February 16, 2006 8:21 AM PST

Sex workers call for boycott of 'Grand Theft Auto'

The Grand Theft Auto franchise is getting attacked from all angles.

Joining the ranks of politicians, policemen and attorneys in their crusade to see the game lifted from shelves are the nation's sex workers.

On its Web site, the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA, or SWOP, is asking parents to assist them in calling for a boycott of Take-Two Interactive's controversial game.

Citing a 2001 document from the National Institute on Media and the Family's David Walsh, SWOP is calling "on all parents and all gamers to boycott Grand Theft Auto."

The organization quotes various points from Walsh's paper including, "Children are more likely to imitate a character with whom they identify. In violent video games, the player is often required to take the point of view of the shooter or perpetrator."

Although the organization admits to being "adamantly opposed to any and all forms of censorship," it wishes "to inform other parents of the potential danger extremely violent video games pose to children." Likewise, in the interest of promoting the rights of sex workers, the organization is opposed to the depiction of the rape and murder of prostitutes.

In the games, players can solicit "services" from prostitutes by driving their cars slowly near them. No sexual acts are in clear visible view, but during the "transaction," the player regains health and loses money. Although the player cannot actively rape prostitutes in the game, a possible rape is alluded to once during the story line of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The prostitutes, like every other character, are also subject to homicide at the hands of the protagonist.

According to its Web site, SWOP is an organization dedicated to improving the lives of sex industry workers and to the promotion of a safe working environment for the industry.

Take-Two also faces new legal woes this week over "Grand Theft Auto." According to a Reuters report, two law firms have sued the company on behalf of Take-Two shareholders.

The firms, Milberg Weiss and Stull Stull & Brody, are seeking class action status. Milberg Weiss said in a press release on Monday that Take-Two engaged in fraudulent and illegal conduct during the class period so that insiders could sell more than 661,000 shares for proceeds of more than $18 million.

The class period is from Oct. 25, 2004, the date of the "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" launch, to Jan. 27, 2006, the day Los Angeles' city attorney sued Take-Two for selling pornographic video games to children.

A Take-Two spokesman declined to comment.

Take-Two shares, which lost 30 percent of their value in the time frame outlined in the suits, were trading up 12 cents to $15.35 on the Nasdaq on Wednesday.

Tim Surette reported for GameSpot. Reuters contributed to this report.

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56 comments

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Does society still think that video games are for children?
Does society still think that video games are for children? It seems like the game was rated to be Mature 17+, which I believe is the same rating as Rated R for movies.

Bottom line - blame the parents and the stores.
Posted by dewalt25 (57 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Does society still think that video games are for children?
Does society still think that video games are for children? It seems like the game was rated to be Mature 17+, which I believe is the same rating as Rated R for movies.

Bottom line - blame the parents and the stores.
Posted by dewalt25 (57 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Morality Lessons from Prostitutes?
I'd just like to say that while I generally deplore games like GTA
for the messages that they send ("hey, kicking the crap out of
someone gives money..."), it comes to something when we are
being given lessons on morality by prostitutes. Sure, I don't
think games like GTA are good for anyone (not least because I
found them boring as hell and pretty frustrating, although I
openly admit to being rubbish at most games), but then I don't
think that selling your body is a great idea either, so maybe
people in glass houses shouldn't start hurling bricks, huh?

Starting from an indefensible position kinda makes it difficult to
be taken seriously on any issues.
Posted by kelmon (1445 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Industry stretches hand to parents.
It's a little worse than just making news about it, they are reaching for parents. Like many parents are going to want the sex industry telling them what is good for their children.

They are only against GTA to get positive publicity out of a game that gives a well deserved negative view towards their industry.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Morality Lessons from Prostitutes?
I'd just like to say that while I generally deplore games like GTA
for the messages that they send ("hey, kicking the crap out of
someone gives money..."), it comes to something when we are
being given lessons on morality by prostitutes. Sure, I don't
think games like GTA are good for anyone (not least because I
found them boring as hell and pretty frustrating, although I
openly admit to being rubbish at most games), but then I don't
think that selling your body is a great idea either, so maybe
people in glass houses shouldn't start hurling bricks, huh?

Starting from an indefensible position kinda makes it difficult to
be taken seriously on any issues.
Posted by kelmon (1445 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Industry stretches hand to parents.
It's a little worse than just making news about it, they are reaching for parents. Like many parents are going to want the sex industry telling them what is good for their children.

