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    Nov 3rd, 2010 at 14:47:43     -    Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (Arcade)

    So, this is my final log. I had sat down last night to play this game around midnight. I had thought about what we had discussed earlier in class. How that we should play this game at different times so that we can guarantee that we are in a clear mindset and might notice something different, and I will be honest, I have notice a few different things this time around when I sat down to play.
    One thing I had noticed had to do with the concept of our “sign” conversation, the fact that different signs that have been set as a standard in most games to give clues to the player on how to advanced. See, the thing is, most things that I would considered to be “red”, I would consider them to be bad, something that can possibly hurt you, something that should be avoided as much as possible. And something that I had noticed is that in order to start the mission, the portal that you step in is red. Don't get me wrong, I'm probably looking at this way too deep, but go humor me for a moment. Lets face it, all the missions in GTA, will say for simplicity, are fairly violent. Beating up drug gangs, killing gangs that are on trains because they had set you up, etc... In other words, they would be what most people consider bad things. Maybe Rockstar was giving the connotation to for warn the player, especially the players who are minors, that they are going to do something “bad”. Of course, in order to unlock more in the game, the player needs to complete the missions, but there are so many different things that you can do in this game that are not necessarily bad, and not the missions. I knew quite a few people that when this game first came out, didn't exactly focus on the storyline, but rather just messed around. It's possible that this is the reason that Rockstar implemented cheats in this game, to give the player the ability to enjoy all the weapons and invincibility, while at the same time being able to avoid the campaign. Maybe that is a stretch. Maybe it's because red is the easiest to see. However, throughout missions if you need to go to certain spots to unlock more cut scenes and make the objective of the mission more clear, each spot is designated by that same red portal, that same concept that this is going to be “bad.” It was just a small observation, and maybe I'm looking way too much into it, but something I think that should be at least considered.
    Another thing that I had noticed, while going to continue a few missions, is the spray tags. I had totally forgotten that you do a few in one of the first few missions, but there are actually 100 scattered throughout the map. Of course, these are not required, but they do unlock something if you reach all 100 (forgot what it is) and you do earn respect as well. Again, it's this concept in doing something that is essentially illegal in order to unlock new things. I decided to purposely wait until a cop car drove by while stood at one that was near a street. And when I saw one drive by, I painted the wall, clear in site, and I didn't even get one star. Of course, maybe it was a programming fault that it didn't register as being known, but again, it possibly shows even more in depth the corruptness of the LAPD.
    I also had decided to do a few more missions as well. There were a couple missions that I found quite interesting. The one was with the main character's brother, Sweet. He is in trouble when he goes to pick up his girlfriend and gets ambushed by gangs, so you need to go out and help him. Of course, you have the typical choice of killing people in order to move on, but this time factor that these people are actually shooting back at you, so you need to defend yourself. Aside from that, the concept of family comes into play here. Carl is sacrificing himself in order to help out his brother, risking his life essentially. Or as the famous phrase goes, having his brother's “back”. I believe that what Rockstar is trying to show here that although Sweet may be Carl's brother, if Big Smoke or Ryder were the person involved, he would do the same for them. Family is very key in this game. I believe Rockstar is trying to display that your family goes outside of just the members that are by marriage or by blood. It's showing the fact your gang is also your family.
    While doing these missions, or going to Sweet's and/or Ryder's house in order to start them, I also had noticed that more and more people are walking around the area in green. I found this interesting, because in order to gain respect and have more people gain trust in the Grove gang, I had to essentially do all of these missions that involved the killing of other minorities.
    Also, I had started doing more of Big Smoke's mission (coincidentally labeled BS) and after doing the first few, we start to see officer Tenpenny more since the start of the game. He seems to always have been leaving Smoke's house right as you get there. It isn't exactly clear and Smoke never really tells you, and unfortunately, I do not remember why they end up going there. Smoke covers it up that there just poking their nose in everybody's business. What I find interesting about Smoke's missions is that almost every mission that I played, according to smoke, I'm “going to get into some real deep shit.”. It's interesting that this is coming from a person who earlier in the game actually references the bible but yea goes around shooting people off of trains and killing people in a mall. It's possible that this is the so called “friend” that goes a little too far. I remember he ends up dying, but unfortunately I do not remember why. Again, you're in this backing up your homies situation where if you don't go through with this, you'll lose a ton of respect, but if you do, you can end up in some real deep shit.
    In this last session, I had noticed that Rockstar does give hints that this game is extremely violent and essentially very bad for minors and tries to give them the option to elude away to do other things which I would still consider bad, but maybe not as bad and of course, that the missions never seem to change. You simply kill enemy gangs, just it seems to be for different reasons each time.

