nguida's Grand Theft Auto - San Andreas (PS2)
| [October 6, 2008 03:21:32 AM]
| During my third session of playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, I admired the many ways in which the game creators attempted to "mirror" the real world in a game.|
The city of San Andreas is, of course, supposed to be Los Angeles (complete with hazey smog and everything). In fact, nearly every aspect of the game world strives to mirror reality. The NPC characters exist and act on their own, as if the game world were a real place inhabited by individuals. There are countless parodies of real-world establishments, people, and places. Even social issues we face in real life are present in this game; Players are likely to notice the very visible difference between the blighted black neighborhood CJ calls home, with its run-down buildings and unkempt plant growth, and the much more affluent downtown areas which have nice streets and impressive architecture. In fact, I think that you'll actually see more Caucasian/White NPCs roaming the streets in comparison to CJ's neighborhood where the NPCs are all African American. If you think about it, that in itself is an incredible social commentary to find within a game--a form of media all too many people often dismiss as being just entertainment with little other value.
I think a game like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, with its heavy usage violence and stereotypes in race and gender, is in many ways best understood as a satire of our society, and in some ways as a social commentary. The places, people, events, music, and advertising in the game are all parodies of real things in our society. The violence, stereotypes, and decisions the player encounters in the game are dramatic and over-the-top, and yet they all exist in some capacity in the real world. There are people in this world similar to CJ who have similar stories and come from similar underpriviledged backgrounds.
In San Andreas' world, we see people like CJ who are trapped by the violence and poverty that surrounds them. For these people, getting in trouble with the law is inevitable, and police officers are vulture-like enemies, not helpful protectors. In this world of inevitable crime, there doesn't seem to be much concern for what we would consider ethical behavior, and yet there are rules of respect and of familial ties which in some way function as an ethical framework within the context of this world.
While most every aspect of San Andreas is exaggerated and over-the-top, there is some element of truth to the game world we're presented with. In this way the game is satirical, introspective commentary on our society.
This entry has been edited 2 times. It was last edited on Oct 6th, 2008 at 03:25:01.
add a comment
| [October 6, 2008 02:47:13 AM]
| During my second game session I continued on with playing the main storyline--something that is optional in an "open world"/"sandbox style" game like Grand Theft Auto.|
What I thought was interesting was that all of the missions (at least the ones I played through) had you ultimately getting involved in some sort of illegal activity. Even a trip to the cemetary to see CJ's mother's grave ends in you stealing a bike to escape a drive-by shooting. I had a very difficult time with this first mission. I really struggled with the controls and would end up getting killed or not being able to keep up with the other people on bikes.
I also noticed that it was very difficult to stay out of trouble while driving cars. The vehicles were difficult to control and really lended themselves more towards the kind of gameplay you might expect in a GTA game (driving at high speeds, running over pedestrians, driving onto sidewalks, etc). Driving at a reasonable speed or obeying other traffic laws was very difficult to do, to the point of boredom or frustration. Actually, the very first time I got to drive a car in the story mode, a large group of people walked directly in front of the car as soon as I took control. I'm not sure if this was just chance, or if the game was actually trying to temp me to run the pedestrians over!
The pattern that I was seeing here was that breaking laws and getting into trouble was almost inevitable. Even if you followed the game's own story mode, you were thrown into situations where you had to break the law. It seemed that in this way the game's ever-present law enforcement becomes viewed as an enemy by the player--someone who watches and waits for a reason to come after the player instead of someone who is there to protect them. I felt like with this view of law enforcement and inevibility of breaking the law, that perhaps the game's creators were making a social statement with this aspect of the game. Are they trying to convey how impoverished African American communities view law enforcement?
read comments (1) -
add a comment
| [October 6, 2008 02:24:41 AM]
| While this session was my first time playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, it was not my first time playing a GTA title, so I had some knowledge of what to expect in terms of themes and gameplay experience.|
I started a new game, letting the opening cinematics play out so I could get a sense for the story. The game introduces your character, CJ, an African American man who has run into trouble with the law in his past, but is now moving back home to San Andreas to bury his recently murdered mother. Shortly after arriving in San Andreas, some crooked cops flag CJ down, take his money, and leave him stranded in a bad neighborhood. I thought it was interesting that the game's narrative clearly was going out of its way to establish the main character as a "good" guy and show how the corruption of the police and establish them as the enemy.
Also interesting is that the moment the player is first given control of CJ after the opening cinematic, they are immediately presented with the option to steal. The player can choose to steal an unattended bike in order to quickly escape from rival gang territory. I thought this dilemma of whether or not to steal the bike seemed reminiscent of some of the things that we talked about in class; While many of the ethical frameworks we've studied believe in an absolute ethical truth (such that stealing is never okay), other ethical frameworks suggest that there are conditional factors which affect what is right and wrong. In this case, the fact that CJ's life is in danger and he needs to get out of a bad area quickly might affect what one considers right or wrong.
Finally, I noticed that the player has a "Respect" meter in this game. I felt that this shows that the game does have some ranking system of your behavior. What you do to rank up on this system may not be the behavior that what we in the real world would value or view as ethical by any means, but I think the fact that there is something that monitors and ranks your behavior says a lot about the depth of the game; It is not about mindless violence and crime. There is instead a story and a value system driving your actions.
This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Oct 6th, 2008 at 02:51:30.
read comments (1) -
add a comment