What are GTA games?
It is a series of action-adventure games developed by a British Development house Rockstar North. The main themes of all the games revolve around crime, violence and shooting. GTA games are set in fictional cities modelled after real life cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles.
Problem at hand:
Even though video games are type of media which is consumed by people of all ages and genders everywhere in the world. But not many people consider it as a CRUCIAL MEDIA PEDAGOGUE. This means that people do not realize how their ideas and opinions are being shaped by video games. And there are different tools which we can use to analyze this type of media. In our discussion, we will be analyzing Sexism in GTA games through three different lens. Representation, embodiment and theory of affect but before that a few facts about the game.
Representation of Women:
Women are always represented in very selective roles in the game. The women in GTA are represented as strippers, abusive, cheats, gold diggers and porn stars. Yes, they have been given only these roles. There is no notion of “normal” women in this game.
For example, these are some of the prominent women in the series. They appear frequently throughout the story of the game. As you read their brief descriptions, you will know all of them are either porn stars, or they want to be porn stars. They are strippers or women who offer sexual services in exchange for favors.
Choice of Dialogues:
The dialogues in these games are highly sexual. Women are not only represented as highly seductive beings but they are also objectified as a source of sexual pleasure. Note that these lame and explicit dialogues are only associated towards women and no such comment is passed about men.
Marketing Posters tell a lot about the objectification of women in this game. They have been represented in short dresses without any reason other than using them as eye catching marketing objects for men.
They could have advertised their game by showing women in less explicit and more decent dress.
However, look how male are represented in such a subtle way in these marketing posters. Nothing fancy, just some dudes wearing jackets.
Embodiment means the sense or feeling of being part of a piece of media. For Example, when we play a certain role in a game, we often use words like “I am going to drive this car” “I am going to win this race” “I have died” Even though all of this happens within the game, we associate our actual being with a digital embodied person within the game.
This builds a sensual connection between ourself and our in-game character. This immersion with the digital universe is increasing with the aid of modern controllers and devices like VR boxes. So, if our in-game character always considers women as objects of seduction and sexual pleasures, then according to theory of affect, it would definitely affect the players, us.
Theory of Affect:
Theory of Affect holds that we tend to organize affects with emotions or the feelings that we experience through different pieces of media. We rehearse our feelings and emotions according to the game we are playing or type of media we are consuming. In some cases, the media affects us in ways that we do not realize. Aubrey Anable examines how games played casually throughout the day create meaningful interludes that give us new ways of relating to activities we deal in our lives. And Anable reflects on how games allow us to feel differently about what it means to fail
Effects of sexist themes in GTA on consumers:
The objectification of female in game has given rise to hate against female players in not only in GTA community but whole gaming community.
In the run-up to GTA V's release, a disturbing forum posting went viral. "I want to have the opportunity to kidnap a woman, hostage her, put her in my basement and rape her every day, listen to her crying, watching her tears'' it read.
Carolyn Petit, a transgender game reviewer at gamespot.com received immense hate from gta community for this comment in her game review blog "[the girls are]strippers, prostitutes, long-suffering wives, humorless girlfriends and goofy, new-age feminists we’re meant to laugh at,".
She was bullied severely after these words despite the fact she gave a 9/10 score This hate and bully was multiplied by the fact that she was a transgender.
But, NO. That’s not true. People love GTA games despite of all these sexist representations. “Yes it’s misogynist and violent, but I still admire Grand theft Auto” That is the kind of things game reviewer said about the game.
Not only this, the game has sold over 355Million copies as of today. GTA V alone has made over 6.4B dollars and the sales are nowhere close to stop.
Interestingly or ironically, Gta V is the FASTEST SELLING MEDIA PRODUCT OF ALL TIME. Yes, it not Kabir Singh, it not Game of Thrones, it not Harry Potter. Its this piece of media which can not only influence children playing it but also adults.
Have you ever played these games and encountered such sexist themes? From where do you think these sexist themes are coming in these games? Do you think such portrayal have shaped your ideas and perception about women?