Jason Pook's Games Design Blog

CATS- Critical Perspectives Task- GTA and Feminism.

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GTA Then and Now still women’s role remains unchanged.

For my Critical Perspectives essay I am going to choose GTA V created by Rockstar very recently in 2013 and the issues surrounding how women are portrayed in the game.

GTA is a game that has caused much conflict with its challenging morals and different take on reality of the world where you can freely do pretty much everything you shouldn’t do in the real world. It is a game that involves you playing as your given characters to partake in violence, drug deals, heists, races, murder, assassinations, stock market manipulation and much more which is incredible illegal in real life as it is on the game but in a game you don’t have real life consequences, this particular game is the 11th instalment in the series although it is labelled GTA V (five) which makes it one of the most successful games franchises ever especially with the success of GTA V hitting 1billion in sales in just a week, people like to feel they can live a life of crime with no consequences and that’s this game despite much debate on its morals. But aside from the main protagonists which are incidentally 3 men, the role of women in this game is one that sparks much debate in the way of feminism. Women in this game are never portrayed as the protagonist and you never at any stage control a female character to play the game in the story mode. Females in the game are mainly seen as prostitutes, issues, and inferior.

Things weren’t looking good right off the bat. As errand boy gangster Franklin you quickly meet Tonya, a crack head who offers you sexual services to cover for her boyfriend by towing cars (services which you don’t accept). There’s also Franklin’s aunt who goes on powerwalks with other middle-aged women where they run and chant “I am woman, hear me roar!” The implication seems to be for the player to think “Hah, look how silly women are when they think they’re empowered!” its all purely sexist in its portrayal.

The ladies in the life of Michael, the retired bank robber, aren’t much better. There’s his wife, an ex-stripper who does literally nothing but scream at him every time she’s onscreen, and cheats on him frequently off-screen (tennis teacher and yoga teacher both resulting in Michael’s angry rampages). And there’s his daughter, obsessed with nothing but making it big on the reality show “Shame or Fame.” and was also caught in one mission by you Michael her father on what’s said to be a boat which shoots pornographic scenes which you pull her off to the anger of some gang members. Objectification of women is absolutely all over the portrayal of women in this game and its wrong.

Most of all shocking is when you first become the third of the playable characters which is Trevor and he is having sexual activities with a girl who has a boyfriend and when the boyfriend says he’s had enough of Trevor’s ways being aggressive he gets killed by several stamps to the head.

As time goes on you continue meeting psychotic women, like Mary-Ann, the fitness-addicted side-quest giver who you race as all three characters while she laments being 39 and childless she is self obsessed in her appearance and always speaks in a patronising tone of voice about how your character is a man and how men think. And of course there’s the funhouse full of strippers you can ogle as any of the three male leads, and if you’re charming enough, you can actually take them home, get their phones numbers and call them round for a free dance at anytime. online you can even charm them through you headset further getting you to speak in that way to women degrading them to try and pick them up for a dance. This could have effects on the real life as men who may have got too enthralled in the game may treat women and speak to them as the game has encouraged him to do causing much problems and harassment orders.

The only woman you would say is “normal” in the story would be the wife of Martin Madrazo who I met when I kidnapped her as the character Trevor and he eventually grows extremely fond of her threatening her husband the most powerful man in Los Santos to treat her good with a whimper as he walks away (showing a feminine side to him). Possibly the random women you retrieve purses for or vehicles when they have been stolen as they are extremely thankful and one even gave me 100,000 shares in her company and a free suit for my character.

Overwhelmingly the game has a terribly negative portrayal of women. But also the game has a terribly negative portrayal of men too. Really, the characters of Grand Theft Auto are all pretty awful people, no matter their gender. GTA 5 is no exception.


The introduction to be a playable female character in the online version of GTA V could be a sign that times are changing and maybe in the next instalment of GTA there very well could be a female protagonist as the question for this one was 3men surely there could have been one woman.

 “GTA V has little room for women except to portray them as strippers, prostitutes, long-suffering wives, humourless girlfriends and goofy, new-age feminists we’re meant to laugh at.”- Carolyn Petit- GameSpot Reviewer.

In conclusion the overall view on women in GTA V is that of a demeaning nature as they try to portray the men as the superior sex in multiple different dialogues as previously indicated. Women are constantly objectified with sexual connotations and actions like the strip club and how easy it is to be talking to them in a degrading way due to the games encouragement. But its not all bad even thought the majority of women are portrayed in a sexist way the emergence of the playable female character in the online multiplayer could suggest changing times. This concludes my critical perspectives essay.


Author: Jason Pook 3D

Current student at Hull School of Art and Design studying Games Design.

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