tonym's Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas (PC)
| [October 6, 2008 01:24:21 PM]
| Instance number3:|
This was the 3rd and last time I played GTA: San Andreas for this assignemnt (and overal too). The unrealistic nature of this game in addition to the annoying controls made it frustrating to play and not at all enjoyable.
After completing the mission where I had to give CJ a haircut I moved on to the next one. Now, my goal is to spray over some gratifies other gangs had created; respect is sounded a couple of times while watching the cut scenes.
The laws of GTA are primitive. The authorities play absolutely no role in the well being of this society. "Control" is defined by the gang members and is gained by the use of guns and violence. The only thing that is stopping CJ from stealing cars and driving over people is armed men who, although, are not part of the law enforcement. Relating all this to the material of this class I could say that the gang members are not following the principles of the social contract theory.
The idea of the Social Contract derives from the fact that people have to give up certain rights to a centralized government in order to preserve the well being and the order in their society. The way CJ and his friends act has nothing to do with that. Their choices are affected by their instincts. Survival and control of an area are feelings that human beings share with many members of the animal kingdom. The more civilized a person is the more he or she gives up these feelings for reason and rationality. The GTA: San Andreas society is far from being civilized. Although most of the surroundings (high buildings, bridges, parks) give us the idea of a rich society the acts of the people do not comply with it.
While walking in the streets of the city I saw men hitting police officers for no reason, gunmen shooting pedestrians for fun and policemen acting violently in remote places against unarmed civilians. I understand that such instances may be part of the every day events in the United States but a city where all this happens in every corner in every street would never be able to keep its residents for too long. This is because even gang members and armed men need quiet people and families that mind their own business in order to benefit from them. But in the real world, don't expect any family or peaceful civilians to stay in a city like this for too long. So, are GTA series a representation of the American way of life?
I spent around 4 hours playing the game and I understand that many aspects of it are influenced by real live events and experiences; but the city of Los Altos is more like a caricature of some parts of the American society and not a realistic representation of it.
Finishing this report I come the conclusion that the society of GTA follows no ethical lines that my mid would understand as reasonable and realistic. This is why games like this have to treated as only what they are. A way of passing your time and not a way of being better in real life.
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| [October 5, 2008 08:25:30 PM]
| Second instance:|
So 5 hours later I decide to take a deep breath and make my second attempt into the world of GTA: San Andreas. This time I managed to get away from the gunmen chasing me and finally made into the next mission. I have to admit that I didn't progress too much in this mission as I think my gaming skills are really low in this game. This is mostly because I have difficulties controlling the vehicles I have to drive and also find my way in the streets of the city. This doesn't mean that I didn't have the chance to explore the ethical choices of CJ
It seems that he decides to stay in the city and help his "homies" in their battle against other "families" as they are called in the game. His motives are still unclear. Is he doing it because he wants revenge for his mother's death? Is he doing it for his friends or is this just his own desire to be respected in the neighborhood he grew up?
The word "respect" appears quite often in the game and it seems to have a great impact on the characters. In the previous mission CJ is advised to change his clothes to obtain more respect. After the haircut at the barber's shop his friend mocks him about it and tells him he is not going to be respected like that. In this game then, one of CJ's goals is to be respected. What is he ethically allowed or forbidden to do in order to reach that point?
There were moments in the game where I had to walk a great distance in order to transfer at a point in the "map". I had the choice of walking (thus, spending more time) or hijacking a car (thus getting there faster). Of course in this situation the "ethical dilemma" is mine and not as much of the character's, but what has to be noted is the fact that when you do something immoral in the game (like stealing a car) there are no consequences for you if you manage to get away at the moment.
I believe this can apply to one's everyday life too. Not because any of us is presented with the dilemma of whether to steal a car or not everyday, but because we are often in a situation where doing something immoral will serve as better. In that case, if the ethical part of ourselves doesn't really care, reason tells us, that as soon as we don't get caught we did the right thing. This means the only thing that might hold us from doing something that will bother another person would be the fear for the consequences. If there aren't any, then our decision was correct. This way of acting would be totally opposite with the idea of Kantianism. In Kantianism if the universalization of the maxim leads to a logical contradiction then the act is the wrong thing to do. But is this the case in the game?
CJ's motives in the game appear to be purely defensive. Right from the begging he states that he wants to help his friends protect themselves from their enemies. In a world of violence this means that CJ would do anything, moral or immoral to achieve his goal. It seems that the means justify the ends. So apparently our main character (and thus us, the players) in this game follows the principles of act-utilitarianism.
When he steals a car the only thing he cares about is the consequences of his act to deliver the greatest good. In his scale of what's good and what's not, himself is the highest ranked and his friends and family after that. Everyone else in the games has no impact to what CJ thinks that has to benefitted from him.
As I will proceed to my 3rd session of the game I am sure I will be presented with more ethical decisions that our protagonist has to make. That will help me understand more of what are his moral values and whether they are only based on the instinct of surviving or reason is part of them too.
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| [October 5, 2008 01:30:37 PM]
| Instance number 1 :|
Having "abandoned" games a long time ago for other pleasures in life, I knew that this assignment would bring back memories. Finding the game was my first obstacle as the only console I own is a Playstation 3 and GTA: San Andreas is only available for Playstation 2, so I had to find a PC version. Finally, today, after 3 days of looking I found someone that was able to lend me a copy of the game for a day.
Right from the installation screen this game lets you know what is coming. Scenes from notorious neighborhoods, policemen and gang members follow each other in the various comic-like pictures on the setup screen. After the installation was complete I was already curious to see what's so good about this game that everybody talks about on every new version but I have never played any of them.
The main character, "Carl", is an African-American that returns to his home city after and absence of 5 years. The reason he is back is the death of his mother. As he leaves the airport in a taxi, the vehicle gets pulled over by a police car. Although there is no apparent reason why, Carl is handcuffed and taken into the Police car. Before he gets in though the senior officer removes a pack of money from his pockets. From the dialog between our main character and the police officer one could understand that this was about a corrupt group of policemen.
After Carl's forced exit form the police vehicle the player interaction begins. Now I had more time to observe the neighborhood and its characters.
Most of the people were African-Americans and Hispanic (I could tell that because of the accent). It looked like a place that I wouldn't want to be in real life. The language used was very strong. For example, because it took me some time to familiarize with the controls in the game, I usually bumped on people; when that happened it was, in the best case, a swearing, and in the worst case a couple of men trying to catch me. But why all African-Americans?
This was the first "ethical" question that came into my mind. Why did the game designers choose to set the game (at least in the beginning) in neighborhoods that all the notorious people were of color? It was not only that though, while riding the bike to get Carl at his house, I also noticed that all caucasian people were well dressed (usually in suites) and would act very scared every time you would approach them. In the beginning I thought this was funny, but why that combination? Was it because the designers wanted to mimic the real world or was it or because stereotypes find their way into games too?
When Carl enter his place, he looks touched and at the same time very nostalgic. Voices from the past are presented through my speakers while, the scene where Carl is slightly touching his dead mother's picture gives the game a sensitive tone. The short dialog with another man and his promise to Carl that they will find who killed his mother, put's revenge in the game too. As I think about it, the writers are giving Carl a motive to keep going as the game progresses. This might not be only it though, they are probably giving me (the player) an excuse for doing whatever I have to do in the game (Steal, fight, kill etc).
As for now, and after 3 attempts I haven't managed to go through the point where I have to avoid the gang-members that are trying to kill me after the cemetery cut-scene. I got killed (or "wasted" as the game wants to refer to it) all 3 times.
That's all for my first impression...
This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Oct 5th, 2008 at 13:47:09.
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