The Australian retail chain Target has removed the controversial video game Grand Theft Auto V from sale in its stores.
In a statement on its website, the company claims to have made the decision following feedback from customers, “about the game’s depictions of violence against women”.
Explaining the move, which will affect Target Australia’s 300 stores around the country, general manager of corporate affairs, Jim Cooper, said, “We’ve been speaking to many customers over recent days about the game, and there is a significant level of concern about the game’s content.
“We’ve also had customer feedback in support of us selling the game, and we respect their perspective on the issue. However, we feel the decision to stop selling GTA5 is in line with the majority view of our customers.”
Set in the seedy city of Los Santos, a parody of modern Los Angeles, Grand Theft Auto 5 follows three violent criminals as they carry out a series of audacious heists. The story involves murder and torture, but although Target Australia’s concerns specifically mention violence against women, female characters barely figure in the narrative.
Players are, however, able to freely explore the city and engage in violence against any other inhabitants. In the past, the series has been criticised for allowing gamers to attack women, as well as have sex with prostitutes and then rob and kill them.
In her review of GTA V last year Carolyn Petit of news site Gamespot wrote, “GTA V has little room for women except to portray them as strippers, prostitutes, long-suffering wives, humorless girlfriends and goofy, new-age feminists we’re meant to laugh at.”
The game has, however, attracted almost unanimous critical acclaim, including three awards at this year’s video game Baftas. Originally released in September 2013 on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles and recently remastered for the new Xbox One and PlayStation 4 machines, it was past uncut by the Australian Classification board and given an R rating, which restricts the sale of the game to adults over 18. Target Australia stated that it will not withdraw other games or movies with the same certificate.
“While these products often contain imagery that some customers find offensive, in the vast majority of cases, we believe they are appropriate products for us to sell to adult customers,” said Cooper.
“However, in the case of GTA5, we have listened to the strong feedback from customers that this is not a product they want us to sell.”
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