Point-Counterpoint: Grand Theft Auto 5 and Misogyny

This is a response to Colin Campbell’s opinion piece on Polygon about the alleged misogyny in GTA 5.  I will highlight quotes from the article, and then respond to them. Quotes from Campbell’s piece will be in bold.

In the interests of full disclosure: I have not played GTA 5, but I have seen multiple videos of the game in action and am aware of certain plot points. I have played prior games in the series (GTA 4 and San Andreas) and I assume that not much has changed besides the scope of the franchise’s available activities and the whole “swap between three characters” deal.

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Yeah, it’s censorship.

If you happen to play video games, odds are you’ve heard of the Target Australia Grand Theft Auto 5 debacle.  After being presented with a 40,000 signature petition accusing the game of encouraging violence against women, Target Australia pulled its copies of the game from store shelves.

For many gamers that lived through Jack Thompson’s moral panic-mongering of the 90’s, seeing such an effort succeed was a nightmare.  To these people (and to me), Target’s decision amounted to censorship.  But to others, it was a triumph of justice that “repugnant misogynistic garbage” was removed from store shelves.  Those supporting Target’s decision claimed that it wasn’t censorship – just natural market forces at work.

I think that’s bullshit.

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So, some thoughts on GamerGate.

This will be my first blog post that wasn’t mandated by college courses, so of course it’s got to be about something controversial.

Today I’m going to talk a lot about GamerGate.  For those wondering where my allegiances lie, I take Totalbiscuit’s position: I lean slightly pro-GG, but I’m not directly involved with GamerGate (I don’t like a lot of the big-name personalities involved), and I condemn harassment by people claiming to be on both sides.  I’d like to bring people to the table to talk about the issues involved, rather than sling accusations about how much damage one side or the other has done.  A lot of this will be disjointed, and a lot of this stuff connects and cycles around.  Therefore, I’ll include some TLDR breaks when I’m about to head into a new topic – if you’re not interested in rambling, you should cut straight to the bolded portions.

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