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    Oct 30th, 2010 at 22:26:37     -    Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (Arcade)

    In my next sitting of San Andreas, the mood was quite different. I had explained to someone about my assignment currently and it turned out that he had never played the game before, not even a single Grand Theft Auto. I had decided that this would be a better time than any to show him the twists of the game. This time, I picked up from where I had saved, so pretty much everything was available to me so I could show him everything.
    Shockingly enough, I still remembered some of the cheats to get certain weapons. And it is interesting that Rockstar allowed game. It is possible that they even though that it's extremely difficult to complete the game legit without cutting a few corners. I guess one could argue that there is a hint of ethical egoism in the fact of using cheats and utilitarianism. I get the most happiness from using cheats and it does benefit me.
    Aside from that, I decided to show my friend exactly how free you were to do different things in this game. I decided with the classics on how I can just go around and shoot people and run them over. What I found interesting, is that running over people, even if I do it in front of a car, gave me absolutely no stars, but when I got out, the very first person I shot, I got a star. It's a little hyprocritical, and honestly, shows the flaws of the police, especially the LAPD. However, it is possible that Rockstar was trying to show that the LAPD just simply remains oblivious for their own well being and trying to show a little how it really is in those neighborhoods.
    When I paused the game to explain something to my friend, I had noticed the colors, and I forgot that even after the mission, you were allowed to take over other gang's territories. I didn't remember the exact process, so I decided to explore this with my friend and explain this to him. When we had entered an area, it did dawn on me, that I had to trigger a war with the gang who's territory that I was in and then I would have to defeat waves of the gang that would attack and eventually would claim the area. It is interesting that I need to initially kill a certain amount of people to start this war. I essentially don't have a choice at this point for if I don't claim the territory, they will attack my territory and the more territory that I lose, the more respect I lose from my neighborhood and with that, the less back up I will get from my gang if I were ever to get into one of these territorial wars. I understand that this game if fake and all, but essentially, although Rockstar might be stereotyping slightly, that it is probably how it works for the most part in that area. Of course, I would never have any idea, and maybe Rockstar is doing that partially for entertainment purposes, but I will probably never now.
    After showing my friend a few of these gang wars (I was able to pretty much obliterate since I had all the weapons that I needed through cheats), I decided to show my friend another feature that I used to enjoy a lot. I first needed to get a cop car, so that would automatically get me at least one star, but just being a good person for a little while makes those go away, which brings up another interesting point. Simply not causing anymore trouble after getting a few stars or losing sight of the police, you simply are off the hook, almost as if they were too lazy to chase you. Again, probably another fault of the LAPD and although it might a little exaggerated, I'm sure there is some partial truth in this concept. Aside from that, after finding a cop car, an interesting feature is essentially you can be a cop. You can chase down cars and if you manage to blow the car up, with the “criminal” in it, not only do you not get stars, you also get rewarded. Essentially, you're player can forge being a police officer. Originally, I had thought of nothing of this for only I was just an early teenager when I was playing this game, but now that I think about it, it's a pretty bold statement on Rockstar's part. I mean, in my opinion, the more broader message is that it's saying that anyone can be a cop, but who knows. It's possibly showing, in a somewhat of an extreme fashion, that the LAPD doesn't really care how long criminals are taken care of, as long as they are. I've never been to Los Angeles, and more than likely never will, so I do have to rely at least a little on Rockstar's interpretation. But also, I need to factor in that Rockstar needs to make a game that is entertaining and offers a lot of features, so maybe Rockstar is just spinning the truth in order to remain entertaining, I'm not 100% sure.
    After, I had decided to complete a few more missions and I found one fairly intriguing. I had to hunt down the enemy Ballas to again do them a lesson. Essentially, do a drive by on them. Again, you are left with this choices. If I do not kill these people, who I like to point out at this point were doing pretty much next to nothing, I will fail the mission. Again, I would argue that this is a very common theme throughout the entire game, a sense of choice of doing what most would consider “bad” to do essentially what is considered good in this game.
    Another major point that I took away in from this session is how you play the game depends on the scenario that you play it in. If one were to play this game with friends or someone, like in my context, doesn't play the game, you like to just mess around in the game and simply do whatever. However, when you are usually playing by yourself one tends to play usually by the main storyline and of course once awhile likes to mess around, but usually will stick to the campaign. At least this is true in my case and I feel that is true most likely in quite a few other cases. Also, as described earlier, cheats do change the game and illustrate the concepts of utilitarianism and ethical egoism. I mean, is it right to use cheats in a game, despite the different scenarios?

