Target Pulls Grand Theft Auto 5 Off Shelves

Written by David Michaelis

Amid protests and petitions Target pulled Grand Theft Auto 5 off the shelves in Australia. Would this ever happen in the US? Commentary and analysis.

aNewDomain — Following a protest by 40,000 people, the Target and Kmart chains in Australia decided to pull Grand Theft Auto 5 off the shelves. The protest was specifically about violence against women in media, gaming and culture in general. In contrast, major game retailers in the U.S. have not shown any signs of pulling the game, despite a year long controversy. Is this censorship, or the right of a chain to cater to its customer’s demands? Many male customers are teenagers, although the game is clearly marked R for adults.

In a statement posted on its website, Target said that the decision to pull the game from its 300 Australian stores came after concerns were raised about the “game’s depictions of violence against women.” It explained that the “decision to stop selling GTA5 is in line with the majority view of our customers.”

The petition against the game said:

It’s a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to … [Stocking] this misogynistic GTA V literally makes a game of bashing, killing and horrific violence against women.”

The petition was initiated by three sex workers. Girls for hire are executed, in the game, after preforming sex. There has been no petition in the U.S., where Target operates almost 2000 stores.

Grand Theft Auto 5 killing sex workers

Image Courtesy of

A billion dollars too late?

The R-rated game has been available on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 for more than a year, but was re-released last month on Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Supporters of the game wrote on social media in Australia:

All of you people saying thanks to Target are ignorant morons. Just because it is possible in the game to inflict violence [towards men and women], this is hardly the objective of the game,” Derek Elphick wrote.

Matt Larkin added:

I’m disappointed that the game has been removed from your stores. It seems like it is an admission of guilt from your behalf when all you were doing is catering to your customers.”

I feel sorry for the people who will now miss out on this product from your store due to the ignorance of people in this country.”

These-mainly male supporters shelled out almost one billion dollars in the first 3 days of sales.

The latest installment of GTA, a cultural phenomenon that has sparked a national debate on adult content and violence, received strong reviews and racked up $800 million in first-day sales alone, selling at a faster rate than any other video game, film or other entertainment product in history.”

The GTA franchise has won legions of fans and cadres of critics with in which triumph depends on acts such as carjacking, gambling and killing.”

The final word should go to a commentator on Buzzfeed, Lindsay Elizabeth Ward, listed as Top Commenter, Williamsburg, Virginia:

I am a woman and I see no problem with this game. I love this game and this franchise as a whole. I do however see a problem with allowing anyone other than adults to play this game. If a gamer spends their entire time having sex with prostitutes and killing them, or purposefully targeting women in the game, then that specific gamer is the problem; NOT the game itself. Stop blaming products for how consumers use them.”

For me this is all connected to the Gamergate conflict. The gaming norm of using women bodies in provocative and demeaning ways has been a hot issue in the last few months. The “Ms. Male Character” video below drew a ton of backlash before Sarkeesian, who led the anti-Gamegater campaign, closed comments on it. Adult language and graphic violence make this video unsuitable for family and workplace viewing.

Video: Ms. Male Character – Tropes vs Women in Video Games

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