“Like me GTA is white, middle-class and nearing middle-age, and it’s about time it faced up to its responsibilities”

Picture of a dog because so far there are no PC shots which feature women on the game's official site.

Excepting further delays, Grand Theft Auto V [official site] is due to finally arrive on PC on April 18th. In anticipation, Nathan Ditum sent us this piece about how the series’ increased fidelity has created problems, and why that same “miraculous detail” is why his love for it endures.

Recently I was reminded by Helen Lewis of the New Statesmen of the current predominance of a certain kind of opinion writing, which can be summarised as “As a blank, I feel x about y.” This formulation can be limiting, to the writer as well as the pursuit of the ideas at hand, but probably also reflects something laudable about at least trying to diversify from a monolithic consensus. As a white middle-class male approaching middle age I am of course precisely the pale demographic flob from which this archetypal pitch is trying to escape, so it is with a sense of irony which apparently no longer exists in GTA itself that I present this: a list of reasons why, as a representative of the default morass of accumulated privileged perspective, I feel culturally and morally compromised by some of the bad bits in GTA V.

The amount of times black characters written by other white men like me say the ‘N’ word

“You the one all pumped up on doing this lick, nigga. I’m getting my money in the hood. I’m straight, fool.”

Did the game’s credited writers actually come up with this line? The Rockstar creative team is an overwhelmingly white group led by Dan Houser, an English man in his 40s. The problem this gives me is that instead of playing the game I can’t stop thinking about the process. When writing the script, did they type out all the times the characters say the ‘N’ word and own it, forthrightly? Or did they feed a nude line with no vernacular to the actors with a look of earnest encouragement. “Just say what you normally say because, you know, we can’t – that would be grotesque appropriation – but it’s OK for us to record you doing it and put it in our game, probably.”

This article suggests the latter – a fluid process where actors help fill in all the parts the game’s actual writers don’t have the cultural leverage to articulate – but of course that doesn’t escape the grim social tourism of a group of rich mostly white guys selling these scenes as entertainment. It’s that particular combination of author and output which makes me want to be in a different room when they’re playing out. The Wire, for comparison’s sake, wasn’t just entertainment but a social excavation. Quentin Tarantino at least grew up in the same neighbourhoods his films portray, and, until Django Unchained, they were also portrayed from a white perspective looking in. GTA V can’t claim either defence, and I can’t stop thinking about its scenes featuring Franklin and Lamar as a kind of gruesome cultural puppetry. It’s Punch & Judy: The Minstrel Special. And there aren’t even any sausages.

Also this line in that article, from GTA voice actor Lazlow Jones, is the best line. “…we don’t want a goofy L.A actor who went to a fancy school trying to be a hard gang member. There’s nothing worse than that.” Which is funny because I can definitely think of one thing.

The fact that GTA did realistic dogs before it managed realistic women

I stole that line from someone on Twitter and I can’t remember who, but the important bit is that it’s true. GTA V’s Chop the dog is more like a dog than any of GTA V’s women are like women I’ve met or who exist.

And even then, unrealistic women are potentially fine. Mrs Incredible, for instance, can turn into a parachute and yet I consider her a good role model for my young daughter. The problem really is that the depiction of women in GTA V is hateful and mad. Every substantial female role is characterised by sex. Michael is married to Amanda, a one-time stripper and prostitute turned tennis coach-fucking wife. His daughter, Tracy, is a cam girl going by the name Tracy Suxx who flirts with the porn industry. One of Michael’s missions is to forcibly retrieve her from a party thrown by porn execs, putting you in the odd position of ‘saving’ a woman from sexual exploitation in a game which revels in rubbing women’s faces in the shaming idea of sex like a dog grabbed by the scruff and forced to contemplate its own indiscreet and steaming shit.

If that sounds strong then consider that, early on, when the game has only had time to introduce us to four centrally recurring male characters and not a single woman, two of those male characters (in a game marked by the sexual obsessions of its protagonists) have a conversation that condemns a woman for enjoying sex. The actual exchange:

“This chump change. How am I gonna knock a bad, grown and sexy bitch if I don’t got a fat pee-zocket?” (writes Dan Houser).

“Who you trying to impress?”

“Your auntie, Denise. With that ass, nigga. She got ass”

“She grown, yeah. She grown into a fucking idiot.”

“Nah she sexy.”

“Sexy? She more like obsessed with sex, nigga.”

“No, mad for the penis, that’s how I like my women, nigga”

Denise, the woman in question, is a constant annoyance to Franklin and often dampens the enjoyment of his life of killing people and driving cars for money. She has meetings of like-minded women, where they exercise and chant empowering slogans, and once Franklin leaves their shared house she turns it into a women’s centre. The game twists this feminism into an object of disgusted ridicule by glibly suggesting it’s a cover for old desperate women who are obsessed with – ahahaha – pelvic strength, before having its ultimate arbiter of whatever the fuck it stands for, Trevor, dismiss them all with some clever swear words. Which is good, inasmuch as it provides us with a usefully short example of how GTA V feels about women.

This article gets to the good bits on page two.


  1. phantomrave says:

    I was about to post a comment on how the reflection of women was meat to be a satirical stance by rockstar on how the media portrays women- then I realized there is literally not one ‘positive’ female depiction in GTA V that I can think of off the top of my head. Hm.

    • BreadBitten says:

      I can’t even think of one “positive” male depiction in the entirety of GTAV! On a somewhat less joke-y note: I believe that the Grand Theft Auto series as a whole has depicted more positive/strong female characters than male ones — Catalina from San Andreas and Malorie from GTAIV comes to mind.

      • colw00t says:

        You can say a lot of things about Catalina, but “positive female character” is one that I would never apply.

        Carrying a gun does not a “strong female character” make.

        • BreadBitten says:

          If that’s your argument, then the entire series is full of “not strong” characters since basically every other character at some point waves a gun at someone else. Catalina was as much of a violent psychopath (maybe even more so) as any of the player characters have been in the GTA games, and that is saying something.

          • colw00t says:

            The phrase “strong female character” is frequently applied to a character (such as the Shrew, of which Catalina is a pretty stock version) who is given a gun instead of actual characterization.

          • BreadBitten says:

            …and your point being? Catalina was given plenty of characterization. It was heavily hinted (in San Andreas at least) that she was subjected to some form of abuse by a parental figure, that she was a hypersexual being, that she didn’t take rejection very well, and of course there’s her ambition. That’s quite a few pounds of characterization for an ancillary side-quest character.

          • PoulWrist says:

            Isn’t the meat and potatoes of GTA, since 3, storytelling that we’re dealing with pathetic characters who are looking to take a step up in the world and get destroyed in the process as they become involved with ever increasingly absurd levels of crime?

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            And indeed, everyone is scum in GTA, more or less.

            Sometimes i think that the only politically correct way of depicting a world full of horrible people is to only put straight white male characters in.

            Actually, no, that wouldn’t work, as everyone else would complain that they’re not being depicted, and thus deprived of their chance to receive a supposed offence they could then complain about.

          • pepperfez says:

            It’s really not that hard. Just make the women horrible the same way you make the men horrible, rather than exclusively basing their characters on sex.

          • EhexT says:

            “Sometimes i think that the only politically correct way of depicting a world full of horrible people is to only put straight white male characters in.”

            Nah you just have to stop fucking idolizing the supposedly horrible people you write just because they’re “the main characters”. Kane and Lynch 2 did it perfectly. Not everybody is a white male (though tellingly, the two worst people in the entire game, Kane and Lynch, are) but most people are thoroughly horrible. And not anti-hero look how badass they are horrible like in GTA and other games.

            They are out and out, completely terrible people. They are people you do not want to meet. Do not want to have a meal with. Do not want to make eye contact with. And most importantly abso-fucking-lutely do not want to BE even for a second. They are awful human beings leading awful lives because of their own awfulness. Terrible things happen to them, because they make terrible decisions.

            And not a single moment of it is presented as “cool” or “badass” or “awesome” – it’s just horrible and nasty and unsurprisingly not fun to play, but much like Spec Ops: The Line and countless non-fun movies (hello Schindlers List, etc.) it’s something that should exist and be played even when it isn’t “fun”.

        • Yuri says:


          The word you’re really looking for is virtuous.

          You can find plenty of “strong” female characters in the GTA series.
          What you pretty much cannot find is a normal, virtuous character.

          Then again, GTA was never made as a game containing normal, down-to-earth characters. It was always made and written like an over the top parody in every possible way.

          So yeah. You’re looking at the wrong series to carry the standard for “strong women in gaming”, because it has no really “good” characters. They’re all flawed, broken, twisted, over the top – intentionally.

          The only reason this article has been written is because GTA is a popular series and somehow some people want to transform certain games/series into something what they are not, never were and never really tried to be. It’s popular, it’s going to attract readers.


          Why not instead point out instances and games where there actually are “strong [X] characters”?

          • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

            Err… no. I really didn’t get the impression that the poster was looking for a kind or just character. Catalina, was on the whole, very much another cliched sexist stereotype. When the only redeeming feature is “she has a gun,” you probably should admit that you’re not good at character writing. And if people are describing her as the best-written female character in the series? You know there’s a problem.

            But if that’s satire, as often claimed, what is it satirising? I’m also going to go out on a limb, and presume it’s intended to be ‘humour’ satire, rather than of the ‘thought provoking’ variety. There may be some comic potential there with CJ playing the “straight man” role, but they squander it quickly to the point of the character becoming annoying rather than funny, playing her character even further into that of the Shrew.

          • Bury The Hammer says:

            What I’m concerned about isn’t that the character is ‘strong’ or ‘virtuous’, or a ‘nice person’, just stops relying on tired tropes. Women shouldn’t be defined by their sexuality, but can be nasty in other, interesting ways. That’d fit with the GTA universe, in which pretty much everyone is a horrible person, and actually be narratively interesting.

            Take Cersei from ASoIaF/Game of Thrones as an example. Very flawed character, pretty nasty person all round, really. Not defined by her sexuality, or other lame tropes of what women should be. Fits right in with the universe.

          • spacejumbo says:

            Bury The Hammer, are you seriously trying to use GOT and Cersei as a counter example? A character introduced by fucking her brother, married purely for political gain and (SPOILER) gets her punishment by being paraded naked through the city?

            *slow clap*

          • Dawngreeter says:

            And that’s exactly why it’s an excellent point. She’s a nasty woman who does nasty things and has nasty things happen to her. Yet she is represented just fine, as a woman and a character.

          • spacejumbo says:

            She’s a woman who only gains and exerts power and influence through her sexuality. Somehow that’s a woman ‘not defined by their sexuality’?

            I’ll say again, she’s introduced as fucking her brother, her infidelity gets a central character killed, she’s raped by the body of her dead child by the father and she’s paraded through the streets naked as a punishment.

            The fact she’s spiteful and horrible on top of all that is in your eyes a positive? She’s unredeemable to the reader despite the author allowing two sides and redemption for her brother?

            I think you need to work out what your point is.

          • Dawngreeter says:

            I think you may not understand what you think you understand.

          • Premium User Badge

            Ninja Dodo says:

            @spacejumbo: Unrelated to this discussion, you could have signposted that Game of Thrones spoiler a bit better, given how giant of a spoiler it is. By the time your mind registers (SPOILER) you’ve already read far enough into the sentence to be spoiled. Maybe but it on a different line with more SPOILER SPOILER, or maybe just don’t post massive spoilers to a popular series in an unrelated thread (even if, yes, someone else brought it up). Anyway, thanks for that.

          • Premium User Badge

            Ninja Dodo says:

            * typo: maybe put it

          • spacejumbo says:

            @ninja dojo – sorry about that, I did put spoiler, but wasn’t enough. It’s not the end of the world as it was only a mention of one aspect of what happens and may not even happen in the TV version.

            @Dawngreeter – I’ll take the complete lack of content in your last reply as a failure on your part to find and understand the point you’re trying so badly to argue.

          • Dawngreeter says:

            I’d be shocked if you took it any other way.

          • Skit says:

            For the Love of god Cersei Lannister as a counter example to sexist female characters are you seriously out of your fucking mind? GoT is a sexist storytelling textbook example. Find me a handful of scenes With women which are not either fucking or talking about men.

            And yeah, please pull Arya, which is a kid and well, lets say develops a rather queer passion instead of being all about boys, motivated only by the loss of A MAN!

            I dare anyone to pull setting as an excuse, theres loads of direct hints at the little fat mans sexual fuckedupness that wrote a “saga” where every woman is either a whore, manipulator, victim, psycho or birthmachine (man or demon).

            But yeah, lets continue babbling about GTAV. The collective fetishist teenage power fantasy called GoT is established high literature…


          • Dawngreeter says:

            It’s slowly dawning upon me that all these hilariously angry men’s rights Internet people aren’t so much assholes as truly and honestly confused. That’s ok, I’d be very angry too if I couldn’t tell GTA from GoT.

      • Crafter says:

        Catalina ? I guess you could argue that she is strong if by that you mean that she can wield weapong, but she is in no way a positive female character.
        She is just insane.

    • Brigand says:

      There’s that ex-girlfriend of Franklin’s, who he’s still in love with. I don’t think she ever appears physically in the game but you get texts and emails from every once awhile that sound quite reasonable/sane.

      • BreadBitten says:

        Tonya, yes. She makes a very brief appearance in one of the pre-mission cutscenes, but most of her character is conveyed through texts and emails.

      • ulix says:

        There’s also Tanisha, another one of Franklin’s exes, who actually appears a couple of times in the game, isn’t sexualized, and also seems to have her shit together. I’d go as far as to say she’s the only (visible) character in the game – male or female – who isn’t a caricature in any way.

        • Skit says:

          Is that the ex stalking him only to nag about how he is all wrong all the time and trying to moral highground guilttrip him into taking “responsibility”. Because there is nothing more inspiring and empowering than person that tells another what to do and why…

    • P.Funk says:

      Kendl from San Andreas. The sexual tie in is that she’s your sister and she’s banging some Cholo and Sweet wants you to go cap that guy or something. Instead he becomes your best buddy. She becomes a sane person who does the books for your San Fierro garage. Thats about as good as it gets.

      • X_kot says:

        Kendl is also my pick for most-compelling woman from GTA, though I haven’t played 1, 2, or the “Stories” entries. Asuka Kasen from III would also be up there, although she didn’t get a lot of screen time.

      • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

        How does she impact the plot, outside of introducing the character of Cesar?

        • Canazza says:

          You bury a man alive in a porta-loo after he and his co-workers catcall her.

    • Holysheep says:

      Stop that. There are NO positive figures in GTA at all.

      • Xzi says:

        For the most part, this is correct. GTA is not a series that’s meant to present role models to anyone. Altogether, men are depicted as being a lot more “evil.” Quite frankly I’m tired of people trying to insert politics and political correctness in to it where there need be none. RPS included. I’m tired of it because it’s a tired discussion. Simply put, GTA is one of those gaming staples that shouldn’t be forced to change by anybody save Rockstar themselves. It’s their franchise and their creative freedom we’re talking about.

        Even if there was blatant sexism, or racism, in GTA, so what? Video games are the only medium in which sexist or racist characters aren’t allowed to be portrayed? In so far as I was aware, RPS was all about expanding the range of stories that video games are allowed to tell, not limiting them. If a developer is brave enough to tackle these tough subjects in a way most of the public won’t, it shouldn’t be up to the developer as to how to go about it, as well. The public, and RPS, should have no say in that. Artistic license and all that. You don’t have to agree with it. Just don’t whine about it.

        • Xzi says:

          Sorry, I meant the developer should* be in charge of how to go about it. Nobody else.

        • minkiii says:

          “Even if there was blatant sexism, or racism, in GTA, so what? Video games are the only medium in which sexist or racist characters aren’t allowed to be portrayed?” – Videogames being the biggest media now, and GTA being one of the biggest franchises, it should be under more scrutiny than anything else.

    • Jonty says:

      There is a single slightly-positive female role model in GTA V: Devin Weston’s assistant. She’s an organised professional who gets things done and (uniquely among the female characters in the game) is not a shrieking sex-obsessed harpy.

      She gets sucked into a jet engine. I worry that was intentional.

    • marano says:

      I don’t think I like this new, pretentiously politically correct RPS.

      The target audience doesn’t care about the negative depiction of women. Neither does it care about the N word.

      It’s like watching a Tarantino flick and complaining about the excessive violence.

      It seems like the writer of this article was trying to prove something. What, I do not know.

      • realmenhuntinpacks says:

        You’re new here, right? Speaking of demographics and target audiences, I think you find yourself somewhat outside of the Venn around these parts. Door, your arse, don’t let them connect upon your egress, etc.

