Grand Theft Auto has taken its depiction of women to a new extreme.
Players can now have first-person sex with prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto V, allowing for a much more graphic depiction of what was already a controversial feature.
The newest iteration of the game, released on Tuesday for Playstation 4 and Xbox One, allows players to go through the entire game in first person. Players see all of the game's events -- not just sex -- through the eyes of their characters.
A Nov. 4 official game trailer for Grand Theft Auto V -- a re-release of a 2013 game with the same title -- advertised the first-person gameplay, but it didn't reveal that gamers would be able to use the new perspective in the game's sex scenes.
The sex in the newest Grand Theft Auto V does not contain visible nudity, but is nonetheless fairly explicit both in the actions it presents and the spoken audio from characters. You can view one of the sex sequences on YouTube -- but note that it's definitely not safe for work.
Sex with prostitutes made its franchise debut in 2001's "Grand Theft Auto III." At the time, the inclusion of sex was controversial, but the "rocking car" animation that illustrated it now seems pretty quaint:
Sex in "Grand Theft Auto III" (Source)
The 2013 version of Grand Theft Auto V also included sex scenes (also NSFW), but it was harder to see what was actually happening.
Shortly after Tuesday release of the game, pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian, known for her feminist critiques of video games, tweeted that she was already being harassed by people who were tweeting graphic images from the game at her.
A favorite harassment tactic of online abusers is to send me gameplay footage or still images of the degradation of women in video games.
— Feminist Frequency (@femfreq) November 18, 2014
Sarkeesian did not respond to requests for comment. Her criticisms of similar sequences in other games landed her in the middle of the #GamerGate firestorm when it began months ago. In August, she was driven from her home after she received death threats, and last month she canceled an event in Utah when a mass shooting was threatened.
Game developer Rockstar, which makes the franchise, has courted controversy before. In 2005, "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" was slapped with a rare "Adults Only" tag from the Entertainment Software Rating Board after it was revealed that the game's code apparently contained an unused sex mini-game. The "Adults Only" tag essentially means that stores won't carry the game.
In the "San Andreas" game, people could hack their way into a sequence that allowed them to play through fairly crude sex scenes with their in-game girlfriend characters.
Following significant backlash to the scenes, Rockstar blamed the so-called "Hot Coffee" mod on hackers who altered the game's code. They later released a revised version of "San Andreas" that was granted the "M For Mature" rating, meaning customers aged 17 and up can purchase the game. (Though like an "R" rated movie, you can probably imagine scenarios in which younger kids gain access.)
Times have certainly changed, though. The new Grand Theft Auto V that contains first-person sex with prostitutes was also rated "M For Mature" by the ESRB, the same organization that punished "San Andreas" with the "Adults Only" rating. A representative for the ESRB told The Huffington Post via email that the re-release was subjected to the organization's standard ratings process.
Rockstar did not respond to requests for comment.
The GTA series is not alone when it comes to controversial content. Games from other publishers, like Sony's "God of War 3," have pushed sexual content even further in recent years, as you can see in this NSFW clip.