May 7, 2008

GTA 4: in defense of playing against type

Of course, I was one of the folks who plunked down a few ducats for the breaking distribution of Grand Theft Auto IV:
Leave it to the late night talk show hosts and media gossip blogs to note the gorilla in Hollywood's room. Call me a Yuppie, but I do in fact like to play against the assumptions of a good video game. I used to do this back in the day with the ancient Apple TANK game, where I would simply evade the hooded monsters and see how many I could trail behind me in pursuit. There is something interesting in bending the programmed assumptions toward an undesigned objective. Maybe there is a link to how I like to displace the authority of the brush as a tool in painting?

Maybe not.

I haven't logged enough hours into playing GTA 4 yet to say that I've exhausted the game by any means (and I don't think I ever will), but I do like to take the character of Niko Bellic and try to stride the streets of Liberty City looking for good deeds and avoid the dark side. I try to be a good citizen but nearly everyone I bump into in this game are quick to give me sh-t and tempt the dark response.

A friend told me recently of how one can in fact jack an ambulance and ride the virtual street responding to 9-11 calls. Cool! In what I hope is an anticipation of what is to come, it seems the designers of GTA 4 have indeed structured a small feature of what I hope will become a larger part of the future of video games: where you can interact with a virtual environment to the degree that one can go to the good or the bad side of the game. Just like life itself.

Meanwhile, I have yet to discover the location of any one the famed virtual nightspots where Niko can get down and dirty. Now that'll be a test of my virtual virtue.

Call it diligent research in cultural literacy.

Posted by Dennis at May 7, 2008 2:35 PM

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