        • hungrycookpot says:


          Feminism is THE central pillar of video games, and anyone who doesn’t agree is a misogynist pig.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            Anyone who feels like reasonable conversation is beneath them is always welcome to find the way out, yes.

      • Skit says:

        I always loved GTA and its over the top hyperbole version of “now” or “then”. This time, i kinda miss the little smiles, the charm. Its bitter, entitled, disappointed and pretentious.

        Theres probably nothing else you can do with the “now” weve got.

      • GameWarden says:

        You must be new here/

  2. Monkeh says:

    Uh says 14 April on Steam, not the 18th..

    • Songbearer says:

      Oh god, this is the thing that’s most nerve-wracking about this article. It says the 14th here too – please don’t say they’re going to do the EU release bollocks and unleash it at the end of the week. My poor heart won’t take it.

      • Tinotoin says:

        Steam actually proclaimed it to be ‘Now Available’ on Sunday afternoon… the mind boggled then and still does now.

  3. myhouse says:

    Who cares still buying it.

  4. Tazer says:

    There are alot of things that I don’t like about other games, however I choose not to play them, or ignore the things I don’t like, as opposed to feeling so entitled that I loudly proclaim my disappointment in the developers that they don’t feel shame for how they’ve personally wronged me. It reads to me, that the author is projecting his own “privilege” on the writers and developers. He doesn’t have a problem with the dialog, just that it was written by “white men”. It also reads as if the author assumes that the writers have had no contact with people of color from poorer areas in urban environments, so obviously they have no way to accurately portray a black man. The characters are satire and an amalgamation of various archetypes and not to reflect an exact likeness of the world or what the ideal woman should be. I wonder if you’d be opining on the dialog if it was a room full of black writers from Compton writing a discussion between wall street bankers who are running a boiler room scam. I bet not. It must be difficult going through life perpetually offended and fighting “micro-aggressions” constantly.

    • colw00t says:

      ” It also reads as if the author assumes that the writers have had no contact with people of color from poorer areas in urban environments, so obviously they have no way to accurately portray a black man.”

      If you don’t find yourself wondering about the group of Scots who wrote C.J. and Franklin, who created these characters so far from their own life experiences, I don’t know what to tell you. Supposedly the characters in GTA involve heavy collaboration with their voice actors, and I certainly hope they do. David Simon may have written the Wire, but he wrote it after more than a decade of living in and reporting on the communities he wanted to tell stories about, communities he cares passionately about. I inevitably find myself wondering what Dan Houser thinks of these young and in many ways stereotypical characters he creates.

      “It must be difficult going through life perpetually offended and fighting “micro-aggressions” constantly.”
      Well, you would know, I suppose.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        This reasoning would have no flaws if only it was absolutely proven that blacks are the only group being mocked in GTA games.

        Actually, it would be even more fun to find even just one group that is depicted as positive. At first i thought those were the random pedestrian you could mow down, but then i realized they gave them random lines and animations that mock their own existence aswell.

      • blastaz says:

        And Tolkien just never lived in a wood or under a mountain long enough to write about elves or dwarves. Really he should have restricted his novel to only be about the world of white cis het male Oxford dons he lived first hand!

        And the neo colonialist way he structured his novels around the elven language was pure cultural appropriation!

        Really my take on these critiques of gta are that the problem is that the authors have got old but the game keeps on appealing to the same demographic. Then the author wonders why the game doesn’t appeal to them in the same way it used to. Answer: Because it isn’t trying to.

        • colw00t says:

          Jiminy Christmas, you’re the second person to defend Rockstar’s awful, stereotyped writing of women and people of color by comparing it to other, better writing that is about COMPLETELY FICTIONAL SPECIES. Do you not see the problem with that?

          • blastaz says:

            If it’s possible to imagine, breathe life into, flesh out and write convincingly about fictional species isn’t it (intellectually and conceptually at least) possible to imagine, breathe life into, flesh out and write convincingly about real people and cultures you yourself are not a member of?

            Not saying Rockstar are, just objecting to the argument that only X people can write about X culture.

          • colw00t says:

            Ah, right. Sorry, in the flood of nonsense on here I mistook your point.

            You’re absolutely right, it is possible to do so. That’s why I brought up David Simon, a (white) journalist and writer who, with the help of empathy, other voices, and a huge amount of research, wrote the definitive version of the story GTA wishes it could tell with Franklin or CJ. It is possible, but it’s extraordinarily difficult. Rockstar have no interest in doing the work necessary to tell those kinds of stories well – they’d rather tell the same childish ones over and over.

          • blastaz says:

            I don’t think gta is ever really trying to be the wire. It’s so much more anarchic and Hobbesian.

            Maybe they tried to be a little more serious in 4 but it just got drowned out in the cacophony of ludonarrative dissonance. You ARE an arsehole in gta, your character has to be as well. Trevor is the only true character. There is nothing to like about him because there is nothing to like about the minute to minute psychopathy of the gameplay.

            Rockstar got round this in LA noire by changing the game play. Making it more controlled, structured and measured. The problem was that wasn’t nearly as fun!

            Gta is about fun! It’s about anarchy, and destruction and release. Sure enjoy the breathtaking view from the top of mount chilliad. But then crash a bloody tank pursued by five police cars right over it!

            Someone says below that you can’t expect anything other than cartoon characters and I think that is very true. The problem is that this is a cartoon and tens of millions love it for that very reason. Rockstar aren’t going to grow up their main franchise just because the tastes of a few people have matured. They (and others) will make different games for that.

          • nearly says:

            “If it’s possible to imagine, breathe life into, flesh out and write convincingly about fictional species isn’t it (intellectually and conceptually at least) possible to imagine, breathe life into, flesh out and write convincingly about real people and cultures you yourself are not a member of?

            Not saying Rockstar are, just objecting to the argument that only X people can write about X culture.”

            Did I honestly just read a post saying that writing hobbits is possible, therefore white people can and should just use their imagination to write about black people?

          • wengart says:

            Nearly, what are you even doing here?

          • nearly says:

            Apparently being the only person sane enough to recognize that the burden of responsibility for writing (about) a real culture is very different from making one up?

          • hungrycookpot says:

            This is a COMPLETELY FICTIONAL GAME, so no.

          • April March says:

            Oh, if it is a completely fictional game it’s OK. I was under the wrong impression that black people did exist.

        • Orazio Zorzotto says:

          Hey, the reason why Tolkien got to write realistic sounding elves is because… ELVES AREN’T REAL. How insulting is it to compare a real race and culture to a made up one?
          Talk about straight up racism.

      • Reapy says:

        People are getting caught up in a lot of BS here with all these ‘social issues’.

        Game writing, sucks, and has always sucked.

        Can you find me one example of good writing in a game that comes anywhere near what would be considered the best in the movie or literature world? Why the hell even attempt to compare GTA writing to The Wire? They are leagues apart.

        Everybody is so used to these AAA productions they forget the tech behind the scenes and the beauty of it. GTA isn’t great for its writing or story.

        GTA is great for the artwork and level design. The textures everywhere. The simulation and systems at work to create a believable city. All of that coding in there to getting it all to run in real time without many fps drops. The execution of GTA’s gameplay and the details found that bring it to life are where it shines.

        • Ravenine says:

          Have you bloody read Planescape: Torment? I do mean read, because you mentioned writing primarily. The writing in that game is good enough to be several novels on its own merit. At its best, I would even say it beats Game of Thrones occasionally, and I adore those books to hell and back. At its worst, it’s still quite a ways better than, say, anything Tolkien has ever written (also love those books, but when I went back and read them as an adult… Let’s just say I think nostalgia upped my expectations).

        • April March says:

          Sleeping Dogs is no Pullitzer prize contender, but it does a lot of the things GTA only pretends to do while still being mostly about a male criminal’s perspective.

      • Skit says:

        All aside, my disappointment with GTAV (and im a very big fan of the series) lies not in the sexism but that the games fail narratively for me when the characters transition to a position of wealth and power. The change in social status and aquaintances just dont happen, peripheral characters stay mostly the same and the activities only ramp up in scale not nature.

        Id love a GTA that switches characters midgame to the henchmen of the former main characters which become npcs themselves. I think theres a lot of depth to that concept, and a way to escape the more unbelievable developments of most GTA late game scenarios.

        But thats just my opinion, ill still murder hookers to get my money back if thats all i get.

    • draglikepull says:

      If you’re so fond of ignoring things you dislike, you could have very easily not read or commented on this article.

      • spookas says:


      • airmikee says:

        If he doesn’t make comments informing the world that he is ignoring something because he dislikes it, how will you know he’s ignoring it and/or doesn’t like it?

        The definition of ‘ignore’ isn’t: refuse to take notice of or acknowledge; disregard intentionally.
        The definition of ‘ignore’ is: screaming and hollering about something, acknowledging it completely, highly regarded intentionally.

      • AbsoluteShower says:

        How will the writer ever improve, if we don’t call him on his assumptions?

        • draglikepull says:

          I have no issue with people voicing criticisms, I was merely noting the irony in a commenter saying that people should ignore things they dislike, then proceeding to not ignore a thing they dislike.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      At first i tried to selectively pick a weak paragraph in your whole post so i could dismantle it and disprove you automatically without further need for argumentation, but then i realized i actually agree with you so i ended my search.

    • basilisk says:

      “It’s satire!” has been GTA’s shield for a very long time, yet no one seems to stop and ask what exactly is it a satire of.

      Are 99% of GTA characters ugly, unsufferable stereotypes? Yes, certainly. But how is that satire? Those stereotypes aren’t even remotely real. A caricature, that’s what it is, and a very primitive one at that. Nothing subversive about it. Just one of those pictures that mediocre artists draw en masse in tourist trap locations all over the world. All the observational depth of a funhouse mirror.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        You have a point, and indeed such satire doesn’t have to be good. You don’t have to like it, or it doesn’t have to be a masterpiece in literature. It can easily be a badly written piece of crap.

        The question asked in this article is if this “satire” is disturbing on the basis of who writes what about who, and the answer is “no.” because there is no discrimination that is being confined only to certain groups.

        • AbsoluteShower says:

          Reminds me of political cartoons, how many are actually any good?

          Most are anvilicious tripe. That said, I don’t really care to defend GTA as a satire, as I don’t feel it needs defending.
          It’s just id-driven fun. Trying to dilute that to make it ‘acceptable’ to some White English man who is offended on behalf of women and black people would be a disaster.

      • damncoolcow says:

        Its a satire of American culture

        • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

          I’m actually trying to think of any film, television series, or game which marketed its humour as a “satire on American culture” that was actually funny.

          • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

            To clarify, there are quite a few good works that satire *aspects* of American culture, but anything which simply describes itself as a satire of American culture in general is simply using a weak excuse in attempt to make juvenile humour somehow seem more meaningful.

  5. cederic says:

    I think the issue isn’t the supposed racism and misogyny, it’s the loss of good writing and knowing humour.

    GTA2 was top-down only, and that constrained its realism. It was still a great game, and achieved that through fun driving mechanics, the now familiar on foot vs driving options and a simple adult humour.

    That humour has gone. The game is now too (badly) scripted, it’s trying too hard to stay in character and that’s turned it into a caricature. The protagonist may be a semi-racist misogynist and the writing may accurately depict that, and the race and gender of the writers is frankly fucking irrelevant to that. But they’ve lost the observational humour that takes the edge off it, that reminds you it’s just entertainment, and failed to replace it with proper characters living real lives.

    This is why I prefer the Saints Row series for my car stealing driving shooting bludgeoning women to death with a large purple dildo action: it hasn’t forgotten the humour, and I never feel racist or sexist because hell, I’m bludgeoning everybody to death and that’s only until I can pick up some serious firepower.

    • caff says:

      I think I’d agree with this. I like some of the edgy characters and general moodiness of the GTA series, but each iteration seems to lose some of it’s humour. Saints Row is far too OTT for me, but I rather liked Dead Rising 3 which struck a decent balance.

    • derbefrier says:

      “I think the issue isn’t the supposed racism and misogyny, it’s the loss of good writing and knowing humour.”

      Its funny you say that cause here i was thinking GTA 5 was finally a GTA with half decent writing and humor. in my opinion story wise this GTA 5 is probably one of the best. I dont go out of my way to be politically correct so I dont approach these games with that kind of mindset With that in mind GTA is an often funny game( i guess depending on your sense of humor, your mileage may vary) about shooting people and planning heists and laughing at the crazy shenanigans the main characters get themselves into. I think looking for anything beyond that is kind of a waste of time and not in the spirit of the game itself. This is obviously a game that does not take itself seriously, so why should i?

      I dunno I guess to me its just a stupid fun game but I guess thats just me. IF people want to be offended by the content go right ahead. i’ll continue enjoying the game and not caring I guess.

      • Kempston Wiggler says:

        But what if we told you that it could still do ALL of those fun things while not being so freaking horrible about women all the time? If Saint’s Row can do it, surely the biggest selling game in the world can do it too?

        It’s nice you’ve got this lovely little ‘switch your brain off’ mode that ignores all the horrible shit these games are composed of but for some of us that’s not that easy to do. Some of us want to see better. What about the story of a bunch of WOMEN working their way to the top, for once? Turn the whole thing on its head. Subversion used to be what GTA was good at – now it’s just reinforcing the very thing it used to mock.

        • BreadBitten says:

          It’s not about switching your brain off as it is about appreciating art for what it is. To take a page from Brendan Keogh’s book: Videogame criticism in general these days has boiled down to focusing on what a game is not rather than what it is.

          I would LOVE to play an all-female GTA crew as much as I would love a GTA set in the Pacific Northwest (Twin Peaks by way of GTA — just imagine it!), but saying that GTA hates women for not including playable female characters is akin to saying GTA hates every other American city that is not New York, Florida, or Los Angeles.

          • pepperfez says:

            No one’s saying GTA hates women because there are no female PCs. They’re saying it because the world of GTA and the people in it seem very much to hate women. If you want a thoroughly-realized world that is staggeringly hostile to women, then yeah, you can appreciate GTA for what it is. But if you think that’s a bit shit, why not say?

          • AbsoluteShower says:

            “They’re saying it because the world of GTA and the people in it seem very much to hate women.”

            That world hates everyone. No-one comes off well. It’s just with the current climate bad characterizations of women and minorities (women, this year)are more objectionable.

          • TobleroneRoloCombo says:

            “That world hates everyone. No-one comes off well. It’s just with the current climate bad characterizations of women and minorities (women, this year)are more objectionable.”

            But even if we accept “but everybody is badly-characterised equally,” it raises the question of why we should even care about any of the characters in the first place.

          • pepperfez says:

            Every edition of GTA has had interactive prostitutes. None has had a female PC. That ought to be pretty interesting, unless one takes for granted that in a ‘realistic’ or ‘satirical’ setting women are objects for fucking.

          • Distec says:

            Prostitutes are for fucking in GTA, not women in general.

          • TheRealHankHill says:

            Tolblerone you aren’t SUPPOSED to care about the main characters, that’s the point of all these arguments. This is a game you play to put a bus on top of a plane and fly it into a building. Not to examine societal constructs and shortcomings within a virtual world…

        • joa says:

          Because if GTA were po-faced and self-righteous it wouldn’t be as fun? I haven’t played a lot of GTA, but I get the feeling that it’s popularity comes from being irreverent about everything. I don’t think it would be as effective if it was irreverent mostly, but put women on a pedestal.

          I think things can be satirical and cynical and still be female-positive, but I think it’s difficult to do. And I think the kind of GTA the Tumblr-reading postmodern feminist set would produce wouldn’t be funny in the slightest.

        • derbefrier says:

          look man I apologize for not getting all worked up over a video game I am sure my indifference has caused suffering worldwide and I am in fact some sort of monster for it but fuck off with that self riotous bullshit. You do not know me or my mind so don’t pretend to.

        • Shadow says:

          Personally, I find it profoundly peculiar that while we’re talking about games which feature scumbags robbing, torching and murdering through the setting, some people get their knickers in a bunch particularly (and only) because they’re also mean to women at times (and generally not murderously so, unlike the rest of their behaviours).

          The big question is, why is it acceptable to play a criminal and commit any number of atrocities, but being disrespectful towards women is off the table?

          If we zoom out a bit to get some perspective, and consider all the questionable acts a GTA scumbag does, the moment they kill an innocent person, rudeness or even hate towards women becomes a secondary offense at best.

          • pepperfez says:

            Under how many articles have you written this same comment? How many times have you read someone else’s identical comment? Has it occurred to you that this is not an original observation, and that maybe no one addresses it in their articles for the same reason that calculus classes don’t teach multiplication tables?

            Or are you just waiting for someone to throw you some fish?

