What I'm curious about though is, does anyone know if there's any indication that other chains are or will be doing the same? Because Target and Kmart are well within their rights to make decisions that will hurt their profits and their reputation with people who buy games. Other retailers obviously benefit from it, as long as they're actually selling the games. Unless this somehow spreads and effectively sensors a game that, after all, was not refused classification in Australia, I'm not sure I see the big issue.
GTAV was also removed from sale at New Zealand's largest retailer.
I wasn't going to start a thread about this myself, largely because it seems almost inevitable that the discussion will come back on some level to Gamergate... and we already have a thread on that topic which was locked and then not reopened, seemingly meaning discussion is closed.
But here we go.
For many years Jack Thompson was the deserved target of ridicule by the gaming community for his attempts to link video games and violence and prevent violent video games from being sold to minors. Throughout his misguided crusade his targets were pretty much always the same; he's sue the developers, publishers and retailers of violent video games which were sold to under-18's who then went on to engage in violent acts, he'd campaign and petition states to bring in rules banning the sale of violent video games to minors and he'd write articles talking about how "dangerous" violent video games were and how there was a link between them and those who commit violence. For that he was scorned, ridiculed and made a laughing stock with the mainstream gaming press originally pointing out how ridiculous his ideas were... and eventually just dismissing him out of hand.
Here were are about a decade later and look what happened.
Jack Thompson's wish... that games like GTAV couldn't be sold to minors... is already the law in Australia. As an R18+ product it's a criminal offence for a store to sell the game to anyone under 18. If you read through Thompson's (many) lawsuits, articles, letters and petitions that's consistently the main thrust of his argument. But seemingly that isn't enough. It's not acceptable for the game to not just be sold to children... it can't be sold to anyone. The arguments used are virtually identical; Jack Thompson complained about violence in general, this petition, it's supporters and it's ideological stablemates complain about violence against women specifically. Jack Thompson complained about how games trained children to accept violence, this petition, it's supporters and it's ideological stablemates complain about how games train anyone to hate women. Hell, as limited as it was Thompson at least had some (generally bad) science to support his positions; this petition, it's supporters and it's ideological stablemates have even less.
As mentioned above a frequent retort by those who support Anita Sarkeesian and her frequently incorrect analysis is that they "don't want to take your games away" and that they're "not Jack Thompson" (an actual song
by one of Sarkeesian's freinds and collaborators). And they're right that they're not Jack Thompson... Jack Thompson concentrated on preventing certain games being sold to children, this is about games not being sold at all. It's not surprising to me that the petition echoes the language and points that Sarkeesian makes in her videos nor that GTA V... the game Sarkeesian was first to mention when asked to discuss problematic games... is the target (no pun intended) of this.
But that's not an issue right? Just because someone uses the same arguments you do doesn't mean that you agree with them.
Well that position becomes a bit harder to hold to when Jonathan McIntosh... Sarkeesian's mentor, producer and writer... starts arguing in response to the ban that "to anyone outside of the gaming world GTA is seen for the repugnant misogynist garbage that it is
" and generally supports the ban (not that we're seemingly allowed to call it a ban). This is a man who many of the most regarded journalists in video games are willing to appear in the videos for... can you imagine the editor of Kotaku appearing in support of Jack Thompson in a video?
(And let's remember, McIntosh is repeating Jack Thompson's arguments about violent video games causing violence)
Let's be clear; you cannot redefine censorship because one doesn't like the idea of being a censor. In response to this I've seen a multitude of people attempt to argue that it cannot possibly be censorship because it's not a government decision. But it doesn't matter if it's a government decision or not. As per wikipedia
Censorship is (emphasis mine) "the suppression of speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions
." Until now there has never seemingly been a limitation on censorship that it only applied when the government or state did it. Deciding that speech (which a game is) is harmful or problamatic and thus refusing to sell it is by definition censorship. It doesn't matter if you don't want to think of yourself as a censor... you are.
Video games fought off Jack Thompson because they presented a united front and critically engaged with his positions, refuting them at every turn before eventually simply ridiculing them. Now we're in a position where at least some of the video game media are supporting those exact same positions.
And that's a pretty scary thought.