sick propaganda film.

    …and that there would be an excellent example of an ad hominem attack.

    Thank you for proving my point.

  130. nico416 says:

    …if these games produce mal-adjusted deviants then I didn’t get the memo.

    This whole I-played-X-and-I’m-not-a-rampaging-killer argument is such a red herring. Not everyone who saw “Birth of a Nation” went out and lynched a black person either, that doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to talk about how fucked up it’s portrayal of people of color is and what that says about society at the time it was made.
    Dissecting problematic aspects of popular culture is part of how we move forward.
    Oops, sorry BoingBoing, I guess “problematic” is polysyllabic! Hope no one got lost there what with all that academic language!

  131. Bonnie says:

    If “Grand Theft Auto IV is the gravest assault upon children in this country since polio” — does that make “Halo” more like Herpes? I think we could be on to a whole new “viral” marketing campaign!

  132. decius says:

    Ths thrd s dsppntng. Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I understood this blog to be about high-tech counter culture. Perhaps you could say pop-culture but its hard to tell the difference any more.

    Vd gms r prt f tht cltr, nd ths clls fr cnsrshp f thm r n ttck n tht cltr. n ttck tht cms frm ppl lk Hllry Clntn, wh r t th hghst lvls f r scty.

    I am surprised to see the only thing BoingBoing has to offer in response to these attacks is a kind of concurrence. A rant that accepts that GTA is misogynist and seems to argue that this is simply how men are and we have to accept it, followed by a thread full of people who reiterate that GTA is misogynist and argue that it cannot be accepted.

    Both of these perspectives are deeply wrong, bt wht’s mr cnfsng t m s hw nyn vn rmtly ssctd wth hgh tch cntr cltr cld hld ths knds f tttds bt vd gms.

    Of course there are exceptions, but generally speaking these people don’t play video games. They don’t understand why people play video games. They don’t understand the mechanics of this game. They certainly don’t understand the level of schizophrenia required to confuse the moral and emotional differences between running over a pixel sprite with a pixel car and actually mowing a real human being down in the real street with a real car. Thy dn’t gt t, nd thy dn’t wnt t gt t. Thr s n pnt n vn tryng t xpln t t thm, s mny n ths thrd hv.

    Ths ppl r cnsrs. Thy r n dffrnt frm ppl wh cll fr th cnsrshp f mvs, f rck msc, nd f cmc bks. Thr mtvs r th sm, thr mthds r th sm, nd thr gls r th sm. They are people who have an axe to grind, nd thy r nt gng t lt rlty stnd n th wy f tht. Thy sk t cntrl thngs tht thy dn’t ndrstnd nd dn’t lk SMPLY BCS THY DN’T LK THM, nd thy hv dvlpd pstrr rtnlztns tht th thngs thy dn’t lk mst b hrmfl n rdr t jstfy thr plcy pstns.

    Censorship is not rational. Its not rational when it is applied to adults and it is usually not rational when it is applied to teenagers. Its certainly not rational in the context of preventing 16 year olds from buying a video game in which they can choose to run people over with a car. We let them have real cars! If we didn’t think they were capable of understanding why you shouldn’t run real people over we wouldn’t be giving them real cars.

    Gnrlly spkng, th lck f ndrstndng tht lds t th cnclsn tht cltrl rtfct s “trsh” s prdct f cltr gp. nd tht s wht s t th hrt f my dsppntmnt n sng ths thrd. Crtnly, ppl wh r prt f hgh tch cntr cltr r lkly t ndrstnd vd gms. S wh th hll r ll th ppl n ths thrd wh dn’t ndrstnd vd gms, nd dn’t mch lk nyn wh ds?! Hw dd y fnd THS blg? Wht d y gt t f rdng t?!

  133. Anonymous says:

    There have got to be at least seven GTA products to date…I don’t know how people can still muster up the effort to be outraged.

    In terms of objectionable content…there isn’t anything in this one that hasn’t been in at least one of the previous releases. New characters, new mechanics…same list of objectionable material.

    My advice…take that effort and move it to something productive. Start a youth club if you’re worried about how kids are going to turn out. Volunteer at a woman’s shelter if you are concerned about abused women. Go out and feed the homeless…do something that’s worth doing. Because you’re screaming at a wall. The ridiculously overwhelming majority of people who play this game are going to turn out ok…society didn’t break down with the release of GTA III. The rest…go and actually help them, because you may actually be able to make a difference in their life. And its going to feel better than arguing with someone over the internet.

  134. glugenwog says:

    I don’t think most people are trying to silence the critics here, they’re just getting frustrated at the “critics” who haven’t played the game. Seriously, you do have to play it to judge it – what do you think they mean by the term “sand-box genre.”

    And while it’s frustrating to hear complaints from people unfamiliar with the topic, it’s much more annoying to have labels thrown at you to boot. People on both sides of the argument have done this and I wish we could stick to the actual topic without insulting each other.

  135. DanDarey says:

    @Jack

    “I already aired my dismay that Boing Boing is helping to promote this overhyped game”

    GTA4 is part of geek/pop culture. Why wouldn’t it get a mention on Boing Boing?

    “but geez louise, so nobody can say ANYTHING critical about hyper-violent and overly sexual games ”

    Erm, yes, obviously they do. See: The Clintons, Jack Thompson, Bloggers, Journalists et al.

    “like GTA that are clearly marketed to teens?”

    GTA is for over 18s. It’s marketing is not “clearly” aimed at teens.

    “Sorry but you know there is something amiss when people can’t call crud for crud. ”

    It’s crud in your opinion. Edge magazine, amongst others, gave it ten out of ten.

    “And what is AMAZING about the current GTA release is how much they are couching what they do as being “satirical”. How many new blurbs and reports repeat that “This is a satire…” mantra?”

    That’s not amazing at all the satirical content is quite clearly there.

    “This isn’t satire.”

    In your opinion

    “This is a mass-marketed misogynist game that is specifically targeted towards teens no matter what Rockstar’s company line is. ”

    In your opinion. And you don’t work at Rockstar so it’s your word against theirs. I choose theirs as I think you are an unrealiable witness.

    “They know their market.”
    Yes.

    “And it’s amazing how many people are drinking the proverbial Kool Aid.”

    Popular game appeals to lots of gamers. Kool Aid doesn’t come into it.

    “Anyone remember when video games weren’t all based on sociopathic murder fantasies?”

    Yes. That would be right now. This very moment.

  136. l'elk! says:

    yep, i think Grimmway summed that up pretty well.

  137. Grimmway says:

    Nico416, I didn’t say we couldn’t talk about it, I was responding to #18 and others who seem to think adults who play these games are defacto insipid monsters, by virtue of their interest. My apologies for lack of clarity.

  138. Anonymous says:

    Er, Feministing is pretty much the only reaction to the game that makes any sense at all. Reverse Cowgirl is as turned around on this as her favourite position.

  139. Tom says:

    JCCalhoun @123: Arguably true, which I didn’t realize until I did a little apres’-rant refection.

    t s stll th cs tht lmpng nrltd sss tgthr ds nt d th fmnst cs ny gd. t cnfss n ss tht s lrdy cnfsd ngh, nd th drppng cntmpt n bth sds f th fnc sn’t dng nyn ny gd (ys, glty hr t.)

