R18+ Rated Grand Theft Auto Video Game Is Being Pulled From Target Stores

R18+ Rated Grand Theft Auto Video Game Is Being Pulled From Target Stores

Grand Theft Auto Removed From Target Shelves
Grand Theft Auto Removed From Target Shelves


The Adult Video Game, Grand Theft Auto is being pulled from Target and now Kmart Shelves because of an online petition to have it removed.

My thoughts? Yup GTA is not for kids, it is clearly rated R18+ but I know that kids under that age are playing it. Why? Because mum and dad don’t keep an eye on what their kids are playing, or they simply don’t believe the ratings…or they have no problem with their kids running over or killing prostitutes in a video game. GTA also includes other adults concepts, swearing, sex, drug use, theft..(no surprise there) and more.

Should it be on the shelves at Kmart or Target? Not for me to say really, these stores can stock whatever legal adult content they like. These stores are clearly removing this game due to the fall-out in the media around this petition. No doubt they also sell adult books and R18+ DVD’s and other  games that include many of the above themes, but those aren’t being “targetted” right now.

Violence Against Women In Gaming

The debate about violence and objectification of women and girls in video game content is an ongoing one. I would love to see more games where there is less overall violence against women or anyone for that matter, and where women and girls can also feel included in the game play. This particular petition against GTA focuses on the violence against women used in this game, they claim that game play includes getting a refund effectively if you murder prostitutes after paying for sex. Quote from the petition “This is Grand Theft Auto 5. This game means that after various sex acts, players are given options to kill women by punching her unconscious, killing with a machete, bat or guns to get their money returned.”  (Edited: Not technically true according to players, as I’ve only seen game play video’s, I’ll leave it  up to others to debate the accuracy of that statement) I agree, that if murdering women after sex advances game play does advance game play or rewards players it is a sickening concept.

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I also don’t buy the argument, that I’ve seen in recent comments, that in many games killing men also contributes to game play so why not protest that also. We all know that there is a serious problem world wide with violence against women, and women being objectified, as I’m not an academic in the field of anthropology, so I won’t say anymore than that.

I believe eventually the market will eventually demand that developers are more inclusive to all humans. Men, Women, Children and all races. Video Game development has certainly seen some success stories with games that don’t rely on extreme violence or abuse, to gain players. The Portal series,  Monument Valley and Minecraft all games that I encourage parents to play with their children.


Unfortunately there is a mainstream perception that gaming is all about “First Person Shooters” or “Flappy bird” style games. There are already some great games, mostly independent games that do cover other styles of narrative and story. Unfortunately many of those games simply don’t reach mainstream attention. Overwhelmingly the “shoot-em-up”, slasher zombie style war games are the most popular, due to the largest demographic who play video games, young men. Having said that, women are increasingly playing games, even if they are also playing games that are not considered “games” in the traditional (first person shooter) sense of the word. Commonsense Media has a great list of the 10 most violent video games for 2014 with alternative suggestions.

What Will This Removal Achieve?

Do I think that removing the games from the shelves of Kmart or Target will send a message to the developers to start to rethink the gratuitous violence particularly against women represented in games? It will definitely send a message, but more importantly, due to this story hitting main stream media, this story will certainly at least give parents a heads up that GTA is not for kids, which is in my mind a good thing! So many parents simply don’t know that there are R18+ Games, and for some reason don’t equate the game rating system with the ratings for movies that we have had for decades. If this drama does shake up parents enough for them to look a bit closer at what their 13year old is playing, its a good thing.

Will It Change Anything?

The bottom line is game developers are making a squillion dollars out of marketing to boys and men, and have carefully designed these games to appeal to them. There has to be a very good reason that they think that violence against women sells. Perhaps we need to go back further than the games.


GTA was rated R18+ so the argument about it influencing boys and normalising violence towards women makes as much sense as removing a movie rated R18+ from the same shelves. Quote from the petition: “Games like this are grooming yet another generation of boys to tolerate violence against women. It is fuelling the epidemic of violence experienced by so many girls and women in Australia – and globally”. This game is not intended for young boys in the first place, if young boys are playing this game it’s because a parent is allowing it.

Parents need to get more involved in their children’s digital lives, in a positive way. Find games to play with your kids that you can all enjoy, and encourage your children to play all sorts of different games that encourage creativity, strategy and fun! Leave the serious violent games for when they are older and have a more balanced and mature view of the world. More ideas for family games here!

