April 28th, 2008

Grand Theft Auto IV is due out tomorrow, April 29th, and as the latest in a series of games that has inspired enough controversy to keep an entire country of Jack Thompsons angrily busy for decades, the imminent title can’t help but beg the question: what will shock us this time?

GTA IV‘s predecessor, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas not only sparked the infamous Hot Coffee debacle–in which parents, politicians, and media members alike made an absurd fuss over a hack-able sex mini game included on the game disc–it also put sex workers up in arms. The violence in San Andreas apparently got directed not only at criminals and police people, but also at prostitutes. According to the Sex Workers Outreach Program, while censorship is bad, “accruing points to players for the depiction of the rape and murder of prostitutes” is even worse. Fair enough.

While I can’t help but think Take Two won’t be dumb enough to repeat Hot Coffee, who knows what their desire for publicity will do. Then there’s the question of in-game sex workers. The GTA IV trailers show the protagonist at what looks to be a strip club. And after playing a preview, The Guardian Gamesblog called it “a game of simply breathtaking scope, filled with wit and smut and beautifully engineered violence.” But just how violently smutty will things get?

Tags: controversy, new games, sex

18 Responses to “Sex, Prostitution, and Scandal in Grand Theft Auto IV”

  1. Carl Says:

    According to the IGN review I heard, there’s a lot of dating in the game. At one point, a girl asks you up to her room for ‘hot coffee’ and Nicko says, “OK, but if this ends up on the internet, I’ll kill you.” Up in the room, they do their sexy thing, and you get the “warm coffee” achievement on your Xbox.

  2. Soulofaqua Says:

    The above as depicted by Carl is fact but this time they did not mask a mini-game by it they just want to provoke the Jack Thompsons.
    I think their will be a lot of little conflicts this time around but none that are big, the negative depliction of New York city probably being the biggest point.

  3. DosFreak Says:

    “accruing points to players for the depiction of the rape and murder of prostitutes”

    This has been covered many times before and for those of us who have actually played the game we know there are no points accrued in the game for “raping” (which isn’t possible in the game..mabye it is in GTA 4? If so good.) and murdering prostitutes. (Prostitutes can be killed just like any other character in the game)

    Just thought I’d post that for any FOX news people (or their ilk) who may read this Blog. I doubt they can read though.

    I can’t image what inane thing in the game will become the latest controversy. Mabye there should be a scene in the game like in Pet Semetary where you mow down a little kid crossing the road chasing a balloon or mabye a scene like Basic Instinct’s interrogration scene where you see a woman cross her legs with no underwear. (OHMYGOD!)

  4. Soulofaqua Says:

    DOSFreak you are right that there is no rape in GTA overall or actual points accrued to murdering prostitutes,
    but if you looked close enough you know that prostitutes usually had quite some pocketmoney and you could pick up a prostitute while in a car then drive into the bushes and your car would rock as if you are “busy”.
    Thus if you would drive around honking and a woman would enter your car you could go behind a bush then when done step out of the car to kill the prostitute so that you would get your money back plus some extra.
    This can be considered rape since you have “intercourse” with her only to kill her afterwards.

    so them usually having more money then other NPC’s can accrue you to go after prostitutes because it rewards you more and the ability to have “intercourse” with a prostitute and then can kill her afterwards to get your money back can be considered as rape.

    There are only two sorts of people actually noticing this, whiney Jack Thompsons and Lifeless game geeks

  5. The Guy Says:

    @ Soulofaqua

    Rape is only considered if it’s a sexual act between non-consenting individuals. As the virtual prostitutes do consent to the act it’s not rape. It’s prostitution followed by murder and theft.

  6. Soulofaqua Says:

    @ The Guy

    I thank you for the correction.

  7. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Fair enough, The Guy. As for the problems the sex workers’ rights people have with the game, it’s a mixed bag. On the one hand, it’s true that the GTA hardly limits its violence to sex workers. On the other hand, sex workers already have such a hard time being considering decent people deserving of health and safety…

  8. cadallin Says:

    The Grand Theft Auto series is to gaming what 1970’s and 1980’s exploitation movies are to cinema.

  9. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    I would argue, as Ed Halter (Voice critic, video game writer, and all around cool dude) has that exploitation movies were specifically about showing risqué imagery with a moral veneer–the whole “cautionary tale” idea. GTA however hardly comes with a moral justification :).

  10. cadallin Says:

    Is the pretense of a moral veneer really significant?

    A graphic depiction of rape/other sexualized violence is what it is. Whether it purports to carry a moral message or not.

    I’m certainly not in favor of censorship, and I would love to see more sex positive content in the game industry (even though I’m not really certain what that would look like). I am sure that the GTA series isn’t it, and I dislike the series on that and other grounds.

  11. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Oh, I agree with you, that rape shown on camera is still rape shown on camera–whether or not it pretends to have a moral message. But that’s sort of the point of calling those movies “exploitation films” as opposed to “cautionary tales”–it reveals the voyeuristic, salacious reality beneath the veneer of morality.

  12. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Well, this mini scandal, i.e. IGN’s “The Ladies of Liberty City,” answers some of our questions. Yes, sex. Yes, violence against sex workers. Yes, immature reporters adding to the hype and paranoia.

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