In a striking philosophical observation that is sure to shake the foundations of moral relativism and open up hitherto undiscovered avenues of freedom of choice, Take-Two president Karl Slatoff — in response to two Australian retailers pulling Grand Theft Auto V from their shelf stores following an online petition that criticised the game’s sexism and violence against women — suggested at a BMO Capital Markets 2014 Technology & Digital Media Conference Lunch presentation that if you don’t like something, you don’t have to buy it.
“It’s one thing for someone to not want to buy a piece of content, which is completely understandable,” explains Slatoff. “That’s really the solution. If you don’t like it and it’s offensive to you, then you don’t buy it. But for a person or a group of people to try to make that decision for millions of people… We have 34 million people who bought Grand Theft Auto, and if these folks had their way, none of those people would be able to buy Grand Theft Auto.”
He went on to state that this will likely have little impact on Take-Two or GTA. “At the end of the day though, it’s not something you want because it’s a poor leadership decision.”
The petition was largely thanks to GTA V‘s new first-person mode, which significantly increases the realism of the often questionable actions players can enact against women in-game. I feel that the group is right to criticise the content of GTA V, and the retailers weren’t forced to remove it; it was simply a business decision since the first critical sales week had long passed and one that probably earned them a lot of good PR.
But I agree with Slatoff; as analysis of games becomes more pointed (receiving unprecedented threats of violence as a result) and games continue to push the boundaries of what’s acceptable, there needs to be a distinction between creating awareness of a product’s contents, robust criticism and simply removing access to the media all together.