Disclaimer: This article is based on a Google Translation of 2 articles written originally in Norwegian and therefore not all information could be completely accurate. If you read Norwegian, please feel free to notify us of corrections.
In a letter which strongly mirrors the ideas presented in the petition to ban the sale of GTA V from Australian retailers, the Norwegian Women’s Front attempts to remove all copies of GTA V from stores in Norway, due to what they claim is a perverse mix of sexual arousal and violence against women and which could shape a generation of boys who tolerate and accept violence towards women.
The letter contains several often quoted inaccuracies about the controversial title including that violence towards women is actively encouraged when in fact it is often de-incentivized, and that it can shape the behavior of men towards women, when studies show that these misogynistic tendencies only last for minutes after playing. TechRaptor took a look back to GTA V for the Xbox 360 to test out these statements and found that finding a prostitute, driving to a secluded spot and enduring an awkward 90 second clothes on scene where you engage in sex with her will restore half your health points, and murdering her afterwards will give you back a few dollars on your $100 investment. It should be noted that killing a prostitute in public will give a player a 3 star rating, which makes it extremely difficult to avoid being arrested. Alternatively, you could go and buy food to fully heal your health bar, save yourself a lot of time and not risk getting caught by the police.
Campaigns such as these mirror movements in previous years which attempted to remove violent video games from sale in case they caused elevated levels of aggression, however studies found that it was difficult and not violent games which caused this aggression. In fact studies now show, that aggressive individuals who play violent video games will often do so instead of taking out their frustrations on other people.
Most problematic of all is the statement that the Women’s Front speaks on behalf of all women. However, Norwegian female game critic Kine Hult named GTAV one of the world’s best games. She was also upset that these women’s statements were based on a YouTube clip and not by actually researching or playing the game. She points out that you kill far more men in the game and yet no-one is complaining about the violence against men and finds it very difficult to believe that the game can contribute to sexual violence.
Scientist Jørgen Kirskæther states that de facto censorship such as this has never worked and does not counter consumption, and will only move to increase awareness. Feminist games blog SpillPikene or “Gaming Girls” encourages debate on gaming titles such as that which Anita Sarkeesian delivers, but opposes censorship of art and culture and encourages constructive critique.
It should be noted that retailers in Norway do not have to follow the instructions the women’s front has issued. Age limits are currently strictly applied and the European PEGI scheme for rating titles has always been followed. Instead of censorship, parents are encouraged to monitor the content their children consume.
What do you think of this increasing censorship? Please tell us in the comments below.
UPDATE: It appears that women in Canada have also decided to follow Australia and Norway’s lead and make a petition to ban GTAV in stores. It’s just in the beginning stages but has a few hundred signatures. People have expressed their displeasure at the new petition in the comments.