    If we could all agree that:

    1) Humans have a biological tendency toward polygamy

    2) This tendency tends to devalue women’s autonomy and men’s autonomy in different, and class-dependent, ways

    then we could move on to address the various ways in which different forms of social organization devalue different people’s autonomy.

    And let’s not kid ourselves: lower status men have their autonomy threatened by humanity’s tendency toward polygamy as well. Women got the vote in Britain only about sixty years after men did, and men got conscripted and shipped off to die in senseless wars for quite some time after that. Systemic violence against almost everyone is routine in may societies, and there really seems to me to be nothing about capitalism that makes it particularly worthy of note in this respect.

    So to bring capitalism into the issue seems to me a bad move on both rhetorical and logical grounds.

  140. DanDarey says:

    @BMA

    “Could someone explain exactly how GTA is “satire”? Satire is, by definition, using humour, sarcasm, or irony to criticise something -”

    Visit the official GTA website.

    See how every little thing is a joke? A parody? A pun?

    Listen to the right wing radio or tv shows.

    GTA4 is the funniest video game yet created.

    Yes, it’s funnier than the Monkey Island series.

  141. meeneecat says:

    “I don’t need to have kids to know that it’s wrong, evil and bad when I hear a parent verbally abusing their child.”

    “That’s what we like to call a straw man argument.”

    Actually MKULTRA, ANTINOUS was making an analogy, it’s not a straw man argument. Especially because it’s true that one doesn’t need to have kids to know that abusing kids is wrong, likewise, it’s true that one need not have played GTA in order to criticize it. I’m saying this as a gamer and someone who has played GTA. Stop being so oversensitive about your damn game…as they say…it’s only a game.

  142. glugenwog says:

    They’re forsaking their smart humor for stuff that mainly appeals to people who laugh at the mere mention of the word “dick” and use “gay” as a pejorative.

    I’ll thank you not to group those people into the same category. Dick jokes have their place in the humor spectrum (low), but homophobia does not.

  143. ceebee1 says:

    Really, to suppose that kids aren’t going to see this is abdicating our responsibility as adults, to understand human nature in a basic way.

    It’s going to be most exciting to them.

    I was just visiting some friends in the sweet little English city of Exeter, and the woman is a new teacher at a school for 13-16 year-olds. She said it was all anyone was talking about, and the boys couldn’t wait to get a copy of it.

    I think that to say what you do in your imagination has no effect on what you do in “reality,” is to misunderstand the power and function of the mind. Inciting the instincts within the human mind towards harming and abusing others, stirs this up within our own consciousness, and does not encourage the development of those qualities that will really make us happy.

  144. Belac says:

    Lure of the forbidden. The more feminists, and society, vilify this game, the more it will become an escapist fantasy and thus popular.

  145. nath11 says:

    I’m not going to take sides on the issue I just want to provide an interesting perspective:
    It is finals week at one of the top universities in the nation. While many students have locked themselves up in the library to study for hours at end, others are locked in their rooms with a game control in hand yelling at the SWAT member who just ruined their drug deal. Surrounding the player is food and drinks so he will not have to leave the game.

    Since the release of the game, I have not spent one moment with my boyfriend where I have had his undivided attention. It’s rather amusing and kind of pathetic at the same time. It’s funny how video games reach out to different types of people. Whereas I would never see my next door neighbor playing anything besides smash brothers, others thrive on games like GTA.

  146. Scraps says:

    “Polysyllabic” is an insult in BoingBoing world now? I hope that was just an insult-without-thinking kind of thing. Allergies to academic-speak shouldn’t shut down your own rational thought process, and there’s frankly nothing especially academic — or objectionable — in the sneered-at sentence. Unless you think the very idea of using the word “patriarchy” is, like, so last generation.

  147. Anonymous says:

    Um, you can also shoot men in this game too…

  148. Anonymous says:

    Wow, the discourse that I’ve read about this so far has been really disheartening. And now to see a BoingBoing post being so uncharacteristically dismissive of a social discourse because, if I understand correctly, it’s too academic (in the case of feministing) or that it’s completely nonsensical (in the case of Jack Thompson)?

    It seems that the two are given the same billing, even though one describes a interesting question that you can choose whether or not to think about, and one describes government censorship/a full-out assault on first-amendment rights. Which I suppose is saying that anybody for whom the idea that they spent all the time and effort programming these elaborate scenes of sexualized violence against women is unsettling, is as crazy as Jack Thompson.

    The website Feministing did not say that the game should be censored or limited in its release, or that it would cause young men to become violent towards women. It says that it makes the imagery (if not necessarily the act) of violence against women more socially acceptable and even “cool” (as evidenced by the post right here on BB about the guy breaking the world record of GTA playing saying how disappointing it is that he only slept with a prostitute once).

    Yes, the murder in the game is unacceptable also, but seeing as how that’s central to the game, saying that it’s disconcerting and non-violent gamers might not be comfortable playing it seems absurd. If you don’t want to play a violent video game, don’t buy it. But female gamers, and especially feminist gamers, who find the sexualized violence against women disconcerting but still want to play a great, highly interactive and (honestly) violent game are put in an uncomfortable position by this. It specifically projects the idea that female gamers are NOT who this awesome fun game is marketed to, because if they feel uncomfortable with the portrayal of women in this game, they’re overly academic losers who can’t just ignore hurtful things and play the damn game.

    Why spend the time programming these acts? And then to have the nerve to call it the gamer’s choice! The programmers control your choice as a gamer, you cannot do everything in-game that you can do in the real world, because not everything is programmed in.

    And as much as all of us hate to admit it, the more we practice a behavior, in rl or simulated, the more likely we are to repeat that thought process. Yes, studies have shown that children who play violent video games tend to act out more. Whether that means that people who are attracted to violent video games are generally more violent people or that practicing simulated violence leads to real world violent behavior is not shown (correlation not equaling causation and whatnot). Oh noes! Am I being too akudemik?! I must be suggesting that we burn the first amendment (I hope people can understand the word amendment as it is polysyllabic).

    Karen A.

  149. Anonymous says:

    “Grand Theft Auto IV is the gravest assault upon children in this country since polio.”

    The game is rated Mature by the ESRB and Target actually scanned my driver’s license for compliance (I’m 35…), so I’m not so sure the game is an attack on children per se. If he was really interested in keeping this content away from children wouldn’t he be more successful doing what he can to encourage retailers to adhere to the ESRB guidelines? Or is he really interested in keeping this content away from everyone?

  150. stupok says:

    To those that can’t stop blaming video games for the evils in our world:

    Please stop blaming video games.

    Or, if you really can’t stop, then blame TV shows, movies, magazines, radio broadcasts, the Internet, and every other form of expression we’ve devised, too. Don’t single out video games. Yes, kids have access to all of those things, not just video games.

    Violence does not happen because of (put form of expression here). People aren’t selling crack because they see such amazingly cool people doing it in the movies. Likewise, people aren’t killing because a video game involves killing. In fact, the video game involves killing because there are people in the real world killing.

    GTA has always been a big satire, making fun of our own culture, and I think it’s great.

  151. Antinous says:

    Grand Theft Auto is getting lots of flack from Mothers Against Drunk Driving because of the drunk driving and from New York City’s Mayor and Police Department because it features killing. Oddly, none of them seem particular concerned about the fate of the hookers, which in the case of the Mayor and the NYPD, is probably pretty ironic.

