"Grand Theft Auto for Girls" Creates Controversy

November 23, 2007 -
Coolest Girl in School, a mobile phone game billed by its publisher as "Grand Theft Auto for Girls", is drawing criticism from some quarters. As reported by Canada.com:
A controversial new video game for girls implies that stealing, sexual dalliances, drug use and gossiping pave the path to teenage empowerment, with the express objective being to "lie, bitch and flirt your way to the top of the high school ladder."

According to the game developer, "teachers exist to be manipulated," a looming parent signals potential "social death," new clothes are procured by stealing from the mall, and bribery is an exit strategy for sticky situations.

Although the game won't be released until early next year, a beta test in the Australian market has some watchdogs concerned. A spokeswoman for the Australian Family Association said:
The activities in the game have been shown through vast amounts of research to cause significant, long-term problems for young people.

However, Holly Owen, the creative director for Coolest Girl in School publisher Champagne for the Ladies, felt the game was being attacked unfairly:
Unfortunately the game has been misrepresented in some articles. It is ... a very tongue-in-cheek look at the perils of the quest for cool in high school. Key word: irony!

Owen noted that although smoking or drug use in-game "might seem obviously cool," they can cause the player's character to be sent to rehab or have bad breath when a potential boyfriend is near.

Online expert Christine Daviault of Montreal's Concordia University questioned whether youthful players would grasp the game's subtle humor:
I just don't think most people will see it as tongue-in-cheek. (Youth players) are at a crossroads in the formation of their personalities and a game like this basically fosters a warped idea of what constitutes success and how to get it.

Youth media consultant Anastasia Goodstein thought CGIS might be a liitle too real to be fun:
Coolest Girl In School sounds a lot like high school. Do girls need to play a game to remind them of high school's depressing social hierarchy?

From the game's website:
Coolest Girl in School lets players live out their high school fantasies. Experiment with fashion! Experiment with drugs! Experiment with your sexuality! Cut class! Spread rumors! But try to avoid dying of embarrassment- literally!

In Coolest Girl in School fashion and communication reign supreme. Working out what the hell to wear and answering hilarious quizzes makes or breaks you. Students are labeled according to the sub-culture they subscribe to...


Nobody said being the Coolest Girl in School would be easy…



Comments

Truth is stranger than fiction, it seems.

Even God is looking down here shaking his head going "Jeez, give it a rest will ya!"... Honestly, if i see the word `controversy´ or ‘controversial’ one more time with *game* written somewhere near it ill propably explode!

I've just about heard enough garbage from the Fourth Christian Reich of Australia. I feel sorry for people suffering under their tyrannical and freedom hating government.

News Flash: The overwhelming majority of people do not have problems with seperating FANTASY, REALITY, DESIRABLE NORMS, and ACCEPTABLE CONDUCT.

[...] read more here [...]

@Everyone:

Mobile games actually have huge sales figures. There are a LOT of casual gamers that lap this stuff up. This game will probably be commercially succesful due to the low cost and quick development pipeline of mobile games.

And despite all that, I still don't care.

This is a non-issue. This type of satirical look at the stereotypical school hierarchy has been done a million times in all forms of media, and the only reason this is getting attention is because it's a game. Next.

DoggySpew: Are you disputing that lying, backstabbing, gossiping, drug use and promiscuity don't cause signnificant, long-term problems? The question is whether a simulation is comparable. I'd say no.

The conversation at the development house:

"Man, this game isn't going to sell at all. Nobody will care enough to buy it."

"I've got it! We'll compare it to a controversial, violent game. Also, this comparion will need a slogan with a slightly sexist undertone."

"How about we suggest that it's Grand Theft Auto for girls!"

"Brilliant! The media watch dogs will be all over it after this!"

I can bet there would not have been as big an outrage had they not said it was Grand Theft Auto for girls...

JT ban evade rant in 3.... 2....

First! and a response to the Australian Family Association:
yes, yes, yes, but at least when a girl's parents sees this game and how it's associated of being a 'controversial' or 'evil' game, at least the parent will learn whatever behaviours they saw in the game to be bad will and recognize it in real life. IF the game is an effective teaching tool or it might crash as an oppotunistic clone

It's amazing how little many governments think of their youths' intelligence, especially considering that can only be a reflection of the education system they themselves provide.