          • Nemesis_Protocol says:

            I think this is the big thing here… and why I have never really been able to take these criticisms to heart when they revolve around GTA (but seem to understand them and sympathize with them in relation to other games and especially in other genres). I just walked into a hospital and burned 35 people alive before mercilessly gunning down civilians and police alike with an assault rifle trying to make my get-away. Charred flesh, gaping exit-wounds, bone and tissue blown across the pavement and lifeless bodies twisted at listless angles. All of a sudden, being a racist who is mean to women doesn’t seem quite as critique worthy… yet it is the only thing I see critiqued.

            People are being burned alive daily in places like Iraq and Yemen. 11,000 Americans are murdered every year with a firearm. And yes – racism and misogyny are prevalent across the world. But if we’re going to be critiquing a game, shouldn’t we being ripping it open and letting everything fall out? Because if we are so willing to excuse one atrocity and zero-in on another, it tells me the problem is not the atrocity or the medium in which it is conveyed, it is the consumer (in this case the player) where the problem resides.

            In short, if you want to keep the ability to burn people alive but remove racial slurs, I can’t really respect your opinion on GTA. The entire idea of the game is building a world centered on vice, greed and violence where NO ONE makes it out ok (to include the middle-class white guys), where few people make it out alive (especially anyone who leads a fairly normal life or isn’t a criminal), and where anything goes… from torching a hospital to using the N-word to beating your wife. To take out one but be fine with the rest is in itself offensive. With GTA, it has been expected since GTA 3 – you buy a ticket, you take the ride. The whole thing, wholesale, and parts of it will make you uncomfortable, and other parts someone else uncomfortable because that’s real life, and I’ve always thought… isn’t that kind of the point of the whole series?

          • Shadow says:

            pepperfez, this is actually the first time I wrote that, and haven’t really read it elsewhere. It merely occurred to me, and I couldn’t care less it’s not an original observation (as if yours and many others’ are, on this subject). However, it doesn’t make it any less valid, despite your lackluster attempt to somehow prove that whilst simultaneously saying nothing substantial.

            Nemesis_Protocol pretty much explained my point of view in depth. GTA is a game which frequently deals in extremes, and it’s incredibly paradoxical how some people condone large-scale robbing and mass murder (of people of any gender, race and creed, in-game of course) while getting hyper-sensitive about comparatively minor offenses against women (also just in-game).

            Some seem to expect a politically correct criminal simulator, as if that made an ounce of sense. I repeat that GTA characters are scumbags who often do much worse than disrespecting women, and can hardly be expected to be uncharacteristically benign towards them and then merrily go on with their rampant excesses elsewhere.

            Could GTA have more strong female characters whose characterization doesn’t revolve around sex? By all means, but that’s not the piece of criticism I’m counter-criticising. I’m simply commenting on the selective opposition to all-inclusive murderous scumbags being scumbags to women.

          • hotmaildidntwork says:

            Who is it that has made the criticism you’re counter-criticising?

        • wengart says:

          Rockstar can do pretty solid writing. Red Dead, Bully, L.A. Noire. These are all well written games. Frankly they are probably better than GTA 5 and definitely better than GTA4.

          Interestingly enough their better written games also limit how much shit the player can get up to.

          So we get to the point where GTA has become this sort of nasty game. Within a minute of picking up a controller at a friend’s house I had murdered 5 people and crushed some dude’s legs against his car. I got to watch him squirm around for a while before I got out and beat him bloody. GTA is far more fucked up than their other games and it is full of an insane amount of narrative dissonance. Niko is on a date while some dude is caught under the chassis of my car. A girl is saying “I really want to see you again sometime” as I’m leaving a smear of blood behind the vehicle. It doesn’t make any sense. It is violent it is bloody it is mean.

          GTA characters are not positive characters, they are not good characters. Trevor is straight up a monster who is unpleasant to be around or play as. Everyone is a caricature taking only the worst parts of a person and stuffing them all into one meat bag.

          Then we get an article that says “Why isn’t GTA nice to women” like it is a surprising thing to find out that GTA, the game that isn’t nice to a single damn thing other than senseless violence, isn’t nice to women.

        • Rizlar says:

          Subversion used to be what GTA was good at – now it’s just reinforcing the very thing it used to mock.


        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Sadly political ideals and business don’t always match up and I think you are being a bit silly if you think a GTA with female protagonists would do as well amongst the young male demographic than what they currently do.

      • TimePointFive says:

        I think, which I kind of agree with the author, is that maybe they should focus on more thoughtful characterizations, as opposed to painting broad, flashy strokes. I felt the same about MP3, the game’s writing could have gone darker and edgier (and by edge, I mean intelligent playfulness with the bounds of the medium) as opposed to “double-triple-saw-that-coming-way-too-long-ago-quadruple-cross/Max is drunk, now he’s not.” As I’ve aged, Houser’s writing has just seemed more juvenile and even masturbatorial at time. I even remember remarking during my playthrough of GTAV that the head writer must have just gone through a nasty divorce.

        • colw00t says:

          I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the best-written bits of the game are Michael in counseling, trying to deal with his middle-aged malaise and his family problems.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Sure, maybe some of the writers can better relate with that and have something more to say, and more importantly in a better written way, but Michael is still a shitty person like everyone else. This article is about some groups getting an unfair representation, and i still think that is impossible if everyone else is getting the same treatment.

            Every writer will always be better ar something and worse at something else. There’s nothing wrong with that but the article seems to suggest there is just because the writers are not as proficient when it comes to black people clichès. Their intention is still to mock and depict ugly characters, and for better of worse they’re doing this with every single one.

          • April March says:

            The problem is that some groups get a lot more shit thrown them than others, so even if you’re making fun equally of white and black people, black people are victimized by a lot more stereotypes, so you’re not being equal.

            It’s like… imagine two tables that hold up to 200kg. One has 180kg on it. One has nothing. You put a 30kg weight on both of them. Only one breaks. You complain that you treated both tables equally and the one that broke was obviously weaker.

            That is probably one of my worst metaphors but I’m sticking to it.

        • Rizlar says:

          As I’ve aged, Houser’s writing has just seemed more juvenile and even masturbatorial at time.

          Either the word you are looking for is ‘masturbatory’ or that is a brilliant gag.

    • April March says:

      The humour isn’t gone. The subtlety is, and without it the humour Rockstar likes to make doesn’t work.

      (Compare and contrast: Saints’ Row. It’s not subtle, but owns that it’s not subtle, so its humour works.)

      If GTA was still subtle the argument that its racist and mysoginist content were satirizing such behaviour would hold a lot more water.

  6. cederic says:

    Incidentally, it’s a lot easier to accurately depict a dog than a woman. Fewer emotional cues, far lower range of activity and possible actions, no requirement for tool use, easily constrained to an area, minimal vocabulary and the clothing options somewhat reduced.

    Me, I prefer cats.

    • GameCat says:

      If (hungry & isFoodNearby())
      if (sleepy)
      if (isCardboardBoxNearby())

      Cats are easy.

      • BradleyUffner says:

        if (IsTuesday) VomitOnCarpet();

      • Arren says:

        Your observational skills might not be as comprehensive as you seem to believe…..

        • cederic says:

          Nah, I have three cats, this covers 80% of their lives. The rest is licking fur or playing.

          Of course, GTA V does have a realistic depiction of cats too :
          link to youtube.com

          (cf my tortoiseshell dying under a car on christmas eve)

      • Dawngreeter says:

        I have issues with sleepy and hungry being local boolean variables. Also, no block after the first if. Also, if a sleepy cat which isn’t hungry is near a box it will, apparently, hunt, sleep and enter a box at the same time.

  7. BradleyUffner says:

    Everyone, literally EVERYONE in GTA is a messed up, dysfunctional, caricature of a person. That’s the entire point of GTA. You can say there are no realistic women in the game, and that would be true, but you also have to point out that there are no realistic men either.

    • Bradamantium says:

      This isn’t untrue, but it’s only the three male protagonists that get to murder, maim, and steal their way to (potentially) a happy ending set against a redemptive sundown-colored sky.

      That’s what disappointed me most about GTAV. Read Dead Redemption, Max Payne 3, and even Bully took the time to look in the mirror and lament what they saw, but GTAV is just unrepentant sociopaths all the way down. John Marston got his, and he wasn’t half the bastard even Michael was, let alone Trevor. Max knows he’s a alcoholism and depression wrapped up in a human skin. Jimmy Hopkins is as aware as a 15 year old can be of his own role in the world around him. But GTAV stacks ’em up and never really knocks ’em down. Just calls it a day and paints the whole thing as satire.

      It’s plenty fun and a wonderful play experience, but Rockstar sold themselves short in the writing department. They didn’t *need* to do anything better, but it would’ve been nice if they reached just a little further.

      • TheRealHankHill says:

        All of you seem to be missing that the game being full of sociopathic murderers is KIND OF THE POINT. Don’t like it? Don’t buy it. It will still sell because people want to play a game where you can walk into a hospital, murder people, then drive a tank off a cliff and live. It is violent, it is grotesque, it is offensive, it is ridiculous. That’s the point. Why aren’t you guys upset about the postal games or Duke Nukems strippers? The game doesn’t need strong female characters because the writers didn’t want to put them in, art isn’t to be controlled or changed like so many people here want it to be. There are things that I find hugely offensive and lacking in any value, I sure as hell won’t ever ask the creator to NOT make their art though. I just won’t consume it.

  8. SlimShanks says:

    Erm, aren’t men also all portrayed negatively in GTA games? Also, this is a game that has a caricature of one of the nastiest cultures on earth as it’s setting. The criminal underworld of said culture, to be precise. Is it really fair to complain about the fact that that world is, as it was intended to be, awful and demeaning to those who inhabit it? I’m just saying, maybe this is exactly the world they intended to make, and it’s supposed to make us think about how it contrasts, or not, with our world. Maybe it’s trying to be blunt.
    Lastly, if someone wants to make a nasty world for a game, I say let them. I don’t believe it’s ok to say they can’t just because it makes us uncomfortable.
    Anyways haven’t played the game yet so this is just speculation. Looking forward to it though!

    • jalf says:

      When it is caricatured by people outside that group, it kind of does.

      When it becomes a group of middle-aged white men sitting around coming up with as many demeaning stereotypes as they can about black people and women, out people other than themselves, about frequently marginalized and discriminated groups, think it’s reasonable to stop and ask “am I ok with this?”

      Whatever answer you choose, the question is valid. The discussion is relevant. The article is worthwhile.

      Even if your conclusion is “I’m fine with a game where a bunch of white dudes make women and black guys look like awful human beings”.

  9. Bu88a says:

    Why does it matter what colour the people are doing the writing? It’s completely irrelevant. Should black characters be only written by black people? What kind of crazy pandering is this? These kind of click-bait first world problem issues are something that does not need to be on RPS.

    Colours of skin is does not make a good game, ever. It shouldn’t even be considered a thing.

    Also what is a “realistic woman”? What if a woman wrote a female character that was determined by someone to be unrealistic?

    This is the cancer that is killing journalism, gaming related or not.

    • Kempston Wiggler says:

      “This is the cancer that is killing journalism, gaming related or not.”

      Jesus. Over-dramatised, much? It’s an opinion piece, that’s all, not the heralds of the apocalypse.

      “Also what is a “realistic woman”?”

      It’s hilarious you even asked that question. A Real Woman is one that can go for an entire day without speaking or behaving like a male fantasy sex object. She has real motivations, real problems, real emotions and a genuine impact on a narrative. She’s not window dressing or something cute and giggly for men to attach to their cocks as some kind of prize for being so gosh-darned bursting with testosterone. GTA seems to have forgotten this entirely, hence we’re at the seventh or eight iteration of the series and we’ve yet to have ONE solitary female lead. It’s take on women is, frankly, stuck at the level of that 10 year old who thinks he’s a gangster but only when his parents aren’t watching. It’s lost whatever sly commentary angle it once had in favour of baldly being a playground for complete knob-ends.

      • Sin Vega says:

        That “cancer that’s killing x” line is a stock channer phrase, and it’s older than about half the regulars on those same boards. I wouldn’t really waste my time unpacking the rest of that comment if I were you.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        My question is, why must GTA have a female lead? It’s an incredibly successful game series that is where it is because it’s popular amongst young males. Supply and demand, not everything must be made to suit everybody, it’s a ridiculous concept within gaming at the moment that every game that doesn’t represent certain demographics must be subject to these ridiculous hit pieces until they change.

        People are free to make games that do everything you WOULD like to see in a game, if there is a market for it, it will sell, go and prove that market exists rather than banging on about this topic over and over in an entirely negative way.

        People enjoy GTA, it doesn’t make them misogynists, or racists, it doesn’t make the developers this either. It doesn’t make you better than them because you choose to turn your nose up at it. It’s a piece of over the top fantasy, NOTHING MORE, go find your own piece of fantasy that you do like and stop whinging about other people.

    • colw00t says:

      “This is the cancer that is killing journalism, gaming related or not.”

      If someone criticizing a game for poor writing bothers you this much, I suggest you may be happier if you go back to 8chan.

    • Ineedaname says:

      “Realistic women” according to RPS and a famous games writer: link to abload.de

    • Dances to Podcasts says:

      Clearly people should only ever write autobiographies.

      Using the ‘cancer that’s killing’ phrase will get you sent to bed without pudding, though.

  10. Premium User Badge

    gritz says:

    Jesus, the “men have just as bad” brigade is out in force today.

    • colw00t says:

      Didn’t you know? The worst thing that can possibly happen is someone thinking about or criticizing artwork. If they do use that artistic criticism to talk about things that plague society, like race relations, that’s even worse and they are destroying Journalism and Ethics forever.

      • Kempston Wiggler says:


        And other such scalding witticisms. And WE’RE the ones who get accused of being sodding “thought police”?

        • Napoleon15 says:

          I’m not sure what a guy who got fired for workplace assault has to do with the article, though I get the intent of your comment. Look, if you write an article for a prominent website, you will get people disagreeing with you, and those people are going to make themselves known in the comments section. Some of those people will be stupid, and some of those people will actually be pretty articulate about why they think the article and the author are wrong.

          If they don’t want this feedback, they should close the comments section, but they probably won’t do that, because controversial articles get plenty of clicks and plenty of comments, and comments keep people coming back to read the new ones.

          It seems to me that you GTA to be a different game to what it is. That’s fine. Unfortunately for you, judging by the sale figures, most customers are very happy with the game in its current form, which means it’s most likely not going to change, no matter how many articles like this get written or how many people like you complain. The company will look at the sales figures, work out how many customers they will potentially lose or gain for changes in the game, and go with the one that makes them the most money.

          That’s how business works. You might not like it, other people might not like it, but until you become a very lucrative demographic for companies to financially gain from, I think things will continue as they are. And that’s fine. Companies should have the freedom to make the kind of game they want to within the bounds of the law, and people are equally free to not buy it.

          • Kempston Wiggler says:

            Well, thanks for that utterly patronising lesson on How The World Works and Business 101. I’ve really learned something here today. Would you mind also straightening me out on Gender Relations in the 21st Century? Maybe I need a big strong chap to sort me out on this too.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            “Some of those people will be stupid, and some of those people will actually be pretty articulate about why they think the article and the author are wrong.”
            Yet to see any disagreement fall into the latter category. So far they’ve all fallen into the same boring predictable drivel that turns up when ever anyone rights any kind of artible in this vein. It’s like these morons are being churned out by some kind of automated factory. At times like these I despair for the human race.

          • Kempston Wiggler says:

            SWOON…AAAND SCENE! Well done Ergates. Hyper-drama of the first order. OH! The HUMANITY! *slaps hand to forehead*

          • Napoleon15 says:

            @Ergates_Antius: I’d say there are some if you scroll down, but you just don’t like the opinion or ideas put forth. Just because you find no merit in them, doesn’t mean they aren’t reasoned and rational responses. I’m not sure I agree with despairing for the human race over comments on an internet article, because I can find plenty of better reasons to despair by just going outside and seeing the real world.

            @Kempston Wiggler: You’ve been nothing but patronising through the entire comments thread. I don’t think you need a big strong chap to sort you out, but I do think you need to chill out.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Firstly you might not want to call people morons that are “spouting drivel” whilst failing to use the correct spelling of “writes” whilst you are bashing them.

            Secondly you may need to consider that you are the problem here, you are the one dismissing any differing opinion as “boring predictable drivel” because you aren’t willing to listen to any opinion that you don’t personally consider to be the right one.

            It is a common attitude I see amongst social justice types, they think they are superior in their thinking and pretty much everything else because of it, anyone differing from their thought process must be a moron, or a misogynist, or some other derogatory. Because of this, they aren’t willing to listen to different points of view because they have already assumed it is the opinion of someone who they have wrongly placed beneath them in intellect and morals.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Yeah, because “criticizing artwork” is the same thing as trying to make it look completely invalid and possibly even damaging.