  152. Jack says:

    @ #162 POSTED BY GLUGENWOG , MAY 1, 2008 3:17 PM
    I don’t think most people are trying to silence the critics here, they’re just getting frustrated at the “critics” who haven’t played the game. Seriously, you do have to play it to judge it – what do you think they mean by the term “sand-box genre.”

    That’s ridiculous. I’ve played other GTA games on friend’s setups, and never completed them. Why? Because I’m just not into a game that is that hateful and vengeful and cynical towards the world. It’s in no way a satire and anyone claiming it as such is just a tad brainwashed.

    The issue with this argument of having to had to “fully play the game” is it’s not analogous to books, film or even theater. The amount of time one would need to devote to playing GTA to the end is not worth most people’s time. Thus you have these naturally polarized points of view. On the one hand you have GTA zealots who want to justify the hours spent on the game, so they won’t dare say anything remotely critical. On the other you have non-GTA folks who just don’t want to spend time playing a game like that for any reason.

    And the general sense is even if one magically is able to get a critic of GTA to play the game to the end, and then after that the critic holds their ground and says “You know, it’s misogynistic, cynical and very negative…” they would still be shot down for other reasons.

    The reality is this. Either you want to spend hours of your life immersed in such a cynical game/world or you don’t. I actually don’t want to deny anyone the right to play this game, but let’s not place a game on a pedestal as a way of self-justifying the highly negative content in the game. And the fact it’s being targeted to kids (seriously if you don’t accept that you’re blind to how marketing works) makes it all even worse.

  153. Jack says:

    @ #94 POSTED BY GRIMMWAY:
    Based on your comments there is one overarching rule for any GTA game: Don’t ever dare have an opinion that dares to criticize anything about the GTA franchise.

    Not everyone who saw “Birth of a Nation” went out and lynched a black person either, that doesn’t mean we’re not allowed to talk about how fucked up it’s portrayal of people of color is and what that says about society at the time it was made.

    Now you’re making no sense at all since all you are doing is trouncing people here who dare to say anything against GTA or Rockstar games at all. FWIW, “Birth of a Nation” didn’t make people instantly jump out and commit racist acts, but it did enforce and legitimize wretched behavior and validated it to the masses.

    It’s not a reflection of society nor is it a deep polemic on the aches/pains of society. And in a decade or less nobody will care about or write about the game, because it’s shelf life would have expired and the hype would be dead.

    Video games like GTA are not created outside of the scope of marketing; that’s why it will never approach the level of criticism that films, theater and literature get. Nobody at Rockstar is saying “Hey this is a great commentary on society’s ills, lets make it!” That—more than anything—is the reason video games will never get any respect in the world of critical thought. Anyone lamenting games as seriously medium of creative expression really needs to take that into account.

    Enjoy the game, but please… Don’t put it on a pedestal it doesn’t deserve.

  154. Church says:

    Let me get this straight. This so-called game features sex *and* violence? And, despite that, it’s extremely popular? Fascinating.

    Fortunately, I’m sure graduate students everywhere will immerse themselves in further research. I look forward to the flurry of papers.

  155. sum.zero says:

    lauren o:

    #91 – It’s not a generalization to say that feminists want people to be regarded as people regardless of sex or gender. Feminism is about gender equality. That is its definition. It has a lot of different strands, but the thing – maybe the only thing – that unites those strands is gender equality. Saying that is a generalization is like saying, “You don’t have to believe in God to be a Christian. That’s a generalization.”
    __________________________

    that is a definition of feminism that you agree with. i have read many others. for example, i have seen it defined as a philosophy in which women and their contributions are valued. this says nothing about “people” in general, except by implication.

    however, this is beside the point.

    what i said was that in attributing a single view point to “feminism” you are generalizing. not all feminists espouse this philosophy. some are actively hostile to men, some are not. i’m just saying that in my experience feminists run the full gamut of opinions and views, just like everyone else.

  156. glugenwog says:

    164: There are logical fallacies in your argument, I’m not sure you understand what MKULTRA is saying.

    165: Violence in media can certainly be harmful – to young and developing minds. Howevever, if you’re saying that what adults do in their imagination or in games will manifest in reality, it simply has no basis. The exception to this is in the case of the mentally unsound, but that is a whole new issue.

  157. Kyle Armbruster says:

    People who complain about GTA are stupid.

    There. No big words needed.

    GTA is some of the best satirical work out there, and it happens to be a video game. You’re not required or even asked to shoot hookers. You just can. And you know what happens? The cops come.

    And Jack Thompson… Ugh. He’s just not even worth the keystrokes, but…

    This is not a kid’s game. It says so on the box. It has always said so on the box. Don’t give it to your kids if you don’t want them to play a violent game.

    I will never understand why this is any different from a kid seeing, I dunno, Hostel. No one screams “This is an affront to children!!!” because kids aren’t supposed to see it. Granted, kids will see it, just like kids will play GTA.

    That is no one’s problem or business but their parents.

    I have a friend who only plays violent video games after his primary-school-aged kids go to bed, because he doesn’t think they are appropriate for their age. And I think he’s right.

    Parenting! What a concept.

    Finally, Women’s Studies… Ugh. Actually, the whole liberal arts branch of higher education has been inundated with this “pile a bunch of big words onto an outdated outrage” line of thought. You get points for subverting the dominant paradigm instead of thinking rationally or clearly. I got into linguistics because it was the only part of the English department that I could go to to escape the onslaught of total and utter BS dressed up as an academic pursuit.

    I’m going to say something and be vilified for it, but:

    There is no patriarchy. Women hold the majority of political and social control, and always have. They lack power, to be sure, but they have always had the control. Control beats power every time. It’s the pen over the sword. A man can beat his wife, but his wife instills values in his children.

    This dichotomy has always existed, and has always favored women. Look to Lysistrata for the earliest example of this in literature (that I can think of). Even The Taming of the Shrew has this as a major theme. Kate is the one in control of that situation. Women vote more.

    GTA is just a video game, folks. And a well-produced and interesting one at that. Put your shock away; it’s boring me.

  158. Djinn PAWN says:

    I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned this aspect, but I play some videogames purely for the taboo factor. The appeal being that there is no way on earth that I would act like my avatar in a video game.

    Over at a friend’s place we were trying out a driving game on his PS3 (2 couples MF, MF). It was blisteringly realistic, gear shifting, tail drifting fun. We all took turns playing… driving against traffic (which I got the longest record for – the game rewards that kind of behaviour), jumping off of car parks, and getting into spectacularly lethal crashes. Every time one of us would die a violent car death we would all cringe with a feeing of ‘what if that were real’ uneasiness and excitement. In other words, we had fun BECAUSE OF, not in spite of, the fact that it was completely opposite of how we would drive in real life. The entertainment was because of the taboo-like behaviour.

    Do I actually drive like that? Nope. Why? Because real life is different than a game, no matter how realistic, and you use a different set of values in the real world than you would in a game.

    Our same group has played GTA San Andreas (the two MF couples) and we all take turns ribbing each other’s play style “whoa, killing that person, that was cold!” or “watch me steal the biggest truck I can find to run stuff over with” and other ludicrous commentaries and suggestions.

