Making it better by ruining it

Tom Hoggins is a harbinger of the scalzification of the game reviewer:

GTAV is a sensational video game and a
marvellous feat of technical engineering. However, as always with Grand
Theft Auto, controversy has not been far behind the adulation.

The series penchant for carnage and violence is well known, as you may expect
from an “open-world” game about criminality that gives players carte blanche
to cause havoc in its facsimile of the United States. Set in Los Santos, a
twisted vision of Los Angeles, V is Grand Theft Auto at its most barbaric;
torture, cannibalism and murder featuring in its nihilistic milieu.
There has also been much discussion about how GTAV treats women. That GTAV is
misogynistic is a defensible position. Women in the game are either bit-part
players or set dressing: strippers to throw money at, prostitutes to pick

There are three lead characters that players can control in the game: all
male. The women characters are often leered at or cast as nags. One of the
player characters daughters has “skank” tattooed across her back, one
mission has you chaperoning a paparazzo as he tries to photograph an aging
actress’s “low-hanging muff.”

At one stage during my play-through of the game, I had a barrage of these
aspects which made me feel deeply uncomfortable. I commented to a friend
that I was concerned about the treatment of women within the game, that
there were few female characters drawn with any depth and that it felt a
deliberate decision to avoid an attempt to do so.

I was the first second nationally syndicated game reviewer, and it is a little sad to see how grotesquely standards have fallen since I ended my game review column. There are two ridiculous points here as well as a remarkable failure of observation.

  1. Torture, cannibalism, murder, and nihilism all get a pass. But the treatment of women, well, that makes gamma boy feel uncomfortable.
  2. The game has earned over $1 billion already and received a 98/100 critical reception. It is one of the most successful, best-reviewed games in the history of the game industry. Does the reviewer think that removing one of the GTA’s most well-known attributes is actually going to improve either its sales or its critical reviews?
  3. The reviewer fails to observe that the deliberate attempt to draw female characters with any depth is done so because that it precisely what its young male audience wants. They are sick of women relentlessly trying to control them. They are sick of women drugging them and punishing them because they don’t behave like little girls. And GTA V, like its predecessors, allows them to escape a ruthlessly feminized world in favor of one that, if nothing else, allows them to behave in an unapologetically masculine manner.  

The success of GTA V is because it is misogynistic. It is what games are supposed to be: it is escapist.  The Telegraph reviewer writes: “Games will not be able to take its much coveted place in
mainstream culture while these type of people get to dictate anything. Good
riddance to them when they are finally cast off.”

And the day that happens, the game industry will begin to die. Instead of great games like Doom and World of Warcraft and GTA 5, it will be Spamville, and Mafia Clicks, and Words with Friends, and 50 Shades of Necrobestial Rape Fantasy until the industry collapses amidst general bewilderment. If the McRapies ever replace the likes of Rockstar and Romero and me in the way that this guy has succeeded me in the mainstream media, (and McRapey has been trying to establish himself in the game industry), that’s exactly what you’re going to get.