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    Jan 21st, 2009 at 11:24:13     -    Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)

    For my final entry I wanted to address the stereotypes that are prevalent in this game. This time when I played, I focused more on exploring and interacting than completing missions. I tried to pay more attention to the environment and how the characters are portrayed. From the first time that I played, I noticed immediately that the use of stereotypes was extreme and offensive. It was hard to ignore and feel ok about playing the game at first. It just felt wrong to play a game, let alone enjoy it, when such morally objectionable comments and circumstances arose.

    I was very uncomfortable with the use of the “N” word. I cringe when I hear that word, especially when it is directed at someone in a negative way. The cop at the beginning of the game refers to CJ using the “N” word and also calls him “boy”. I also heard a cop say “get out of here, greaseball...stupid Mexican”. I found this very offensive. Though when I observed more interactions, I realized that everyone in the game is a stereotype of some sort, and that every one of them has characteristics that amplify the stereotypes. I started to think that maybe the game designers did this on purpose to get a reaction from the player. It’s possible that they were making a statement about our society by putting all of that out there in one place. Some players might just think it’s funny, but others may realize how ridiculous it can be. In a way the game is a satire of real life. I was able to handle the offensive nature of the game better when I thought of it this way. Some of the stereotypes are so blatant that it’s laughable. But it’s somewhat like a racist joke. Even if it’s true or funny, you don’t want to laugh because it’s wrong. It presents the player with a moral dilemma. It’s strange, but I was a bit relieved that the offensive stereotypes were evenly applied across all characters in the game. Another example of this is that the country music station has commercials talking about having lots of babies and living off the government. I feel like the game designers put it all out there, and let the player apply they’re own moral code.

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    Jan 21st, 2009 at 07:40:19     -    Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)

    I’ve played GTA: San Andreas a few times now since my initial entry. I wanted to further familiarize myself with the game environment. Last night I played for about an hour. I picked up where I left off, and decided to attempt the next few missions. In the first couple of missions, CJ is not directly involved with violent activities, he’s mainly concerned with getting a haircut and a piece of pizza. His friend, Ryder, decided to hold up the pizza restaurant after CJ had ordered. CJ may have had the choice to assist his friend, but instead his main goal was to just get away. So he was still an accessory to the crime as the getaway driver, but had no actual involvement with the violent actions. Does this make him culpable for these actions? Or was he just focusing on self preservation? The next mission requires CJ to vandalize the city by spray painting over rival gang tags. He is more directly involved with criminal behavior this time, and his motivations aren’t necessarily related to self preservation. It led me to ponder whether it is worse if he is actively committing a crime with no urgent outcome. In this case, CJ’s purpose is solely to antagonize other gangs and increase respect and awareness for his.

    The next mission came as the most shocking to me. We learn that CJ’s gang is upset by the prevalence of drugs in their neighborhood, and that the downfall of their territory is mainly due to that. I naively assumed that when a group of people embrace illegal behaviors that they embrace most illegal behaviors. I didn’t quite understand why they would be motivated to discourage drug use. I have a hard time reconciling when a person is bad, why they’d want to do some good things. What moral code justifies killing people to get money or respect, but then discourages drug use? In my attempt to understand this, I consider the possibility that the motives are selfish either way, and that the gang honestly believes that they are contributing to the greater good of their gang and family members. The mission directs CJ to beat up some local crack dealers to discourage their activity and reinstate the gang’s dominance. I was left wondering if it is ok to beat someone or kill them if they are negatively impacting society. Is it for the greater good to eliminate someone that just adds to society’s moral dilemmas? Is it contradictory to commit one crime to prevent another? Kant would likely say no. You ought not kill people or commit crimes, regardless of the outcome. You cannot use someone as a means to an end. You wouldn’t accept murder being ok as a universal rule. However, a Utilitarian may be able to justify these actions. If committing a crime results in a positive outcome such as fewer drug dealers, maybe the action isn’t wrong.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 21st, 2009 at 10:53:29.

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    Jan 19th, 2009 at 19:52:37     -    Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)

    I had my first experience playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for PS2 earlier today. I have actually never played any games in the series, though I was familiar with the basic premise of the games. I admit that before playing I had a negative opinion of the content in Grand Theft Auto. I had heard much about the violence and vulgarity involved in the gameplay, and would not likely have played the game of my own volition. I generally stick to puzzle games and anything involving Mario. Needless to say, I assumed I would be repulsed by the game.

    Starting out we learn the the main character is CJ. He is a young, black male returning to his old stomping grounds after spending five years on the East Coast. His mother has recently been murdered. He alludes to a criminal past, but claims to have “gone straight” now. Right away we also witness an interaction with a corrupt police officer who is framing CJ for shooting another police officer. We also learn from CJ’s friends that his old neighborhood is riddled with crime and rival gangs have taken over control. I was surprised to find myself sympathetic to CJ’s character. I had expected to see a hardened criminal who had no remorse or moral limitations regarding theft, murder, and other crimes. I could sense CJ’s desire to be a law abiding citizen and that he genuinely cares about his friends and family. At the same time, the peer pressure to return to his old ways and seek revenge for his mother’s death was very present.

    For a while, I wondered if there was a way to play the game in a way that wouldn’t be morally objectionable. I thought there might be a way to avoid illegal behaviors and still progress through the game. After playing a couple missions, I definitely think that the game designers allow the player to make some decisions about how morally or immorally they will complete objectives, though it seems easier and more advantageous to choose the latter. One feature I found interesting was that when people on the street engage you in “conversation”, you have the option to respond negatively or positively. I found that sometimes you’re encouraged to provoke people. Your character also has a respect level that rises when you perform illegal actions, which helps you progress through the game. Your wanted level will also rise as you commit crimes, which attracts attention from law enforcement. This can make it more difficult to complete missions. It may motivate the player to commit illegal actions in moderation. You can also beat people up to steal their money or weapons, which is a much more efficient way of building wealth. The only other way I’ve discovered to “earn” money so far is to steal a cab and transport people to their destinations. Overall, it seems that bad behavior is rewarded far more than virtuous behavior.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 19th, 2009 at 19:53:19.

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