    Are the GTA games misogynistic… sometimes. But for something that is supposed to entertain me, part of that appeal is to do something against my normal behaviour, or outside my usual scope of behaviour. On a normal day I wouldn’t chainsaw a zombie, fly a spaceship, be a sniper in the second world war, crawl a dungeon or shoot a prostitute. Because I realize that this is why some games appeal to me it re-enforces my long held beliefs – aliens should be greeted with respect, dungeons should be left unopened, and misogyny is BAD. It is a weird way to be reminded of those values, but games like these cause me to reflect on them.

    What worries me more is videogames in arcades that actually have life like weapons, like shotguns, that you use as a controller and you shoot video footage (can you get more real?) of animals and the like. I doubt that any GTA player would be able to go up to a prostitute and button mash them into submission with their thumbs… but you can learn to hold and aim a shotgun pretty well with these deer-hunter games, and are there age restrictions on those?

    And this is where the worry is… does GTA make you act and have morals like you would in the game? I don’t believe that GTA prepares you for crime in real life. It neither mimics real life actions (like holding a gun) nor does it represent real life attitudes (driving a stolen car on a sidewalk to run over a prostitute).

    I think that mass marketing like ‘Dr. Mom’ and dishwashing soap commercials do more to promote misogyny by using real life every day situations and real people (actors) than a 2 hour completely ludicrous crime spree with GTA. When you sit down for a game session, you know what you are getting into… escapism. But when you have a 30 second lesson in ‘who should be in the kitchen’ foisted upon you during every commercial break of every show for your entire life the message would seem to me to be lot more powerful from the latter.

    When I look around and see how many people are running over prostitutes for cash vs how many kids only ask mom (and not dad) to bake the toll-house cookies I can see that GTA doesn’t really have as much effect on misogynistic attitudes as the commercials that run during Jack Thompson’s shows.

  159. Antinous says:

    ‘Straw man’. ‘Ad hominem’. That’s what I refer to as name calling. An inability or unwillingness to make a cohesive argument, resulting in the invocation of a set phrase meant to silence the disagreement. You might as well type “Do Not Want!” It would stand up just as well to inspection.

    What part of ‘analogy’ do you find challenging? For that matter, what part of ‘semi-spurious’ do you find incomprehensible. Your argument might apply in specific cases but fails as a blanket rule.

    As to ‘attack’, you are a very sensitive soul. I quiver to think what damage GTA must be doing to someone so frail of self-confidence. I made a polite comment and you shit your pants over it.

  160. Anonymous says:

    I can understand why teenage boys like this game, but all adults who buy it for themselves should be reclassified as minors and have their adult privileges revoked.

    Seriously. Cars, guns, poorly rendered naked women and “soft porn”? I know that feminist male psyche simplification and general female disrespect for all things male has gone overboard during last few years, but WTF?

    Did I miss a meeting or something? Have we men now officially decided to stop pretending that we too are complex, intellectual beings who desire more out of life than drive around abusing hookers? We really need to improve communication of these things. I just switched from now out of date metrosexual style to badly groomed true man style, and now I’m out of date again. I don’t have driving license or a gun permit. Is it okay if I just drive around in a buss being unpleasant to women?

  161. Antinous says:

    does it ever occur to this guy

    Are you referring to Susannah Breslin as a guy? She might not take too kindly to that.

    The video is pretty offensive from a violence standpoint. I think that Susannah’s point is that this is the symptom, not the cause. The sex is just laughable. And what nationality is that guy supposed to represent? Transylvanian?

  162. jccalhoun says:

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  163. glugenwog says:

    166: You have valid points, but I wasn’t really directing my statement to people like yourself. I was referring to the people that either didn’t play the game at all, or to the people who watched video footage or another player going on a rampage.

    Also, it is possible that I’m blind here, but can you explain how this is being targeted specifically toward kids? And by that, I mean how is it being directed toward kids using means that aren’t also appealing toward those that are 17+.

  164. Tenlow says:

    As my cousin (who was 5 at the time) said to my mother while playing Goldeneye, in response to her objections over the violence: “It’s just a video game Becky”. If he figured it out then, why can’t anyone else figure it out now?

  165. Djinn PAWN says:

    A recent article about how violence in video games does not increase actual violent behavior:

    “Many games involve multi-person play, with the players either in the same room or connected electronically. They often require that players communicate so that they can co-ordinate their efforts. Our research found that playing violent video games was associated with playing with friends.

    For younger children especially, games are a topic of conversation that allows them to build relationships with peers.”

    http://www.thestar.com/article/419019

  166. Lone says:

    @15

    Sadly the shock never gets boring for the ones that make the most noise.

  167. jccalhoun says:

    Not a fair comparison. It’s far easier for kids to get their hands on games than it is to see movies and we all know it. Granted nowadays it’s a tad easier to see R-rated films if you are a kid thanks to file-sharing but still.

    Not according to the FCC http://kotaku.com/388443/ftc-its-increasingly-difficult-for-children-to-buy-m+rated-games

  168. Lauren O says:

    There is no patriarchy. Women hold the majority of political and social control, and always have.

    I literally just spilled orange juice all over myself laughing at this. That is not an Internet expression of disbelief. I literally have orange juice down the front of my shirt.

    Anyway, I’m not blaming GTA for making kids go on shooting rampages or some such shit. I’m just saying that encouraging a scenario in which you have sex with a prostitute and then kill her to get your money back is an example of misogyny. Fin.

  169. Tenn says:

    the gravest assault upon children in this country

    Children can buy this?

    Damn, a year ago I was denied Doom 3 at a games store. I must ask these children where they’re getting their games from, being as it’s labeled MATURE and only purchasable by ADULTS.

  170. Scoutmaster says:

    I don’t want the government to do anything about anything and I think anyone who does call for government action should be accused of being a fascist and dismissed out of hand by anyone who considers themselves an individual.

  171. kaphin says:

    Ww, t fnd n ntry hr cmplnng bt wmn cmplnng bt vlnc gnst wmn.

    Gd fckng by.

  172. aliceinreality says:

    I am really disappointed in BoingBoing today. First, there was the vitriol-filled rant against Mac Geniuses at Apple stores on BBGagdets (full disclosure: i’m a mac specialist, who, incidentally, is not a douchebag or a twat.), which I was kind of shocked to see on BB anywhere.

    Now, BB is posting an ad-hominem argument against feminists and people that don’t like to think of their fellow men and women as animals.

    Please don’t slide downhile, BoingBoing. You are the best blog. =(

  173. jitrobug says:

    Where does punching girls in wii boxing fit into this?

  174. Jack says:

    @ #170 POSTED BY GLUGENWOG
    Also, it is possible that I’m blind here, but can you explain how this is being targeted specifically toward kids? And by that, I mean how is it being directed toward kids using means that aren’t also appealing toward those that are 17+.

    First and foremost, as a video game it’s inherently something tracked to appeal to kids. Second, just the artwork used for the promotion of the game itself: broad black lined illustrations with bright solid colors which make it look like a comic book or cartoon. Yes, we all know adults read comics as well, but comics and animation are mainly a medium of youth; you won’t find graphic novels in senior centers.

    Beyond that, one needs to only look towards Rockstar’s “street team” efforts. Stickers and murals in NYC are being placed in areas where people under 20 will be seeing it. They aren’t placing posters outside of museums or nightclubs. But in lower Manhattan and the Village where teens hang out.