What are your thoughts, did you know about Grand Theft Auto before this story hit the news?


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  • Barbara L. Fedrickson, a psychologist, and Tomi-Ann Roberts, also a psychologist were the authors of Objectification theory. They came up with it in 1997. Reading the paper they published on this subject .. is disconcerting to me but some how liberating for many women. They came to this theory through the suggestion that the human body is constructed (physically built) not only through biological changes of growth and environment, but through sociocultural practices and discourse. — so to break this down and reiterate what we are agreeing to — The female body, as she walks through her day, collects and stores the negativity and sexual description, as well as the denoted value directed at her from the mouths of men, the posters on the wall, the cat-calls from the street, and the commercials on her TV.These energies churn in her and not only affect her mentally, but express themselves physically – bending her back, stooping her shoulders and sinking her eyes. That is the core of Objectification theory.

    Now.. first of all, no, you can not objectify a man. The theory only describes the effects to a woman. Men are not arranged and developed by their environments or how you act toward them. If you say to a man “You’re a f-*ing sexist pig” it hurts.It bothers us. We will evaluate ourselves, take stock. Pause perhaps. But you are not altering us by these words. Nor do we objectify each other, or ourselves.

    Second.. Objectification is only a framework theorem. It is not even a full theory,and no empirical data has ever been collected to move it forward. None needs to be gathered. It is a framework.It is .. well .. like a box you can safely play with other toys inside, without having to understand them completely. It is a Virtual World of sorts. As ta framework it still assists researcher to this day. Over 1800 papers have been written using this framework. It is considered very valuable.But it does’t describe anything that is going on in the real world. You are not being objectified.It doesn’t work that way.

    So, the next year Nita May Mckinley published –“Gender Differences, in an undergraduate body esteem. The mediating effect of objectified boy consciousness and actual/ideal weight discrepancy — Sex Roles 39 1-2 –” That was basically a horror story which tried ot use the publication as if it were gods law on how the female body performed in social environments. I can’t imagine reading that and believing that was happening to me — would have scarred me for life. But then came Banishing the Beast, and A Mind of Ones Own, followed later with a clear left hook coming in from “Jane sexes it up: True confessions of feminist desire” by. Merri Lisa Johnson Now.. that is a mix for absolute confusion — if you don’t realize that Objectification Therory is not what you have been hearing in the magazines or at the coffee shop.

    Most of the studies reaching back for the Objectification Theory are along the lines of Body Image Dissatisfaction and Depressive Symptoms. All of the ones I read show that the women,( both heterosexual and lesbian) find dissatisfaction with their bodies, and are more nervous about how they look if they believe they will soon begin a position of being judged, but all of them only show these limited depths in effect. An increase in active friendships, a increase in exercise, moral support, a loving relationship , all banish these feelings away like mist. Over and over again the framework offers a stable place to posit an idea from, but not a place available to land back down on. The internalization expected from the description of Objectification, simply doesn’t materialize into a physical or mentally altering state. It just doesn’t happen.
    No empirical data is ever gathered.

    Tomi-Ann Roberts (one of the authors) returned to Colorado College, with much different ideas on her mind, most of them going toward the essay of Rebecca Walker.

    Roberts does three papers, which attempt to clarify the theory for her, but wind up pulling her down an unexpected direction. Then, in the Handbook of Experimental Existential Psychology Roberts gives us a glimpse and then a flood of this unexpected direction the work has led her too. (p.78)

    … according to the position that we have provided, objectification of women serves an important existential function — it strips them of their creaturely connection and thus provides psychic protection from the threat of death. Thus it is not surprising that women objectify other women, additionally , it is also not surprising that women also objectify their own bodies, a phenomenon referred to as “self-objectification” and demonstrated by numerous studies …”

    The 180 degree turn on what objectification is, and what it means, and who it means it too, is quite radical. However Roberts in her return to Colorado will hold on to these ideas, as well as refining them. It is always a noteworthy trait of a researcher to be able to drop their preconceived ideas and accept the direction further research reveals. It is unfortunate this trait is not as prevalent as it could be.

    I do hope this clears some things up for you, because the way I have observed some women damaging themselves over the misconceptions prevalent on this topic, is very disturbing.