Rockstar Games appears to have started editing out transphobic content in its re-release of Grand Theft Auto V, which dropped in March.
Not only have transphobic caricatures been disabled, but harmful dialogue options have also been removed from the game.
On 18 April, OutMakingGames (a UK-based collective of LGBTQIA+ game industry professionals) confirmed on Twitter that Rockstar had taken action.
The collective tweeted on Monday: “Last year we wrote an open letter to @Rockstar, calling on them to remove transphobic content from GTA 5’s next gen release. We’re thrilled to say that they have. Thank you to everyone at Rockstar who prioritised this issue.”
Game changes were first noticed by Reddit user JayProspero, who pointed out that the game’s Captain Spaceboy action figure – found on the wall in an in-game arcade – no longer had the words ‘interchangeable genitalia’ written on its box.
In 2013’s original GTA V, the action figure was clad in a bright pink outfit, but now wears more muted get-up and the toy’s feature has been changed to ‘posable vomit direction’.
Elsewhere, a twitter thread from Kirsty Cloud, an administrator for a Grand Theft Auto community site, highlighted the fact that ‘drag queens’ no longer spawned outside Cockatoos, an in-game nightclub.
She added: “The models still exist in Director Mode at the moment, but their dialogue options have been removed (presumably this means protagonist dialogue lines to these NPCs about using hormones etc are therefore unused now too).”
In September 2021, OutMakingGames published an open letter to Rockstar, calling on the developer to rethink transphobic game elements.
The collective highlighted the transphobic jokes within the game and said GTA V leans on harmful stereotyping.
OutMakingGames wrote: “The game appears to purposefully play into extremely harmful stereotypes of trans and gender diverse people to encourage players to be repulsed by them and even to relish hurting and killing them.”
The statement continued: “Given the cultural impact GTA 5 has around the world, Rockstar has a social responsibility to your players (many of whom may be LGBTQ+), to your staff and to the world at large to not promote violence against trans and gender diverse people.”