    GTA action figures are also out there.

    Now any critic can dissect this and say it’s over analysis, but look at the marketing for the movie Iron Man: Similar in many respects and it’s a film targeted towards kids. But nobody is taking them to task for it because it’s accepted that it’s for kids.

    But most of the so-called “satire” in the game is really on the level of a teen or pre-teens understanding. Does any adult actually think renaming “Craigslist” to “Craplist” is a witty satire designed to stimulate an adult mind?

    And beyond that if you can’t see how the “forbidden fruit” aspect of this game is being pushed to the limits in getting kids enticed to get the game, I can’t explain it anymore.

  175. batu b says:

    Just because a 5 year old says something doesn’t mean he’s “figured it out.”

  176. shiva7663 says:

    If Jack Thompson hates it, then I’m willing to cut back on food in order to buy a copy of the game when it is released for the PC. That’s my knee-jerk response.

  177. scottfree says:

    jitrobug,

    here is where it fits into it, a la Booster gold:

    http://www.the-isb.com/?p=310

  178. Lauren O says:

    Yo, I already know that if I were the one playing GTA, I would not kill the goddamn hookers. It’s not my sandbox experience that I’m worried about, it’s the experience of immature teenagers whose view of society and of women is in its formative stages. In that respect, it’s actually more valuable for me to have seen immature teenagers play the game than to have played it myself.

    I understand that there are aspects of the gameplay that have nothing to do with misogyny that I have no experience with. I understand that there are perfectly, or at least marginally, acceptable parts of GTA. I even understand you are not required to kill the hookers. But you’re allowed to and certainly not discouraged from killing the hookers, and I watched firsthand as a bunch of otherwise very nice teenage boys did so with gleeful abandon and made horrible dehumanizing comments about prostitutes.

    I don’t want to outlaw or ban or censor the game. I just want to draw attention to an especially problematic part of it, so that maybe one or two teenage boys out there will play the game and choose not to kill the hookers because they recognize it’s misogynistic. I’m not sure why this makes people want to shout me down so hard.

  179. Rob says:

    @BMA:
    You expect the hookers to be invincible? People can be killed in game. Hookers are people. Therefore, hookers can be killed. No large leaps of logic there.

    That’s all there is to it in the sandbox. Nothing more, nothing less. Anything else is what you are reading into it on your own. Sandbox games, by definition, can’t be on rails. You can do things outside the story, that’s part of the point of these games. Anything you do of your own free will, not driven by the story is your own, not part of what is woven by Rockstar.

  180. Daemon says:

    I draw two main conclusions from various people’s reaction to GTA…

    1: People in general care more about the health and safety of CG prostitutes than the flesh-and-blood variety.
    2: Killing men is perfectly ok.

  181. minTphresh says:

    haven’t the most recent studies on violent vid games and the gamer’s behavoir stated that violence in video games actually relieves stress, and relaxes the gamer? i’ve played every gta game to date, and haven’t had the uncontrollable urge to run over hookers or blast police with rpg’s. well,… most police. as far as the sex goes, you can find a lot worse on limewire. these smeggin fraks need a smoke screen to keep pushing on the issues which are completely meaningless (violence in vid games), in order to distract from the things that they(sic) would rather you were not be thinking about( abu gharaib, the mortgage crises, our plummetting $). or like a supreme court justice who believes that torture is not a ‘punishment’. sigh.

  182. glugenwog says:

    I’m sorry, but nothing you mentioned there is specifically appealing to underage gamers. The only possible exception is the ad placement in NYC, which I admit I’m unfamiliar with. Are they outside of schools or something? If so, I’ll jump in and say that’s definitely wrong.

    - games have a broad appeal, welcome to that realityy. you can mock adults for liking games all you want, but it remains a fact
    - just because they appeal to kids as well, doesn’t mean they’re being marketed AT kids
    - the artwork being somehow juvenile is a strange comment, since that’s incredibly subjective. it’s like a graphic novel, yes, but i’m not sure that stuff is a “medium of youth” anymore.
    - adults buy action figures. lots of them.
    - yes, I do think Craplist is funny. not everything must be high humor for christ’s sake.

  183. madprime says:

    @#12 / Scraps: Spot on!
    @Lauren O: thank you!

    I am especially frustrated at dismissing these sorts of discussions as “Women’s Studies”. I happen to have studied and am currently working in science, after attending a well known “institute of technology” with a notably high male to female ratio. A far cry from “liberal arts”!

    While I’m not the sort to raise a fuss about something like GTA, I’m glad someone out there does. Kyle’s remarks only highlight just how much farther we have to go.

  184. Antinous says:

    Damn, a year ago I was denied Doom 3 at a games store.

    Have you considered human growth hormone?

  185. Not a Doktor says:

    After watching that video, I have to say game graphics are still not on the right side of the uncanny valley

    Not sexy at all

  186. Anonymous says:

    Y’know, maybe feminists should try to improve their image by doing things that actually help people? The only time I ever seem to hear of them is when they’re ruining peoples fun, and, consequentially, I tend to be pretty dismissive of them. Words like “patriarchy” have also become inextricably intertwined with this response, so that I can’t hear it used unironically without rolling my eyes.

    I live with a guy who’s a die-hard fan of GTA. He’s probably the kindest, most gentle hearted person I know. It’s actually kind of funny watching him flinch when he accidentally clips a pedestrian. He seems to most enjoy driving around, listening to the music and satire on the radio, and taking in the scenery. Probably the least scary guy I know.

  187. glugenwog says:

    Guys the martyr comments are annoying, it’s like someone crying in the middle of a debate. Arguing does not equal shouting or censoring, I’m not sure why disagreement is being compared to a red-faced tantrum.

  188. Xeni Jardin says:

    @raya, wake up, “Susannah” is not a “guy” name.

  189. Tenn says:

    -waves wildly to Kaphin-
    I have no issue with it! I’m a woman! If I played GTA, I’d be a woman-killing-woman! But don’t you see that we’re -both- wrong because it’s so more demeaning to simulate crimes against women, because, those kinds of crimes are worse than murder!

    Fah. I’m fully against violence and am a calm sort who never willingly hurts anyone, but in video games for mature audiences, who cares? If anything, it’s a sedative.

    Then again I do have an instinctive reaction when snuck up on and stolen from (having my book taken out of my hands when my spatial sense is decreased because I’m listening to music in class) is to punch the perpetrator in the face. Maybe it’s the games.

  190. sasquatch says:

    Can you imagine what the motion capture sessions must have been like?

  191. Antinous says:

    I just switched from now out of date metrosexual style to badly groomed true man style

    Woof.

  192. Snowrunner says:

    @87

    Then there’s the feminists (myself included) who want to see an honest discussion of the violence toward women in the game and what the social implications of that are.

    Sorry, but this discussion is simply barking up the wrong tree.

    It isn’t the game that causes this violence, it is society as a whole. You (and Feministing) want to discuss the symptom instead of looking for the cause.

    Furthermore, and that is what got me not only about the discussion on Feministing but also about the article: The author has never even PLAYED the game. The entire outrage was based on the video that was created by IGN. How would you (or anybody else for that matter) feel if I rip one sentence out of a their article and critize it and use this as “proof” about the authors REAL intentions?

