I discovered a book, Porn & Pong : How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture, in the library that sparked my interest in sex in GTA, so I read what it had to say and explored the sexual opportunities within GTA 5.
Prostitutes have been available for players to consult in GTA since the 2001 release of Grand Theft Auto III. In this version, some controller vibration, car movement, and squeaking sounds were the only indicators of sexual intercourse between the player and prostitute. This changed with the release of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas in 2004. While the encounters with prostitutes remained the same, a modifier called Hot Coffee became available for PC where the player character’s girlfriend invites him in for coffee, strips naked, performs oral sex on his invisible phallus, and has sex with CJ (playable character) on her bed. The girlfriend does not have any nipples, and CJ remains clothed the entire time, even while pumping during intercourse. The rhythm of intercourse could be controlled via joystick, and the CJ’s energy bar increased with steady rhythm. This mini game was also available in PS2 and Xbox game versions, though Rockstar Games originally tried to claim it was the work of hackers and mods (Brown 135).
Female sex workers remain a part of GTA today, and make up a large portion (perhaps most) of the female characters the player comes into contact with. The sexual encounters are more explicit than regular in game sex in the 2001 version, and combine some elements from the Hot Coffee mini game but is not quite as explicit.
In GTA 5 players can visit a strip club and receive a lap dance from a female stripper. During the lap dance the female is topless and has animated nipples. The player can touch the stripper as she dances. The player can also take the stripper to her home and have sex with her after receiving a lap dance. None of the intercourse is portrayed, players enter the home of the stripper as the camera stays at street view. Some sound effects play as the night turns to day and then the player exits the home.
Another opportunity for sexual encounter comes from picking up a prostitute on the street. After driving to a private location the player can select three sexual favors (unlabeled but presumably oral, vaginal, and anal sex) each a different cost. While these are performed the prostitute and player remain clothed. No breasts, genitals, or skin not already shown by the clothing the characters wear are shown. The prostate moves on top of the player character in a suggestive way, but that’s it.
So, why add this mechanic in the first place? It clearly caters to a male audience, and I suppose adds to the immersion of the game. I find it interesting that Rockstar in 2001 covered up the sex mini game rather than just deleting it entirely. Their argument seems to be that burying it under code is easier than deleting entirely when you’re dealing with all the code it requires to write a video game. However, it seems suspicious and something as vulgar as the Hot Coffee mini game should be treated with care. To me it sounds more like an easter egg that was poorly received (not by all, though, but mostly by game distributors.)
While I don’t think having female prostitutes available in game is inherently bad, I believe it becomes problematic when in the larger context of a video game that celebrates masculinity in rather grotesque ways and ignores and denies narratives of complex female characters. While GTA5 is undoubtedly better than GTA3 (with characters like Molly Schulz, a female business VP), there’s still a ways to go.
Brown, James. Porn & Pong : How Grand Theft Auto, Tomb Raider and other Sexy Games Changed Our Culture. Port Townsend, US: Feral House, 2008. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 13 December 2016.