I must admit that I am probably bothered by Gamespot's recent review of Grand Theft Auto V and the subsenquent response to the review and the comments it generated in the recent episode of Feedbackula more than I should be. To me it speaks of a massive double standard with these supposed professional game critics.
So the tl;dr goes like this: Carolyn Petit gave GTAV a score of 9 out of 10 with a criticism of the game being 'politically muddled and profoundly misogynistic'. She goes on to say'...these are exaggerations of misogynistic undercurrents in our own society, but not satirical ones. With nothing in the narrative to underscore how insane and wrong this is, all the game does is reinforce and celebrate sexism...'. I have a big problem with this.
I must stress before I go on that I don't believe it's ok to mistreat someone because of their gender, race, religion, etc. Also, I have not played GTAV as of yet, but if the game is as outlandishly misogynistic as she claims, then it's not ok to accept it on the grounds that we should expect this kind of behavior from a GTA game.
The reason I have an issue with Caro's (as she is often referred to on the Gamespot Gameplay podcast) review is with her focusing on only one of the many horrible things that go on in a GTA game. The politically muddled portion Caro is referring to is a sequence where you have to torture someone to get information, otherwise is seems ok that there is drug use, racism and rampant violence against mostly men in the game. This is the double standard with which I speak of that has permeated some of those who work for Gamespot.
I don't understand how it's acceptable to say one aspect of the game reflects our current society as a whole and be outraged but be ok with the rest of the game and pass it off as satire. On episode 15 of Gamespot Gameplay the hosts say that the violence in a GTA game is acceptable and ok because it's cartoony and within context of the game but then go to say that games like Call of Duty and Battlefield send a bad message that war is ok and that there's no repercussion for the violence.
There's a nice conversation about GTAV and the whole misogyny issue on episode 113 of Podcast Unlocked from IGN. One thing that is brought up is that there are no strong female characters within the game and that it would have been great if one of the three characters you play could have been female. I have yet to play the game so I can't say whether or not having a female protagonist would enhance the game or not, but I do think it would be interesting and maybe the next GTA game will do just that. What I do believe is that if GTAV had a murderous psychopath female protagonist, feminists would still not have been happy and complain about that.
I don't need a game to tell me that war is bad, that if you shoot someone they can die or that treating women poorly is wrong. Video games for me are entertainment and not a source of empowerment. Ok, so some days they are less entertaining than others.
Ultimately a review is the opinion of the person writing it and Caro felt strongly enough that the misogyny within the game was to the point that it needed to be addressed. I can't argue or fault her for this. It's not my place to tell her she's wrong, what to think or how she should have written her review, but I do believe she could have done a better job at presenting her objection to what offended her in GTAV. You wouldn't know it by reading the review that she gave the game a 9 out of 10.