The re-release of Grand Theft Auto V hasn't only shoved the open-world title back into the spotlight, but it's portrayal of sex, violence and crime is getting a closer look, leading some stores in Australia to ban sales of the updated game. GTA V has been on sale for over a year, but was only recently made available for Xbox One and Playstation 4 owners.
GTA V features an "R18+" rating in Australia, the equivalent of a "Mature" rating in the US.
Both Target and Kmart's Australian stores have pulled the game from shelves, irritating fans and earning praise from the game's critics, including three women who started a petition leading to the termination of sales.
According to the petition, GTA V is "a game that encourages players to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get 'health' points," and that the game is "grooming yet another generation of boys to tolerate violence against women."
This is, unsurprisingly, not sitting well with gamers and fans of free speech, who have quite quickly pointed out that GTA V is not a game for "boys." It's a game that's legally only allowed to be sold to adults, with the BBC reporting that GTA V features an "R18+" rating, the equivalent of the US Entertainment Software Rating Board's "Mature" rating. Gamers have already launched an (ineloquent) rival petition, which reads:
Retailers, meanwhile, seem content passing the buck.
"This game may allow you to kill, hurt, bash and shoot anyone not just females and this game should be on the shelves all over the country. It's made for adults not children, we have the right to buy games despite their content."
"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," Target's GM of corporate affairs said in a statement, the BBC reports. "However, we feel the decision to stop selling GTA 5 is in line with the majority view of our customers."