Monday 6 October, 2008
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.
Your comment on how CJ is established as a good guy is a good observation. How might this have affect the player? This can have a negative effect, players may feel that bending the rules in certain situations will always be acceptable. For example, harming others to save your own life, which is similar to CJ's situation, although stealing a bike is not nearly as bad as physically harming another individual, but any situations like this if people always do what benefits themselves then whats to stop people from hurting one another to get ahead.
Sunday 12 October, 2008 by mtisdale