A little over a week ago I responded to a few blurbs I’d seen on the web about Grand Theft Auto IV without actually having played the video game. Now you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that issuing an opinion about the poor sexual politics of GTA IV without actually having played it probably won’t lead to the most informed opinions, but that didn’t stop all kinds of commentary from occurring across the web including my own. On a slightly more positive note, these missteps inspired this great bit of feedback on my own blog from artist Joe McKay which I’m republishing as a means of correcting my own post, which incorrectly suggests there’s the same gross level of moral depravity directed towards women as was seen in the GTA III. Also, the game actually sounds quite good. Don’t miss McKay’s full review.
To confuse sex in GTA with a real sexual experience is pretty outrageous. I like the line “if you get through the trailer” – try actually playing the game maybe? I've seen 3 types of sexual encounter in the game so far.
– you can get a lap dance in a strip club.
– you can have sex in your car with a prostitute
– you can have sex with the woman you are dating.
I don't know what constitutes graphic, but there's no encounter here that shows anything you wouldn't see on a prime time tv show.
The lap dance is absurd and over the top. Yes, you could commit violence after the dance but there are lots of security in there and you'd never make it out alive. The sex with a prostitute is accompanied by your character talking about how degraded and cheap he feels for doing it. It's not sexy or romantic, it's uncomfortable and awkward. It does not glamorize prostitution in any way. Yes, you could be violent towards her after the act, but there is no indication that this is what you should do, and in truth it would be out of character for Niko to do it.
The sex with your girlfriend is done off camera and you have no opportunity to be violent with her. SPOILER – It is you, in fact, who ends up getting heartbroken in the long run.
Niko is closer to Tony Soprano than any other character. He's a despicable man who does despicable things. He's also, funny and has his own messed up ethics and values that you come to appreciate. Rockstar isn't say that Niko isn't a jerk, they're saying he's an interesting complicated jerk. And like Tony Soprano Niko is not you, even though for an hour you may empathies with him.