The Snack podcast: Does killing prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto make you a bad feminist? The gamer's moral conundrum

With their perceived propensity towards scantily clad women, violence and explicit content, video games are often blamed for inciting bad behavior in those who play them.

Titles like Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption 2 allow gamers to run wild in a world populated with female characters like prostitutes and Suffragettes - and some of the ensuing interactions can appear troubling, to say the least.

This week on The Snack podcastEntertainment and Lifestyle Editors Mon Barton and Sarah Templeton are joined by Newshub Nation's Finn Hogan, who also hosts the NerdsPLUS podcast.

Sarah and Mon quiz Finn on the moral conundrums that come along with modern gaming, and whether gamers should feel guilty for what goes down in the virtual realities they navigate.

"Does this make me a bad feminist? That I murdered prostitutes in Grand Theft Auto?" Mon wonders of her teenage years spent dabbling in the notorious game.

"Because saying it out loud, it doesn't sound very good."

Finn argues that while there are definitely some problematic representations of women in these games, allowing players to partake in indecent behavior in-game does not a criminal make.

"I've never seen any research, or anyone drawing a direct line between things that you allow someone to do in the game, and them acting those out in real life.

"That's never been proven - there's been quite a lot of research on this. I think it's more catharsis.

"It's a safe place to explore darkness, and the reason that you're doing it is because you know it has no real world consequences."

While GTA has been a source of controversy since its release in the 90s, Red Dead Redemption 2, made by the same developers, has more recently ruffled feathers.

Last year, online trolls sparked outrage by uploading a raft of clips that showed them murdering the Suffragette characters in increasingly grisly ways.

"Why would the programmers think: 'Here, you can take this Suffragette, strap her to the back of your horse and feed her to a crocodile?'" Mon asks.

"Games have allowed you do to do horrific shit for as long as games have existed," Finn explains.

"In the case of Red Dead 2, you've got to draw a line between what a game allows you to do, and what it incentivises you to do."

While killing the members of the Ku Klux Klan in the game comes with no consequences, assaulting a Suffragette will place a bounty on your head, Finn adds.

"There's a certain sense of liberation in living in a world where there are no consequences, because you wouldn't do it in real life where there are consequences," Sarah says.

Perhaps the jury's still out on just how heavily our digital acts of evil should weigh on our minds. With video games now the most profitable and popular entertainment platform in the world, however, there's no doubting the mammoth amount of power game developers now wield.

Tune in to the full episode of The Snack to hear more, including a robust discussion about which Mario Brother is the hottest, and an explanation of the confusing concept of a boob-jiggle algorithm.

The Snack is a magazine-style podcast in which hosts Sarah Templeton and Monika Barton talk all things love, relationships, dating and of course, sex.

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