The Grand Theft Auto franchise isn’t positively known for its female representation. When the newest version, GTA V, was released in 2013 it created controversy within its female fanbase. Five games have been created in the GTA franchise, all with slightly differing lead characters to play as, but there has never been a playable female character.
I have played three of the five different GTA games (3, 4, and 5) and have always noticed the consistent sexism within the game, as far as how women are depicted. Throughout gameplay, the only female characters that the user can interact with are prostitutes, hookers, or a relative of one of the main character’s. There are zero strong, independent women in these games.
In GTA V, one of the only female NPC’s you an interact with are strippers.
Misogynistic critics have claimed that this is because there are “no high profile female criminals,” and that “male gamers won’t want to play as female characters.” Both of these viewpoints are sexist and overtly dismissive of the real world. On average, women own more gaming consoles than men. In fact, the Guardian has argued in the past that there are more female gamers than men. This makes sense to me, since there are more women in the world. Popular contemporary media, such as Orange is the New Black and The Queen of the South/La Reina Del Sur, have popularized the female gangster, and these dynamic characters have resonated with fans. Why do popular videogames, such as the GTA franchise, lag so far behind in the representation game?
Pictured above is the (in)famous “Queen of the Pacific,” an extremely high profile female drug trafficker, Sandra Avila Beltran. Her notoriety has inspired both a telenovela and an American drama detailing her criminality. Like her male colleagues, she was responsible for trafficking drugs and murdering people to ruthlessly advance her criminal agenda. But there are no female criminals, right?