        And i also love how the voices of disagreement ( regarding the context of this article ) are so happily ridiculed rather than reasoned with. I get it a lot of people there think this is some kind of safe heaven for like minded folks, i actually think it’s even reasonable, but throwing rocks at every differing voice is not a sane way of going about in a world so varied.

        The sense of superiority of some here is quite baffling, and that might be why they feel they can speak for everyone. Clearly they have the cultural edge over most, and such a line of thinking is absolutely not troubling.

        • pepperfez says:

          By volume, the overwhelming majority of “the voices of disagreement” (to the proposition that GTA’s politics are squicky) can safely be tossed back into the *chan septic tank from which they oozed. That doesn’t mean every one is! But separating the wheat from the ergot is a hassle, and the payoff is vanishingly small, so it really isn’t worth it.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Didn’t you know? The worst that can possibly happen is that you are expected to argue your case, and not just shout rhetoric unopposed. Motte and Bailey, indeed.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        The issue is, it seems the only time “art” is ever criticized on gaming websites is when they can talk about gender representation in a negative way. It is literally the only kind of social critique they give a shit about. So no, I disagree that it’s about criticizing art, it’s about pushing their agenda, there is a very real difference.

    • electrotherobot says:

      Yes, isn’t in annoying when people have opposing viewpoints? There is literally nothing more triggering than a man standing up for himself. Obviously all men who disagree with the author’s viewpoints should just shut up and learn their place. After all, they can’t possibly understand what women are going through. They should just return to the confines of their privilege bubble. You know, where they don’t even have the privilege to defend themselves without being told to shut up.

      Yep, it sure is great being a straight white man. I don’t get any hate thrown my way at all.

      Unless you want to count the throng of vapid feminist tumblr and twitter snowflakes who popularize hashtags like #killallmen and openly threaten violence while screaming at video game development studios to save them from their oppression.

      For what it’s worth, I think that in this case the author’s piece seems fairly moderate and balanced, though I do feel he has his blinders on, in that he’s only seeing what he wants to be upset about. There are no redeemable characters in any GTA game I’ve played. Even the protagonists are egocentric sociopaths. And that’s fine. You know why?

      Because it’s a video game.

      There are actual women’s rights issues going on in the world. Do we really need to fight for the rights of virtual people yet? Are we done saving actual humans from oppression? When people whine about nonsense like this, it just takes time and energy away from actual causes, and makes it that much harder for the general public to take feminism seriously.

      • Premium User Badge

        gritz says:

        Okie dokie

      • Kempston Wiggler says:

        “There are actual women’s rights issues going on in the world…”

        And there are 7 billion of us to address them, or are you suggesting we should all tackle one problem at at time? Stop deflecting.

        “Do we really need to fight for the rights of virtual people yet?”

        Nobody has suggested that.

        Are we done saving actual humans from oppression?

        Again, 7 billion of us. Some of us are working on this right this very second. Stop deflecting.

        When people whine about nonsense like this, it just takes time and energy away from actual causes, and makes it that much harder for the general public to take feminism seriously.”

        No, comments like YOURS make it harder to take Feminism seriously, this constant ridicule of things your ilk claim to have total logical dominion over but actually no real empathy or understanding of at all. What you’ve written can be more accurately called “whining” than anything in the post above.

        • electrotherobot says:

          And just what is it that you’re fighting for? Better representation of women in video games?

          And what’s the game plan? To scream at the white males until they save you from your oppression by making female characters more believable. It’s ridiculous. Your whole argument ignores demographics. It assumes that all entertainment medium is targeted at everyone. It’s not. Rockstar’s primary demographic has always been male, and that is not inherently a bad thing. Rockstar is a very successful company. They don’t need your help or your approval of their ideas or expression.

          You want to make more inclusive video games, or video games which skew more toward a female audience? That’s great, you should go and get on that. I have zero issue with anyone wanting more video games that appeal to them. What I do take issue with, is when people simply scream that the video games currently on the market don’t appeal to them. You know what the devs behind Rockstar did when they wanted a game like GTA on the market? They made it. And they did quite a good job, I think. Now you think they’re doing it wrong? I think their financial figures would suggest otherwise. I quite enjoy GTA as it is, and so do tens of millions of other people. You want a different game. Go make that game. Slowly build a company over decades of hard work, then eventually manage to raise the tens of millions of dollars needed to make a game like GTA. Then spend years making it exactly as you want it. Then put all of that money and work on the line in the hopes that there are enough people out there who agree with your vision that you’ll be successful. That’s how democracy works. Making games is a huge gamble. Rockstar know this. They have an established demographic, and they’re likely not looking to rock the boat too much just to satiate a few noisy objections.

          • Kempston Wiggler says:

            WOW, you like the sound of your own voice. And seem to be on some crusade to DEFEND DEFEND DEFEND when literally ALL we’re doing is discussing where some of us think Rockstar is not doing so well. It’s a discussion, not a socio-political movement. Way to over-react, dude.

            And hey, think how much more money Rockstar could make if half of the world’s population weren’t being portrayed in the worst ways possible?

          • Distec says:

            You have hounded multiple people in this comments section for not agreeing with you. Who are you telling anybody to calm down?

          • Orija says:

            @electrotherobot I see nothing wrong with people/fans making their wishes known to the developers they support.

            @wiggler If all you’re gonna do is bitch without putting forth any counter-arguments, you might as well shut the fuck up.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            “And hey, think how much more money Rockstar could make if half of the world’s population weren’t being portrayed in the worst ways possible?”

            Yeah, things don’t work like that, by your reasoning 50 Shades of Grey could also include a male protagonist having safe missionary sex once a week and men would buy it too. That would be ridiculous, the reality is it would sell less because it would be less appealing to female readers.

            GTA has always been an over the top male power fantasy. It’s sold to millions of young males by doing this. Trying to include appeal to different demographics would dilute and weaken the formula in the exact same way that 50 Shades and every other romance novel on the market, that is written specifically for women, would suffer if it tried to appeal to men too. (I mean if gender roles were reversed social justice people would be having a field day with the romance novel industry as it objectifies men terribly).

            You know what though, I don’t care, let women have their fantasies, let men have their fantasies, because that’s all it is, a fantasy, as a grown adult we are more than capable of distinguishing between that and reality. I agree with the guy above, people seem so adamant that by targeting a male demographic the developers are losing sales. Then why don’t people prove that theory. Go and make these games, surely there are all these people, millions of them, feeling under represented because of their gender, they would snap up a game that did things properly, it would be a MASSIVE hit. Seems more constructive to me than bitching about things you don’t like under the guise of “offence”.

            link to medium.com
            This is an interesting piece which shows opinion from various female developers basically stating that males and females are drawn to different things, different genres etc. I’m inclined to agree, the hyper violence found in GTA is definitely going to appeal to males more and throwing a female protagonist in there does not mean all female gamers are suddenly going to want to run around blowing the crap out of everything.
            Mass Effect is cited as a good example here. 14% of the players are women despite a customisable and fully voiced male or female protagonist and a mixed cast of male, female and alien characters.

      • Ergates_Antius says:

        “Yes, isn’t in annoying when people have opposing viewpoints? ”
        Well, it is when they are as utterly cretinous and devoid of value as those presented here are.

        • electrotherobot says:

          Seeing someone close to my age write or support an article like this just makes me chuckle.

          It harkens back to the days when people were crying bloody murder over Mortal Kombat. Then it was GTA 3.

          We all had a good laugh at those crazy old nutcases who were trying to tell use that graphic violence in videogames is harmful to society. Basically all of the gaming community was united in dismissing them as dingbats, and we were in good company, as essentially all of the scientific literature on the matter roundly disproved any link between “harmful” videogames and “harmful” behavior.

          Fast forward a couple of decades, and here we are. The kids who grew up with those games, defending those games, have become sensitive adults who get their knickers in a bunch over strippers in a videogame, or the occasional racial slur uttered between fictional characters. And they do this without a hint of irony. The don’t seem to understand that they’re playing the exact role as those “nutcases” from years past. They’ve become they grandmother smashing KISS records, lest their children fall into the arms of satan.

          I have to laugh at it. I have to.

          • colw00t says:

            “Fast forward a couple of decades, and here we are. The kids who grew up with those games, defending those games, have become sensitive adults who get their knickers in a bunch over strippers in a videogame, or the occasional racial slur uttered between fictional characters. And they do this without a hint of irony. The don’t seem to understand that they’re playing the exact role as those “nutcases” from years past. They’ve become they grandmother smashing KISS records, lest their children fall into the arms of satan.”

            Or, perhaps, we have grown up, and are somewhat dismayed at the persistent reluctance of our favorite art form to do the same.

            You can build all the pearl-clutching strawmen you like, and set them on fire, but while I would have been amazed and in love with GTA5 as a teenager, but as an adult I find it puerile. I love the world they built, and I’ve spent many an hour exploring it and marvelling at what they can do. They can build this incredible place with artistry, but they can’t populate it with anything resembling actual people.

          • James says:

            I see a lot of merit to this argument. To say GTA is harmful without citing evidence is simply bad journalism (actually not citing sources full stop is bas journalism) but this article is just an opinion piece and should be treated as such. It says ‘I don’t like X’ – well great for Nathan, but the thing he doesn’t like is fiction overtly distinct from reality – so I really have no need to care. It was a thought provoking read though and he has some goo points on the quality of Rockstar’s writing.

          • Muzman says:

            “The don’t seem to understand that they’re playing the exact role as those “nutcases” from years past. They’ve become they grandmother smashing KISS records, lest their children fall into the arms of satan”

            I haven’t seen anyone of this group putting forward actual popularly supported legislation to ban or restrict this stuff on the grounds you state. Or “destroying records”. Not with any of the sort of widespread acceptance these parallels you draw actually enjoyed anyway.
            How did you grow into someone who gets their unmentionables knotted over people talking? Worried their arguments are too good?

          • redredredguy says:

            Back then, people wanted to outright ban video games. This is just artistic criticism. If you really, seriously, can’t accept that some people might view something seen in a game as nasty or puerile, and thus want to comment on it without being hyperbolically accused of ruining gaming, then I weep for the medium in its entirety.

          • cederic says:

            Heh, you’ve got me imagining the response if something like Duke Nukem 3D were to be released these days. There’s a game that managed to objectify women while clearly not being misogynstic – the love of the female form was all too apparent.

          • Bury The Hammer says:

            Did I just read that you think that ‘love of the female form’ means that something can’t be misogynistic? W-what?

            I love Duke Nukem 3D, because it’s a fun, ridiculous game, but I ain’t going to pretend that it’s nice to women, because erm, it’s not. It’s about a macho muscle dude shooting aliens with big guns, and saving scantily clad ladies from spaceships. The best case you could have is that it’s a satire, but even if its intended, it’s pretty questionable how successful it is (I’d say it’s more accurately a homage to action films than any attempt at satire).

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            “Or, perhaps, we have grown up, and are somewhat dismayed at the persistent reluctance of our favourite art form to do the same.”

            Is it really the reluctance of our favourite art form to grow up though? Or are people now just taking a superior attitude and a dim view of younger people enjoying the exact same thing they themselves did when they were the same age? Why should they not be allowed to enjoy this just because you now feel yourself to be too mature to do so?
            There is clearly the market for games like GTA, more people bought it than anything else, you do not have to do so. There are also a myriad of other game types including all the post-modern artistic nonsense you could care to consume. So I fail to see how this is anything more than a bunch of intelligent, educated individuals looking down at younger people having fun, and it’s kind of ugly.
            I haven’t really enjoyed a GTA game since Vice City, however saying that these games can’t exist if video gaming is to “grow up” is ridiculous. I enjoyed the first 4 GTA games immensely, depriving younger people of the same pleasure, well that wouldn’t be very inclusive now would it?

      • redredredguy says:

        If you’re seriously comparing a few people on Tumblr to a general ethos of societal denigration, then you really need to grow up.

        And no-one’s telling you to shut up. You seem to take as much issue with opposing viewpoints as the people you criticise. It’s fucking ridiculous to say that everyone who disagrees with you is trying to puritanically silence you. Ironically, I think you were trying to make exactly that point.

        • Premium User Badge

          gritz says:

          It’s me, I’m telling him to shut up.

          • electrotherobot says:

            ^You see how long I had to look to find someone who will prove me right?

          • redredredguy says:

            It’s a figure of speech. We wish you you would, but no-one can actually make you. Yet still, you protest that people are trying to shut you up because you don’t have the slightest clue as to how disagreement or debating works. “Shut up” is just words. Do stop being so precious.

      • pepperfez says:

        tumblr…snowflakes…#killallmen…screaming…actual causes…
        Yep, that sure is the model of a valuable, thoughtful comment written by someone with an interesting and well-reasoned point of view.

      • Fenix says:

        “Yep, it sure is great being a straight white man. I don’t get any hate thrown my way at all.

        Unless you want to count the throng of vapid feminist tumblr and twitter snowflakes who popularize hashtags like #killallmen and openly threaten violence while screaming at video game development studios to save them from their oppression.”
        AhAHAHAHAHahahahahahaha, laughing so hard at this..

        As a brown person living in a world of constant media bombardment against brown people, I would like you to live in my shoes ONE day, then you could see how ridiculous the “hashtag hate” you get really is.

  11. shaydeeadi says:

    Nobody is forcing you to pick up a prostitute in GTA, in fact the absurd lines sound like they are mocking the player for bothering to indulge themselves in such a pointless act in a computer game. I find many of the articles criticizing the game pick the prostitute scenario to attack but it is wholly a waste of time and something I will bet less than 1% at best of the players utilize. A few of them will be youtubers just doing it for the lols/views and then you get people that chose to do it so they can write an opinion piece about how awful it is and how people that do it should feel bad, I hope you feel bad. It’s not economical time wise to regain health and a long winded way of gaining a wanted level so why would anybody bother.

    As someone said above there aren’t many characters in GTA that aren’t negative stereotypes, it’s their thing. Exaggerated caricatures of media portrayals and archetypes engaging in ludicrous activities. The small amount I played had it’s tongue firmly in it’s cheek so far I suppose people can’t see it, and it baffles me that people miss the point and wring their hands.

    The second to last paragraph about wanting to be a cloud, is what most people do in GTA; Travel the map and see the sights, find a spot to do some stunting with a motorbike/BMX. Watch the bonkers interactions between NPCs on the street, then steal a car and go 150mph the wrong way up the freeway.

    • nearly says:

      I think you’re missing the point if you don’t recognize that the writer here fully understands the point and is arguing that it’s a) a shitty point and b) of no value. There are countless games out there with ugly caricatures and stereotypes, especially when it comes to women, and GTA has done nothing new or interesting besides updating the graphical fidelity.

  12. nojan says:

    sigh…..here we go again….gta hates women,,,,,

    • Kempston Wiggler says:

      Best-selling Game In the World* Hates Half The World’s Population.

      …aaaand we shouldn’t talk about that?

      • BreadBitten says:

        Yes, the best-selling game in the world definitely hates women, as made evident by all those missions where you are sent to kill, fuck, badmouth targets that are exclusively women.

        • Kempston Wiggler says:

          Those missions aren’t about women. You could quite happily replace the women with mistreated animals and it would be exactly the same.

          Those missions aren’t about elevating those women to the same status as the men. They’re just to show how powerful the male protagonists are because they have power to stop other men being jerks.

          Fact is, women are once again being used as window dressing to demonstrate male behaviour. That’s hating women, not celebrating them.

          • Kempston Wiggler says:

            DAMMIT that reply was in the wrong place. |:(

            Bring back the edit button!

          • BreadBitten says:

            Window-dressing? You do realize that there have been female characters in past GTA games who have had a direct impact on the narrative? Hint: The main baddie in one of the GTA games was a woman.

          • Grizzly says:


            which is why it’s rather weird that GTAV doesn’t do that – It’s a step backwards.

          • Distec says:

            It’s a step backwards if you think that the existence of female villains and characters in previous GTA games mandates their inclusion in subsequent ones. I don’t think that really follows, and it seems a little arbitrary.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:


            No, it’s not. By your logic any game that doesn’t feature a female protagonist is somehow regressive. It’s nonsense. As a whole we should see more female characters in video games. It doesn’t mean every single instance where that doesn’t happen is somehow down to misogyny.

        • PancakeWizard says:

          Er, doesn’t a target have to be ‘exclusively’ male or female? They have to pick one at some point. Are all missions vs. women? I don’t think that’s the case. Are even half? Likely not.