Satire much?

Wow, they must think young people are completely stupid.

Coolest Girl In School sounds a lot like high school. Do girls need to play a game to remind them of high school’s depressing social hierarchy?

Since nothing has changed in, like, uh, forever, maybe they totally do. A-duh!

*vomit*

I can certainly see where the critics are coming from for a game like this. I mean if some girls can be influenced to become anorexic to become popular despite the obvious health problems then they might get the wrong idea from this.

However this doesn't apply to grand theft auto let's compare the two

Ultimate Goal
GTA: Become the drug king, king of the city, criminal king, etc. (very unrealistic)
This game: Become the most popular girl in high school (not unrealistic at all)

How you achieve it
GTA: Engage in ferocious gun battles that only action heroes could possibly win, commit a ton of crimes and rob people (not very realistic)
This game: Bitch, gossip, bribe, take drugs (some people actually have to do this to get popular, peer pressure is quite a bitch).

Unless the humor and parody is stupidly obvious I don't think they should publish the game (although I'm not going to try to force them to not publish the game).

It doesn't bode well for any society when it forgets how to poke fun at itself.
It's almost too bad that all of these arguments are moot; as a mobile phone game, almost exactly no one in America will ever play it.

Good lord, I think I'd like to see the game. If only out of morbid curiousity. It never ceases to amaze me that marketing seems to think it has to either target men or women, but they don't seem to be able to just produce solid games and let the cards fall where they may.

so why not ban Barbie dolls, lipstick and being a total bitch in public first?

Wait, why aren't they worried about violence being associated with masculinity? That's part of the problem we have with the "sex wars" and yet the controversy is only how we can shape young women into powerful people (by transposing valuable male traits on them, no less)

...This sounds more like "Bully" rather than GTA.

@Conejo

The last one I agree with ,the first two, not so much.

The Barbie thing ain't so bad as it's portrayed as a career woman with her own property, and lipstick should be a personal choice when to or not to wear it

@Judith Iscariot

Except instead of trying to solve problems in a school, in this game it's your goal to create them.

....Yeah? This is exactly the way the majority of American high school girls act in the first place. The watchdogs only start bitching when a goddamn CELL-PHONE GAME is released?

As a high school student, I can say that the scenario presented sounds 100% realistic.

"with the express objective being to “lie, bitch and flirt your way to the top of the high school ladder.”"

Sounds like art imitating real life actually.

doing something in a game != doing something in real life

IN FACT you do things in games precisely because you can't (physcially, morally, ethically, whatever) do it in real life

For argument's sake, let's say you DO get better at shooting in a game... you still will not (morally, ethically, etc) do it in real life.

I do like that article a bit back where the guy talks about how veterans didn't come back and become murders and thieves, but the Greatest Generation.

I didn't think cellphone games had ever caught on anywhere.

@kurisu7885

About Barbie, not anymore. I still watch cartoons, to tell the truth, and I see a lot of commercials for Barbie. She's basically a whore now. Though on the subject of dolls, Bratz are worse, in my opinion.

So this is like Bratz, but with girls that are more age-appropriate for the activities. Seanbaby called Bratz a game where pre-teen kids are doing slutty stereotypical things, so I can't see how this is any worse.

And according to Seanbaby, the male version would be "Dudez: Tractor Yeah" where boys do manly things like drive cars, vote and do math.

Has anyone here ever been influenced in a negative way by a cell phone game? Not me.

Sounds like a crappy game that will only sell because its marketting makes it sound controversial... oh well...

The main thing is this, if this is what schools are ( and they are from my experience) then how about we ban schools which create this behavior in real life and can't even teach kids to tell what is real and what is a game as well as the ability to see lessons in a story...

hey you are the ones that think your children are too dumb to figure these things out... sounds like you have bigger problems than a game higlighting them for all to see...oh wait that is the problem isn't it...you don't care as long as it isn't shoved in your face...

@Generic

I doubt anyone has ever been influenced negatively by a game at all...

agression isn't a negative thing...
increase had idea coordination as well as better perception probably aren't negative things either...

