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GTA V removed from Target stores in Australia, Take-Two responds

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 04 Dec 2014 11:18 User comments (12)

GTA V removed from Target stores in Australia, Take-Two responds Complaints about depictions of violence against women has prompted Target Australia to remove copies of Grand Theft Auto V from shelves.
In a press release, Target General Manager of Corporate Affairs Jim Cooper said the decision to pull the critically-acclaimed title from its ~300 stores across Australia stemmed from extensive community and customer concerns over its content.

Ironically, just one day before releasing this statement, Cooper had told Australian press that Target was a "retailer for everyone," and cited feedback from customers wishing for the game to remain in Target stores.

The entire affair is linked to a Change.org petition which claimed that GTA V is a "game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment," and that "games like this are grooming yet another generation of boys to tolerate violence against women."

The petition received over 46,000 signatures. Take-Two has since responded to the decision from Target in a statement from chief executive Strauss Zelnick:

"We are disappointed that an Australian retailer has chosen no longer to sell Grand Theft Auto V--a title that has won extraordinary critical acclaim and has been enjoyed by tens of millions of consumers around the world. Grand Theft Auto V explores mature themes and content similar to those found in many other popular and groundbreaking entertainment properties. Interactive entertainment is today's most compelling art form and shares the same creative freedom as books, television, and movies. I stand behind our products, the people who create them, and the consumers who play them."

Does GTA V really "encourage" violence against women?

Target Australia will continue to sell other games with an R-18+ rating, as well as other forms of entertainment media rated for adults only. It is interesting to note that in Australia, video games that actually depict violence of a sexual nature will be refused classification, so the decision to rate the title R-18+ suggests that the review board didn't witness such sexual violence.

It also comes down to the open-world sandbox nature of Grand Theft Auto V; players could choose to intentionally target depictions of strippers or prostitutes in the game with violence, but it is not necessary for progression in the game. In fact, progressing through the game overwhelmingly requires violence against renders of male characters.

The Change.org petition was apparently started by survivors of violence, including the sex industry, and so it explains the focus on depictions of violence against women. However, for gamers who have played GTA V, it is a stretch to say that it encourages violence against women in the game specifically, and an even further stretch to extrapolate to real-world violence against women (or violence in general). Indeed, the claim that games like GTA V are "grooming yet another generation of boys to tolerate violence against women" makes a suggestion of a real world link between violence in video games, and real-world violence, without significant evidence of that being the case.

Target's decision has since been followed by KMart in Australia, but it is unlikely to hurt sales of the game, as Australians can still go to stores where video games are the core business to buy a copy. Jim Cooper did acknowledge in the Target media release that many of their customers are not supportive of their decision to stop selling the game, and said the retail chain respects their perspective on the issue too.

What do you think about Target Australia's decision?


Sources and Recommended Reading:
Target: Withdraw Grand Theft Auto 5 Petition: www.change.org
TARGET REMOVES GRAND THEFT AUTO 5 FROM SHELVES (PDF): www.target.com.au

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12 user comments

14.12.2014 12:21

"...and an even further stretch to extrapolate to real-world violence against women (or violence in general)."

This is a simply a very uneducated statement to make.



24.12.2014 14:05

Originally posted by rocky38:
"...and an even further stretch to extrapolate to real-world violence against women (or violence in general)."

This is a simply a very uneducated statement to make.



Ok then. Demonstrate. Show the evidence that video games cause real world violence against women.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 04 Dec 2014 @ 14:06

34.12.2014 14:38

Originally posted by Dela:
Originally posted by rocky38:
"...and an even further stretch to extrapolate to real-world violence against women (or violence in general)."

This is a simply a very uneducated statement to make.



Ok then. Demonstrate. Show the evidence that video games cause real world violence against women.
I suppose you also want me to provide evidence that violent video games, violent music and violent movies also cause real world violence in general?

44.12.2014 14:55

Originally posted by rocky38:
Originally posted by Dela:
Originally posted by rocky38:
"...and an even further stretch to extrapolate to real-world violence against women (or violence in general)."

This is a simply a very uneducated statement to make.



Ok then. Demonstrate. Show the evidence that video games cause real world violence against women.
I suppose you also want me to provide evidence that violent video games, violent music and violent movies also cause real world violence in general?

No? I only asked you to provide evidence that there's a link between violence depicted in video games and real-world violence, based on your comment which suggested there must be some.

If there really is, I'd like to see it because it would be very much against the trend of research into video games and violence. The last one I saw that made any type of link between video games and negative behaviour actually blames game difficulty for a change in the player, not game content.. so basically FIFA could make you more aggressive than Grand Theft Auto :-)

I'm sure there have been sporadic cases where an insane person did something crazy and then blamed a game, but that happens with movies and music too and is more to do with the perpetrator being impressionable due to insanity, than the content. The Colorado theater shooting comes to mind, but that's just how I see it.

