The Sex Workers Outreach Project
(SWOP), a US organisation "dedicated to improving the lives of sex-industry workers and to the promotion of a safe working environment for the industry" is the latest group to join the GTA-bashing bandwagon.
In a statement on their website, SWOP says they they are "adamantly opposed to any and all forms of censorship" but due to certain gameplay elements in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the group are urging concerned parents to vote with their wallets and shop elsewhere.
"In the interest of furthering sex worker’s human and civil rights to life and personal safety, we object to any media which represents sex workers as legitimate targets of violence, rape and murder. Censorship is a blight on the freedoms we hold dear but we wholeheartedly encourage citizens to vote with their dollars by refusing to purchase products which encourage the denigration and destruction of prostitutes.
Since the video game Grand Theft Auto accrues points to players for the depiction of the rape and murder of prostitutes, SWOP-USA calls on all parents and all gamers to boycott Grand Theft Auto."
They then present evidence that children are at risk of turning into violent demons devoid of all morals and will happily rape and murder prostitutes if they play games like GTA:SA.
While we certainly wouldn't condone the rape and / or murder of anyone, let alone our friendly neighbourhood sex workers, it's hard to take this statement seriously. For starters, the game is rated 18 so "concerned parents" should start taking responsibility for their actions and stop buying violent video games for minors. Remember the granny who wanted to sue Rockstar
because she bought GTA:SA for her 14-year old grandson?
Senator Hilary Clinton stuck her oar
in, and Jack Thompson's rantings
about video game violence just made him a laughing stock. It's worth pointing out just how late SWOP is to the party: Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was released on PS2 at the end of October 2004. That's nearly 16 months ago. It hit the PC and Xbox in June 2005 which is about when the whole Hot Coffee sex mod furore kicked off.
SWOP appear to have missed the fact that we all killed hookers for cash in Grand Theft Auto III as long ago as 2001. Then again, we also merrily mowed down Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, rednecks and old ladies. And White Guys in suits. There is
no discrimination here; sex workers are treated no worse than any other group in the game.
As for the research linking violent video games to violence in children, for one, most of these games are voluntarily rated 15+ or 18+ by the games industry and should not be being played by 10-year olds. Secondly, tens of millions of people worldwide have played Grand Theft Auto (and many other more violent games) and yet the streets are not littered with bodies.
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