The Warehouse Group, New Zealand’s largest retail group, has decided to take all R18 rated movies and video games of their shelves, after recently reviewing their range, the New Zealand Herald reports.This decision was made by the company as they claim their business was founded on “ putting our people and communities at the core of what we do.” This comment clearly contradicts the idea that the customers to their stores could be adults who enjoy mature content in their movies or games
Warehouse chief executive Mark Powell had this to say about the decision:
“This decision to exit R18 games and DVDs has not been made lightly, but has been driven by increasing customer, community and team member feedback. This feedback has formed part of what has been an ongoing internal review, to ensure that the products we range reflect our brand values of family, children, and community. The recently released Grand Theft Auto V, which contains graphic sex scenes and violence towards women from a first person perspective, has acted as a catalyst for our decision to totally exit the R18 games and DVD market. We considered simply ‘de-ranging’ this product, however that would require us to judge the merits of every R18 product on an ongoing basis, which we are not in a position to do, nor do we see as our role. With the increasing amount of feedback we get from customers, team members, and the wider community around R18 material, we believe that our exit from R18 games and DVDs will be positively received by parents and families around the country; it’s simply the right thing to do for our brand,”
This decision comes at the same time that both Kmart and Target in Australia withdraw Grand Theft Auto V from sale, following a petition which contained over 40,000 signatures outraged at the violence against women the protagonist of the game could commit. It should be noted that the protagonist does not have to commit violence against women throughout the majority of the game, that they are more often than not de-incentivized for doing so, and that the title depicts far more violence against men than women.
Many consumers have been outraged at these decisions as they feel they should be able to decide what content they consider appropriate for themselves, and fear that this kind of ban represents a move towards a nanny state culture. The use of violence against women as an excuse to remove these products in all three cases is considered by many as a reflection of the recent popularity of harsh feminist critique against video games.
I have reached out to The Warehouse Group for comment, but have not heard back at time of publishing.