But ye, I was reacting to the text of the Change.org petition which asserts that GTA V "encourages" violence against women, and makes no distinction between on-screen, rendered violence against depictions of women, and actual real world violence against women. It is a hyperbolic assertion at least and there's nothing provided to back that claim up. To suggest that a game is intended to encourage violence against women is a pretty stark thing to say against the developers who made it, is it not?

54.12.2014 15:20

Originally posted by Dela:
No? I only asked you to provide evidence that there's a link between violence depicted in video games and real-world violence, based on your comment which suggested there must be some.

If there really is, I'd like to see it because it would be very much against the trend of research into video games and violence. The last one I saw that made any type of link between video games and negative behaviour actually blames game difficulty for a change in the player, not game content.. so basically FIFA could make you more aggressive than Grand Theft Auto :-)

I'm sure there have been sporadic cases where an insane person did something crazy and then blamed a game, but that happens with movies and music too and is more to do with the perpetrator being impressionable due to insanity, than the content. The Colorado theater shooting comes to mind, but that's just how I see it.

But ye, I was reacting to the text of the Change.org petition which asserts that GTA V "encourages" violence against women, and makes no distinction between on-screen, rendered violence against depictions of women, and actual real world violence against women. It is a hyperbolic assertion at least and there's nothing provided to back that claim up. To suggest that a game is intended to encourage violence against women is a pretty stark thing to say against the developers who made it, is it not?
Violent video games will desensitize you. Do you think our military and special forces being trained to kill are playing Angry Birds to achieve this effect? It's a proven method that generates large DOD funds. If one can point to this then how does it NOT translate to civilian causalities?
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 04 Dec 2014 @ 15:39

64.12.2014 15:31

Originally posted by rocky38:
Violent video games will desensitize you. Do you think our military and special forces being trained to kill are playing Angry Birds to achieve this effect? It's a proven method that generates large DOD funds. If one can point to this then how does it NOT translate to civilian causalities?

But the world was significantly more violent before video games were commonplace. Violent crime in Western / Rich countries has been on a long term decline.. sure some years there's a slight uptick in some areas but the overall trend is downward. The media gives a very false impression of violent and serious crime these days, but the data doesn't fit the media narrative.

As for military usage, somehow I'd doubt that using a handheld controller to kill in a simulated fashion on-screen would be anything like the experience of pointing a gun at a human and opening fire. I don't think shooter video games would make better real world shooters.

Again, I'm here to be convinced by the data if it ever shows overwise, but from the published and reported research done into links between video games and violence, the bulk has been against the hyopthesis.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 04 Dec 2014 @ 15:40

74.12.2014 15:37

Unrelated, but something really weird going on the with the replies here.. broken tags or something, i'll try fix it soon.

FIXED: Some broken

Quote:
is all.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 04 Dec 2014 @ 15:41

84.12.2014 16:37

GTA V is about violence, period. Violence against women. Violence against men. Violence against police...

I don't think GTA V discriminates against women. It is an equal opportunity murder/crime simulator.

<grin>


Oh, Im sorry... Did the middle of my sentence interrupt the beginning of yours?

94.12.2014 16:48

Actually, it's the complaints against games like gta that are grooming yet another generation to tolerate violence against these alleged "women".

104.12.2014 16:55

Originally posted by ThePastor:
GTA V is about violence, period. Violence against women. Violence against men. Violence against police...

I don't think GTA V discriminates against women. It is an equal opportunity murder/crime simulator.

<grin>
Liking the subtle Jack Thompson reference!

114.12.2014 20:18

If you made a game where you punch koala's and kick box kangaroo's somebody in Australia would find it offensive.

Every movie or game over there must involve spewing rainbows and guns that shoot candy, all the while being hunted by Murderous people who want to give you a hug and make remarks about how wonderful a person your mom is.


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125.12.2014 20:40

Originally posted by Dela:
Originally posted by rocky38:
Violent video games will desensitize you. Do you think our military and special forces being trained to kill are playing Angry Birds to achieve this effect? It's a proven method that generates large DOD funds. If one can point to this then how does it NOT translate to civilian causalities?

But the world was significantly more violent before video games were commonplace. Violent crime in Western / Rich countries has been on a long term decline.. sure some years there's a slight uptick in some areas but the overall trend is downward. The media gives a very false impression of violent and serious crime these days, but the data doesn't fit the media narrative.

As for military usage, somehow I'd doubt that using a handheld controller to kill in a simulated fashion on-screen would be anything like the experience of pointing a gun at a human and opening fire. I don't think shooter video games would make better real world shooters.

Again, I'm here to be convinced by the data if it ever shows overwise, but from the published and reported research done into links between video games and violence, the bulk has been against the hyopthesis.
I find this comment very relative to the discussion! History makes it clear that violence has always existed - you can't always blame something on something else. Have you seen the torture equipment used by our ancestors? Do you know what the people did in the name of the church or their god?

I play video games and I target shoot with real guns - neither of these activities makes me want to hurt anyone. If anything they relieve stress. I am completely desensitized to shooting holes in paper though! Guilty as charged!

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