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In the other IMO written by Stephen Snook, he argues that it is essentially a victory for no-one. I have to disagree with him, as the removal of GTA V accomplishes nothing. It is a store-wide ban for two retail outlets, yes, but it does not prevent anyone from buying it and playing it. Meanwhile, the Anti-Gamergate social justice warriors attack Rockstar and defend Target, and Kmart over the decision. It is their right to decline to sell the game, yes, but in doing so, all they have done is drawn more attention to the game and to Rockstar than they might have otherwise had. Personally, I wasn’t going to even consider buying GTA V before this. I simply wasn’t interested in the game just from the fact that I felt that GTA IV was the pinnacle of the franchise. After Rockstar started getting attacked by the Social Justice Warrior camp though, I started looking for what, exactly, was actually angering them so much.

What I found is that in true Rockstar fashion, it mocks much of American culture. There exists a rampage in which you can hunt hipsters. There is a cutscene where Trevor apparently tells a group of feminists to “shut the f*ck up“. It’s honestly not surprising then, to find the likes of Johnathan McIntosh defending the attacks on Rockstar. This is the legendary Streisand Effect in action. The original petitioners might have meant well, but telling people to not buy something in the age of the internet will not work out the way you think it will. Moreover, it can be argued that it is in fact censorship. The original petition  clearly had the goal of trying to hurt Rockstar’s bottom line. A part of the petition reads, “Games like this are grooming yet another generation of boys to tolerate violence against women. It is fueling the epidemic of violence experienced by so many girls and women in Australia – and globally.”

That is patently false. Science says so. In an article published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence on December 14th, 2010, Associate Professor Christopher J. Ferguson laid out that it is actually more likely that playing violent video games will actually decrease the tendency of violent behavior in some portions of the population of young people. You can read that article here at his website. In all honesty, all of this is a political attempt at silencing a video game that has upset a specific portion of the global population. They might not have seen it coming, but in the end, not only does one of their core claims not hold up to the microscope of science, but it is going to backfire.

Rockstar is not new to this kind of controversy, either. They have previously been attacked by Jack Thompson as far back as 2004 or 2005. That only resulted in a lot of free PR for Rockstar and the GTA franchise. In fact, it is what led me to buy Grand Theft Auto in the first place. So we see it again, people attack Rockstar and GTA… and yet again, the only winners here are GTA V fans and Rockstar. The original petitioners have completely failed to hurt Rockstar’s bottom line – and have actually helped it, you might argue – as a result.

 


Keith Elwood

I have been a gamer ever since I can remember, starting with the Sega Genesis and original Nintendo consoles. I graduated to frogger on an ancient IBM home PC, and then onto Sim City 2000. In 2004, I got into shooters and MMOs. I haven't looked back since. Professionally, I am certified in private security. In my spare time, I dabble in information analysis and study geopolitics. I sometimes write at my own blog at keithelwood.com.



  • Alex

    To be honest I wasn’t considering to buy GTA V myself… cause of the stupid toy helicopter mission from GTA Vice City, I never forgave the franchise to that mandatory mission that I never passed.
    (P.S.: I am gonna probably buy GTA V when they release it for PC)

  • Dr Dub

    I thought the same when I read that statement about it being “a victory for no one”.

    Millions of dollars worth of free advertising for Rockstar…Sounds like someone won big!

    Even better; the exposure was more valuable than any advertising campaign Rockstar could have run.

    I mean “buy our game it’s really great, honest” is hardly that convincing a message to a sceptical and jaded audience who have been let down by many over-hyped and heavily promoted games this year.

    But a bunch of beta males and feminists with no connection to Rockstar saying “don’t buy this game it has terrible things in it”.

    Well blow me, that practically guarantees that it is excellent!!!!

    The message comes from an impartial source too.

    So this exposure carries more weight than any 10/10 review score in the gaming press. I will definitely buy it PC now.

  • The Tallest Dwarf

    Oh man, I wanna hunt hipsters!

    Now I have to buy it.

  • Braxus_Ravenguard

    Interesting.

  • FirstLine

    Here how I see it: everybody is against Australians. They can’t catch a break down there. Overpriced games and now this. lol

  • PossiblyCthulhu

    The problem lies in the fact that the petitioners and the other loud voices (McIntosh et al) believe that their vocalism translates into majority opinion – it doesn’t. Gaming has tolerated trolls, and agitators alike for years…. I fear that tolerance is at breaking point.

  • O Sombra

    Who cares anyway, there’s a million ways to buy it on the internet.

  • Reptile

    Oh no, that mission was buried deep inside my brain, now that you mentioned it gave me chills.

  • YuriKei

    Yeah that mission was infuriating but they changed it in the Xbox/pc version to allow enough time to complete it

  • Jason Ashman

    While I agree, I also don’t.

    Yes they got some free advertising, which is great, but the underlying argument and actions is what makes this a no win situation. If people who have no real handle on what a game is, or what they are used for (ie, an escape from reality), then the medium will be slowly and slowly watered down by this.

    Just look at gamergate and what they are trying to do with games. Everything needs to be non-offensive. I don’t remember what I was watching, but a quote that keeps popping up is “Your right to free speech, ends when you offend someone” (or something like that), and for games this is a problem.

    If you don’t like it, don’t play it. But don’t ruin it for everyone else in the process. Gamers aren’t hurting anyone

  • Dr_Zox

    Good to see journalists who disagree with each other on the same website, keep up the thought inspiring work

  • Erthwjim

    I agree with you actually, and this may end up pushing people to download the game digitally, because it would be much harder to get the game banned from the Playstation Store. I think this write-up by Tycho on Penny-Arcade has it right:

    Like other “signals,” this is one that can’t be stopped. All that’s happened is that these Targets and K-Marts gave people a reason to shop elsewhere, or to push three buttons on their home console, or click a few times on their computer, whichever one happened to be easiest at the time.

    http://www.penny-arcade.com/news/post/2014/12/05/tradition

  • Stephen Snook

    These are all fair points, I was just looking at it through the lens of Australian standards and censorship.

    I just feel that the comments the petition made were disingenuous, and completely skewed what GTA V is actually about, which hurts an already highly censored and demonized medium in Australia.

    I was on a radio show a couple of days ago, debating with some people about this issue, including one person who hadn’t even played the game. His response to the game was overwhelmingly negative, even though he hadn’t played it, and had no idea if the claims were true or not.

  • Stephen Snook

    Yeah, we get a fairly raw deal sometimes. But you know, we still have arcades, which is awesome.

  • Stephen Snook

    It’s honestly just a different angle for an editorial. Thanks for reading though!

  • Dr_Zox

    I guess what I am getting at is that you aren’t trying to push a single narrative, which I enjoy, I think more websites would benefit from this

  • Fenrir007

    GTA is not a series I particularly enjoy, so I usually buy it on a big sale a long time after its out.

    This time, however, I’ll buy it on release when its out on Steam. I’ll probably do the same thing to any game that SJWs try to censor or ban from here on. Seedscape is also on my target for potential day 1 purchases for similar reasons.