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    Oct 27th, 2010 at 15:50:02     -    Grand Theft Auto San Andreas (Arcade)

    It has been almost 4 years since I've touched San Andreas. I still remember when I was really into it when I was younger. I had always been about trying to complete all the missions, get all the extras, and do the main part of the game, with of course occasionally having a little fun with all the different stuff you can do. Considering how long it had been since I had played this game last, I had decided to start this game simply by playing the missions straight through and refresh my memory of the general feeling of this game.
    At the start of the game, right away I am framed by corrupt cops for a crime that I did not even commit so they pretty much have me to do as they please. Along with this, I discover that I return to find out how my character's mom was killed and meet all of my “bros” and “homies”. I am introduced to my brother but I am not welcome back to my character's old neighborhood at first. You learn about your brother Sweet and how you don't have the best relationship at this point. You also have smoke who is for the most part on your side as well.
    You're also explained how you're old home is used for a save point at this point of the game. After learning what I've learned, I'd give this a general sign of video games. How you're home, or base in other games, is like your safe haven and where you are able to sleep, and save your progress. You're also introduced to Ryder, a smoker and another one who is on your side, aside from Smoke (who I think is the most hilarious character). Overall, you're not very well respected as of right now in your area since you've ran away. In what I would consider the first real mission we need to take out a pizza joint and take out the owner. Right off the bat, you are given a choice. Similar to how we had discussed in GOW3 with Kratos, the only way to move on through the storyline in this game is to kill a person who was cleaning the graffiti off of walls to keep his place clean. A little Ethical Egoism is in there with a hint of Utilitarianism. By killing this man, you gain respect from your homies, and if you don't, not only can you not move on in the game, you lose respect as well. So of course, I had to do what I had to do, which brings me to another point. In GTAIII, if I remember correctly, all missions from the get co was simply cash. Now, in the first mission and I believe the next one to come, you earn more respect.
    With this, I feel it is a little stereotyped in the black neighborhoods, how you need to earn respect to make sure you are safe in your area and in order to do that, need to kill people, etc... The next mission, in my opinion, is even more stereotypical, how I need to spray paint some of our walls to make this neighborhood again “ours” and to get it away from one of the main antagonists of this game known as the Ballas, who are for the most part Mexican, surprise surprise another minority.
    In the next major part of the game, you learn how the hood is getting “messed up” by the fact cocaine has been sold to your people and you need to stop them and “clean up” the hood and, not surprisingly, the only way to do this is to take out the Ballas who have been making the crack. Again, this game is showing the stereotype of drugs and having to kill people and again leaves the player the choice of killing the Ballas to move on in the game and develop more of the plot, along with getting more respect, or not being able to and essentially you get killed and fail the mission. In other words, to do what is considered “good” in this game, you have to do what most would consider “evil”. Of course, most would find this offensive, however, it gives the player a sense of what truly is going on in these types of neighborhoods, specifically in LA. Although this is stereotyped for the most part, I am a firm believe that stereotypes exist because 75% of the time they are true and accurate.
    In the next mission, they waste no time by going on to another major stereotype in these types of neighborhoods. However, they decide to show a little humor in this next stereotype by showing how blacks love fried chicken and how certain ones can eat a ton of it, even in certain situations. However, in the midst of their feast they get interrupted by a drive by by the Ballas and you of course are driving at this point and need to help Ryder and Sweet take them out, and of course if you drive away, you get yelled at to go back and possibly fail the mission. Again, left with that choice. Seems to be a common scenario in these first few missions, and unfortunately, I do not remember if that is the case throughout the rest of the game, but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't.
    So after this mission is where I ended my first GTASA session. And overall, there is a lot of stereotyping in these first few missions, but in my opinion, accurately depicts what goes on in essentially what I would call the ghetto. Family is important among this group along with respect that one needs to earn amongst his “bros” and “homies”, and you do that through doing these missions, in which for the most part I, along with others, would consider evil. I know that it is fake in this game, but these are events that happen in real life in these poor areas amongst different minorities. Rockstar, I believe, tries to show this in their game and does a fairly good job, except for a few unrealistic aspects, such as the fact that the cops simply ignore you as you are shooting at a car, but then again, it is possible that they are so corrupt that they don't want to even get involved. There are many different interpretations that can be taken at this game. My interpretation is that it can inform someone of what truly goes on through what essentially is entertaining, but does contain a deeper message.

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