I play video games obsessively. I was probably one of the first people in my area to own a Play Station 3. I have played Rock Band with friends until three in the morning many times. If you have no idea what I am talking about, you should get the game.
However, despite its popularity, I have never really liked the Grand Theft Auto series. I thought it was pretty boring, simply because I wasn't very good at the missions and shooting up cops and jumping off buildings eventually got old, although it was funny the first several times. My male gamer friends love the series, however. They like to claim that I am just being overly sensitive because all the main characters in Grand Theft Auto are male. Although, I loved Assassin's Creed, which was extremely violent and dominated by male characters. If I held my breath waiting for video games that feature women as something other than eye candy or damsels in distress I would have to throw out most of my game collection. At the end of the day, I just got to suck it up and ignore the sexism if I want to have any fun playing video games.
Nevertheless, I simply cannot condone the sexualized violence in Grand Theft Auto 4. One of my friends went to a preview party hosted by Rockstar Games. As is typical for the gaming world, the entire party was a big sausage fest with no women in sight other than the models hired to promote the game. He reported back to say that the highlight of GTA4 was the strip clubs and buying sex. Kind of gross, but that wouldn't make me outright dislike the game. What really stuck out was that you can kill the prostitutes to get your money back. According to that friend, he said what most guys that got to play the preview set up found most enthralling was paying for demeaning sex and then shooting the prostitutes and running them over with their car. "Because it's funny," he said, "and you can also get your money back."
Very classy. I especially like how the game tries to be political by developing these elaborate back stories for fast food workers and victims of the drug war to highlight those issues. However, no word on sexualized violence and the huge problem of violence against sex workers. You can just run them over afterwards to get your money back, it's not like they have a name or purpose other than sex and then dying. From the previews I have seen around the internet, it seems like Rockstar's newest contribution has no other purpose for the women in "Liberty City" other than sex and death. I really like that underlying message.
I'll go on the record saying that I like violent videogames. When most people moan and groan about how video games are corrupting the youth, I think they sound a bit dull. However, I really have to go with the fundies on this one. Sexualized violence and killing hookers is not cool. Thanks for enabling the elaborate joke socialization thinks violence against women is, Rockstar. I just don't think it's at all funny.
Props to Feministing and Samhita for pointing this out.