They are only against GTA to get positive publicity out of a game that gives a well deserved negative view towards their industry.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Oh Boy
You know, I don't even own a PS2, but in light of this article I
feel like going out and buying a few copies of Grand Theft Auto:
San Andreas. I bet they would make great coasters.

"We are against all forms of censorship but . . . " but not this
one? Why? There plenty of movies, books, and TV shows as
violent as Grand Theft Auto or more so. Why are video games
different? Why are they singled out time and time again? Because
we must protect the children? Look, I am not a child. None of my
friends are children, and most of us play video games. Children
are not the audience Take-Two is aiming at, we are. I think it is
a mediocre game so I have not bught it, but I despise the fact
that some people would like to take that option away from me.

Unlike SWOP, I actually do hate all censorship, not just the
censoring of things I approve of. If you're problem is that violent
and sexual video games are reaching children, what you should
be pushing for is better enforcement of the ESRB's rating system,
not trying to destroy the game altogether. There is a valid
audience for it, and we want to buy it.

We live in America, and it is my right as an adult in sound mind
to decapitate virtual prostitutes with a katana if I want to. That is
what free speech means.
Posted by CBWolf (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh Boy
You know, I don't even own a PS2, but in light of this article I
feel like going out and buying a few copies of Grand Theft Auto:
San Andreas. I bet they would make great coasters.

"We are against all forms of censorship but . . . " but not this
one? Why? There plenty of movies, books, and TV shows as
violent as Grand Theft Auto or more so. Why are video games
different? Why are they singled out time and time again? Because
we must protect the children? Look, I am not a child. None of my
friends are children, and most of us play video games. Children
are not the audience Take-Two is aiming at, we are. I think it is
a mediocre game so I have not bught it, but I despise the fact
that some people would like to take that option away from me.

Unlike SWOP, I actually do hate all censorship, not just the
censoring of things I approve of. If you're problem is that violent
and sexual video games are reaching children, what you should
be pushing for is better enforcement of the ESRB's rating system,
not trying to destroy the game altogether. There is a valid
audience for it, and we want to buy it.

We live in America, and it is my right as an adult in sound mind
to decapitate virtual prostitutes with a katana if I want to. That is
what free speech means.
Posted by CBWolf (56 comments )
Reply Link Flag
children follow
First of all, boycotting a game designed for adults?

If you are against the content of the game don't purchase it. If
your child under 18 is playing this game and your appalled then
it's a failure of the parent in properly raising and prohibiting the
game from being played.

It is the up to the parent to choose whats safe for their children
to play. If the child is learning and reacting to the characters
and acting out, than thats a failure of the parents to teach their
children right from wrong, from reality to fantasy.

I wish parents would take control, and responsibility, instead of
pointing fingers and placing blame elsewhere, i also find
disturbing the amount of groups protesting this game.

Once you know the game is a game, it's fantasy not how one is
supposed to act in a civilized world, it's played for pleasure.

This game was designed for 20 something's not as a child's
game. Parents it's your job to protect your child, not the
governments, not pressure groups. stop trying to limit mature
people from the entertainment they seek out.
Posted by (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bear in mind though
Most parents are idiots to start with.
Posted by City_Of_LA (118 comments )
Link Flag
children follow
First of all, boycotting a game designed for adults?

If you are against the content of the game don't purchase it. If
your child under 18 is playing this game and your appalled then
it's a failure of the parent in properly raising and prohibiting the
game from being played.

It is the up to the parent to choose whats safe for their children
to play. If the child is learning and reacting to the characters
and acting out, than thats a failure of the parents to teach their
children right from wrong, from reality to fantasy.

I wish parents would take control, and responsibility, instead of
pointing fingers and placing blame elsewhere, i also find
disturbing the amount of groups protesting this game.

Once you know the game is a game, it's fantasy not how one is
supposed to act in a civilized world, it's played for pleasure.

This game was designed for 20 something's not as a child's
game. Parents it's your job to protect your child, not the
governments, not pressure groups. stop trying to limit mature
people from the entertainment they seek out.
Posted by (18 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bear in mind though
Most parents are idiots to start with.
Posted by City_Of_LA (118 comments )
Link Flag
Rape?
I don't recall being able to rape anyone in any of the GTA games. You can however beat up a hooker you just banged and get your money back. You can beat up anyone for money so it is equal opportunity beatings.
Posted by (69 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oops, Should have read the entire story first.
.
Posted by (69 comments )
Link Flag
Wow
>You can however beat up a hooker you just
>banged and get your money back. You can beat up
>anyone for money so it is equal opportunity
>beatings.