The funny thing is that all the complainants entirely miss HOW this game and GTA are related (however nebulously). Both games let you do stupid or "evil" things and force you to face the consequences. Of course, while GTA has somewhat realistic consequences, this game sounds like it's playing up on the ridiculousness of the social games and consequeces prevalent in high school with all its cliques and us-them divisions.

(by complainants, I meant the game's detractors, not the articles')

If this game encourages teenage girls to become drug taking, anorexic, gossipy sluts... how is it different from a vast majority of the things that are influencing teenage girls already?

Honestly, I agree that games shouldn't encourage that.. but neither should the music industry, movie industry, toy industry, fashion industry...

Honestly, the sort of behavior all sorts of media is promoting in young girls is appalling, this is just another one on the list if it is.

Damn lack of an edit button...

I can see how the creators probably see it as tongue in cheek, but I can also see why some people worry that kids will just lump it in with all the other media which influences them to become drug taking whores.

Okay, now how come nobody complained about that God awful Bratz movie?

[...] Videogame teaches teen girls to slither up social ladder [Canada.com via GamePolitics] [...]

Are the cell phones in Australia any good? If they aren't, there isn't anything to worry about.

"Are the cell phones in Australia any good? If they aren’t, there isn’t anything to worry about."

Quoted for truth. Though cell phone game sales pump pretty high, I'd dare a guess that the population looking for (and finding) and substantial experience on the level of a GTA is not going to find it in a game for cellphones.

To bad it's a cellphone game. I could not care less about those. Otherwise I might just play that.

Bully was a similar attempt at this kind of thing, but instead of being the coolest girl in school, it was being the biggest bully...or something like that. I forgot the story but it was decent.

But to be honest, this is high school. I know some people who are still in high school, and a lot of this is in there. Parties, gossip, stuff like that. It's a shame people don't try and stop most of this, but its become so attached with RL that it's hard to severe any ties with any of that stuff. It's sad really...

Oookay then......

I'm not touching this with a 10 foot pole.

I can't believe they made another Bratz game.

Sounds like a game based on "Mean Girls".

@ Finaleve

Uh, no, Bully had you basically standing up AGAINST all the bullies. However, the means available of doing this being much the same as their tactics is intended to make a point.

@Coravin

Fight fire with fire.

How come this only happens when a video game comes out...I could think of 2 movies off the top of my head that could get the same coverage as this game... 1 Heathers and 2 Mean Girls...

sat·ire

1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
3. a literary genre comprising such compositions.


death
n.

1. The act of dying; termination of life.
2. The state of being dead.

la·ment

1. to feel or express sorrow or regret for: to lament his absence.
2. to mourn for or over.
–verb (used without object)
3. to feel, show, or express grief, sorrow, or regret.
4. to mourn deeply.
–noun
5. an expression of grief or sorrow.
6. a formal expression of sorrow or mourning, esp. in verse or song; an elegy or dirge.



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has society become stupid to the point where we have lost our sense of humour?

I think these groups get most upset when games imitate life like this, even in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. It's rather uncomfortable for them to realise that the real world doesn't quite match the pretty rose-coloured perception that they've been nursing. Unfortunately, their solution always seems to be to try and ban it. Way to make it 100 times more popular among the target demographic!

I can laugh, I will laugh, I am laughing.

I think its silly to complain about a mobile game. At most, this sounds like a lil text game that requires them to act out real life scenarios to become an utter bitch.
High school has been like this for quite some time, and I highly doubt you can blame how women have no actual role model on a game. Their current role models are whores like Paris Hilton, Tara Reid, Lindsay Lohan, and whatever other whore you can think of.
The fact is, they are bred to think like this at a younger age by bratz dolls, and Barbie has had to go to that route because Bratz looks "cooler" to the young girls.


Coolest Girl in School lets players live out their high school fantasies. Experiment with fashion! Experiment with drugs! Experiment with your sexuality! Cut class! Spread rumors! But try to avoid dying of embarrassment- literally!


I don't see what all the furor is. Sounds like everyday high school to me.

----
Papa Midnight

 
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