  13. joa says:

    Perhaps GTA V has succeeded in what it’s trying to do if it elicits responses like this? Certainly this white middle-class guilt seems exactly the sort of thing Grand Theft Auto likes to take the piss out of.

  14. Canadave says:

    Errant Signal did a video on GTA V that covers some similar ground to this article. Worth a watch, if you’ve got the time.

    • NR says:

      Errant Signal is a goddamn hero. Yeah, a lot of people in this thread need to check him out, especially this other one of his on politics in videogames and the criticising of said politics. Depressing how often this one is relevant…

      • Canadave says:

        Yeah, good call on posting that one, too. I was just going through these comments again and I started thinking about it as well.

  15. electrotherobot says:

    RPS was literally the last gaming website that I’ve kept visiting, as it seemed to largely avoid these silly issues with regards to the rights and representation of virtual people in virtual worlds. Now I see you’re going down that path as well, and it’s disappointing. I do understand that it’s an opinion piece, and you’re entitled to your opinion, of course. However I’d much rather find a website that keeps politics out of its coverage of video games.

    • colw00t says:

      ” However I’d much rather find a website that keeps politics out of its coverage of video games.”

      link to destructoid.com

    • draglikepull says:

      You’re entitled to read whatever you want, but how have you not noticed that RPS has had articles commenting on these kinds of issues for a long time?

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      Are you blind? Or just fucking stupid?

      • Groschny says:

        Yes electrotherobot. ARE you fucking Ergates? Cause if you are, stop! You’ll only scratch your dong bloody in his sand filled vagina.

        • colw00t says:

          The upside of these threads is I get to work out my blockhammer, which keeps me limber.

          Good to know that you consider “possess a vagina” to be something you can insult people with. Way to raise the level of discourse.

          • pepperfez says:

            Every gender politics article I block a handful of new names, and I never need to elsewhere. It’s really considerate of RPS to group them all together like that.

          • drewski says:

            It’s important to keep using your blockhammer muscles, lest they atrophy.

            Trolls are just doing a public service!

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Funny how Ergates, the guy who has literally done nothing but insult people all thread long is fine but someone responding to him incurs your ire and gets blocked. I guess it doesn’t matter how people behave if you agree with them?

    • Hanban says:

      “RPS was literally the last gaming website that I’ve kept visiting, as it seemed to largely avoid these silly issues with regards to the rights and representation of virtual people in virtual worlds. ”

      This reply boggles the mind. Did you start reading RPS yesterday and find yourself surprised today? RPS have been covering issues like this for years with a clear editorial stance.

    • Synesthesia says:

      This comment has to be a joke. It just has. You just cannot be this blind.

      In any case, goodbye!

    • drewski says:

      RPS, like, *built* that path.

  16. TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

    That “Yo nigga, sup player hood and stuff” pretty much reflects most lyrics of the usual famous black rappers. Choosing that approach means using a clichè, yes, but then all clichès are exploited in GTA for all the ethnic groups and social archetypes involved.

    Off course black people have a dozen more personalities than that, but everyone depicted does yet we see a huge stream of stereotypes on all directions, no one is ever spared.

    In short, i totally think it’s fair. Not to everyone’s tastes, but fair as their own style. Also, let’s have the offended speak, shall we? I’m pretty sure a huge amount of black people loves GTA to death, just like my GF loves a lot of female characters in gaming that were deemed “absolutely, irredemably, utterly offensive”.

    You raise a lot of good points, i’m not here to just say no, shut my ears and go “la la la la”. I actually find this a really good article. The problem is with self loathing going out of control. No, i’m not saying there aren’t a lot of things that we should ask ourselves, but this looks to me an extreme example of grasping at straws.

    But yeah, if you were only trying

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      “Off course black people have a dozen more personalities than that,”

      What could this possibly mean?

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        It means just that. Black people in GTA are usually depicted by the same clichè, but then this applies to white people, asians, hispanic and what not.

        It’s their humour. One can love it or hate it, it’s unfair to everyone and yes, that off course applies to women aswell.

    • lasikbear says:

      You know the top rappers right now are Drake, Kanye and Kendrick Lamar, right?

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        How does that even matter?

        • lasikbear says:

          Cause your using a silly argument in your first line.

          • Premium User Badge

            gritz says:

            Drake, Kanye and Kendrick are obviously just three of the other Thirteen Personalities That Black People Have.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            There’s no silly argument, by your logic Led Zeppelin are no longer important. I’m talking about an existing clichè and it doesn’t matter how old is it, what matters is that they are using it along side millions of others. They are making fun of black people just as much as they are mocking everyone else.

            All i see here is you and Gritz trying to selectively find any slip in my wording to ridicule my point, which is both stupid and a pretty nice sign of nothing else to say. Oh, and Gritz, let me correct my “dozen” with “unlimited”. Happy now?

      • lasikbear says:

        Or if you prefer to base it on commercial sales, the top artists this year by album are: Niki Minaj, Rae Sremmurd, Joey Bada$$, Kid Ink, Drake, Big Sean and Kendrick Lamar

        link to billboard.com

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          I still can’t find any sense in what the current most popular artists by ANY standard are. The clichè i’m talking about happened a LOT of times in the movies, literature, music and what not, it’s something that’s there to exploit like other stupid clichès relatic to different ethnic groups.

          Rockstar are just exploiting them all.

          Likewise, i’m still unclear about what you’re trying to prove or disprove. Mind to elaborate a little?

          • pepperfez says:

            The point is that you sound like these guy and that’s not a good look.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Really? I think i sounded like someone who listened to gangster rap and figured there are a subset of black people who use a certain lingo that it’s also present in GTA, much like there are some white dudes who speak like the stereotypical surfer clichè.

            I simply recognize that there are clichès that are being exploited by Rockstars, and some of them are old, which doesn’t mean they care. That’s absolutely racist, sure.

            You guys really have to sort yourself out, you’re completely unable to have a debate around an uncomfortable topic.

          • pepperfez says:

            Whatever you’re trying to say here is utterly baffling. An article points out that GTA traffics in lazy, racist stereotypes. You argue vehemently that this is not true, then you write, “I simply recognize that there are clichès that are being exploited by Rockstars, and some of them are old, which doesn’t mean they care. That’s absolutely racist, sure.” Then you accuse your interlocutors of being unable to hold a conversation. If this is performance art or the slow troll, well played. If you’re trying to communicate, it needs a lot of work.

      • smoozles says:

        I would say he was meaning gangster rap and not the modern mainstream stuff. The lyrics and usage of ‘nigger’ in gangster rap somewhat reflects the real world circumstances and casual usage of most of the artists, since some were affiliated with gangs or grew up in gang territory.

        • pepperfez says:

          For future reference, a standard convention is to write the reclaimed neutral term “nigga” and the still-toxic slur “nigger.”

          • wengart says:

            I don’t like this attitude when it comes to talking about the use of the word nigger academically/critically. Even in the article it is the “N word” like its fucking He Who Must Not be Named.

            And while I personally disagree with the proposition that a writer needs to write about only their experiences. I think if we are going to talk about the use of the word nigger we should say nigger. Saying “N word” just lets us all dance around the meaning of the word nigger. “Nigga” isn’t even the same word.

            And hey when I say nigger I feel bad about saying it. I feel embarrassed. Hell I just called nigger “it” like its some fucking boogeyman.

          • pepperfez says:

            “Nigga” isn’t even the same word.
            This is what I was saying. It was a lexicographic comment, not a social/moral one.

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      Yeah, good point. It’s kinda silly this “Middle class white men could never know how to write black characters” standpoint the writer is taking. It’s clearly an exaggeration garnered from popular culture. Examples of this sort of stereotypical black gangster behaviour are all over music and film, they simply took that, not hard to do and not trying to be realistic in any way, because neither were the rappers that drove around in their videos pointing a gun out of their car window with a bunch of bikini clad girls bouncing around in the back.

  17. Ineedaname says:

    Does it make you sad that this is the best-selling game of all times in the UK and on its way to become said in the world with the upcoming PC release? link to segmentnext.com

    Does it bring tears to your eyes that this is the most prolific and largest cultural export Scotland has ever had?: link to scottishgames.net

    I really hope it does, nigga.

    • Jediben says:

      It’s these statistics which tell you one of two things – either the author is completely wrong about everything he just dribbled onto the web, or capitalism hates women.

      • SuicideKing says:

        I’m leaning towards “capitalism hates women” myself.

        • drewski says:

          Let’s face it, the whole world hates women, misogyny isn’t a problem unique to capitalism.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Feminists certainly believed that was the case in the 70s, then they changed it to ‘patriarchy’ because not enough women were backing the idea.

        • pepperfez says:

          Pre-capitalist societies were often shit for women.
          Post-capitalist societies were/are often shit for women.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        It’s neither. It’s that the majority of the populace don’t view popular media primarily with a focus of finding something to be offended by it or find something wrong with it. Most people see this as a piece of dumb entertainment (which it is), that is completely over the top (which it is), and don’t in a million years see it as some sort of reflection of attitudes in society or some sort of horrible menace that is corrupting society to it’s core.
        It’s a dumb bit of distraction to anyone who is well adjusted and mature enough to distinguish between fantasy and reality.

    • EhexT says:

      Giant Marketing Budgets sell games. Oh wow, what a shock. That would be a total revelation if it wasn’t common knowledge.
      Million on Marketing = Lots of sales
      Lots of sales =/= quality product

      • EhexT says:

        and of course, that should be Millions, plural

        Rockstar would laugh at a paltry marketing budget of a single million that’s basically indie in their eyes

  18. eggy toast says:

    Today on What Can I Find To Be Upset About: GTA5

    what a shock

  19. Dilapinated says:

    Oh boy is my block button getting a workout today!

    For folks playing along at home, take a shot* anytime you recognise one of these classic hits:

    * But Men In This Game Are Like, Totes Unrealistic
    * Why Does Race Matter Anyway?
    * You Just Want To Be Offended
    * It’s Not Meant To Be Taken Seriously
    * Charactures Of Races/Genders I’m Not A Part Of Don’t Bother Me, So It’s Irrelevant
    * White Guys Can Write Everyone Else Just Fine, As This Game Shows
    * Can’t You Just Shut Up About It, Though?

    (*I take no responsibility for ensuing liver damage)

    • DizzyCriminal says:

      I tried gaming your playing drink and dranking didn’t even drunk got. I demand a feerund mom.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      You missed the straight up racist insults.

      • Dilapinated says:

        Ack, I did.

        ..Just finish the bottle whenever those come up.

        • colw00t says:

          I’ve got this bottle of Navy Proof rum, but I’m worried what will happen if I open it. It’s a long cycle home.

    • James says:

      I’m not drunk yet, this must be some weak alcohol – I want my money back.

    • Synesthesia says:

      Well, that’s not a good way to stay out of the hospital.

    • TheLetterM says:

      Oh thank god, someone already wrote out everything I was going to say, but actually clever instead of just tinged with vitriol.

    • pepperfez says:

      You might very well kill yourself playing that game with water.

    • foop says:

      You forgot “Why can’t you just leave politics out of gaming?”

    • minkiii says:

      You also forgot “This series can’t hate women because over 10 years ago it included a female character who had her own gun”

  20. eggy toast says:

    On an unrelated note why bother with a page 2 if its only a couple paragraphs? I know you want to milk page views, but thats pretty pathetic.

  21. James says:

    Whilst the topic of the article is certainly one worth writing about I have to take issue with some of what you have written.

    1) Your point about black characters being written by white people misses the issue

    I do not see a massive problem here. You seem to be suggesting that one group of people cannot write for a different group of people and I honestly cannot fathom why. The issues faced by a group of people are not necessarily exclusive to that group of people, hence others who have lived with, can understand, or are aware of said situation are positioned to write it. To better understand what I am saying take the example of writing the Geth in Mass Effect. I am 99% sure that nobody in Bioware is a Geth, knows a Geth or knows a friend of a friend of a Geth. hence there is no way whatsoever by your logic that Bioware can write characters like Legion – but they managed it well, it’s a bit weird, but well written and the characters are believable.

    The issues you cite are not caused by white men writing for black characters, but simply by bad writing in general. I think you have failed to properly identify the issue.

    2) You rant at the representation of women, whilst ignoring men

    GTA is a shit universe. Literally everything is shit. The cops are violent thugs, the men are misogynistic and bloodthirsty, the women are oppressed (and generally don’t seem too fussed about it), feminist groups are bored housewives. Every aspect of the GTA universe is the real universe at its worst, nothing in the GTA universe solves a problem, only makes it worse. You fail to realise that this applies to EVERYTHING. Not just Franklin and Lamar and women, but everyone. Trevor is a thug, Micheal is an entitled middle aged white man, Franklin is a trodden down gang member – none are stunning representations of anything good. GTA is not a representation of anything good – that is the core of its appeal. It says “here is a universe in which everything is shit – go nuts”.

    To focus on only women is to ignore the rest of it and to exempt women from the premise of GTA, which would seem very out of place and lead to worse writing and an inconsistent universe, as well as to suggest that everything else is unworthy of a pedestal out of the muck.

    3) Playing as Trevor

    I have some simple questions for you: Do you like HK-47? Do you like the Just Cause franchise? Do you like the Krogan? All of these should suffer from the same problem you have. Trevor is a 1D character designed to be violent and a merciless, thoroughly unpleasant prick. So is HK-47, yet he is a wonderfully 1D character that cannot help but be endearing, even as he takes pleasure in asking to break someone’s neck. JC IS the action based power trip that you seem to have a problem with. Mass Effect’s Krogan are also 1D maniacs. They are like Trevor in brute form, yet almost nobody has a problem with the Krogan being a thing.

    I think you fail to recognise that the one dimensional male power trip has its place, and you just don’t like it sitting in GTA, where frankly it resides perfectly.

    I don’t particularly have a problem with anything else you have said. I do however have a problem with your basic message. You are suggesting that GTA needs to ditch its premise – the ‘everything is messed up so just go mental’ idea that GTA is built on. You seem to just want GTA V to not exist as a GTA game – and I believe there are a multitude of games that will deliver that.

    However I think I (at least partially) understand where you are coming from with this piece regardless of how lawed I think it is. GTA has for some time sat in a grey area between satire (found most obviously in store names and so forth) and caricaturing. GTA V is getting too close to the latter to be taken with humour, unlike Saints Row or Just Cause, GTA has a veneer of seriousness that doesn’t quite let me get the joke without going ‘right, listen up brain, I need you to work out if this is actually a joke or just bad writing’. I think that point is perfectly legitimate and you should have built the article around that rather than your particular gripes with where GTA V in particular has gone. However I will not be playing GTA V for the humour (which I find in poor taste) nor the writing (which from what I have seen is a bit crap) – I will be enjoying taking a world full of garbage, and taking out the trash (with explosives).

    • colw00t says:

      The sheer insanity involved in comparing writing a science fiction alien robot race like the Geth to actual human beings from another culture is just…. I don’t have words for that.

      Here’s a hint, just a tiny hint: the geth do not actually exist, and Bioware’s characterization of Legion will not affect the way Geth are treated in real life.

      • James says:

        I’m trying to make point against the piece by drawing attention to how experience is not necessary to write about something, even social issues. Information, human imagination and human capacity for empathy is usually sufficient. If my example invoked a cringe (which evidently it did) try this example:

        I choose to write about a group of fairly low income black teenagers who have saved up and are going on a holiday in the US. I am not in that situation, nor do I know someone in that situation nor am I theoretically able (by Nathan’s logic) able to write about it. But I can, through research and basic imagination, have a decent understanding of what may happen in a worst case scenario – getting searched at the airport, frequent stop and searches by police are very likely given publicly available statistics. And of course the situation could end up exceptionally badly with the possibility of arrest or death. Yet I am a white man sitting at a computer wasting time and eating a pizza. I should have no capacity to write about such a situation by the logic of the article – but I can. I might not be very good at it, but I am capable of it.

        I am not at all saying that Rockstar has handled the issue well, either through social awareness (which is not what GTA is about anyway) or decent writing. The writing is cringe inducing – I don’t like it, neither does Nathan and I do not disagree with him on that, However I think he has incorrectly identified the issue – hopefully you can see past the example to understand that.

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Yep, now you can ignore the rest of his post because of a silly comparison.

        I love how every contrarian voice in there never really gets a decent and intelligent answer.

        • gunny1993 says:

          The lack of knowing why the thing is so awful is answer enough apparently.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          “I love how every contrarian voice in there never really gets a decent and intelligent answer.”
          The “contrarian voices” never say anything that would warrant one.

      • PancakeWizard says:

        It’s not insanity at all. The Geth are allegorical, and have to have some understanding/communication on a human level or how would they evoke a response from players? If the Geth communicated in pure mathematics, you might have a point, but let’s not pretend that just because the pixels aren’t human-being shaped, there aren’t human archetypes or emotions involved. A human being wrote the character.

