I don’t usually judge games on the “for boys” or “for girls” factor. That said, I get that many of games have been and are made with the male gaze in mind. What would boys want to fight, drive, and look at…that sort of thing. It’s not something that racks my brain because I often want to fight, drive, and look at the same thing as boys. Often, but not always. So when I first ventured into the Vanilla Unicorn, Grand Theft Auto V’s sole strip club (as opposed to there being multiple clubs in previous games), I was okay with the fact that there were, and call me crazy here, probably going to be partially nude women (not men, because, question mark) in it. When I walked up to one of the strippers working the room and she inquired about a private dance, I was okay with that too. Sexy time, lap dance, fine, whatever, have at…I was ready. Only I wasn’t, because I was utterly taken aback by happened when the private dance started. Once you arrived in the special lounge, your dancer awaited, naked from the waist up. (Sure.) Upon sitting down, the on-screen view changed from behind the girl to boobs. No face, no legs, just two breasts sauntering round yo’ face.
I just don’t have the energy to search the Internet for the all the naked in the GTA V strip club. Instead, please enjoy this video of a baby goat on a trampoline.
Holy bejeezus, is that CUTE! If I had a farm, I would have, like, a hundred baby goats. Seriously. And at least a couple dozen trampolines.
Y’know, there actually are goats in GTA V. Not baby ones but big ones, and they rather get in your way sometimes. Like when you’re transversing the hills because you accidentally drove your truck into the side of a mountain, and the game glitched enough that you were actually able to climb said mountain. Only then you had to get back down. Then you found the goats.
Anyway. The Vanilla Unicorn. Unicorns are kinda like OMFGSHUTTHEHELLUPABOUTTHEGODDAMNGOATS
It took my brain several, err, moments to focus in on the task at hand. I realized that not only was I in the midst of a mini-game, but that I could change the view so as to see most of the dancer. The point of the mini-game was to flirt and touch her without being caught by the bouncer. The best view to see the bouncer and the girl was…well…yeah. Boobs.
And it’s not like things got better as the dance went on. All tits and ass and creepily-rendered touching. That’s when I thought “this is totally for the boys.”
That was also me being quite severe in a moment of astonishment. Oh yes. It was.
But the issue of how the lap dance was first presented didn’t deter me from visiting the club throughout the rest of the game. It did make me a little uppity though. Till that point, I didn’t see myself as a “girl playing Grand Theft Auto V,” but rather as just another player engrossed in its action. After the lap dance, I couldn’t help but simply be more aware of the game’s masculine overtones.
But that’s the game, right? I mean, men dominate the game, from the primary quests to the side missions. There are women in the game, but they’re mostly, and unfortunately, secondary characters and scenery – the shrill wife, the calculating bitch, the sexy stripper, and the batshit-crazy loony tune.
And now I think I’ve gone a bit astray, because, yes, the whole boobs thing bugs me, but GTA V isn’t a treatise on equality among the sexes. It showcases the lives of three…well, two supremely fucked up individuals and one who’s on his way there. There’s Michael and Trevor who participate in a heist together way back when that took a bad turn, resulting in the death of one of their team members named Brad, and Michael ending up in witness protection. Shenanigans ensue, and it turns out that your run-of-the-mill firestarter Trevor believes that Brad is still alive while Michael is dead. Trevor ends up on the wrong side of Los Santos, the game’s primary setting, selling meth. Meanwhile, Michael starts his life over, takes on a new last name, gets married, and has a couple kids. But soon enough that heist itch calls, and he takes a young man with promising criminal tendencies named Franklin under his wing. Together, with friends, they rob a jewelry store. Trevor gets wind of this and figures that Michael had to be at the helm. Sure enough, the two reunite (and it didn’t feel so good), and they all decide to go in on “one last heist.” During that process, Franklin’s, Trevor’s, and Michael’s backstories are revealed — believe it or not, they don’t all revolve around degeneration — and they move on with life all Three Musketeers-like. Sorta. Just with more internal affairs stuff and less pomp.
In 2013, you couldn’t have found me more excited for a game than GTA V. With 3.5 games from the franchise under my belt (Vice City, GTA IV, Chinatown Wars, and Stories from Liberty City), moving on to the next installment was without question. When I finally got my hands on the game around Christmastime that year, I was astounded at the game’s scope. Though the game didn’t have as lasting an impact on me as GTA IV, I still had a hell of a time exploring the crap outta Los Santos. The game was pure, unadulterated fun. The story was crazy and reckless, as were the characters. The game instilled that same feeling of bizarre comfort that I found in previous GTA titles. Like, there’s little that’s truly relatable to me in the GTA games except the simple notion of finding one’s place in the world. No matter if your a boring, middle-class worker like me or a psychotic ne’er-do-well with a penchant for cocaine – we all have to face the same day, every day, day after day. It’s what we do with those days that makes us individuals.
See, GTA V isn’t about “men” and “women.” It’s about three human beings and their choices, and those humans happen to be men. But women aren’t dumb enough to be Franklin, Trevor, and Michael. And yes, they are dumb. Also smart. But mostly…well yeah, I was gonna say “dumb” again, but they aren’t really dumb. Rockstar actually did a nice job of infusing each of the men with basic tenets and varying degrees of humanity. One of the better things about the game is that each of them feels pretty fleshed out personality-wise. Granted, if you’ve played the game, you probably lean towards one character over the others (Michael all the way for me), but it’s kinda cool playing through each man’s life and watching how it intertwines with the others. And for that I give it credit.
It’s too bad that some of that credit is undermined by boobs in your face, but if I want a game that celebrates diversity, strong women, and the power of teamwork, I won’t turn to GTA. Should I expect more in this day and age? Probably. But sometimes I just want to go skydiving, attempt to win a car race, or just mow down asshole NPCs who think they know better. And that has nothing to do with being a “boy” or a “girl;” that’s just life.
And…okay…sure…maybe I’m saying why not put a male strip club in GTA VI? You know why? Because nobody wants to be surprised by dick in his/her face.