This must win some type of award for the strangest endorsement of a product. The more I hear about this game, the more it begins to sound like it should have been titled Sadists Playground or something.

Anyone remember Pacman?
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Link Flag
Rape?
I don't recall being able to rape anyone in any of the GTA games. You can however beat up a hooker you just banged and get your money back. You can beat up anyone for money so it is equal opportunity beatings.
Posted by (69 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oops, Should have read the entire story first.
.
Posted by (69 comments )
Link Flag
Wow
>You can however beat up a hooker you just
>banged and get your money back. You can beat up
>anyone for money so it is equal opportunity
>beatings.

This must win some type of award for the strangest endorsement of a product. The more I hear about this game, the more it begins to sound like it should have been titled Sadists Playground or something.

Anyone remember Pacman?
Posted by R. U. Sirius (745 comments )
Link Flag
SWOP Boycotts Jack the Ripper
For obvious reasons.
Posted by wysiwyg22 (41 comments )
Reply Link Flag
SWOP Boycotts Jack the Ripper
For obvious reasons.
Posted by wysiwyg22 (41 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly
Some people should just not have kids period. Idiots just breed more idiots.
Posted by inthenews (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly
Some people should just not have kids period. Idiots just breed more idiots.
Posted by inthenews (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The real question is
Which one would you rather have your kids playing with? GTA or the prostitutes.

enough said.
Posted by City_Of_LA (118 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The real question is
Which one would you rather have your kids playing with? GTA or the prostitutes.

enough said.
Posted by City_Of_LA (118 comments )
Reply Link Flag
This is not Take 2's fault
Granted, the scenes that the mod unlocked should probably have not been in there. But, they were. The game had a rating for people 17 and up. So it is not their fault some idiot of a parent bouth their 9 yr old this game and now wants to sue on it.

Shame on all parents who do not do their jobs!!!
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read the article!
You seemed to assume they were talking about the unlockable content in the first edition game. This is about an organization asking parents to keep their children from a game based on objectionable content that was included by design and not the stuff that was hacked open later.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
This is not Take 2's fault
Granted, the scenes that the mod unlocked should probably have not been in there. But, they were. The game had a rating for people 17 and up. So it is not their fault some idiot of a parent bouth their 9 yr old this game and now wants to sue on it.

Shame on all parents who do not do their jobs!!!
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Read the article!
You seemed to assume they were talking about the unlockable content in the first edition game. This is about an organization asking parents to keep their children from a game based on objectionable content that was included by design and not the stuff that was hacked open later.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
Definatly not take 2s responsibility or fault.
While the GTA series is pretty violent and very graphic, its the parents responsibility to educate their children on things like this and not the companies... and you can't ban things just because someone is offended... I'm offended by the way you look, but I can't ban that can I? a little extreme of an example I guess but I hope you get the point. I don't believe in outlawing or banning most things. Educating people to the point of being able to properly deal with every day (at least today it is) instances is the parents responsibility. If you like you can educate them according to the ideals that you hold, in fact, if you do a good enough job of that, you wouldn't even have to talk to them specifically about things like GTA. People are always looking for that scapegoat.
Posted by Nifferson (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
lesson for parents to teach their kids
how about this: instead of suing after the fact because your kid is playing a violent video game, you take up the role of parent and explain that this is just a game (most kids already realize this). Perhaps you might also point out that the video game companies do far less harm than companies like GAP (who exploit child labor) and Exxon-Mobil (who exploit third world countries and governments, aiding in destabilization of whole regions) and companies like Oracle (who don't blink twice after firing 50,000 employees because buying up the competition is good everyone (???)).

