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    jpwilliams's Grand Theft Auto IV (360)

    [October 6, 2008 03:40:24 AM]
    Through my final play of Grand Theft Auto IV, I played a little bit of the online multiplayer, which doesn't exactly apply to the assignment, and a little more of the main game. Being a sandbox oriented game, I can't help but think I would be making more moral/ethical oriented actions in a game such as Second Life, or possibly even a Baldur's Gate or Fallout game. With Baldur's Gate and Fallout, player's actions directly affect relationships with other characters in an important manner, and a player is provoked then to care about their reputation in the world. In Second Life the player's character is even more so an avatar of themselves, and their actions with other people can definitely be equatable to moral, just, socially responsible, friendly, or any other actions we personally might feel.

    Grand Theft Auto doesn't try to go for that idea. It isn't designed to present you with morals in its sandbox style of play. I have heard that later in the game you can actually have relationships with people that a player can make or break, but even so, that's a player's decision of how they want their avatar to act with other characters in the game. The game will go on, nothing really is affected by your actions, and Niko can get in his vehicle and go drive more people over. In Baldur's Gate (in contrast), if you want your character to kill a priest in a big city to get some loot he may have, your character's "world" reputation will go down , everyone in the city will be hostile towards him/her, and the game has dramatically changed due to your actions. The game attempts to make you a good person and do morally good things by having critically game-affecting consequences. THis creates a more of a dynamic experience where the player cares about their actions.

    Grand Theft Auto IV, on the other hand, gives the player no real incentive to morally judge their actions. Sure, through my experiences of running down my fellow civilians in the game I've gained the attention to a lot of policemen, who either arrest or kill me, the game starts up again and I haven't really changed the world at all. I could, for instance, steal a taxi cab and pick up a passenger, where a mini game begins where I can drive them to their location. I could do that. Or, without any moral or reputation effecting dilemmas on my character, ram the car into an on coming semi truck on the highway. I get the satisfaction of experiencing an explosion, game-physics launching Niko through the windshield (awesome!) and injuring, if not killing, my passenger. Now the developers could have made the situation of when I hit the semi very unsatisfying, but they didn't for the very reason that Grand Theft Auto is a game where you are not supposed to be making moral choices. The game is too oriented around entertainment to make room for negative actions taken against the player for immoral activity. Grand Theft Auto IV, though I never made it to the first mission, was an entertaining experience, one with an over-exaggerated society and movie-action violence at my fingertips.
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    [October 5, 2008 11:16:59 PM]
    Having played the game a second time around, I still couldn't get Niko to his first mission site without being distracted. I put in some codes for some weapons and a new vehicle I found online, and that kept me pleasantly occupied. After appreciating the great physics system in how bodies react with the hood of my speeding car awhile, I decided to explore what parts of the city I could and see what the developers decided to include.

    Fortunately for this assignment, I found some stereotypes, besides the one in my previous post, that drew my attention. Hookers, for one, were seen at night, and surprisingly during the day (though that may have just been scantily clad women). Frequently seen hookers on the streets are probably a stereotype,though it hardly mattered, they slammed against the front of my hood the same as the rest of the character models. So the developers put scantily clad women in the game, and I'm sure there was others, but none specifically drew my attention there after (probably because I was just killing everyone). The basis of Grand Theft Auto is a pure exaggeration of society, which is blatantly obvious, so finding stereotypes of gender or ethnicity is like finding water in an ocean.

    Gangsters were in overly decorated vehicles, and generally tried to put up fights when I attempted to apprehend their vehicles for another slaughter. This in itself isn't necessarily a stereotype, just a parody of society. We all know the "look" of someone who considers themselves a gangster, and this game simply throws them in the same act that we see them in movies. So as much criticism Grand Theft Auto gets from media about being bad, it's no worse than other forms of entertainment.

    The ideas of the game having honesty or justice (or any real-life feelings) are also simply manufactured ideas predetermined by the developers. The police will come and hunt you down or take you to jail after you break the law. Though while this is possible to avoid, the game encourages the player to get things done quickly, which requires speeding (and maybe running people over) and to do things there way, which may involve a mission of killing someone. I can't say anything about that in this game, considering I haven't done the first mission yet, but form past experiences of previous Grand Theft Auto games, it seems to be the case.

    So if the game forces a player to kill someone, it doesn't really invoke a sense of reality, or for the matter of this assignment, real feeling. If it was reality, I wouldn't want to drive a speeding truck down a crowded sidewalk. While playing, I'm playing my avatar Niko within the bounds of the code in the game. I have no real care for what my cousin's job has to offer, and I'd rather just play the game my way. Which they could have just renamed the game Grand Auto Slaughter for. And slaughter I will do later tonight, when I write my last entry to find to find some more symbolism and stereotypes of society, and share my experience of the game.
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    [October 5, 2008 06:29:58 PM]
    Having not played Grand Theft Auto IV before, I was delighted to see such a well designed opening cinematic. Helvetica lettering introduced the developers while weaving around a ship getting docked at a New York harbor, or whatever they call it in the game, and finally presents the main character Niko. His cousin finds him leaving the ship and Niko is welcomed into America, presumably as an immigrant. His cousin shows him where he lives, which, to Niko's surprise, is a dump. His cousin had told him before apparently that it was a mansion of sorts, but in reality, a small apartment. This could be a stereotype of immigrants not living in the best conditions in America, as Niko doesn't take this revelation too hard.

    His cousin has to run off to a job, which he suggests Niko to join him at later that day, and soon after the conversation, I'm given control of the character. So the situation presented to my character could give attention to actual situations for immigrants coming to this country, which is working with family or friends that they know in the States. This is one of the primary reasons for segregated living districts in cities, as groups of immigrants stick together that know each other, more of the same backgrounds come to join them. I think that's an appropriate thing to put in the game, as far as Niko being an immigrant, this situation presents itself with being quite plausible.

    So now that I knew my character and his situation, I thought I'd begin what I usually only do in Grand Theft Auto games. The moral question presented with me now, was if I was going to attempt the arduous process of legally getting my way to my new place of work, or go on an unjustified murdering rampage through the city streets.Feeling a little uneasy in the new country, I didn't steal an occupied car, and instead drove off with the nearest parked car near the apartment and followed through with the later for about a half hour. I figured the best way to get my feet wet in the game would be to see how much damage I could cause until getting disciplined. AFter about three dead bodies rolled over my hood, it didn't take long for cops to pin my car down and kill me. Moral lessoned learned! I'll try a different route next time.
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    jpwilliams's Grand Theft Auto IV (360)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Sunday 5 October, 2008

    jpwilliams's opinion and rating for this game

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