    There is a certain arrogance by these “rightous crusaders” in as far as their criticism is valid while they are above reproach. The discussion on Feministing (I read roughly half way through) basically turned into: “You don’t agree with me, this means you’re an idiot”.

  193. meeneecat says:

    #170, I get that you are directing your comment at people who have never played the game, I still do not understand why you and others think those who haven’t played the game have no right to criticize a specific part of it. These criticisms aren’t directed at the entire game, it’s directed at a specific aspect of the game. One only has to watch the video to be aware of this aspect of the game.

    I sense that this argument has actually nothing to do with whether or not the person has played the game or with the substance of their critique, but rather a blind desire to silence and invalidate any criticism. It’s the equivalent of saying to someone “you don’t know what you’re talking about” even when their point is valid. Many people here who have played the game point out that’s it’s racist, misogynistic, etc. So it would seem these criticisms do have some validity even to those who have played the game. So why is it that some people here just don’t want to hear it, like #161 said, it’s amazing how blind and zealous some fans are, to the point where they are trying to censor others because they don’t like what’s being said about their precious video game.

    I don’t understand why some people are being so defensive and wetting their pants over some valid criticism.

  194. Tenn says:

    Have you considered human growth hormone?

    Was too young even if I was six feet tall. No ID.

    I get handed the children’s menu at restaurants still and called son. Despite the fact that my figure is anything but masculine. I’m only 5’0, though HGH IS out of the question now- too old- I could possibly invest in a medieval rack.

    Any BBers out there with a torture fetish? I need longer limbs!

  195. raelnorth says:

    I’m only disappointed that there are still no male prostis and no gay strip club to hang out in. ;)

  196. mssmith says:

    I am so disappointed with you BB. I really had no idea you could get behind anything like this. I have much higher opinions of my fellow men and women than you do, clearly, though no longer such a high opinion of you.

  197. Rob says:

    @Jack:

    You’ve played GTA and don’t see the satire? I’ve played the first GTA III for a few hours (have them all, haven’t gotten around to playing the others, or finishing the first), and the satire jumps out at you. Spend some time listening to the radio, pay attention to the ads.

    While you’re at it, read some satires like Huck Finn, Modest Proposal, Candide, 1984.

  198. mrfitz says:

    Well, if we can’t prevent everyone from buying it, we can at least call ourselves a married couple, adopt male children, and prevent them from playing it.

  199. flipa says:

    What Aliceinreality (#100) said.

  200. Antinous says:

    You (and Feministing) want to discuss the symptom instead of looking for the cause.

    So what do you have to say about the cause? Or was that just a way of silencing critics. Because, when you say that people should talk about the cause rather than the symptoms, and then you don’t talk about the cause…

  201. ripley says:

    all that control doesn’t seem to get more than 6% of rapists into jail… but I’m sure KA has some exciting explanation for that.

    wow, Kyle just when I think the 1950s (or the Victorian era) was over, someone pops up to tell me how my feminine wiles are the way to power. yeah, i don’t need the vote either because my “control” over Teh Menz will make sure I’m represented. Of course if I am not ‘attached’ to any Menz I have nobody to control, so get me back to the kitchen in some man’s house! Or get me to breedin’ *but I’ll need to make sure to have boys to “control”

    More generally I think some of the point is that although the game is based on killing everyone, female characters are particularly limited, and that aspect reinforces stereotypes of women in a way that reinforces some pretty nasty sexist stereotyping. I think that’s true for a lot of racial and gender stereotyping in GTA too, but the killing-hookers thing is pretty stark. Also, the fact that the game is popular is probably partly because of the way it portrays the world (which is not “reality” btw, do you see the hooker’s kid starving to death or selling his tail because some asshole shot his mom? or does the hooker have a chance to grab the gun and shoot you to death?), which is kinda sad and revealing.

    it’s not that games are more to blame than other aspects of society.. but it’s particularly lazy to keep pointing at OTHER media – when people target movies’ reinforcement of sexism than it’s all “nooo, why aren’t complaining about that OTHER thing.” Sexism is worth pointing out wherever you find it. Admitting it’s sexist and figuring out how you want to deal with that is your call. Pretending it’s not really sexist leads you into Kyle’s fantasy-land, and, coincidentally, makes you an enabler of sexism.

  202. doplgangr says:

    John and Yoko were right:
    “Woman is (still) the nigger of the world.”

  203. Antinous says:

    Was too young even if I was six feet tall. No ID.

    I could get into bars when I was twelve.

    You can have your legs lengthened. They put screws into your bones with a rod in between and then you crank them farther apart every day. I don’t know what the upper age range is for it to work. I gather that it hurts quite a bit. May I suggest that you practice yoga so that you at least stay at 5’0″ as you get older. People shrink, women really shrink and most exercise is compressive.

  204. glugenwog says:

    178: First, insults are not a great debate tool. Don’t get me wrong – before I get accused of crying or something, I’m not mad. It’s just useless is all, and it distracts from your point.

    Second, no one is trying to silence you. Nope, not at all. You keep saying that, and it’s really weird.

    Third, yes, there are indeed things in GTA games that are deplorable and unfair. There are also things like that in reality. I welcome the criticism of these things, and most of it is deserved, but you have to admit that certain media persona take it a bit far sometimes. GTA = polio? What?

    There are things in GTA that you CAN do that I will never do. Things that make me cringe. The possibility of these things is what makes the game more real.

    Kids should not be playing this game. I’m just not understanding the arguments that it’s Rockstar’s fault that it finds its way into their hands. I don’t want to spew “it’s the parents fault” bullshit, but really guys. What do you propose we do about the situation? Seriously. I mean, alcohol and porn are also things with this sinful “forbidden fruit” appeal. They appeal to all ages. What should we do? There are good efforts to keep these things out of young hands, but nothing will prove perfectly failsafe. Do you have an idea?

    Lastly, I appreciate the alternative viewpoints I’ve seen here. I will be taking them into consideration from now on. I honestly do admire a point well-made, containing no belittlement or insults.

  205. Anonymous says:

    Xeni, you make me smile! you too 13.

  206. Takuan says:

    it’s just a game

  207. noen says:

    Reverse Cowgirl has been staring into the abyss too long.

    “I was watching the video you can see for yourself here, and when the guy in the car with the commendable soul pole got what he wanted and then ran over the woman who gave it to him, you know what I did? I laughed. Because I thought it was funny.”

    You’re sick then. No, seriously, that is a pathological response. You should probably seek out some professional help.

    “this whole moronic outcry against what is nothing but an unabashed and unashamed articulation of Man’s basest impulses run amok is nothing but hypocrisy. Here’s a newsflash for you. This is the way people think. This is how things are. This is the way it is.”

    But it isn’t how things should be. We should aspire to be better than our base impulses. Those of us who reject trash like this know full well that this is how the world is and we sure don’t need to be lectured to by you. We are not content to wallow in filth. We want a better world for ourselves and for our children. This sure as hell ain’t how we get there.

    I repeat, this is not how we get there. This is not Buddha nature, this is not Christlike, this does not honor any religious, spiritual, humanistic, or philosophical tradition on the face of the earth now or in all of human history. This kind of filth represents the exact opposite and only serves to pull us all down into it’s own cesspool of despair and degradation.