        • PancakeWizard says:

          By your logic, District 9 can’t be about apartheid, because it’s alien insects not black human beings.

    • NR says:

      Hmm, let’s break this down, shall we?

      1) Of course anyone can write characters outside of their own experience, that’s fine. If you do so, though, you absolutely shouldn’t just descend into a morass of stereotypical clichés, spouting the ‘n-word’ and something vaguely ‘hood’, for want of a better word, in place of any actual charaterisation. At best it’s just lazy, at worst it becomes kinda offensive (“Hey, guys! This is clearly how black people talk to each other and behave around each other all the time! Totally!”), and GTA’s characterisation very much does not rise above that at all.

      2) The trouble with this is that the women, as the author explains, are one-note only, defined by sex and their relationships with men. Whilst GTA is an exaggerated, not particularly subtle satirical world, and no really disputes that, the men have more faucets to their characters and are rounded out, at least slightly, and even the ‘one-note’ characters are one-note in different ways, at least.

      3) Your examples actually show up the issue at hand here. The difference between Trevor and the examples you cite, HK47 and the Krogan, are that the latter are both better written and are in gameworlds with better representation generally (as is Bioware’s general MO) and thus able to overcome the ‘one dimensional male power trip’ problem, as you label it, whereas the former absolutely isn’t, and is in a world which seems to encourage nothing other than said power trip. Context man, it matters.

      • gunny1993 says:

        If the context is so important (Which it totally is), then doesn’t this somewhat support the view that in a world where writing has been consistently engrossed in cheap stereotypes since the original games (To my memory), we shouldn’t really expect to see any advancement on that front; certainly seeing some development would be nice, and maybe the trend is going down, but expecting a group of people who only ever write cheap caricatures to produce something meaningful is like expecting Katie Hopkins to say something nice.

        I mean for 200 million dev costs they could have hired some fanfiction writers who could have done a better job, but still, context is important.

        • NR says:

          With regards to my point on Trevor, the context is specifically within the badly written gameworld of GTAV itself; I think (correct me if I’m wrong!) you’re talking more broadly about the series as a whole, which is more fair game for criticism than you are implying, IMHO.

          I mean, you are right that the series have always engaged in cheap stereotypes, but that doesn’t mean we can’t or shouldn’t speak out against it at all, asking for some sort of advancement, especially when it punches down so often in it’s satire, and not very cleverly either. With the money that is given to it, and the pre-eminent position that, for better or worse, it occupies in mainstream gaming, we ought to try and expect/demand better, I guess? I mean, look at how it’s evolved mechanically and then look at how it’s stagnated in the writing department. Contextually, yeah, they haven’t really improved writing-wise, but, idk, I feel at least discussing the issues helps somewhat; they will at least now (hopefully!) have some awareness of the criticism they faced as they sit down to GTAVI or whatever. Always be optimistic that things can improve!

      • James says:

        What you have written is a hell of a lot more coherent than most of this debate, so thank you.

        At the end of each point you surmise with a point on how poorly written parts of GTA V is, which is also my point.

        Your response to black characters is one I find slightly confusing. You cite the very premise of GTA V as a collection of stereotypes as an argument against its writing. Not all black characters are of Franklin’s character, but the spotlight is very much on them, as is to be expected of a GTA game. I also very much want an additional GTA protagonist that is a woman – it would put a very different spin on the GTA power trip. The sea of stereotypes works well as long as there are exceptions to draw attention to the fact that ‘hey – this stereotypes are funny aren’t they’. GTA V lacks those exceptions – which is as we both realise – is a writing issue, not an issue intrinsic with the nature of GTA V as Nathan suggests.

        Your point on women is fair, and I stand partly corrected. However there is more variation than you make out, Amanda is very different to the average prostitute. The average male NPC on the street is no different to the average female NPC. That said you are very correct in saying that the number of variations in male characters is far greater than in female characters, though the extent of that variation is similar.

        Your point on Trevor is fair enough, however I think the point of Trevor is to say ‘here is the power trip – roam free crazy player!’ – unfortunately that is drowned in a sea of such characters as per poor writing. However the article identifies a problem with Trevor intrinsically as a character, which misses the issue that both of us have identified to be poor writing.

        • NR says:

          Hey, civility on the internet will get you places, whoddathunkit?

          Yeah, so. Re: Black characters. Bad writing, which we both agree is inherent to GTAV, doesn’t necessarily mitigate the complaints against the lazy stereotypes written for the black characters. Again, I would point to the variance of white male characters, and how they differ in their ‘one-notedness’ at least, versus how the ‘gangster’ cliché is overwhelmingly used to characterise the black characters (see also: female characters). The former are poorly written in different ways, the latter mostly in one, to be pithy.

          I’m glad I changed your mind on the female characters, and I agree, a female protagonist would be great for the series! I will say that the issue of characterisation doesn’t really matter so much with regards to NPCs, it’s the main speaking cast which really matters, and generally what people are talking about on this issue.

          I think again the problems of Trevor the character are not unique to him in GTAV, but on his own merits, he remains fair game for criticism, primarily as a protagonist within the context of the gameworld. You could maybe frame it as “the writing and characterisation is bad, and this is evident when looking at Trevor”, or something, to be super clear, but I still think you can pick up on his character and discuss it devoid of that; he’s big enough to the story and badly written enough to warrant that!

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        The writing is taken from the popular culture stereotypes of black gangsters though. Nobody was saying “This is how black people actually act, I nailed it!”. It’s taken from rap videos and movies in an over the top way because everything in the game is over the top and you cannot argue that black people aren’t at least partially responsible for creating black gangster stereotypes in popular culture.

  22. draglikepull says:

    “Fucking Trevor. I’d like to think he’s a self-aware projection of the super-id of everyone who’s ever played GTA, summoned by Rockstar as the ultimate ironic comment on their decades-long charting of the crinkled borders of obscenity.”

    I agree that it’s probably not intentional on the part of Rockstar, but Trevor does serve that purpose regardless of their intent. That Trevor can serve that role unironically and unintentionally in a game that is supposedly steeped in self-awareness is pretty telling, I think.

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      How can you tell it’s not intentional?

      Maybe because assuming otherwise would automatically disprove the theory that Rockstar are picking ONLY on minorities and women, perhaps? What about the other guy, the failed dad, the silly English couple of geezers obsessed by celebrities and an entire avalanche of extreme stereotypes of ANY possible social group?

      • draglikepull says:

        I haven’t said anything about women or minorities, so that’s kind of a weird soapbox for you to jump on.

      • pepperfez says:

        disprove the theory that Rockstar are picking ONLY on minorities and women
        Seriously, we’re all well aware that GTA is filled with appalling stereotypes of everything. This is an established fact that is widely understood. Or, if you prefer, you have so thoroughly disproved the opposite belief that now everyone is enlightened.

        The issue people have is that some of the stereotypes are more lazily nasty than others, and offer much less evidence of satire than of lazy nastiness.

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Ok, you don’t have this theory but plenty of people have.

          And if the problem was really all about lazy satire and frankly poor writing, this article wouldn’t have been the same. No, the problem there is that the author is presenting some elements as disturbing problems, he’s focusing selectively on some aspects of the whole production chain and how they resonate, assuming they are a recipe for disaster ( white people writing about blacks ) while providing links ( black actors helping out with the cultural difference ) that somehow disprove the whole thing.

          What i see there is that, as per usual, the overarching theory is held by some seriously thin and convoluted string. And such a thing is necessary because the point is to go far beyond the simple criticism of arguably bad/good writing, which per se is not anything to write home about except maybe for those who only and exclusively had only such kind of cultural input in their lives.

          Hell, if that was the problem at hand i would gladly shut up.

  23. shaun says:

    Great essay, Rockstar has a lot to answer for, and makes enough money that they probably never will, but it doesn’t change the fact that the GTA series is now more toxic to our culture than it is useful.

    • James says:

      I know this is a cliche of an argument, but it is one that applies: GTA is a videogame, not much more.

      The premise is an appalling satire, but that is where most of the politics stop. The rest is a male power fantasy – and the emphasis must be on fantasy. I am 18, supposedly by your argument this game will make me a worse person. I highly doubt it – the overwhelming majority of people are fully able to separate fiction from reality. I have no doubt that I will cringe at large parts of the story, but so what? I find it reassuring that I find parts of GTA V disgusting – and I can enjoy the power trip while being aware that what I am doing in game is something that I should in now way endorse, do, or accept as being acceptable in reality. It worries me that you think GTA V to be intrinsically toxic rather than that toxicity being continent on the people who play it.

    • BreadBitten says:

      Errm…adjust for irony?

    • PancakeWizard says:

      Put down the Daily Mail and go outside, man.

      • minkiii says:

        Following the ongoing tsunami of shit that is GG, does it surprise you that some people are now more vocal and concerned about prejudiced representation?

  24. Limbless k9 says:

    I’m getting so sick of people analyzing every little thing. The truth is, GTA V is funny and fun. As much as I enjoy thinking about how fucked up the world is and wondering how we could better it, I also like to turn my brain off and just enjoy a game. GTA V may not be a crown jewel of society, but it’s a fun way to kill time. Sure the women aren’t real, but neither are the situations. And why is there all this talk about subjecting women when you got to actually torture somebody in the game?

    I wish people would wake up and realize something. If you have half a brain cell, then GTA isn’t going to alter your outlook on life. If you’re already somebody who respects women, you’re still going to respect women. If you’re a prick who doesn’t respect women, then fuck you, you aren’t going to change either. For all the times people argue that video games don’t influence people to extremist measures, they sure get analyzed like they do. It’s just like literature. You know what my English teacher said about Catcher in the Rye? The rain at the end symbolizes a cleansing change in his character. While that may actually be true, can’t it just be rain? Can’t GTA just be a mindless game? The whole point of GTA really isn’t even the story. It’s the open world to go do whatever you want.

    Now, I do wish that someday we could get a GTA game with an incredible story and amazing characters, both women and men. But for now I’m gonna go steal a car and run people over and laugh at Trevor’s comments and actions.

    Analyzing things is good, but don’t get so carried away with it. GTA V isn’t trying to slight women, or people of African descent. It’s not trying to say, “People. Let’s try to change society.” It’s just trying to be a funny game that people can play to have fun. Some people like it, some don’t.

    That’s my two cents. I’m not trying to be rude. I’m just expressing my opinion.

    • Ineedaname says:

      Even elderly people beyond 60-70 can hang back, relax and have some fun with the game: link to youtube.com

      This particular writer sounds a bit like the grandma at 8:10 in that video though. “That was awful. Why is it worth glorifying evil?”

      • Limbless k9 says:

        I regularly play it with my father-in-law who is in his 70s.

    • stringerdell says:

      you, me, and 99% of people manage to play GTA without feeling the need to spew out 500 words about how its a toxic male power fantasy cultural appropriation etc.

    • drewski says:

      It’s ok for other people to write cultural criticism of media that you like. It doesn’t invalidate your experience of them or mean you’re wrong to enjoy it. You don’t have to defend yourself for liking a piece of media that someone else thinks has flaws.

      “I liked this so please don’t criticise it” is not a coherent argument.

    • drygear says:

      “Now, I do wish that someday we could get a GTA game with an incredible story and amazing characters, both women and men. But for now I’m gonna go steal a car and run people over and laugh at Trevor’s comments and actions.”
      How do you think that’s going to happen if nobody holds Rockstar to that higher standard? If their customer base is just turning off their brains like you suggest then it would be a waste to put in any extra effort.

  25. Eight Rooks says:

    What the hell, I’ll play.

    If you don’t realise that all the playable male characters in every GTA are presented as aspirational in some way and all the women are presented as bland and disposable at best, shrieking harpies at worst, you’re delusional. Yes, you’re supposed to want to be Trevor. GTA V’s story, such as it is, boils down to “Disregard females, acquire currency” and that’s it. Roll credits. People blow stuff up, murder everyone they don’t like, it all works out, they get rich, life is awesome, the end. Everyone who’s not a partner in crime is either an annoyance or an obstacle to be violently removed. And there are no women who count as partners in crime.

    The Housers gave multiple interviews where they talked about the story, saying it had to be told from the viewpoint of male characters, that the exploration of masculine issues they wanted couldn’t be done any other way – utter. Bull. Shit. It’s basically “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in” with no depth or moral shading whatsoever. It is rubbish. If you think GTA V has good writing, listen very carefully – you have terrible, terrible taste in writing.

    The game itself doesn’t do much to make up for this, either. The heists were as dull and pedestrian as Call of Duty’s worst excesses, there was no real sense of progression other than Getting Shinier Stuff, more half the map served absolutely no purpose and the ending was laughable. Or it would have been laughable if it hadn’t left a rank aftertaste in my mouth. It’s a desperate sop to all the little kids who hated GTA IV for telling them they were doing terrible things, and you’d have to pay me to play through it again. You’d have to pay me a lot.

    And like the author, I’m still. God. Damned. Tempted. Rockstar’s bottomless money pit and the staggering level of work they’ve put into remastering the port just leave my jaw on the floor, and part of me badly, badly, badly wants to spend time in that world despite everything I’ve just typed. But I’m not going to. What’s the point? I don’t agree with everything the guy says here outright – I’m uncomfortable with anyone suggesting “You must not write what you don’t know” – Christ, the idea one can only go anywhere near gang culture if you’ve put in David Simon’s years on the street! But either way, he’s right that it’s pitiful, cack-handed storytelling from middle-aged men who plainly have no god damned idea what they’re doing.

    • James says:

      I take issue with you saying that the GTA trio are aspirational. They are not, They are some of the few characters I cannot come to like. I accept them, but I will never like them. I do not aspire to be them. They exist as characters full of crap in a world full of crap, to say otherwise is perhaps reading too much into the writing.

      • Dances to Podcasts says:

        Thinking that being a lead character makes someone automatically aspirational seems to be an extremely common mistake, I’ve found.

    • Arren says:

      all the women are presented as bland and disposable at best, shrieking harpies at worst

      Without going back further in the series or refreshing my memory with research, what about Elizabeta from GTA IV?

    • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

      Every single character is presented as something ugly.

      Mathematically speaking, if 100% of the characters are ugly, and if we assume that the cast is also composed of women and black people, we might conclude that there are indeed going to be some ugly blacks and women.

    • drewski says:

      “Disregard females, acquire currency”

      Mmm. Really not convinced by this argument. You could easily argue that Franklin’s character arc is the exact opposite – his desire to acquire currency is to prove his validity to a female, and his ultimate lesson is that said female is not interested in him any more, regardless of whether or not he has currency. He learns that his acquisition of currency is, in fact, meaningless and hollow.

      Trevor’s arc is all about seeking validation and acceptance – both from women and anyone else who’s around – which he is unable to attain for any extended period of time because of his psychotic behaviour. He is utterly unmotivated by currency, or any other signifier of status. Which is why Michael chooses to needle him with the hipster accusation, as Trevor is indeed a true example of someone who doesn’t care about what people think of his choices, hence resenting the implication that he is similar to those who use that attitude as an artifice. Trevor is only motivated by his relationships, yet his flaw is that his personality means he is almost unable to maintain any.

      Michael is more complex, but even his story is essentially about the hollowness of material possessions in the absence of strong relationships. He is a failed friend, father and husband and all the material rewards and currency in the world don’t help him resolve that.

      You could argue that GTA V is, ultimately, a fable about how material rewards don’t in any way make you happy. All three characters have, or have access to, essentially unlimited “currency” by the end of their character arcs – yet none are really happy with their situations. Michael, at least, comes to some degree of complicity with his human failings – the other two are still trying to figure out how to get what they want.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        Yeah, no. Really, no. I simply don’t know how to express this in any more polite or reserved way than “You’re kidding yourself”. None of the three characters’ story arcs, such as they are, are mined for anything deeper than stuff exploding and juvenile wisecracks. It simply does not happen. Trevor is a cartoon psychopath utterly lacking in any depth who exists to legitimise petty wish-fulfilment, half-assed attempts at meta-humour and occasional stabs at being, like, real deep, man: Michael and Trevor’s friendship is meaningless, his family are complete non-entities and not remotely believable as people, and Franklin is essentially the exact same tissue-thin “I can’t seem to escape the shadow of the ‘hood” nonsense that San Andreas was peddling only worse. There are no issues touched on, there are no consequences, there’s no growth, nothing changes – nothing except disposable supporting characters dying and/or being humiliated and the heroes getting richer. (The entire psychiatrist subplot is utterly pointless and just a lazy riff on The Sopranos, full stop.) Nothing. Michael’s family problems are meaningless because the game never makes a single attempt to convince anyone they should actually care and his family never react in any believable way to the person he is for more than about three seconds at a time, if that. It’s terrible, terrible writing. That simple. If it was a film or a TV series it would get ripped to shreds by critics, it would draw respectable viewing figures because people like undemanding eye-candy with an air of self-importance, and then two, three years down the line it would be quietly forgotten.