Parent's should need a license and guidebook... my two cents.
Posted by mortis9 (370 comments )
Link Flag
Definatly not take 2s responsibility or fault.
While the GTA series is pretty violent and very graphic, its the parents responsibility to educate their children on things like this and not the companies... and you can't ban things just because someone is offended... I'm offended by the way you look, but I can't ban that can I? a little extreme of an example I guess but I hope you get the point. I don't believe in outlawing or banning most things. Educating people to the point of being able to properly deal with every day (at least today it is) instances is the parents responsibility. If you like you can educate them according to the ideals that you hold, in fact, if you do a good enough job of that, you wouldn't even have to talk to them specifically about things like GTA. People are always looking for that scapegoat.
Posted by Nifferson (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
lesson for parents to teach their kids
how about this: instead of suing after the fact because your kid is playing a violent video game, you take up the role of parent and explain that this is just a game (most kids already realize this). Perhaps you might also point out that the video game companies do far less harm than companies like GAP (who exploit child labor) and Exxon-Mobil (who exploit third world countries and governments, aiding in destabilization of whole regions) and companies like Oracle (who don't blink twice after firing 50,000 employees because buying up the competition is good everyone (???)).

Parent's should need a license and guidebook... my two cents.
Posted by mortis9 (370 comments )
Link Flag
lesson for parents to teach their kids
how about this: instead of suing after the fact because your kid is playing a violent video game, you take up the role of parent and explain that this is just a game (most kids already realize this). Perhaps you might also point out that the video game companies do far less harm than companies like GAP (who exploit child labor) and Exxon-Mobil (who exploit third world countries and governments, aiding in destabilization of whole regions) and companies like Oracle (who don't blink twice after firing 50,000 employees because buying up the competition is good everyone (???)).

Parent's should need a license and guidebook... my two cents.
Posted by mortis9 (370 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That is insane
Parents taking responsibility for thier children. Such rubbish!!! :P
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
lesson for parents to teach their kids
how about this: instead of suing after the fact because your kid is playing a violent video game, you take up the role of parent and explain that this is just a game (most kids already realize this). Perhaps you might also point out that the video game companies do far less harm than companies like GAP (who exploit child labor) and Exxon-Mobil (who exploit third world countries and governments, aiding in destabilization of whole regions) and companies like Oracle (who don't blink twice after firing 50,000 employees because buying up the competition is good everyone (???)).

Parent's should need a license and guidebook... my two cents.
Posted by mortis9 (370 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That is insane
Parents taking responsibility for thier children. Such rubbish!!! :P
Posted by Bill Dautrive (1179 comments )
Link Flag
I have questions
Why is everyone getting so upset over a game? Doesn't the game have an M Rating? Doesn't this mean that only adults can purchase this game?

More questions enter my mind...

Sex workers? Don't you mean hookers? Since when have they had a union or any sort of organization other than a pimp and a goon with no neck, a unibrow and a gun?

Even more questions arrive...

Why should I care if some hookers are offended by a game? Does everyone know it's just a game and no one is forcing anyone to buy it?

Two more questions...

Is a head nurse what I think she is? Is she a sex worker then?

Okay, I'm done now. 8)
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I have questions
Why is everyone getting so upset over a game? Doesn't the game have an M Rating? Doesn't this mean that only adults can purchase this game?

More questions enter my mind...

Sex workers? Don't you mean hookers? Since when have they had a union or any sort of organization other than a pimp and a goon with no neck, a unibrow and a gun?

Even more questions arrive...

Why should I care if some hookers are offended by a game? Does everyone know it's just a game and no one is forcing anyone to buy it?

Two more questions...

Is a head nurse what I think she is? Is she a sex worker then?

Okay, I'm done now. 8)
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Gamers are not just getting older.
Gamers are getting older and the new crop of M (Mature) rated titles shares the motifs of popular mature media. Among the most popular of the M rated games is Grand Theft Auto. The effects of heavy gaming on sensation seekers certianly include sleep deprivation. Not as closely tied to antisocial behavior as recently thought, avatars and other aspects of gaming may not pose a threat to the psychological well being (such as identity formation) in healthy children. However, gaming media is likely to shape attitudes and opinions much like other media. The messages in the new crop of M rated media tends to be lowest common denominator, but the market for this media is moved by shock value. M rated media does appear to produce meta-messages that are often derogatory. Will M rated games become less accessible to children and young adults then other mature media?
Posted by rtaggert (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Mature Content
Teens will certainly seek out this sort of content. It is up to the parents to get involved to understand where it is coming from and prevent it from being their child that accesses it.

Don't worry though, Congress will overstep it's bounds again and make another needless law to govern a set few titles of video games...
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Link Flag
 

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