Tuesday 20 January, 2009
On my final time playing GTA:SA, I tried to act morally. I started off down the street and quickly decided this was too slow. So I decided to hop a cab. Now I know in this game you steal cars, but I figured if I walked up to the back door of the cab, I'd be able to get in and maybe pick a destination. I was wrong. Although my character was clearly positioned in front of the back door, when I pressed the action button, he automatically repositioned himself in by the front passenger door, opened it, and threw the cab driver out on the street. I drove off, and then noticed that the screen was telling me that I could start cab missions by pressing a button. Interested in some work that didn't involve crime, although one could not access this work without first committing the crime of grand theft auto, I pressed the button and picked up my first fare. The game told me that my tip decreased the longer I took to get the fare to his destination, and so, of course, I drove as fast as I possibly could, as this is what the game is encouraging. The car didn't handle very well, and I ended up running over a few pedestrians along the way, causing the police to take notice. I tried to outrun the police but eventually my car was wrecked, and I was forced to crawl out. The police, rather than trying to apprehend me, were shooting at me, and so, in the interest of self-preservation, grabbed a police motorcycle and drove off.
The situation basically escalated further in the manner described above, ending in many pedestrian deaths, and the deaths of a few police officers. This situation illustrated clearly to me how easy it was to do immoral things, such as run over pedestrians, steal cars, and cause general mayhem, and how hard it was to do any moral things, such as complete an honest day's work as a cab driver. In fact, it is impossible to do these moral actions without first doing something immoral. Having played through a good portion of the story-line, I know that CJ is a "good" gangster who takes out the "bad" gangsters in the city. In a twisted sense, CJ is moral in his ends, as he seeks punishment for the murderers of his mother, but he is extremely immoral in his means.
Still, as much criticism as this game receives for encouraging and rewarding immoral behavior, it seems to me that the game world is enough removed from reality to keep gamers aware that the consequences for such actions in the real world are harsh. There's just not much about Grand Theft Auto that is realistic, and while the themes presented in the game would conceivably be damaging to a you mind, the game IS rated for those 17 and older. Still, the argument can be made that because the game treats immorality so lightly, it could lead to the gamer becoming desensitized to such issues. I see where this argument comes from, I just really don't think GTA:SA is realistic enough to accomplish this.