alientoaster's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (XBX)
| [October 6, 2008 12:26:16 AM]
| Dear Diary,|
I loaded an old game today so I could try some missions and see the characters again. Some want to protect their own version of the law when the police are powerless (my game was saved during a riot) - they wanted to reclaim their TURF from the BALLAS. While gangs and their activities aren't moral to us, in San Andreas, they are. Though he is in a gang, CJ still protests when the corrupt cops want him to do their immoral dirty work, and he wants to preserve his sister's innocence when she starts dating a guy from the low-rider gang.
Like I wrote last time, there aren't really deep consequences to CJ's gang ativities. Controlling a territory only means other gang members won't spawn there. The police are cartoonishly ineffective. In fact, the entire game is very cartoonish and two-dimensional, at best. The game's morality is as simplified as the characters. With a version of relativism, just how some eat their dead and others burn the bodies, CJ's world is based on a completely different set of streamlined values.
I've compared this to GTA IV's "realistic" aspects before. In GTA IV, everything is portrayed as realistic: The characters are people, the driving is difficult, and the player's actions have more severe consequences. In San Andreas, morals are skewed, because everything is a caricature. CJ is not a person but a character. His gang members are not people with lives; they are props and guns. Rockstar is not claiming this to be an accurate representation of anyone. The characters are just that.
I don't believe it is a racist game. Yes, CJ is black. But the previous two game had white main characters. If San Andreas starred a white man, would there be complaints about the lack of diversity in the series? Did GTA III attack white people somehow? If it did, are white people somehow "fair game"? There is a nerdy white guy who works at a hobby shop and may live with his mom. This is a caricature, not a representation of any one or any group. CJ was invented because he best fit the parody in which he lives. In fact, I think if a white character had been made to fit the same situation, it would have been offensive to both white people and the people who actually do live CJ's life every day.
This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Oct 6th, 2008 at 00:29:16.
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| [October 2, 2008 02:06:58 PM]
| Like the previous time, I spent my "half hour or more" goofing around rather than completing missions.|
I started by taking the sports car from my garage. I'd like to say it was "mine", but the only way to get vehicles in the game is to steal them. There is no way to go to a dealer and buy a car - not that it would last long, and not that your money is legitimate either.
The game is very simplified and, outside the story, very utilitarian. CJ does make some moral decisions or at least raises protest when he feels a mission is wrong. However, in normal play, he does not have many wholesome options. The player can not help an old woman cross the street or donate canned goods to some bums; he can shoot them, blow them up, run them over, or just leave them alone.
In part of the simplification of the world, there are far fewer consequences. Stealing a car out of sight is fine, and it actually doesn't matter to anyone because it will just respawn later. The same is true for people and police - if you kill them, they are anonymous and unlimited in numbers. If you do nothing to them, they cease to exist when you leave the area. From a utilitarian perspective, the end justifies the means. Stealing a car helps the player/ CJ, and it leaves the world virtually unharmed. Having that car enables him to make money, get somewhere fast, or complete a mission. If CJ didn't steal it, the NPC would continue driving to nowhere, getting nothing done.
The citizens of San Andreas have one-dimensional personalities and might have a few lines of audio, but they really don't have lives (even virtually in the game). Letting them live would not help anything. If somehow by following them around for a day, you could watch their life - their family, their job, their hobbies - then killing a pedestrian might have create "negative happiness" in the game. Fortunately for the player, CJ is the only one with a life of any sort. Even his cohorts are only a means to an end - if they die on a mission, the player fails the mission. Outside of missions, the other characters no longer exist.
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| [September 30, 2008 03:19:36 PM]
| I recruit two rocket launcher-wielding paramedics and tell them to stay close. My SPAS finds a target, and I fire off a few shells before climbing into the driver's seat of my flying ambulance. As we take off, I hit the nitrous and tell my crew, "We're getting out of Los Santos."|
I've already finished the game a couple times, and I don't feel like collecting oysters or horseshoes. It was time to screw around in the great state of San Andreas using the tools Rockstar included. I activated a bunch of cheats to make the experience much more interesting for myself. If they are "cheats", how do I justify cheating? In a single-player game with no such thing as "achievements" or awards, the only one I would be cheating is myself. Cheating makes the missions less satisfying, so I choose not to use cheats during them. My cheating does not change the experience for anyone else.
In addition to making cars fly and letting anyone join my gang, I turned on “pedestrian riot.” When the riotous pedestrians interfered with my fun, my gang took them out. When the police shot at me, I responded with whatever weapons I had on-hand. I aimed for the head when I could, but most of the time it was unnecessary. Does that mean I am sadistic? Do I scoff at the Chicago Police Department? Not at all.
I do not think I made any moral decisions in my play because it was just that – play. This is a game in which the only human player you can interact with would be your co-op partner. To treat the virtual police and virtual pedestrians as if they were humans would be ridiculous. I shot at the police rather than turning myself in because that is how the game is played. I shot the pedestrians because they tried to kill my character and steal his vehicle. When I stopped playing the game today, I did not suddenly think it was OK to kill police officers or that ambulances can usually fly. I like to believe that I am a rational human being.
The idea of this "sandbox" game is that I can have all the fun I want in the box, and all the sand is contained. I used it today as a toy or a tool for fun. Rockstar included a lot of fun features, and with some imagination, the player can do whatever he or she wants. Like I showed in my "introduction", I wanted to play the role of a badass, so, using the game's tools, I became one for a little bit. Outside of missions, San Andreas lets you do a lot of fun things that would be considered moral in the real world (like flying an ambulance). In such a situation, I was never forced to kill. I could have accepted my arrest from the police. And of course, no one is ever forced to play the game - that is why it is a game. The power button was always in reach for me, but I chose to indulge in this virtual fun. Even though it is an assignment, someone in this class could easily choose to drive around or climb "Mount Chilliad" for thirty minutes if they can not separate the fake events in the game from reality.
This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Sep 30th, 2008 at 15:42:24.
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