We need to talk about sexualization in GTA.

The excessive sexualisation of women in the gaming industry is prevelant most explicitly in the GTA franchise.

Kefan Chen
29th November 2021
Image: Rockstar Games
In the 2004 action-adventure video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, there exists a minigame unofficially referred to as "Hot Coffee". The game must be hacked to play the minigame; otherwise, it is unavailable to the general public. In order to have animated sexual intercourse with an in-game girlfriend, "Hot Coffee" must be activated.
Image: WCCFTech

Sex sells. It's a fact. As long as the personalities are charming and marketable to the point of gratuitousness, there's no problem. 

However, it's difficult to draw a clear line between the two. Overwatch, Street Fighter, Metal Gear Solid, and other characters have sparked online disputes over whether or not they should be restricted. 

Mercy in Overwatch
Image: Gamepedia

There are few female role models in video games, and those that do exist are generally sexualized. According to objectification theory, sexualized media characters are linked to an increase in self-objectification and a reduction in body pleasure in female consumers. 

Female characters in Grand Theft Auto can not exist in a nonsexual state in this reality. 

Unfortunately, the few female characters in Grand Theft Auto V are sexualized. Remember that in Los Santos, the only working women are prostitutes and strippers. This is a common occurrence in the video game industry, which is dissapointing. Only 5.8% of male characters were shown in a sexualized way on video game covers, compared to 42.3% of female characters. Furthermore, 49% of the female avatars seemed to have breasts that were abnormally enormous (Burgess). It is through the lens of a heterosexual man that these video games compel their players to see the world. 

Image: blogspot

Many instances are emerging, but this is not a new debate, and it isn't only a problem for gaming. All entertainment disciplines, notably comics, are debating this problem in some form or another.

Because of the gender "balance" in our workforce, this is something the games industry should pay greater attention to. According to an IGDA poll conducted in 2015, 79% of software engineers are male. 

According to former head of IGDA, Kate Edwards, "this implies we're more likely to encounter representations that appeal to the masculine sight." Oversexualized character design is becoming outdated and superfluous for the purposes of most games, which is why more and more developers are realising this.

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