    “here’s a line from a letter I got from John 15: “My mom was nuts, and aside from the mental illness, loved her wine and valium… Sundays was a real carnival, and me being the eldest bore the brunt of her wrath.” Oh, yeah–and, by the way, he’s a state investigator.”

    “here’s a line from a letter I got from John 30: “I would possibly seek companionship in this manner again, but honestly it was a frightening act of depravity fueled by a complete loss of morals related to my murder for hire status in the military.”

    And your point is what Susannah? Do you think we don’t understand why people behave the way they do? I mean, really?

    “The fact of the matter is that you cannot police the sexual fantasies of men. It isn’t going to happen. You can’t distill one man’s desires into some reductionist understanding of 21st century America that posits women as the victims of men once again.”

    When I look at games like GTA and the boys who play them all I see are victims, the women and the men both. I don’t believe games like this cause people to act out violently but I do think it is a giant red flag. A flag that says something is very wrong at a fundamental level.

    “You can’t continue to stick your head into the sand and refuse to believe that this isn’t a part of how men really think and feel and fuck and want and love and hate and live. You just can’t. To do so is insanity.”

    Because you know better huh? You know that this is how all men think and feel and fuck, right? Can we say confirmation bias? I think we can.

    So what is your advice? It would appear from this rant of yours you feel society should simply accept that men are brutal rutting pigs and women are all whores. Is that the kind of life you’d like for your son or daughter? I sure don’t.

    No, you can’t police the sexual fantasies of men or women. No one I know advocates that and certainly no feminists that I know do. You can however police behavior and I happen to think that is a good thing. It’s sort one of the central ideas behind this thing we like to call civilization. Without some check on human behavior there would only be chaos.

    So what should we do? Well, to begin with we instill some order in our society. Contrary to appearances we’ve had precious little of that recently. Oh I know, the right likes to pretend they are the law and order party, just like they like to pretend they stand for common decency and honor. We should all know by now what a lie that is.

    We don’t need this pretend order, we need the real thing. You know, where it doesn’t matter who you know, or how much money you have, or what the color of your skin is, or what your gender or sexual orientation is that determines your guilt. We need the rule of law, which is the exact opposite of what we’ve been getting for the past eight years now.

    Once we have established the rule of law then we can start to address the men you quote above. Those men are the true victims here. From that we set out to craft social policies that eliminate or reduce as much as possible the abusive home environments that created those men in the first place.

    It may surprise you to learn that what I’ve sketched out above is something the majority of progressives and yes, even feminists, have been calling for for some time now. Which raises the question in my mind: “Who is this rant really addressed to?” Because it isn’t us, your straw women bear little resemblance to anyone I know. So if not us, who is this really meant for? I think you know. I hope that someday, you’ll be able to let that person know.

  208. jccalhoun says:

    #173 First and foremost, as a video game it’s inherently something tracked to appeal to kids. Second, just the artwork used for the promotion of the game itself: broad black lined illustrations with bright solid colors which make it look like a comic book or cartoon. Yes, we all know adults read comics as well, but comics and animation are mainly a medium of youth; you won’t find graphic novels in senior centers.
    Beyond that, one needs to only look towards Rockstar’s “street team” efforts. Stickers and murals in NYC are being placed in areas where people under 20 will be seeing it. They aren’t placing posters outside of museums or nightclubs. But in lower Manhattan and the Village where teens hang out.

    The average age of videogame players is 35. http://www.theesa.com/facts/index.asp (that is a study put out by the videogame rating board so it might be biased) Videogames are not inherently tracked to appeal to children any more than any medium is.

    Roy Lichtenstein made paintings with “broad black lined illustrations with bright solid colors which make it look like a comic book or cartoon” so were those for children?

    Finally, the whole advertising thing is an example of how videogames are held to a different standard than other forms. One season, the Sopranos was advertised with arms sticking out of the trunks of taxis and with shoes in cement in shoe store windows. In Scotland they went so far as to put stickers in taxis that looked like blood splatters and bullet holes for the Sopranos. No one complained about those, so why complain about videogame advertising that is much less graphic?

  209. jccalhoun says:

    My reaction to this post is in no way a condemnation of GTA. I don’t have a current gen system so I can’t play GTA 4. I have played the previous GTA games and they are, like R rated films, meant for adults. The play mechanic of running over people, including prostitutes, is way over hyped by the sensationalistic media.

    My reaction is a condemnation of summary dismissal of raising questions about what the depiction of women in the game means and the implication that not only is it an accurate depiction of the world but that all men are like that and that we should just shrug our shoulders in response and say “that’s just the way the world is.”

  210. mkultra says:

    The funny thing is that I myself have never played any of these games, because they hold no interest for me. I frankly couldn’t care less about the success or failure of them.

    I also find it deeply amusing that disagreement and open discussion is being soberly equated with censorship by individuals who want nothing less than to censor an entire art form. The irony is overwhelming.

  211. meeneecat says:

    “I also find it deeply amusing that disagreement and open discussion is being soberly equated with censorship by individuals who want nothing less than to censor an entire art form.”

    #183, Apparently you didn’t get it the first time:
    CRITICISM DOES NOT EQUAL CENSORSHIP.

    Why does this even need to be repeated?

  212. Jack says:

    @ #180 POSTED BY GLUGENWOG
    Kids should not be playing this game. I’m just not understanding the arguments that it’s Rockstar’s fault that it finds its way into their hands.

    You’re defense of Rockstar’s marketing tactics and denial of the game being marketed towards kids reminds me of people who were in denial that Joe Camel was used to market cigarettes to kids. I think you should do some research into the ways marketing works and how things that shouldn’t be directly marketed towards kids are being virally/stealth marketed towards.

    just because they appeal to kids as well, doesn’t mean they’re being marketed AT kids

    If it appeals to kids, and a company makes it and pushes those buttons, it’s being marketed to kids. Rockstar is not some scrappy company that is just putting out stuff because it is cool. They are very conscious of how to market and push buttons and the GTA series is made to appeal to kids. Specifically boys 12-16; right in the middle of puberty. Which is why the game itself is sickening.

    @ #179 POSTED BY ROB
    You’ve played GTA and don’t see the satire?
    I never said I did not see the satire. I do see it, but the “satire” is not the purpose of the game. It’s window dressing on a first-person-shooting game and not much else. Remove the gameplay from the equation and simply have the story as-is and people would call the satire for what it is: Hacky, lazy and lame.

    While you’re at it, read some satires like Huck Finn, Modest Proposal, Candide, 1984.
    I’ve read a few of those, and those have staying power beyond GTA4. If the “satire” of GTA still lasts into 2009 Rockstar should consider themselves lucky.

    @ #178 POSTED BY MEENEECAT
    I don’t understand why some people are being so defensive and wetting their pants over some valid criticism.
    I think you can blame the whole initial tone of the post decrying others who criticise GTA4. Between this post and the one on BB Gadgets decrying Apple “Geniuses” for no valid reason, I’m pretty disappointed with the base level blog-baiting going on here. I come to this place to read something better than what other blogs have to say; not read knee-jerk posts that are better suited to others.

    But kudos again to Rockstar’s marketing team for doing such a great job creating passionate consumers of their product.

  213. Wanon says:

    Just because the game allows you to do it, does that mean you should? Of course not.

    You can also do the same thing in real life, but luckily most people don’t.

