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.