        GTA is not just famous and successful because it’s GTA – Rockstar are wildly technically talented (yes, even wildly talented people can still turn out sub-par PC ports) and they create some of the most jaw-dropping virtual worlds in the business. But it’s not the writing blowing anyone’s minds, beyond the silly facile reactions of “Ehrmahgerd it’s just like (gangster film X) but on my games console!!!1!11!1!”, most of which comes from people who’ve never bothered to take that train of thought a little further down the tracks and don’t really care where it’s headed anyway, as long as stuff asplodes real good and there’s jokes that make them snort Mountain Dew out of their nose. GTA V’s story is mediocre at best and has no real redeeming features, end of story.

      • Eight Rooks says:

        And seriously, “money doesn’t make you happy?” When does the game ever, ever try and suggest money doesn’t make you happy? All it ever says is the more money you have, the more other people will try and take it from you, but if you’re badass enough then you can kill them and keep it for yourself. Michael’s family forgive him unconditionally (his ending with the whole crappy soap-opera “That’s our psychopath dad, ha ha ha” made me feel physically ill) and Trevor and Franklin never had anything meaningful to worry about losing in the first place. GTA IV was hardly Shakespeare, but at least it had actual consequences, and the suggestion that sometimes all the money and power in the world can’t stop someone from kicking your feet from under you.

        Seriously. You really are kidding yourself, there’s simply no other way to put it – or at least if there is, I’m not clever enough to articulate it. Still, I may not know that much, but I know a terrible gangster pastiche devoid of even a hint of finesse when I see one.

      • drygear says:

        I’m leaning closer to Drewski. I don’t think it’s anti-materialistic, necessarily. Gaining money isn’t bad but it’s not enough. It’s more of a story about men coming to terms with what it means to be a man in our society. Along the lines of Fight Club.
        Quality of the writing aside, it was pretty clear that those were the types of themes Dan Houser was going for, which also explains his reasoning for making the protagonists all men.

  26. Premium User Badge

    Hodge says:

    I’d just like to quickly say that it’s great to see Nathan Ditum writing here.

    *wades back throught the detritus*

  27. Carlos Danger says:

    As a white middle aged man I have played exactly 7 hours of GTA in my life and it was too much. Not an appealing character to be found anywhere and the gameplay got old real fast. My question to those that have all these issues with a morally bankrupt game why are they playing it? Seems like they could just pass it up. What is it about them that they want to play these types of games and then vomit forth pages and pages about how bad they are.

    • Kempston Wiggler says:

      Perhaps the exact same impulse that’s made you not ignore these comments and put forth your own opinions?

      • Carlos Danger says:

        The same reasons huh? Seems fairly simplistic but I can’t say unexpected. Self reflection is a lost art these days.

    • LennyLeonardo says:


    • iainl says:

      Mainly that, as Ditum states, the thing about selling that many games is that you get to have a budget large enough to create a really impressive-looking world to explore. Driving through a virtual city, wondering what surprisingly little vista the artists have built for me to find next, is good fun. It’s just a pity that you have to wade through a godawful mess the writers have made in order to unlock everything.

  28. Arren says:

    If we’re going to compare all fictional-crime media to The Wire, then it’s damn near all gonna fall far short.

    It’s funny that you cite that Polygon article, which directly undermines your thesis as to GTA‘s slang dialogue. Lazlow working with a bunch of real people — throwing scripts on the floor when they ring false, no less — doesn’t exactly support the notion that Houser and co. are ramming appropriated slang down the audience’s figurative throats. Meanwhile, you don’t offer one iota of evidence that supports your own contention in this regard.

    GTA’s reflection of misogyny is a different matter, of course. Doubtless there’s a sound argument to be made that its salacious, overbearing caricature of such is harmful — but it’s damn sure not to be found in this whinging bit of fatherly navel-gazing, well-meaning though it might be.

  29. Jediben says:

    RPS – the Dailymail.com of the internets. ¬_¬

  30. Muzman says:

    The GTA series has always seemed like pasty UK nerds who have been asked to recreate what they think America is like using only Action Films and gangster flicks etc. There’s a certain amount of absurd wit to that. Or there was once.
    In that post modern way, games have taken the place of those cheesy action flicks responsible for much teenage male bonding of yesteryear. So now success demands that they actually be that thing. Keep any of that confusing self awareness to a minimum.

    That’s probably the greatest crime of the lot. Given such a platform the result is…boring and…stupid and still somewhat leaning on the intellectual crutch of supposed self awareness. In a world where the bar of wit and parody has sunk so low that basically everything is on some level a joke, there will always be someone to apologise for crippling self importance and lack of imagination.

  31. NotToBeLiked says:

    I really hope GTA never grows up to be old and boring. It is supposed to be a juvenile power fantasy game. If it starts to be “responsible” it’ll become boring as hell.
    Also, how many other game franchises have had many important black, gay or eastern European main characters? Much more sensible than female leads since those “minorities” are far more likely to be playing video games than women (I don’t care about your statistic which shows 50% of gamers are female since those statistics include Farmville etc). I would love GTA’s take on an interesting female lead though, but however they’ll do it, extreme feminists will always claim its misogynistic (although I doubt most of them knows what that word actually means, hating is just not the same as making fun of or disrespecting): if the female is as violent and powerhungry as other GTA leads the complaint will be “they just made a female skin for a male-acting character!”; if she has any other type of personality (like more sly, stealth or behind-the-scenes-power-games based) the complaint will be “they think women can’t be powerful by themselves!”

    • colw00t says:

      ” (I don’t care about your statistic which shows 50% of gamers are female since those statistics include Farmville etc).”

      Gamers are only gamers if they play games you like?

    • drewski says:

      Maybe they could, you know, make a game with multiple women characters, each with different strengths and weaknesses?

  32. Morcane says:

    lol hey, did someone watch ItsGWC’s GTA5 review? link to youtube.com

  33. Eightball says:

    So when is RPS going to diversify their writers? Way too much privilege going on here.

    • Eightball says:

      I mean really, you had to bring in a white dude to write about minorities and women might be harmed by GTA5? Pretty terrible, especially from a site trying to be progressive.

      • James says:


        *Further alarm sounds*

        • colw00t says:

          I really wonder about the mentality that seems to think that a white brit is somehow constitutionally incapable of recognizing problems of representation, even when they’re as glaring as GTA’s.

          • Dances to Podcasts says:

            People can only write from their own experience, so men can only write about men and only women can then complain about he lack of women.

            I’m not even sure what we’re trying to say anymore…

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            @Dances to Podcasts


          • pepperfez says:

            Whoa, whoa, pack it in everyone! Cultural criticism is dead, killed by the scorching heat of these sick burns.

            Thank god you were here to expose white liberalism’s fraudulence.

          • Distec says:

            Seems to depend on the time of the day when a white guy’s opinion on minority issues has any weight.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            Maybe it also depends on times of day when a white guy can write minority characters.

          • Eightball says:

            One wonders though, especially since RPS is devoid of people of color.

      • PancakeWizard says:


  34. WHS says:

    God, no one’s going to ever read this comment after the train wreck of misogyny above, but:

    I sort of hate that Rockstar has figured out how to make incredible, perfect little worlds that feel directly adjacent to reality, probably closer than any digital environment ever made, but then refuse to go one step further and have anything happen there besides an unending stream of comically violent cops-and-robbers yarns, where every scenario devolves into “Shoot a bunch of people and run away.” The stereotypes are terrible but in some ways they’re just a symptom — the disease is the series’ inability to find anything more interesting to do in its clockwork worlds than shooting up yet another city street. It can get away with its ugly cartoon characters because of its ugly cartoon stories.

    • colw00t says:

      Maybe somebody will mod the PC version to remove the story. Leave the collectibles, the weird pedestrian encounters, the driving, just let it be a sandbox instead of a sandbox with a ruthlessly railroading 13-year old DM.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      This doesn’t just apply to GTA, but I kind of find it weird that people seem to want a specific franchise to do a specific thing utterly different from what that specific franchise is known and sells for. We aren’t even talking innovation here, some people I’m reading here seem to want it to be something wholly different. I mean, why not just play a game that does the thing you want? There’s plenty of choice out there. GTA is a satire crime-based story-driven sandbox game. We could be here until the heat death of the universe waiting for it to be something other than that. If that ever happened, it wouldn’t be GTA anymore, so it’s a wish that can never really come true.

      This to me, is akin to wishing Michael Bay would rewrite Bad Boys as a gothic romance. The armchair beard-stroking is getting out of hand.

      • pepperfez says:

        It’s not utterly different, though. Rockstar have proven themselves to be very, very good at making vibrant, compelling cities. That’s totally independent of their dumbassed politics, and it’s not that much of a stretch to imagine them doing it without the juvenile bullshit we’re complaining about here.

      • EhexT says:

        Satire requires intellect. GTA’s writers have never proven to possess that. But CLAIMING satire, now that is easy and means anything terrible you write (hint: 95% of GTA) you can just excuse as intentionally bad, or intentionally racist. It’s SATIRE, see? You can’t criticize satire after all.

        • PancakeWizard says:

          So I can assume by your blanket accusating that GTA’s writers are submental, that you are a master of satire? Or at least, you’ve written some half-decent satire? Amazon link? Or are you just saying that satire is always high-brow? Because you know, that’s rubbish.

    • drewski says:

      I think it’s a bit more sad that nobody else has ever bothered trying to make a GTA-like world without sticking a GTA-clone in it.

      Whether Rockstar do or don’t want to diversify their storytelling isn’t really the point, for me at least (artists gonna art) – it’s that they get so much criticism but nobody ever makes the alternative.

      • Dawngreeter says:

        I’m of the opinion that WATCH UNDERSCORE DOGS is the best candidate for that. It’s not a game that embodies greatness and not without significant issues. It’s not far away from GTA, either. But currently it’s the best shot at having the genre (if we can call it a genre?) transformed into something meaningfully different. I have cautious hopes for the sequel.

        • PancakeWizard says:

          And yet it got criticised by that sort that it apparently targeted women specifically as well. Nonsense of course, but it didn’t stop that sort running with it, anyway.

          • Dawngreeter says:

            Eh, women could’ve been better represented there, that’s true. Especially in one particular case which really tries its best to paint itself as a strong, independent woman but succeeds only superficially. I’d say that’s more of a missed opportunity and lack of quality writing than an offense, though.

            To put a stronger point on it, let me just say that at this very moment I’m wearing said female character’s t-shirt (unironically, if that needs to be stressed these days). To be sure, that’s mostly because I like what could’ve been there, what that seedling could’ve grown into if you will, rather than because of what I found in the game itself. But that’s better than most other games accomplish.

    • lizzardborn says:

      If you play GTA for the plot, you are doing it wrong (Vice City excluded, but it was reskinned Scarface). I want my GTA to be mindless, ultra violent fun. I want to blow stuff up, snort all the coke in a goofy manner. And that is what they deliver. I don’t want anthropology study of 21-st century early years in USA. I don’t want realistic representation. I just want to drive and kill stuff. Why make things more complicated that they are.

    • apa says:

      Agreed. They spent 200M € just to make a better GTA. We have plenty of those already. The tech would have enabled them to really create something new, instead of just version 3.5.

      They could have made Scarface of video games. (yes, I know.)

    • Neutrino says:

      “God, no one’s going to ever read this comment after the train wreck of misogyny above”

      Looked more like a train wreck of feminist outrage to me.

      • minkiii says:

        What kind of jerk describes feminist outrage as a “train wreck”? Do you have any comprehension of how pissed off people are at being continually represented as some virginal white boy vision of “gangsta” or “slut”?

        • minkiii says:

          When voicing an exhausted opinion is referred to as a “train wreck” I seriously have to wonder what blinkered existence you live in. No one is even suggesting flipping the tables and representing white men badly in the name of balance. Just maybe stop stereotyping underprivileged people in harmful ways. Is that really such an horrific idea thing to suggest, that you must describe it as a train wreck?

  35. X_kot says:

    It’s interesting that you refer to GTA III when you say that “the game’s relationship with outrage felt thrilling.” At the very end of the game, the protagonist, Claude, and the mafia don’s daughter, Maria, have survived the ultimate battle on top of the Cochrane Dam. As the game fades to black, Maria is talking nonstop in her characteristic manner, professing her love for Claude…and then she is cut off by a gunshot, with the implication that Claude shoots her.

    The humor is that your character is mute the entire game, acting like a stereotypically stoic male avatar, and would rather kill her than spend more time with her. It’s an inversion of the “riding off into the sunset” movie trope. But it also explicitly reinforces the notion that women should be seen and not heard; that they are only useful to further the plot, provide entertainment, or restore health (via prostitution).

    I, too, was quite taken with GTA III in college, but the chauvinistic tropes were hard to ignore even then.

    • Rizlar says:

      Huh, good point. I had totally forgotten about that. That moment still seems much funnier and more subversive than the stuff in the later games ( for the reasons you point out), but I guess the warning signs of misogyny were also there all along. Oh, the naivety of youth!

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Or you know, none of it is misogynistic and it’s all just done in a bit of fun? There’s always that possibility you know, hard as that may be to swallow.

        • pepperfez says:

          LOL, bitches always talking and sometimes you just wanna murder them in cold blood, amirite? We’ve all been there guys, don’t deny it. GTA is just saying what everybody’s thinking.

        • Rizlar says:

          As if misogyny has never been defended as ‘just a bit of fun’ before.

          • Rizlar says:

            And it felt uncomfortable at the time as well. I had simply forgotten that such an obvious example of latter day GTA sexist attitudes was so present in GTA3.

        • Distec says:

          Enduringly silent and amoral protagonist of the game shoots somebody after an entire game of people yapping to him.

          Nothing more to see here.

          • X_kot says:

            Thanks for commenting here, Distec. Your point here is essentially, “Don’t think about this.” So many of the people posting defensive remarks or criticizing the tone/background/purpose of the article amount to this “mindless” defense of the game. That just because something is a game and is “fun” means that it shouldn’t be analyzed or critiqued (or at least critiqued “a certain way”). Countless decisions had to be made to produce that game experience, and the values that influenced those decisions did not appear from the ether. You don’t want to talk about it, fine by me. But if you’re suggesting that issues like gender, ethnicity, and class don’t deserve a closer look in games, then that says far more about you than it does GTA.

  36. MikeDinosaur says:

    I like and appreciate this article. Thank you for posting it. Anyone who thinks everyone’s taking GTA V as just a goofy, substance-less joke should take a look at the comments on the youtube video you posted. GTA is not taking the piss out of its audience, it’s playing right into its prejudices. There are many ways to be provocative. Challenging the morons in your audience would be one. 21 and 22 Jump Street are both goofy bro-ey comedies that also work in clever social commentary and mock homophobia. Get inspired, Lazlow! Read a fucking book or see a movie, do something! They spent how many mil on the tech? Spend a couple more on a decent comedy writer.

  37. w0bbl3r says:

    Pointing fingers at GTA for not having realistic writing or characters?
    I always thought the whole point of GTA was to be an over-exaggeration of criminal life?
    Black criminals are portrayed being MORE “black” and MORE criminal than normal.
    White cops are always crooked when given a line other than “freeze”, or “stop or I will shoot”.
    GTA is not a place you go for realistic characters, real life kind of dialogue, or anything even close to real life events.
    Rather it is a massively over-the-top depiction of life, past the point of parody even and into the land of lunacy.
    If you are talking about GTA being bad because it’s black people say “nigga” but it might have been written by a white man, then who wrote in that you can screw a hooker, then beat her to death to get your money back? Did a nun write that? Would it be less offensive to the hooker if a hooker wrote it?
    How politically correct you’re trying to be, you don’t even see how ridiculous it sounds.
    To say it’s ok if the black actor came up with the line with “nigga” in it, but not if a white writer did is proving how racist society is today against white people.
    Because it IS deemed socially normal for black people to say nigger, but not white people. Why?
    Isn’t that stopping someone from doing or saying something purely because of their skin colour? And isn’t that exactly what we are supposed to NOT do?
    But it can’t be racist, because the “victim” is white.
    Fuck that.
    If black people can say nigger, so can I.
    I am not saying it’s right to say nigger. Nobody should be able to say it in a civilised society. Well, everyone should be ABLE to say it, but they just shouldn’t out of decency rather.
    You can’t say it’s ok for one race to say or do something, but not another race. Because that’s racist. And here it’s racist while trying to prove someone else is being racist.
    Political correctness gone mad. I predicted this nonsense when political correctness first started to gain momentum in the mid-late 80’s. And here we are.

