If you're living in Australia and looking to buy Rockstar Games' Grand Theft Auto V from Target for Christmas, you're out of luck. The game has been removed from sale at the stores across the country.
An online petition over on change.org has requested that Target take the game off shelves due to GTA V allowing players to hurt and kill female sex workers. The petition has gathered over 40,000 supporters in just four days.
The petition partly reads:
"One of many fan clips on YouTube shows the woman being run down, run over, set alight and, still screaming, repeatedly shot. This misogynistic GTA 5 literally makes a game of bashing, killing and horrific violence against women. It also links sexual arousal and violence.
"We have firsthand experience of this kind of sexual violence. It haunts us, and we've been trying to rebuild our lives ever since. Just knowing that women are being portrayed as deserving to be sexually used by men and potentially murdered for sport and pleasure – to see this violence that we lived through turned into a form of entertainments is sickening and causes us great pain and harm.
"This game spreads the idea that certain women exist as scapegoats for male violence. It shows hatred and contempt for women in the sex industry and puts them at greater risk. Women in the industry are 40 times more likely to be murdered by a man than any other group of women.
"Games like this are grooming yet another generation of boys to tolerate violence against women. It is fuelling the epidemic of violence experienced by so many girls and women in Australia - and globally.
"Target, you pride yourself on being a family company, caring for local communities, and have a strong ethical sourcing policy. How can you do this while contributing to hostile and callous attitudes toward victims of violence and, more broadly, to all women?"
In a statement from Target's Jim Cooper, general manager corporate affairs, he said that "extensive community and customer concern about the game" had caused the retailer to pull the game from their stores.
Another petition has appeared on change.org which aims to counter the original's request. It is titled "Protect the artistic freedom of Video Game Developers," and reads:
"Video games are not about pushing an ideology or adgenda onto impresionable people, they're not a training tool used to develop skills that would be used to harm others, nor are they intended to be a realistic depiction of modern society -- they're a type of entertainment, an innocent hobby, where you have fun pushing pixels on a screen around."