The new release of Grand Theft Auto V is out today, bringing the game to the next generation of consoles. Now running on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, players can enjoy the game in first-person mode, making it seem as if they’re really inside the game.
But eyebrows are already being raised over one part of the new game: First-person sex with prostitutes.
Needless to say, this will be controversial, and the company has likely deliberately created this aspect of the game in part because it knows it will generate headlines.
Prostitutes have controversially existed in Grand Theft Auto games for years, but in the past, players have had their view of sex acts obscured by car doors. Now, it all takes place in full view of the player, who can move the camera around to get a better view. Players drive past prostitutes, honking their horn to encourage them to enter their vehicle. Then, after driving to a secluded spot, they select from a menu of sex acts before watching what happens. Of course, this being a video game, some players choose to kill the prostitute after the encounter to get back some of their money.
The Grand Theft Auto series was engulfed in controversy in 2005 when it was discovered that Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas had a feature hidden on the disc that allowed players to play a sex minigame named “Hot Coffee” that saw the main character have sex with women. Although Rockstar Games had disabled the feature, essentially removing it from the game, players figured out that it took just a simple modification to add it back in. The game was pulled from some retailers, and later re-released as an adult game with a new age rating.
When Grand Theft Auto V was first released in 2013, players were amused to find that they could listen in to other people talking to the game’s virtual strippers. The women have a virtual “Like” bar that could be increased by touching them or using a real-world microphone to speak to them. However, players didn’t realize that everything they said to strippers was broadcast to nearby players, resulting in some embarrassment.
A 2013 Guardian comment article argued that the Grand Theft Auto series demeans women by reducing them to unplayable characters. It’s important to note, however, that the most recent game allows you to play as a woman in its online mode.
Note from Our Clinical Director, Tracy Markle, MA, LPC;
It is important for parents to review all video games on websites such as, www.ESRB.com (entertainment software rating board) in order to understand whether the game is age appropriate for the young person. ‘Grand Theft Auto V’ is rated “M” for mature (17 and older), which means your child must be 17 or older to purchase this game, or a parent must do so. As parents it is important to decide what you are ready for your child to be exposed to during their developmental years, such as gore, violence, sexual content/violence, etc. Base your decision on factors such as, their age, level of maturity, their ability to connect socially with others in a healthy way, and mental health.