    • colw00t says:

      Go back to stormfront.

    • stringerdell says:

      you are very stupid

      • pepperfez says:

        I dunno, man, he realized in the ’80s that the Grand Theft Auto series would begin alienating its fans some thirty years later. That’s some impressive prognostication.

    • jonahcutter says:

      If not a troll, and actually serious, I’ll leave this here for you:

  38. Advanced Assault Hippo says:

    Interesting article. I can see why it might be frustrating for a popular game series not to expand its appeal in new ways – in this case, offering a wider spectrum of how women could be represented.

    But on the other hand, it’s a knowingly pulpy, sleazy, rock-bottom interpretation of the world – so I end up with the opinion of ‘fair enough if that’s what you want to do with the franchise’. I believe no creative process should ever be stifled as such (assuming direct harm to people isn’t occurring).

    Ultimately, I think it’s okay to have games that cater to different markets and tastes – regardless of whether there’s some aspect I feel is questionable.

  39. SuicideKing says:

    Yeah, I think RPS does a good job when it decides to close comments.

    • AbsoluteShower says:


      • Distec says:

        Seems a few commenters here think they’re participating in some kind of civilized, high-minded discussion within the walls of RPS. But that image corrodes slightly when you actually encounter people who disagree with you on contentious issues, and it turns out the “Hive Mind” isn’t as uniform in its thinking as it would appear. You can chalk up any “unpleasantness” to roaming hordes of internet cretins, and of course you’re free to call them idiots or brigaders.

  40. Laurentius says:

    So why other games suck so much in comparison to GTA ? I think you wouldn’t like to be a cluod in SaintsRow or in Mafia 2 ? I am priviliged and I feel no guilt and I love Americans teaching me about history and democracy. $$$ are green and nukes are armed, music is good though.

  41. toshiro says:

    Hear hear, is all I have to say to that. Couldn’t agree more.

  42. Janichsan says:

    As someone who has played the game (partially) already on the PS3: I don’t care about the characters, I don’t care about the plot – but I’ll be damned if GTA V hasn’t the most beautifully crafted and detailed game world I’ve ever seen. The only reason why I’m going to get it also for PC is as sightseeing simulator.

  43. Enkinan says:

    The name of the game is a felony crime. Every single one of the games in the series is as over the top, violent, sexist, racist, and cliched as it can be. I hear a lot of talk about women and their depiction here, but what about mass murder on an epic scale, mostly of police officers? Drugs? Crime? Obeying traffic laws? There are so many things you can complain about in this game if you wanted to take the time. The whole point of the game is to be able to be as big of a shithead as you feel like with no repercussions. Are people calling for the game to be banned due to content or something?

    My take is that Rockstar has the freedom to make whatever the hell they want, if I don’t like it, I won’t play it. I’d expect everyone else to do the same.

    Some of these comments make it sound like they want a fully created GTAV type open world, but filled with nice, sensible things like going on a respectful date and taking a trip to the grocery store while fully obeying the law. I’m pretty sure Rockstar will not be making that game, because the one they currently have is selling in ridiculous numbers.

    • toshiro says:

      So, if I understand you correctly, if a game let’s you, for example, bomb metropols with atomic bombs (civ-series for example), as far as you are concerned, detailed and visual description of rape of children is fine because it’s patently less vile than nuking a whole city, is that a correct interpretation of your argument? Please note that that is a rhetoric question, and since you did not seem to understand the points that were made in this article, and not even understand what you yourself were writing, I tried to at least make the latter clear to you.

  44. Michael Fogg says:

    My main problem with recent GTAs is that they are too damn linear. Why make a stonking sanbox world and then lock the player in a warehouse with 50 dudes? The non-choices regarding the heists in the last one were the ultimate insult. They even cut all the fun minigames, like Vigilante. In light of this the fact that Rockstar have neanderthal level writing is the smallest problem. Never gave a shit about the ‘gangstas in da hood’ stuff anyway.

    Due to all this I’m much more likely to spend time in Saints Row these days.

  45. Dances to Podcasts says:

    “So what the fuck does it add?”

    Goodfellas was released when two Godfather movies, Scarface, Once upon a Time in America and many others already existed. It just added more horrible people doing more horrible things to the already existing horrible people doing horrible things. It’s still highly rated.

    • Muzman says:

      All of those mentioned are fictional and deal with very different time periods and communities, mostly with some intelligence.
      Goodfellas is the true story of a real low level mobster and FBI informant. Even if that were the only thing good about it, the addition there should be obvious.

  46. Blaaaaaaag says:

    GTAV just comes off as so angry and frustrated to me. Playing it was akin to hanging out with a good but highly irritable friend on a day when he’s particularly agitated. It felt awkward, uncomfortable, and I couldn’t wait to stop. It just feels to me like there was a lot of impotent rage underlying much of the writing, and that seeps through far too often. Even the moments of levity seem forced and resented. It’s a game that I just can’t have fun playing, no matter how much I’d like to.

    • teije says:

      It’s like listening to new music from Eminem. Still angry and pissed at the whole world in his successful middle age. Relax man – you’ve made it, no need to rage against the machine anymore – you’re in it.

      • pepperfez says:

        They’re also similar in being brilliantly produced pieces of pop culture that would be totally great if they were a little less hateful. Eminem is a legitimate pop music genius, but god is he cringe-inducing.

    • toshiro says:

      I definitely agree. I played this series religiously since the first one in 1997, and while they did fucking change the game, no one claims otherwise, the middle aged privileged white male hate and exoticism rant they’re currently on – the article sums it up well – is getting too fucking old to bear.

  47. AbsoluteShower says:

    “by other white men like me” kind of an assumption isn’t it? Not the n-part (Normally I wouldn’t give a fuck about typing it, but RPS is a bit of a daisy)

    You’re using this ‘White male’ thing as if it’s one homogeneous group. How do you know you’re anything like them at all?

    “Or did they feed a nude line with no vernacular to the actors with a look of earnest encouragement. “Just say what you normally say because, you know, we can’t – that would be grotesque appropriation – but it’s OK for us to record you doing it and put it in our game, probably.””
    Literally a made up scenario to try add weight to a weak point.

    ” The answer “Because we can” isn’t good enough any more. We know you can. But, maybe, don’t.”
    Again, you’re using quotes like it’s an actual fact they said that.
    The more likely answer is ‘because we want to’ – and that IS good enough.
    You don’t like every part of GTA, I doubt anyone does, but don’t expect it to become the Milquetoast PC-fest you want, because flaws aside, the majority still want GTA.

    • Big Murray says:

      But maybe they shouldn’t.

    • EhexT says:

      People want lots of things they shouldn’t get. Like guns. Or power of life and death. Or world domination.
      You can get rich giving those things to them, but that doesn’t make it right.

      • Distec says:

        That’s a fine enough point on its own, but it’s not a strong one here. People are barred from acquiring any firearm or WMD they want for obvious reasons; the safety of others. The reasons for their limited availability are very different from what’s being discussed here, and I don’t think anybody here (including the author) has sufficiently argued whether what Rockstar does is “wrong” as opposed to “not my cup of tea”.

        I haven’t liked a GTA game since Vice City, but it seems clear to me that they’re aiming for a low-brow, grotesque caricature of America as depicted in popular media. That pretty much guarantees inheriting tropes that some people are going to find offensive or insensitive. But is Rockstar’s writing harmful in any way? Do we think players are taking away some kind of bad or detrimental message at the end of a play session? I don’t feel this is the case, and so I can’t agree that Rockstar “shouldn’t” do anything.

        • drewski says:

          The argument would be that it normalises and reinforces particularly problematic attitudes toward women and minorities, which is damaging to society generally and those groups specifically.

          Although I don’t think saying “this is a problem” actually means “this shouldn’t happen”. It’s ok to point out flaws in a piece of media without necessarily saying that that media shouldn’t exist.

        • Dawngreeter says:

          GTA probably isn’t doing a lot of harm by itself. I wouldn’t say it’s objectionable in that regard. The problem is that it clearly represents that part of the cultural landscape that indulges in treating women a certain way. That it is a best selling title isn’t an indication that it’ll corrupt the youth. It’s an indication that the youth, by and large, already indulge in such things.

          Really, it’s more sad than harmful. In my opinion.

          • Distec says:

            @Drew @Dawn

            I think both of those arguments are reasoned, but I’m not sold on their potency. Nobody’s taking their cues about how to treat women or minorities from the GTA series, as you seem to admit.

            As for what GTA reflects/reinforces in its audience (not all youth); one of the recurring problems we have in this medium is how narrative and writing are usually disconnected from the gameplay. I’d be more receptive to this argument if we were discussing a popular film with controversial portrayals, but it seems a stretch here. This is largely guesswork on my part, but I’m betting GTA mostly sells because of its world-building and simulation (and of course the havoc players can wreak with in it). It’s not successful because its alleged views on blacks and women resonates with its audience; I’m betting the audience largely doesn’t care and just wants to jack their next car.

            I’ll be honest, I’m a little soured by statements like that; that it represents some part of society that thinks in objectionable terms. It’s not that I think it’s wrong, it’s that I don’t know what it means and it’s the kind of statement that gets fired from the hip all too often IMO. What exactly is GTA reflecting in its audience? Disrespect towards women? The idea that blacks are all hood people? Can you make the argument that the audience shares in this stereotyping, or are they just apathetic to it at this point? This seems more like a vague hunch based on one’s feelings than anything that’s actually been substantiated. The simple answer for me is that GTA is successful regardless of or in spite of any problematic writing, not because players “indulge” misogyny or racism.

          • Dawngreeter says:

            Here’s how I see it, and right off the bat sorry for rambling a bit.

            I’m a child of 80’s Sci-Fi. If you put a spaceship in your movie, chances are I’ll want to see it. Even if it’s bad. Even if I know it’s bad. Similarly, I’m very aware of the fact that mere sound of a light saber in a movie makes me smile. Even though I knew Episode 1 and 2 were crap, I went to see Episode 3 because holy fuck Mace Windu and three other jedi pull lightsabers on Palpatine in the trailer! That’s the sort of cultural landscape that can very easily and successfully pander to me. I am fully aware of this and able to clearly and reasonably dissect what I’ve seen and come to the conclusion that it’s shit (although it took me a week in case of Prometheus). But it can still be a kind of a comfort food, a guilty pleasure and a space where I can relax easily.

            What I see in GTA is that it presents that same thing to many today. And that’s very, very sad.

          • Distec says:

            Fair enough. I don’t have any further argument there. :)

          • Dawngreeter says:

            I definitely enjoyed this exchange :)

    • TheRealHankHill says:

      Exactly, the most “hood” people I know are white, who grew up in the gutter right along side blacks, chinese, mexicans, etc. This guy is acting like white people are all one homogenous culture and that is just as fucking stupid as saying all black people listen to rap. This whole article is just unnecessary and peoples holier than thou comments are equally cringe worthy. I often forget about this part of Rock Paper Shotgun…

      • Big Murray says:

        It’s not about reality. It’s about what shapes people’s perceptions. Nobody’s suggesting that people are going to see GTA and start believing that black people or women are like the depiction in the game. The worrying part is what it does to the subconscious, and the normalising effects.

        There are so many scientific studies which show that people’s subconscious impressions of other people can be shaped by consuming media indiscriminately. And that’s ultimately what leads to discrimination. Not conscious discrimination, but people making judgements without even realising they’re doing it.

        • TheRealHankHill says:

          Right, but do you not think if they couldn’t differentiate between something as over the top as GTA and reality that other things would not have already influenced their way of thinking? You have to be extremely impressionable to not take GTA with a grain of salt, like serious mental issues and such… To take GTA as reality would mean you already have a VERY skewed view of the world and probably need some serious help to begin with…

        • TheRealHankHill says:

          Derp it’s early and i just reread your comment. Differentiating between reality aside, most people still won’t be affected by that. Maybe children and younger people, but they really shouldn’t being playing games this over the top anyways for that reason. That lies with the parents or who ever is selling them the game.

  48. Big Murray says:

    I don’t think it’s the depiction of women that’s the problem.

    It’s that it’s popular.

    Negative depictions aren’t bothersome, but their becoming mainstream is. GTA is firmly entrenched in the mainstream category, not just in gaming but in society in general. It’s like when Fifty Shades of Grey somehow became massive … there’s nothing wrong with BDSM and a bit of rape fantasy, but it sure becomes uncomfortable as hell when it enters the mainstream and everyone starts liking it.

    • pepperfez says:

      Maybe more that it’s good than that it’s popular. I mean, if the whole game were as clumsy as the not-enough-scare-quotes-in-the-world “satire” then it wouldn’t feel like a missed opportunity. It’s the curate’s egginess of the thing that rankles.

  49. tcbaklash says:

    For the record, Uncle Tom’s Cabin was book about a black man written by a white woman, yet it paved the way for emancipation of slaves in the United States. You have a problem with fiction writing? Anyone can write about anything they please. If you’re offended, good! That means free speech is still in place.

    And before you want to bring forth the “unrealistic representation of African-Americans” in GTAV, with frequent utilization of the “n-word”, have you ever listened to NWA or Wu-Tang Clan? Or any rap at all? Have you ever watched a blaxpoitation or hood film? Have you even been outside of the suburbs? I’m a California native, I hear the “n-word” on a daily basis.

    White people are stereotyped in GTAV as well. Just look at Michael’s family, or the girl who banters about drinking lattes and takes selfies with her phone, or about how every white person is characterized by being overly-politically-correct and involved with a present, but failing family structure.

    Personally, I think the game is hilarious. The perfect exaggeration of American life.

    • jonahcutter says:

      Yeah, the writer’s bit about the use of the word “nigga” was strange. His agenda to prove it was used poorly by clueless, middle-aged white guys drives him to invent a supposed awkward exchange during the recording sessions, then use that invented exchange to back up his own claim. To top it off with a healthy dose of unintentional irony, the invented awkward exchange involves the actual real-world users of the language the Rockstar writers bothered to bring in so they could get it genuine.

      Consulting with actual speakers of language/vernacular is a standard writer’s tactic. It’s interesting to watch someone so blinded by their agenda they attempt to delegitimize their own craft. A bit of a bonkers thing to publish too, if you pride yourself on your site’s writing and journalism.

      • tcbaklash says:

        Yeah, I totally agree with you. The author of this article forgot that all fiction writing is based on something that the author isn’t, that’s why it’s fiction. Authors will often give a protagonist some qualities of their own, but it doesn’t make it wrong to give a protagonist qualities the author doesn’t possess. That’s the beauty of fantasy, anything is possible.

        I think what the author, as well as many users on here, don’t realize is that this is entertainment. It’s supposed to be simple and fun; a good escape from reality. There’s no political agenda, it’s just a parody of Southern California. Maybe the author has never been there, that would explain a whole lot. I’ll give you a hint: It’s a crazy place.

    • 3Form says:

      Well I feel compelled to comment now. Last GTA I played was San Andreas, back when I was 17 or so and really quite keen on rap music. I always felt the opposite to you though. Contrary to popular belief there’s a lot of information and stories in rap music, and I was acutely aware that these characters in GTA were, if anything, hideous stereotypes of what most people thought rap music was. Utterly mis-representative.

      You don’t have to look very far either, Nas’s “One Mic” will do the trick. It’s really sad to boil all that down to what you see in GTA.

      • tcbaklash says:

        I’m an avid listener to Jurassic 5, The Roots, Atmosphere, A Tribe Called Quest, Mos Def, People Under the Stairs, etc. etc. etc. I know there’s honest hip-hop out there, I was just mentioning two good examples of groups that use explicit language on almost all of their tracks.

  50. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Hm, with the reality being so bleak and the age of nihilism here I’d say feeding stereotypes like that makes for a boring story and I’d be more entertained by a game that challenges me intellectually rather than pointing at the news and holding up a mirror and telling: see how bad you are and all that easily seen-through meant as meta-irony stuff GTA’s doing might do for casual acclaim but it’s really just beating a dead horse and I don’t understand the hype. Well I’ll buy it (maybe GOTY) and it looks technically good and probably the gameplay is too but I read dozens of news reports on what an impact on culture and art it has and being critical about society and in reality that’s not there and it’s not really deep at all.
    Having said that I don’t understand how people think videogames should help to build a “better” world. Or the popular theory that certain people need to be rectified and educated by media in general like re-editing old classic books to read polically correct (“bible in just language”) or calling out wrongdoers on twitter. Racists will be racists no matter if black or white people write the dialogue on GTA. And they don’t read much anyway.