    The fictious punishment suits the fictious crime and the real punishment suits the real crime.

  214. ripley says:

    Decius, you are pretty much utterly wrong.

    critiquing culture is not censorship. Telling people they can’t critique culture? blinkered but not censorship, unless you are the government. But surely closer to censorship than the people engaged in critique. This idea that visual/artistic/popcultural representations don’t matter, that people exist in some kind of psychological bubble, apparently fully formed without input from their environment –that is a total fantasy with no basis in psychology or any other systematic exploration of human thought and development. It doesn’t mean we are puppets, or programmed by the images we interact with, but they do affect us. Along with discounting science, do you also think advertising is a billion-dollar industry based on having no predictable, systematic effects?

    In fact, the best argument for us NOT being fully controlled by the images we see, is the presence of people contradicting, analyzing and critiquing those images. Yet when we have a critique, you are the one who wants us to shut up and take it as given? You seem to think that “counter-culture” means going along with whatever dumb-ass marketing scheme some company has come up with.

    GTA is part of culture, as many people have pointed out, it reflects particular aspects of our culture while masking, hiding, or filtering other parts (again, for all you people who argue that it is just reflecting reality, your vision of the world is pretty narrow and sad, and if GTA reinforces that it is clearly problematic). But anyway, GTA is part of culture, it is consciously manufactured by a profit-seeking company that makes use of extensive research on what will sell. That’s not in itself bad, but how on earth is it “counter-culture” to take all those choices as given? How is it “counter-culture” to avoid criticizing culture?

    you seem to think “counter-culture” means “consuming certain products marketed to me as counter-culture.”

  215. Jack says:

    @ #196 POSTED BY ROB
    You expect the hookers to be invincible? People can be killed in game. Hookers are people. Therefore, hookers can be killed. No large leaps of logic there.
    Okay, then how can you explain why comedians in the comedy club can’t be shot at or killed? You want satire, how about being the ultimate heckler. Or have a comedian suddenly pull out an Uzi and fight back.

    Or as #195 (ANTINOUS) points out, why can’t the women in GTA have the same weaponry as men in the game?

    That’s all there is to it in the sandbox. Nothing more, nothing less. Anything else is what you are reading into it on your own. Sandbox games, by definition, can’t be on rails. You can do things outside the story, that’s part of the point of these games. Anything you do of your own free will, not driven by the story is your own, not part of what is woven by Rockstar.

    “Sandbox” games are still on rails, you just don’t see them as clearly. Are you able to—for example—able to operate outside the overriding premise of the game? No. I mean, why not give people an option to rent a studio apartment and sleep all day and then get a job as a barista. Or what about giving people an option to sell stuff on “Craplist” to score points. Seriously. Or what about giving hookers an STD or street safety pamphlet?

    Now you might say “What kind of BS is that?” but here’s the thing. You really AREN’T given much of any choice to do anything beyond defined boundaries in GTA. So this idea that it’s a sandbox is canard at best. The reality is you can avoid doing things, but to progress in the game you ultimately need to find those proverbial rails and ride them.

  216. Jordan M says:

    I don’t understand.

    Grand Theft Auto is supposed to be a simulation of a crime ridden city; an intensified reflection of the worst in our own world. Of course it is going to have sexist and misogynistic characteristics since the real world has sexist and misogynistic characteristics. It also has nihilistic, misanthropic, racist and exploitative characteristics. So does the real world.

    The game wouldn’t be a very accurate representation of an underworld without these characteristics.

    It is an adult video game and not much different from adult books or adult movies. Rockstar loaded this game with sex, violence and strong language – basically every element of this game screams “not for children.” The posters are full of sex and violence. Really the only thing Rockstar could have done to dissuade parents from buying this for their kids was to put the word “FUCK” in gigantic letters on the front of the box.

    I don’t play many video games these days, but I did when I was younger. I’ve killed tens of thousands of monsters, elves, humans, dragons, aliens, etc. This game is far more in-depth and immersive than older games, but not significantly worse. In time people will become desensitized to this generation of games as well and will be complaining about the next generation of hyper-realistic games when they have kids.

  217. MFGG says:

    Please forgive me in advance, I am very sorry!

    “if this is what degrees in gender studies hath wrought”

    Is not “hath” used only with a third person singular subject? Is not “degrees” the subject of the clause, whose verb is “hath”? Is not “degrees” plural?

    P.S. I agree with you. I stared at your sentence very hard because I liked it, but then I thought, “oh, no!”

  218. l'elk! says:

    if i remember correctly, the ESRB was established back in 1994 because “mortal combat is destroying our children”.

    ohhhh…. those where the days. *sigh*

    apparently that wasn’t good enough for them. now “grand theft auto is destroying our children.” i don’t know where all these “children” are getting age 17+ drivers license to buy this game so they can poison their minds. granted, their parents might be buying it for them but then the poisoning no longer becomes the game publishers fault, but the parents.

    im sure not all video game retailers follow strict regulations on ESRB code enforcement but theaters and movie retailers dont follow MPAA regulations very well, either.

    so where is all the hoopla over movies like rambo and the like?

    friggin’ political bullshit, thats what…

  219. meeneecat says:

    “If you’d like to critique, critique away, but PLEASE, actually play the game before you critique it.”

    And according to Delicius’ logic, no one should be allowed to critique the POTUS either, because they have never been president and don’t know what it’s like. Way to stifle conversation, or, maybe Delicius, you should just close your ears and go -na na na na- whenever anyone critiques your precious game. ‘Cause you know, none of us would want to offend the almighty Delicius. So all you people criticizing this game, Delicius doesn’t want to hear it, so just stop it, otherwise he’ll cry.

    Fck Rockstar and GTA!

  220. jccalhoun says:

    I find it odd that this post just posts directly to Breslin’s blog rather than the specific blog post.

    The current top post on the blog is a sampling of comments. Notice that Breslin’s blog itself doesn’t have any comments. http://reversecowgirlblog.blogspot.com/2008/05/grand-theft-aftermath.html

    (and also notice that my post #20 was worth Breslin quoting one line of but apparently bad enough to censor…)

  221. Jack says:

    @ #182 POSTED BY JCCALHOUN , MAY 1, 2008 5:03 PM
    The average age of videogame players is 35. http://www.theesa.com/facts/index.asp (that is a study put out by the videogame rating board so it might be biased)
    You said it.

    Roy Lichtenstein made paintings with “broad black lined illustrations with bright solid colors which make it look like a comic book or cartoon” so were those for children?
    His work was inspired by and based on taking comics and transforming them into a different medium. Not a fair comparison.

    Finally, the whole advertising thing is an example of how videogames are held to a different standard than other forms. One season, the Sopranos was advertised with arms sticking out of the trunks of taxis and with shoes in cement in shoe store windows. In Scotland they went so far as to put stickers in taxis that looked like blood splatters and bullet holes for the Sopranos. No one complained about those, so why complain about videogame advertising that is much less graphic?
    Because The Sopranos is a show made for—and targeted to—adults. And a handful of stunts is wildly different than a whole ad campaign.

    Does HBO place The Sopranos stickers outside of skater shops? No. But Rockstar does. Ditto with sponsorship of concerts, events and festivals targeted towards teens and young adults.

    They know exactly what they are doing and have done a great job. Too bad what they are selling has some heavy moral issues that make people question their tactics.

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